There are six common questions I hear all the time about lifting weights. So, I decided to put them into an episode with some simple answers for you so that you have a resource that you can come back to time and time again. If you are looking for answers to common questions I hear about strength training; this is the episode for you.
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If You Want To Embrace The Benefits of Strength Training, You Should:
- Realize that what is ‘heavy’ is different for each person, and you should focus on adding enough of a load that is challenging for you
- Create goals that are focused on what your body can do, not the number on the bathroom scale
- Take care of your body through generous recovery time and exercises that do not involve weights
It’s All Relative
Questions like ‘am I lifting heavy enough?’, ‘am I too old to start lifting weights?’, or ‘how soon can I expect to see results?’, are very nuanced. The short answer is, everybody’s body is different and will look different even if doing the same exercise.
It is about finding a combination of weight lifting and other exercises that feel right for your unique body. What is ‘heavy’ is relative to each person and can change over time. Consistency and progressive overload are the keys to a long game mentality needed when strength training.
The Many Benefits of Strength Training
I know for sure that strength training can give you something to think about besides shrinking your body. Having goals that are only focused on achieving a certain number on the scale or an aesthetic look are not sustainable.
Lifting weights can help you stop focusing on the scale, promote healthy muscle mass, improve your bone density, and boost your metabolism. These are goals that can have a huge impact on your overall health but cannot be measured by the number on the scale. Strength training can help you reconnect with a sense of what your body can do, not what it looks like.
Have you ever asked one of these common questions? How did my answer hold up to what you have been told in the past? Share your experiences with me in the comments below.
In This Episode
- How to know if you are lifting heavy enough (3:40)
- How often you should be lifting every week (7:29)
- How to know if lifting weights will help you feel better about yourself (9:53)
- Why you should still consider lifting weights even if you do other sports (14:17)
- Why it is never too late to start lifting weights (17:52)
- How long it will take for you to experience results (22:20)
“Generally speaking, you want to think about grooving in the main functional movement patterns, which are push, pull, hinge, squat, and weighted carries; those are what the Made Strong program is built off of.” (8:24)
“Lifting weights gives you something besides shrinking your body, or the bathroom scale, to focus on.” (11:59)
“If you lift weights two or three times a week, it will make you better at that sport, period.” (15:07)
“To efficiently build and maintain your muscle and bones and keep your metabolism humming along… the answer is lift weights.” (21:52)
“Please focus on some kind of goal that goes beyond what you weigh or exactly having some kind of aesthetic look. Because it is going to be far easier to sustain your work towards what you can do, or developing a new skill, or building your strength in a specific lift, it’s going to be a lot more motivating and a lot easier to stick to that than when you are not seeing the number on the scale go in the direction that you want it to go.” (26:26)
Featured on the Show
Are You Lifting Heavy Enough (and Other Common Strength Training Questions) FULL TRANSCRIPT
When it comes to lifting weights and strength training, there are six common questions that folks asked me all the time. And it kind of goes something like this. Hey, can I pick your brain about XYZ? On this episode, I’m going to answer these six very common questions about lifting weights so that you have a resource to come back to over and over and get some simple answers to your common questions. The next evolution of harder to kill radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast. on this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively, hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, on to the show.
Hello, and welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here today. If you’re new, welcome, hello, glad you’re here. And if you’re a returning listener, it always means so much that I get to hang out with you a little bit every single week on this show. So today we’re going to be diving into six extremely common questions that I get as a strength coach, that are related to lifting weights and the like. Now, these are really related to lifting and not so much the nutrition that supports lifting, which is something I’m going to go into in a future episode. So really, today, I’m going to be focusing on these six super common questions. People will often say, Hey, can I pick your brain about this, and I’m putting it all in one show for you. So a couple of things.
First is if you want to find out how you can work with me on one on one strength nutrition coaching, head over to my website, there’s a tab called work with me. And you can click on private coaching. And that will take you to the application that I have for one on one coaching. So check that out. If you’re ready to get super focused and get the one-on-one help that you’ve been wanting. Go check that out. The second thing is that I have a group program coming this summer, we’re calling it Project X for now. But it’s really going to be about strength, nutrition, how to get stronger, fuel yourself to recover properly, and without having to be super micromanaged with what you’re eating, counting, weighing measuring food, and all that stuff. So that sounds interesting to you. You want to join the waitlist for early access and other bonuses, then go ahead and head to my website, StephGaudreau.com. And then you can click on group coaching, it’ll take you to the waitlist.
