Monday Musings

Well I think it looks like I really need to get back on my blogging game, no?

Especially considering that in just a few (!!!) short weeks, there will be a tiny human that will be (adorably) demanding all of my attention for a while, so the blog will likely go on a bit of a mini hiatus at that point. I have so many good ideas in my brain, the struggle lately has just been finding the time and energy on top of everything else going on, in order to get it down on the page coherently!

It’s now my busy season at work, and add in the fact that I was selected to serve on a jury that started last week. It’s actually extremely interesting, so I’m not complaining about that, but when you add together the jury service, organizing the new place (more on that in a second), getting everything ready for baby, and work, things have been a bit of a blur for the past week or so!  I can see the light at the end though, and I just have to trust that we will be able to get everything organized and set up before this baby gets here. Or at least the essentials, and the rest may have to wait.

And… on to the Monday Musings!

Monday

New Balance just gets me.

Honestly, I love just about everything New Balance has to offer. I also love surprises. So imagine how awesome it was to arrive home after a stressful day last week and find a box from my favorite company on my doorstep! I opened it up to find a complete outfit from the Newbury Collection from NB Women. I can tell you with 100% certainty that this is some of my favorite NB gear I’ve ever had. The colors are spot on, and all of the clothing is not only comfortable but super flattering.

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Love the combo of this sports bra and tank!

 The leggings are so comfortable that I can even wear them right now, at 8 months pregnant, and feel really darn good about myself! The material is lightweight and breathable, but fully supportive and flattering at the same time. Hello, new favorite workout tights!

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The navy cropped jacket pictured below is also something that I can’t wait to wear when the weather cools down a little bit.I’m not one to wish away summer, but I’m looking forward to some cool crisp days when I can rock this jacket!

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And I can’t go without mentioning the shoes, the Vazee Transform. These are extremely comfortable, and according to New Balance, the designed to be the perfect shoe for both strength training work and cross training. I wouldn’t wear these for heavy lifting days but group classes at the gym? weight circuits? outdoor workouts? Absolutely.

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The red/navy combo is just delicious! High-five, NB Women! 

We are home owners!! 

If you follow along on Instagram, you may have noticed a little photo a couple of weeks ago about moving into our new place. Well, at 33 years old I can finally say that we are homeowners and it feels so good! The move was a bit chaotic, as it coincided with my return to work, but we got it done. As for unpacking? There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, although we sort of have to finish things up soon since (very) soon our little babe is going to want to come home to a clean, organized house! Or at least her mama is.:)

Where has the time gone? 

I swear I was just announcing my pregnancy. And then I swear I was just 20 weeks pregnant. Now here I am, just a few short weeks away from my due date, and I’m just wondering how this has all gone by so fast? With everything we still have left to do, I feel like I have just kept telling myself all along that we have so much time, we’ll get it all done. But all of a sudden I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed at how little time we actually have, and how much of that stuff remains on the To Do list! (Can you sense I’m a little anxious these days?) Not to mention that little baby girl is growing so fast, it’s pretty amazing to watch my body change so rapidly over the past few weeks. There was so long where I felt like my normal self, just a little bigger, and now all of a sudden I can actually see big changes from day to day. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how amazing all of this is, and that it’s true that you don’t truly understand any of it until you’re going through it.

Baby Shower small

This is me just a few weeks ago at my baby shower. I was just 30 weeks, and I swear the bump has doubled in size since then! 

Spread a little sunshine. 

Not that I wanted to make this post all about pregnancy (I know there are a lot of my readers who come here for other things!) I just have to share this story.  A couple of days ago, I was walking down the street downtown, and a stranger stopped me out of nowhere, just to tell me that I looked beautiful and radiant. Now, of course this would be appreciated at any time, any day, but to combine all of the emotions of being 8 months pregnant, with the crazy body changes I’ve had lately, I’ve been feeling less and less like myself. And for this woman to go out of her way to pay me such an amazing compliment truly made my day. It was a great reminder of how much we can affect others through simple words and gestures, even complete strangers in passing on the street.

Take a little time and spread a little sunshine wherever you are today! Pay someone a compliment, pay for someone’s coffee behind you in the Starbucks line, even just smile more throughout the day. Positivity is contagious, and that woman made me feel on top of the world for the rest of that day, even though I was absolutely exhausted and feeling a bit haggard prior to that. You never know how much just one comment or gesture can turn someone’s day around!

Readers: Has a stranger brought a little sunshine into your day recently? Anyone else moving this summer and feeling like it’s a never ending process? What’s your top organizing priority when you move into a new home? 

 

Workout Wednesday: Bootcamp Workout

Oh, hey there!

Things have been a bit… crazy around here for the past couple of weeks. I’ll give you all a life update on Monday but suffice it to say that I have a few very good excuses for not being around here much lately!

Plus, it’s the Olympics, and who has time to blog when Simone Biles is tearing it up on the floor routine? Am I right?

Ok ok, that’s not the real reason I haven’t been around, but you’ve got to admit that when the Olympics come around, there’s often little time for anything else. Especially the Summer Olympics. And especially especially when there are people like Michael Phelps running around with about 10,000 gold medals.

Anyway, today’s Workout Wednesday is a little EMOM bootcamp workout that my Rondeau Group Fitness ladies did two or three weeks ago. It is great for a small group workout, takes about 30 minutes including rest time, and is a great way to get a full body blast with plenty of fun mixed in with lots of hard work!

We added in a core component between each EMOM set, and also did some partner band runs at the end to round out to about 45 minutes. Adding in a strong core component is a great way to spend a little bit more time on the workout without completely burning anyone out.

EMOM stands for Every Minute On The Minute, and these types of workouts are always a little bit of a silent killer. The “reps” are fairly short in order to allow for some rest time, but as time goes on, that rest feels shorter and shorter, and the effort feels harder and harder! To get the most out of this workout, be strict about the times even when you start to get tired. Each 10 minute segment will be over before you know it!

 

Equipment needed: 

Cones

Medicine Balls (# will depend on the number of people doing the workout)

Flat field space of at least 50 yards in length

Additional equipment for optional core additions of your choice

The Set Up:

Set up one area with 3 cones. One as “Start” cone, one at 20 yards, and one at 50 yards.

Set up another area with medicine balls

EMOM Full Body Bootcamp WOrkout

Complete the workout:

The first two cycles will each be completed for a total of 10 minutes, completing the designated exercise/combo every minute on the minute. I split my group into smaller sections so that some were working with the med balls while others were running, and so on.

Cycle 1: Side shuffle to cone one, turn and sprint to cone two, and then turn and sprint all the way back to the start cone. Alternate the side facing for each side shuffle rep.

Cycle 2: Med ball squat and throws – hold a medicine ball at your chest. Go down into a full squat, raise from the squat and push/toss the ball straight up overhead. Catch the ball and immediately go back down into a squat.

Medicine ball slams: Raise a medicine ball up overhead, and slam to the ground, contracting your core and using your full body to create the maximum amount of force. If your medicine balls bounce, catch and repeat continuously.

Cycle 3: Burpees. Self explanatory! Think you want more than 5 minutes of this cycle? Think again!

As I said above, we completed an additional core component between each cycle, and then capped the whole workout off with a few rounds of partner band runs. You could stick with just this workout, though, and still get a great full body workout in just 30 minutes! Another great thing about this workout is that it does not need a group either — I completed this a few days before my ladies did and it was great as a solo session too.

Enjoy!

 

Treat Yo’Self: A Massage Envy Giveaway

Whew. What a whirlwind of a weekend we had around these parts!

It started off on Friday when I finally took my Health Coach exam… and passed! Yes, I’m now a Certified Health Coach through the American Counsel on Exercise (ACE). I’m so excited to have finally completed this goal, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time and have been working hard on all summer. More will be coming on this soon, but I will very soon be offering health coaching services right here, so stay tuned for more details if you’re curious what that entails!

Following the exam, I had my baby shower on Saturday, and then on Sunday it was my birthday. What a crazy weekend! The shower was amazing, and I can’t thank my friends enough for putting together such a special day. Being able to see so many people that are special to me in one place, enjoying awesome food and laughs, and celebrating Baby R, it was just the perfect day! It really is incredible to feel so much love for this baby girl already, and to have had people come from near and far to be at the shower for us, I was truly overwhelmed. One good friend even flew in to surprise us all the way from Utah, which completely blew my mind. Baby R is one lucky lady already to have so much love in her life, I can’t wait until she can meet everyone!