Okay, let’s go ahead and dive into these six questions. The first question I hear so often is this. How do I know if I’m lifting heavy enough? So when we’re lifting weights, it’s really important that we’re lifting heavy enough to give some kind of result. And that’s the beautiful part about lifting weights, strength training, resistance training, I kind of use those three terms interchangeably. But it’s the beauty of it because you get stronger in less time. It’s more efficient than some other types of exercise in terms of building your strength. Now, there’s certainly value to things like cardio, and stretching and mobility, and all of that stuff. But if we’re talking about getting stronger, we need to lift weights and do it heavy enough. And I’m using some air quotes here on the word heavy. Because when people hear heavy, they get scared. And I totally understand this. Normally, when people think oh, I have to lift heavy, they’re thinking they’re envisioning some giant dude with a barbell on their back and their eyes are bugging out of their head and the weight is the barbells bending. It’s so heavy. And that is really intimidating for folks.
So here’s the thing. My answer is what is heavy is relative to each person. So I’ve been strength training now for 11 years. I joke with my friends that they have black belts in Brazilian jujitsu. I’m a black belt in lifting weights. Because I’ve been doing it for so long, my quote, heavy might be very different from somebody who’s been lifting for a few months to a year, for example. And not only that, but my version of heavy has changed over time, based on what I’m focusing on with my training, my season of life that I’m in, and so on. So how do we answer this question of how do I know if I’m lifting heavy enough? Here’s the quick and dirty answer, you want to add enough load for it to be challenging, especially the last couple of reps in your sets. Or you could say if you’re doing something that’s not weighted, typically like a push-up, that whatever push-up variation that you’re doing should be challenging for the last few repetitions of the set. So if you’re doing a set of 10, you’d want to choose a weight that’s heavy enough to give you a challenge. And those last few reps, say reps, eight, nine, and 10. On the flip side, if you’re only choosing weight, if you’re choosing a weight that’s so heavy, that the first few reps of 10 feel like it’s gonna crush you and you’re really not able to perform the rest of the set. It’s too heavy.
On the other hand, if you’re sort of, you know, just swinging the right weights around and like, you know, you can help hold the conversation and you’re not really focusing on what you’re doing, it’s probably not having enough. If you breeze through the set, and you don’t feel any challenge. It’s probably not heavy enough. And that’s the short answer to that. You’re going to want to continue to adjust the weight, the repetitions you’re doing, etc. as you get stronger. In the fitness industry, we call that progressive overload.
It’s one of the reasons why sometimes you might be lifting really heavy or what you think is heavy for you. But you’re not increasing the weight as it gets easier. Because your body should adapt over time. There are other ways to incorporate progressive overload. But that’s just keeping it simple. So the answer, add enough load for it to be challenging, especially the last couple of reps. Next question, how often should I lift every week? Great question. And here’s the thing, you want to zoom out and think consistency over a long period of time. So don’t get too mad at yourself or too down on yourself. If you miss a day, right? If you miss a week, even in the grand scheme of things, it’s unlikely to be something that’s going to completely throw you off track. Okay, so if you miss a session, you only lift a couple of times a week, you have to take a couple of weeks off because you’re sick, that’s fine. Keep the big picture in mind. But generally speaking, you want to think about grooving in the main functional movement patterns, which are push-pull, hinge, squat, and weighted carries. Those are what the main strong program is built off of. You want to think about incorporating those a few times a week to give you the best results. So think about combining those movement patterns such that you get three-ish workouts a week.
Now, the exact number of workouts will vary depending on your goals, your health status, your lifestyle, and so on and so forth. But generally speaking, if you can do two to three strength training sessions, weight lifting sessions a week, and you can progressively overload them, like what I just talked about in the previous answer, you’re going to see results. It doesn’t sound very technical, or very fancy. And that’s because it’s not. It doesn’t have to be technical. It doesn’t have to be complex. It doesn’t have to be five times a week of lifting, for general purposes to get strong as fuck and feel amazing and have energy and all the things that most people are looking for when they’re lifting weights a few times a week with those combinations of push, pull, hinge squat and carry is going to go so far for you so incredibly far for you. So that’s the answer to how often should I lift each week. Next question. Will lifting weights helped me feel better about myself. Now this one is very near and dear to my heart because when I was coming into spring training for the first time in 2010. I was at the end of what ended up being eight years of mountain bike racing, and then eventually triathlons.