I don’t have pictures yet from the shower because I wanted to soak in every moment and not be a slave to my iPhone all day, so I literally got one poorly lit picture of the (delicious) cake, and that’s it!  A couple of friends were taking pictures so I know there are a lot out there, so I’ll probably share some here in the near future.

And to top off the weekend, Sunday was truly a “treat yo’self” day for my birthday, as Will and I spent it lounging on the beach and then having dinner at our favorite place for burgers in Boston. It was exactly how I wanted to spend my day and it was perfect!

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The combination of these two made for a perfect indulgent day! 

And yes, all of this does tie in to the theme of today’s post: a massage. Because that’s what you’re all here for, isn’t it?

Since most of my summer has been spent studying my health coaching materials and prepping for baby, it has left very little time for relaxation and mama pampering time. I haven’t quite taken the time to recharge like I usually do in the summers, and the stress of all of this plus an impending move has had me wound a little bit tightly. So when Massage Envy contacted me about getting a massage, and offering a free one to one of my wonderful readers, I couldn’t pass it up!

Add on pregnancy aches and pains to my daily stresses, and my body has certainly been feeling a little bit out of whack. It took some finagling to be able to schedule a pre-natal massage, but in the end the wait was worth it.

Massage Envy

I showed up on the day of my massage, so ready to be relaxed! Upon arrival, while filling out some newcomer paperwork, I was offered a warm neck wrap while I waited. It was a very hot day and I’ve been running a little warm with this pregnancy, so I declined. However, there was a woman sitting across from me with one and it looked like a glorious way to decompress before the massage even began.

When my massage therapist called me in, she was immediately a welcoming and calming presence — I’m not lying when I say that I felt better already. She explained the entire procedure to me, as a prenatal massage is slightly different than a traditional massage, in terms of positioning, pressure, etc. Once we got started, I was was in heaven. My low back and hips have been pretty achey lately, so that was where she spent most of her time, although this was a full body 60 minute massage.

And let me tell you — those 60 minutes were absolutely what the doctor ordered. I was not just relaxed, I was practically in a coma. (I kid, I kid). Although when the massage was over, I realized that while I felt like I had been awake, the second half of it seemed to fly by, which could only mean one thing. Yep, I fell asleep. I didn’t bother to ask if I talked in my sleep or anything, but who knows what embarrassing things could have been said in that room!

Anyway, asleep, awake, or somewhere in between, I left there extremely relaxed and rejuvenated to continue on with my day (and continue studying, as this was pretty close to my exam!). The entire staff was lovely to work with, extremely courteous, and I will most certainly be going back for another massage, hopefully for at least one more before this babe makes her appearance.

But the best part about this post is that you too could have a chance at total blissed out relaxation — all of you in the Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire area have a chance to win a free 60 minute massage from Massage Envy for yourself! [<<Click the link to head over to the Massage Envy site for locations and services near you]

Unfortunately, I do have to keep this to a regional giveaway, but hopefully there are plenty of you New Englanders out there who could use this little treat. And for those outside of this region, while you won’t be eligible for this giveaway, Massage Envy does have spas available nationally so please check them out in your area for your next massage!

So how do you win? All you need to do is comment below with why YOU need a massage the most. Studying too much? Recently moved? Planning a wedding? Mama to be? Any reason is a good reason for a little pampering, if you ask me! 

The winner will be selected at random at the end of the day on Friday, July 29th, and will be announced via my Facebook page and Twitter, so please make sure to follow both… you wouldn’t want to miss out on a free massage, would you?:)

Good luck!!

 

 

Workout Wednesday: Rethink Your RDL

My oh my, it’s been a little while since a Workout Wednesday post appeared here on I Train Therefore I Eat!

(Side note, I just realized that I could call this ITTIE… and while it’s kind of cute, it kind of reminds me of another word that I’d rather not have my blog called. So… yeah.)

Get ready, because we’ve got this one and then another one all lined up for next week already. I know, I know: Steph planning ahead? What is this about? Turning over a new leaf my friends.

At least momentarily.

Anyway, today I have a new lift for you. I’m certainly not saying that I made it up, but I haven’t seen/done it before so it’s new to me! I popped this into my workout a couple of weeks ago on a whim, when I wanted a little bit of extra glute/posterior chain work but my SI joints were a little too angry for heavy RDLs, deadlifts, good mornings, or any of the usual posterior chain lifts.

And for some reason, I hate doing SL RDLs with dumbbells. There is no explanation for this, I just would much rather do them holding on to a barbell than the DBs, so this was a perfect substitute for me while keeping them relatively light.

Introducing the Cable Single Leg RDL (with optional row). 

This is an accessory lift to your lower body or posterior chain days, primarily targeting the glutes and hamstrings, and also challenging components of your adductors/abductors and hip stabilizers.

The Setup

Stand facing the cable machine with the rope handle attachment set down low. Grasp the ropes with your palms facing each other. Step back so that you’re in a hip hinge position with your arms extended out in front of you, weight stack still resting so that there is no external load yet.

The Action

Brace your core, ensure your back is nice and flat, and raise one leg straight behind you. Hinge up to top, bringing top leg down towards ground leg, as in a traditional RDL. At top, add in optional horizontal row, bending elbows and bringing hands to sides, palms still facing in. Reverse the motion. Complete all reps one one side before switching to the opposite side.

Keeping those SI joints happy at 29 weeks pregnant is a bit of a challenge! 

Special Notes

It is extremely important in this lift to be conscious of your back position throughout the movement. Because the weight stack will be pulling your center of gravity further out in front of you than you would normally have with an RDL, it is not recommended to go extremely heavy with these. Form is key to keeping this a healthy movement, and it’s a great lift to help groove your hip hinge movement pattern, particularly with single leg variations.

As mentioned above, this is simply another accessory lift for your lower body. This is not better or worse than dumbbell RDLs, but rather provides your body with a slightly different line of pull, thus challenging the muscles in a slightly different way. You could certainly do this as a traditional RDL as well, which would essentially be the reverse of a glute pull through (another of my favorites).

To program these, as I mentioned above I would keep them relatively light, especially if it’s a new movement for you. I would recommend adding these in to one or two lift days per week, starting with an 8-12 rep range. Increase weight as tolerated, and utilize them in addition to other accessory lower body lifts.

Readers: Give it a try and let me know how you like it! I’ve done these a few times now, and they’re pretty quickly turning into one of my favorite posterior chain accessory lifts, so hopefully you feel the same! Has anyone done this variation of an RDL before? 

 

 

Monday Musings 7.11.16

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so how about some randomness on this Monday morning?

Monday

Sorry Not Sorry –  First things first, a bit of an apology and an explanation on why I haven’t been around lately! Remember a while ago when I told you all that I had begun studying for my Health Coach certification? Well, I didn’t actually get studying too much at that time. First one thing came up, then another, and then before I knew it it was June and I had hardly done anything related to the certification. Well, I’ve hunkered down since then and am hoping to take my exam next Friday, which is why in the past week or so I’ve been pretty quiet here!

Even though I’m not working, I’ve been spending what is the equivalent of a full time job studying, running bootcamp, and program writing for some new distance clients. The blog is important but it’s had to take a bit of a back seat for a little while! I do hope to get up at least one or two new posts over the next couple of weeks, but just know that the reason I’m not here regularly is a good one. Oh, also, I’m growing a baby. That makes my next point valid…

Pregnancy Brain is definitely a thing. Yes, I know scientists debate about whether or not pregnancy brain is actually something that happens, but I’m here to tell you with 100% certainty that it is real! For those of you that don’t know, pregnancy brain is something that happens to expecting women where inexplicably, growing this little bean inside of you causes about 25% (give or take) of your brain to spontaneously go missing. You may forget words, you may just forget things in general, you may forget certain articles of clothing when you leave the house, and you may just forget how to be a fully functioning human being. It’s real, it happens, and it’s an epidemic. Next time you see a pregnant lady who’s fishing for her purse for her definitely forgotten keys, or spinning around in circles mumbling about the sun glasses that are most certainly already on her head, just smile and move on. She’s ok, she’s just missing her brain, that’s all.