At the competitive level, I was always focused on getting as small as I possibly could. And I wasn’t eating enough food to support all of the training I was doing. I was over-exercising. And frankly, I was using endurance training and how hard and painful it was as a way to focus my pain and issues that I was dealing with in my life onto something else. I treated it kind of like therapy. So here’s my answer to this question. Lifting weights gives you something besides shrinking your body, or the bathroom scale to focus on. Now, I mentioned the scale, because it’s a very common thing for people to come into lifting weights thinking, it’s going to make me lose weight, or it’s going to help me shrink my body. And I’m going to be very, very honest with you. For me, when I started lifting weights and eating more, and taking more recovery time, my body got bigger. So that is one of the reasons why, in my marketing, when I’m on this podcast, when I’m on Instagram, I don’t promise people that if you start lifting weights, you’re going to get smaller. That’s why I focus on strength as the main outcome, and what your body can do in real in regard to that. So it’s tricky.
This is obviously a nuanced answer. And we’ve talked about many of these things over the years on this podcast. But for most people, they find that lifting weights gives them a sense of confidence, when you do something you didn’t think you could do, and ultimately reconnecting with this sense of worthiness. Now, we have to be careful. And we’ve talked about this as well about swapping in feeling self-worth because of what you can do versus developing, you know, reconnecting with the sense of inherent self-worth that you’ve always had. Because that would just be trading, a look or aesthetics or a body size for some other external goal. But lifting weights for so many people, and I’ve worked with 1000s of women around the world is just, it is just so powerful. It’s very, very liberating to have something other than shrinking your body or reaching a specific aesthetic or scale goal to focus on. And I love how my friends at beauty redefined. Talk about body image. They talk about positive body image is the sense that your body is good, no matter how it looks. And from personal experience and working with my clients and the online community. I’ve seen this over and over and over again, that lifting weights can be a catalyst to developing this sense. That being said, exercise is not the same thing as therapy. So regarding what I said earlier, where I was kind of running and cycling away from all my problems. In that sense, yes, exercise and movement can help in so many ways, mental health, but it’s not the same thing as therapy. So I just really wanted to mention that because I think there’s a time and a place for both.
Alright, next question. I think this is Question four. And just to recap, how do I know if I’m lifting heavy enough? That was one? How often should I lift each week? That was to number three, will lift weights helped me feel better about myself? Okay, question four. But I do other sports. So I don’t need to lift weights, right? very common question. Here’s the first thing that needs to is a loaded term, just like should is a very loaded term. But if you do participate in some kind of non-lifting sport, so a lifting sport would be something like Olympic weightlifting, snatch, clean and jerk, or powerlifting, for example, or CrossFit. If you’re participating in competitive CrossFit where there’s a lot of lifting. I’m talking about other sports that don’t center around lifting weights. You know, strongman could be another example of that, but other sports, right? The things we think about like team sports, basketball, soccer, we have individual sports like tennis, even Brazilian jujitsu, which is what I participate in.
Here’s the thing, if you lift weights two or three times a week, it will make you better at that sport, period. It will make you better at that sport, especially if you are doing an endurance-based sport, like marathon running or half marathons, or a lot of running, or you’re doing something like a triathlon, you’re a competitive cyclist, you’re a competitive mountain biker. swimmer, those distance-type events tend to be a little bit more catabolic, which means you’re expending a lot more energy because you’re out there for a longer period of time. And if you’re not feeling properly, you’re not eating enough food combined with the amount of time that you’re actually active in moving, you can definitely experience muscle loss. And there’s this stigma or this sort of stereotype that if you lift weights, and you’re doing-especially endurance sports, that you’re not going to, like you’re going to slow down for some reason, and across the board that just as long as things are properly being programmed out with your sport, that should not be the case, right, you should get faster and stronger. And that here’s a quick example for me personally, in 2008, I did a race here in Southern California called vision quest. It’s particularly grueling, and very hard. 56 miles of very rugged mountain biking out in the kind of the backcountry, as backcountry as you can get in So Cal, and lots and lots of climbing, very rough, very brutal race. And I did it in 2008.
And then I did it again in 2011. And I just recently looked at my times, because I was curious how my times I knew my time has had been better the second time around. Because I had been strength training, I pretty much trained the same in terms of the number of miles I was riding and all of the stuff regarding the bike side of things. But the difference was that I had been doing CrossFit and really lifting for six months prior to that race. And I cut something like 49 minutes off my time, the exact same course. So the I know, that’s an anecdotal experience, but you’ll find time and time again, even the most, you know, think of elite athletes, like, what would they be, you know, focusing on anything other than their sport? Yes, they’re going to be doing strength and conditioning, we’re going to be lifting weights.