2 Years and counting! Will and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary on Tuesday. My how time flies! We went out for an amazing 5 course dinner at Bondir in Cambridge on Sunday night to celebrate, so Tuesday will be spent with dinner at home, some sort of amazing dessert that I’ll try to coordinate to the flavors of our wedding cake, and reading the “anniversary notes” from a few of our wedding guests. At our wedding, we had the guests at each table write us a little note and put it in an envelope with their table number on it, for us to read on each corresponding anniversary. So this year, we’re reading the notes from the guests at Table 2, and no, we really have not peeked at any of them ahead of time! It’s one of my favorite things that we did, and it’s so fun to go back and read what people wrote at the time. I can’t imagine how amazing it’ll be in years 10, 11 and 12 when the wedding will seem like a lifetime ago!

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[Photo Credit: Rachel Darley]

Let Go and Move On: Speaking of that photo above, Will and I are in the process of going through all of our stuff and purging to make room for baby and just to declutter in general. It’s a tough process but a necessary one, and luckily we just got rid of a lot of stuff last summer when we moved. One piece that’s really holding me up is my wedding dress. My goal is to donate it, because I know that there are a lot of women who can’t afford to buy their own, but dang that thing is ridiculously hard to part with. Part of me says “it’s just an article of clothing, I have all of my pictures of it, why do I need to keep it?” and then the irrational side of me says that it’s part of me and part of us and I can’t ever let it go. I think the rational side will win, but it’s taken 2 years to do so and it’s not getting any easier. I think I just need to rip the proverbial band aide off and be done with it. I love you, beautiful dress!!  Everything else in here? Let it go. Baby is coming, and we need lots of room for activities!

Join in: When was the last time you did a “purge” of your belongings and what was the most difficult thing to get rid of? Who else has had a much busier summer than they anticipated? Any funny pregnancy brain stories out there? 

3 Exercises I Won’t Program For Online Clients

While today is not exactly a Workout Wednesday post, it is something important that I think is worth going over.

These days, there are tons of fitness professionals offering online training (myself included!), or distance coaching programs. These can be excellent if you can’t afford personal training, or if you want to work with someone who is outside of your geographical area. The internet has allowed us to be able to reach clients just about anywhere, no longer being limited to those who live in our general vicinity.

But with this, comes some pretty serious responsibility. If you are doing a program that has been created by someone and has been sent to you without an in-person assessment (as is the case with most online programs), there are certain things to know ahead of time in order to keep yourself safe.

How should you properly warm up? How do you know when to back off or take a rest day? How do you know when to push yourself harder? But most importantly — how do you know that you’re doing the exercises correctly?

Some coaches will send you a program and you’re on your own. Some coaches will send you descriptions and/or videos of exercises so that you can make sure your form is correct. And some will even go so far as to schedule video/skype sessions to monitor your form on specific movements, noting ways in which you can improve to make your workout safer and more effective. I offer the last two of these options (both PDF descriptions and skype check-ins, as either of these can be beneficial depending on the client). Click [HERE] for more info.

When it comes to exercise form, however, there are some lifts, particularly if you are involved in a heavy lifting type of program, that you should really have checked out in person by a qualified professional before attempting them on your own. Certain lifts can be extremely technical, and without proper form and real-time cues can lead to injury and/or inefficient training. And while obviously none of us want to get hurt, inefficiency in training is also a huge no-no. Why waste time on a program if you’re not going to get the results you want to see?

While most lifts and exercises can be “taught” via descriptions, videos, and video chat sessions, there are a few that I strongly believe should be taught in person. Does this mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars training with someone just to learn a lift? Not necessarily. Many gyms offer introductory PT sessions, and most personal trainers can be hired on an hourly basis. Find someone who is local and qualified, and have them help you with these crucial lifts before beginning a program on your own. Your body will thank you later!

Exercises that should be done WITH a trainer:

Deadlift

The deadlift is a highly technical lift that utilizes just about your entire body. From head to heels, there are important movement and stabilization cues that a trainer can give to you in real time that you just can’t get through video or descriptions. When this lift moves into the heavy weight ranges, improper form can be dangerous (although proper form makes this one of the most beneficial lifts you can do, period).

Without proper cues and corrections, an improper deadlift can lead to muscle strains (best case) or spinal injury (worst case). I’m not saying this to scare you, but I am saying this to let you know that if you have a trainer who has prescribed you traditional or sumo deadlifts and you have never performed them before, it’s essential to work with someone in person before performing this lift with any significant weight. Heck, even light weight deadlifts can pose a problem with horrific form.