Okay, question five out of six. I’m in my 40s. Is it too late to start lifting? My short answer to this is Fuck, no. It’s not too late. It’s never too late to start. And I understand there can be barriers to starting in terms of how to get started, where to go, how to hire a trainer or find a gym, or what kind of program can I do on my own, I’m just going to mention again made strong, which is my program that works in a gym and at home, and it’s fast. But here’s the thing, there are so many people in this community who are in their 40s or later, and there’s this, I get the hesitancy on this of, well, I’m you know, in my late 40s, or I’m in my 50s or my 60s, or beyond, and I have you know, a funky hip or my have a funny knee, my knee I had a surgery or something like that. I understand that. And that’s where someone who can help you integrate around injuries and especially, that you can work with, in-person, at least for a short period of time can be very, very helpful in helping you work around that stuff. But I have to be had to be so honest with you here that once you hit 30, you’re going to slowly start losing muscle mass and bone density because of the natural aging process.
If you don’t do something to prevent it or reverse it. Now with something like bone density. Recently, some new studies have come out to show that you can rebuild your bone mineral density like it’s not too late. Right so used to be thought oh you like you can just kind of prevent it from getting worse. But it is something you can work on remineralizing your bones through impact training or resistance training and muscle, the loss of muscle is called sarcopenia. The loss of muscle is just so devastating over time because when you stop using it, you lose it. And because muscle is a metabolically, quote, expensive tissue to maintain, as you start to lose muscle mass, if you’re not doing something to actively counter it, that your metabolism will adjust and it will go down, right? Sometimes people say, I damaged my metabolism, it’s not quite that simple. And really, your body is adapting. But suffice to say, we can positively impact the loss of muscle and the loss of bone mineral density, through strength training, and it’s one of the most efficient ways to do it. Recently, I was talking to somebody through my texting service, so you can get on that texting list. You can find it on Instagram if you want to hop on. But they were saying that they were doing a stretching program and that the person running the stretching program said that it was good for your bones. And we have to be pretty honest here about just stretching on its own.
Well, it has benefits, and it can feel amazing. And I’m not going to tell someone not to stretch. pretending that it’s going to give the same stimulus as some simple strength training that’s appropriately loaded and progressed is just garbage, frankly. So please don’t be sucked in by that stuff that’s like, this is going to be just as good for your muscles or your bone density like it might be helpful. But is it going to provide the best bang for your buck? Unlikely. So to efficiently build and maintain your muscle and bone and keep your metabolism humming along? Which is really simplified way of saying it. But this is a summary and a quick answer. The answer is lifting weights. Okay. So, again, if you’re perimenopause or menopause, I get so many questions like, Is it appropriate for me to lift weights? The answer is, yes, please start lifting weights. And it doesn’t have to be scary heavy. Like I said earlier, it just has to be done in a way that gives you that progressive overload. Okay, last question. How long will it take to get results? And you know, me, one of my favorite answers to every question is it depends because I really live in a lot of nuances.
But here’s, here’s the good news. And then here’s the realistic news. The good news is that if you’re newer to lifting weights, you’re likely going to start seeing improvements fairly quickly. And in the industry, this is called novice gains, right? You’re new, you’re doing as like, every week, you’re like increasing the weights or doing something you didn’t think you could do before or you’re hitting prs, or whatever the case might be. And so as long as you’re relatively consistent, you’re progressively overloading, you should see results fairly fast. However, here’s, here’s the realistic side, you have to be consistent over time. And consistency is one of those things that gets missed over, especially when we get excited about starting new things. Or we go too hard, too fast. Because when we go too hard, too fast, we get too sore, might even get injured, because we’re not getting enough recovery time. Maybe we’re not tailoring, or adjusting our food intake to this increase of activity, and we’re feeling sluggish and tired. Or we think we should do all the things we should keto and fast and just restrict all of our eating. And you know, more is better, which is complete bollocks. And I’ll talk about that. And in a future episode as well. But we go too hard too quickly. So you sort of have to adjust your view, right?