Steph Deadlift

The deadlift incorporates different phases and essential movements, all of which are important to master before ever weighting the barbell (or picking up the barbell at all). Find someone who can train you on proper hip hinging, grip, core stabilization and lock out mechanics, and you’ll be good to go.

The exception to this would be dumbbell or lighter weight Romanian Dead Lifts or Trap Bar Deadlifts. Both of these can be performed safely with good instruction, but I would still recommend a video session with your trainer to ensure that your hip hinge is sufficient to be performing these types of lifts.

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swings, just like deadlifts, are extremely technical in terms of proper form. From your set up before even touching the KB, to the way in which the KB is placed on the ground at the end of a set (and every important aspect in between), there is a lot of room for error here. The swing is something that should be learned incrementally, with a trained professional before attempting it on your own. With the combination of the all-important hip hinge, plus the highly dynamic momentum of the movement, there is too much potential for injury if done incorrectly. Not only is this a technical lift, but it is also pretty advanced.

KBswing

If you are someone who has little experience with weight lifting and proper movement patterns, I would suggest staying away from this one until you A)have gained a little bit more experience in the weight room building your base strength movements and B)have perfected the hip hinge with a qualified professional.

Olympic Lifting – Clean/Snatch/Clean and Jerk

Olympic lifts are far and away some of the most technical lifts that you can do or be asked to do. Yes, your neighbor Susie does these all the time at Crossfit (at insanely high reps, usually with questionable form), and she’s never lifted before joining this gym! But that doesn’t that you should be doing them too. I am a firm believer in mastering the major lifting motions (push and pull for both upper body and lower body movements) as well as proper core bracing before attempting anything as advanced as a clean and jerk. Hoisting a heavy barbell over your head without first properly addressing strength and mobility concerns is just asking for disaster — whether that means injury or sheer embarrassment in the gym. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from these unless you have considerable time to work with a coach one on one. And this shouldn’t be just any coach — you should see someone who is experienced and trained in olympic lifting. Otherwise, it’s not much better than doing it on your own, to be honest.

These are lifts that I won’t program for my own clients if I’m not seeing them in person (and I don’t program olympic lifts in general). Please be wary of trainers who will throw highly advanced exercises at you without any sort of movement assessment or in-person session ahead of time. If something feels too advanced for you, check in with your trainer before charging ahead. Keep yourself safe, and worry about impressing others later. You won’t be impressing anyone when you’re sidelined from injury, so always remember: form comes first! 

Note: If you’re interested in in-person (Boston area only) personal training or online/distance coaching, please check out my page at Rondeau Heath and Wellness. I have several packages/offerings to fit any level and/or budget. Happy training! 

Fitness Myth Busting Part II: Long and Lean Muscles

About a week ago I posted Part I of this series, talking about the myth behind lactic acid. If you didn’t check it out then, go now! And then come back here of course.

Today we’re tackling another myth, and it’s one that seriously blows my mind every time I hear it. It’s something that you hear come from the mouths of many people in the fitness world, and I’ve never understood why.

Check out any women’s magazine, a million articles online about how to build/maintain the “perfect” physique, and in the press of many, many celebrity trainers and you’ll see 3 words that make me cringe like no other:

Long, Lean Muscles.

What does that even mean? If you’ve seen that before and wondered weather you too could turn your short, stumpy, unattractive* muscles into long, lean and lovely ones…

….well…

I hate to break it to you, but it ain’t gonna happen. And you’re in the right place to set that thinking go, let it be free to fly away and never come back again.

If you have long a long, lean muscular frame, then congrats! You win at life.** But if you’re one of us who wasn’t born that way, I can tell you with 100% certainty that you’ll never, ever reach that goal.

No, I’m not here to trample all over your dreams like a mad woman, I’m just telling you the simple truth. Muscle length comes down to one thing: genetics, and if you don’t have it, you can’t create it with any workout plan. No matter how flashy the marketing or how charismatic the spokesperson, you cannot create long, lean muscles. It’s impossible.

Not with yoga, not with barre, not with pilates or yogalates or whatever you choose to do.. and certainly not with 2 lb pink dumbbells.

pilates

#nope 

Let’s break it down to the science for a second.