Your view has to be kind of that like, yes, it’s fun to see things improving very quickly. We also have to have the medium to long view. And we have to stop expecting these super dramatic results after just a couple of weeks, getting disappointed, getting injured being too sore, and quitting because when you quit, you’re not getting any benefit, right? From lifting weights. You’re not building consistency. And there’s some interesting, I’ve read an interesting review. So this is like a review of, I think was 10 different scientific papers that showed that as far as building muscle is concerned, what we call hypertrophy. As far as building muscle is concerned, two times a week is way better at building muscle, than one time a week. I know that doesn’t sound like it’s like duh, of course. But anyway, that was the result of this meta kind of analysis of all these studies. So here’s the thing.
For the longer term, for the medium to long term, you need to set goals that go beyond what you weigh on the scale, that’s very important. Yes, it can be nice to want to see, you know, to see some visual change. And here’s the thing, everybody’s body is a little bit different, some people have more, just build muscle mass a little bit more easily. Some people will never have a six-pack, right, this is just how it is. And so that’s why the hashtag body goals make me cringe a little bit because my body is different from your body, your body is different from someone else’s body, we might not look the same, even though we’re doing the same kind of activity, right. So please focus on some kind of goal that goes beyond what you weigh, or exactly having some kind of aesthetic look. Because it’s going to be far easier to sustain your work towards what you can do. Or maybe you want to develop a new skill, or you want to build your strength in a specific lift, it’s going to be a lot more motivating and a lot easier to stick to that, than when you’re not seeing the number on the scale, go in the direction that you want it to go or to have an exact aesthetic look, and it’s just not materializing in the way that you expected it would.
That’s why in my coaching, whether it’s one on one, my group stuff online, when I’m talking, I really emphasize the acquisition of strength, right, getting stronger, increasing your skill, like maybe you’re refining your skills in a certain area, that is way easier to sustain over the long term. So you really need a long game mentality. And you know, on the flip side, if you’re not seeing results, it’s likely there’s something else that needs your attention. Like you’re not eating appropriately for the amount of activity that you’re doing. And this is a huge, huge issue. And it’s what I’m focusing on right now in my business, with my offers and all the stuff that I’m doing, because this is something I was seeing so often is so much a point of frustration for so many people, right? It’s like I’m putting in all this work, and I’m not getting results, I’m not getting stronger, I’m not feeling better, I’m feeling worse, like, what gives, why am I not seeing change. And a lot of it comes down to the diet mentality that we’ve all grown up in, and how that can trickle over as women to how we think we’re supposed to be eating for strength training. So that’s one, you know, number two, you might not be recovering enough. So we need to sort of talk about how much you’re recovering for the work that you’re putting in and your unique circumstances. And if the type of exercise you’re doing outside of lifting weights is appropriate for you.
So for example, if you are someone with hypothyroidism, the autoimmune version, especially smashing yourself with high-intensity training every single day is likely to not be a good fit for you. If you’re chronically stressed, it’s likely to not be a good fit for you, and so on and so forth. And then the other possibility is you may not be progressively overloading your lifting. So if you’re not challenging your muscles, if you’re not making it more challenging over time, you might not be getting the results that you want to see. So this last question, right? How long will it take to get results, and troubleshooting, what’s going on is what I’m going to be doing in my new group program which is going to be coming this summer?
So if you want to go ahead and get on the waitlist for that, then you can go to my website, StephGaudreau.com, and there you’ll see a tab for work with me. And then what you’ll see is you just hover over that and it will give you an option for group coaching. Just go ahead and jump on the waitlist, you’ll hear about what it is when it’s coming out when it’s launching what is going to help you do and there’s no obligation for being on the waitlist, but this is how you’re going to find out how to get early access and other bonuses and things like that. So that group program will be coming this summer. Because my one on one coaching is pretty much right now full. So if you want to work with me and you want to learn how to fuel your lifting better, so that you have more energy and you’ve got results in and out of the gym, frankly, without it being super rigid, and counting all the things and all that shit, then this is what I’m doing. So go ahead and get on that waitlist. Alright my friend, thank you so much for being here. I hope that these six questions gave you some food for thought.
So to recap, we’ve talked about how do I know if I’m lifting heavy enough? How often should I lift each week? while lifting weights helped me feel better about myself. But I do other sports so I don’t need to lift weights, right? I’m in my 40s Is it too late to start lifting? And how long will it take to get results? Thank you so very much for being here. I can’t wait to bring you next week’s episode. There’s a guest on deck who I know you’re really going to appreciate hearing from and until then, have a fantastic and badass week.