Your muscles are attached to bones through tendons at each end. Some muscles have just one tendon at each end (origin and insertion), and others have multiple attachment points, such as your bicep which splits into a long head and short head, which attach within the same vicinity of your shoulder, but separate from each other to provide a more complex movement pattern for that particular muscle.

Each and every muscle has a muscle belly (the main part of the muscle), the musculotendinous junction (where the muscle fuses with tendon) and the tendon which then inserts into bone. These attachments form levers in your body, which is the reason we can move, jump, dance, wiggle, and any other type of movement your body desires. Without these insertions, our muscles would have no way to move our bones, thus, we would be left lying around like a bag of rocks.

Now let’s think about what people are implying by talking about forming “longer, leaner muscles”. They are, in essence, implying that through training, you can detach the tendon from one part of your bone, and re-attach it somewhere farther away. This is the only way you could form longer muscles (and I’m not sure where the leaner portion comes into this equation).

piyo lies

“The PiYo workout can in no way make your muscles longer, but through proper nutrition and exercise you could potentially become leaner!” There, fixed that for ya. 

Sound ridiculous? Of course it does! Because it’s pure nonsense. Without changing the positioning of your muscles and tendons, it’s impossible to make them longer than they already are. I hate to break it to you, but the length of your quad muscle is determined by the length of your femur, not the way you train it. Want longer thigh muscles? Get new parents. Before you were even born, your DNA determined how long your bones would be, thus how long your muscles would be. There is no way to change this through training, no matter how much Tracie Anderson tries to get you to believe otherwise.

But what about stretching? Doesn’t that make my muscles longer?

Nope, sorry. We’re not changing muscle length here. We can change elasticity to some extent through manual therapy, proper warm ups, and possibly stretching, but these things will not alter the physiological length of your muscles. You can get all of the soft tissue work in the world, stretch for 30 minutes every morning, and your muscle will still originate and insert on exactly the same points of your bones, and unless you suffer a tendon rupture (trust me, this is NOT something you want to happen!), these attachment points will never change. You will never, ever create a longer, leaner physique.

Let me say that again: Never, ever, ever will you create longer muscles through training.

If you look at your legs in the mirror and see some short, stumpy muscles, I hate to break it to you but that won’t change. Embrace the shape that you have developed, and embrace the shape that you can someday reach through training. But the present you needs to understand the realistic boundaries of the future you. If you’re not Giselle and have legs for days, you’re never going to have legs for days. But so what? Giselle is Giselle and you are you. And unless your life’s dream is to join the Radio City Rockettes, those legs don’t mean a thing. Seriously!

But what about becoming leaner? I can do that, right?

Of course! Through the process of decreasing body fat, which will come from a combination of proper training and proper nutrition (mostly nutrition here), you can absolutely become leaner. The problem here is when this is combined with “longer” in the original phrase, and then it becomes unrealistic. Training (and eating) for leanness is a commitment and a challenge, but it has nothing to do with the length of your muscles. In addition, training with certain weight or rep schemes to make your muscles appear leaner, as some fitness pros would like you to believe, is also not possible. You can become leaner through one means, and that is decreasing body fat. You can not change the shape of your muscles to make them appear leaner, and you can not train in certain movement patterns to alter their shape or form. 

Muscles are fairly unique from person to person, yes, but they are all built up of the same building blocks. We can not mold them into new shapes, we can only help them to become stronger, larger, smaller, or more defined, depending on your training and nutrition.

Next time a trainer or fitness personality tells you that they can help you change the shape and look of your muscles, stop and ask yourself if what they are proposing sounds like it is even remotely based in reality. And then ask yourself why you should be bothering with someone who wants to change who you are genetically, to change what it is that makes you really you? And then, last but not least, run away. Run far far away (whether that’s through internet clicks or through your gym door), and find someone who will train you for you. Someone who will train your strengths and help you reach your goals, not try to push some magical fairy dust on you just for a few bucks. You can do better, your body can do better.

Embrace your body for what it is, and train to reach your best potential every day. Forget the length of your muscles, and focus on the strength, the power, the ability to help you perform every day tasks with ease. That is what trainers should be pushing on you, because that, my friends, is real life. 

*that’s what they want you to believe. Trust me, even if your muscles are short and stumpy, they are beautiful because they are yours! 

**Also what they want you to believe. However, lovely as they are, it’s just the luck of the draw, folks. No winning here!