Harder To Kill Radio 265 Why Strength Training Can Help Your Body & Your Mind w_ Dr. Jen Hosler

Why Strength Training Can Help Your Body & Your Mind w/ Dr. Jen Hosler

As a woman, Dr. Jen Hosler believes you need to be doing some sort of strength or resistance training. A doctor of physical therapy as well as a personal trainer, Dr. Jen helps women navigate the intersection between their bodies and the physical and mental benefits of strength training. Providing a unique perspective as a physical therapist existing in the world of body image, fitness, and diet culture, Dr. Jen is here to tell you to stop obsessing over being perfect and start finding what works for you.

Harder To Kill Radio 265 Why Strength Training Can Help Your Body & Your Mind w_ Dr. Jen Hosler

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Overcome The Struggle Of Not Feeling Good

After years of being fed wellness information centered around the perfect body and being obsessed with fat loss, Dr. Jen said enough is enough and started creating legitimate informational resources to help others take care of themselves. Now Dr. Jen works to help you build up your capacity, overcome the struggle of not feeling good in your body, and show up for yourself no matter what.

Strength and resistance training can help you feel comfortable in your own skin, achieve optimal bone density and build strength to challenge and heal your body. If you are new to the strength training world or are wanting to get back into the driver’s seat when it comes to your routine, Dr. Jen is the role model that you need to know about.

Are you ready to honor your body with strength and resistance training exercises that keep things simple and feeling good? Share your thoughts about Dr. Jen’s episode in the comments below.

On Today’s Episode

  • Why you should stop blaming your body and start blaming the clothes (13:05)
  • Beginner tips for integrating yourself into strength and resistance training (20:10)
  • Breaking down the barbell as a tool for strength training and its limitations (31:35)
  • How to build up your capacity through stress recovery and adaptation (41:30)
  • Understanding that your identity is more than your fitness persona and progress (52:15)

Resources Mentioned In This Show

Dr. Jen Hosler Website

Follow Dr. Jen Hosler on Instagram | Facebook

Movement Upgraded Website

Order The Core 4 Here

Join the Core 4 Facebook Club

Nutritional Therapy Association Website

Quotes

“Picking up the barbell and seeing how strong I was was the big catalyst for me personally, changing and realizing, ‘oh, my body is more than just an ornament for other people to enjoy’.” (10:41)

“Whatever age you are now, let’s get a little bit of weight on your body, let’s get those bones built up a little bit. Because when you are 80, and a little misstep happens, you are going to be so thankful that you had a little load.” (19:51)

“As a physical therapist and a healthcare provider, I will preach a message that I think every woman should try to get some sort of resistance training in because it is just too important for our bodies as they age not too.” (28:03)

“If you can accomplish the same goal or task or purpose that you are trying to accomplish with a barbell but you are also at the risk of feeling in pain or uncomfortable, then let’s see if there is something else that maybe is another tool that can still help you accomplish that task but not wit the same risk or not the same discomfort.” (36:43)

“It doesn’t matter where you are at in your life, there are different seasons in the way things are going to be prioritized, and you always can get back to it.” (51:25)

The Core 4 is now available! Click here to get a free gift when you purchase.

Harder to Kill Radio is sponsored by the Nutritional Therapy Association. Registration is now open for the NTA’s Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Online Program. Learn more and save your seat (and don’t forget to mention my name on your application!)

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You can also try out their free 7-day course, Nutritional Therapy 101 by clicking here.

Why Strength Training Can Help Your Body & Your Mind w/ Dr. Jen Hosler FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph:
This is episode 265 of harder to kill radio. On today’s show, I’m welcoming dr Jen Hostler and we are getting into the benefits of strength training and the big question is the barbell, the be all end all tool. All right, let’s jump in.

Steph:
I’m Steph Gaudreau. I help women get stronger, know their worth and take up space without restrictive dieting or exercise as punishment. I’m here to share that you can approach nutrition, fitness, and mindset from a place of nourishment so you begin to trust yourself more deeply. Let’s talk about how to embrace your body and own your power. Now with over two and a half million downloads, this is harder to kill radio.

Steph:
Hey there, welcome back to this show. Oh my goodness. It is officially 20 freaking 20 could you even imagine that 20 years ago? Probably not yet. Here we are. It is a new year and you know what we’re not doing this year. Refer back to my last episode if you haven’t heard it, but the gist is we’re not doing the whole like we need to repent for all of our nutrition and movement sins in the last six weeks of 2019 we’re not doing that. That’s another show altogether, but today on this show, I’m so excited to kick off the new year with dr Jen Hostler because we’re really diving into sort of her zone of genius, which is really the intersection of her expertise as a doctor of physical therapy and her expertise as a personal trainer CSCs, so she has a ton of experience in particularly helping women to see the intersection of how our bodies can work really well, how strength training and resistance training can benefit our bodies physiologically, mentally and so on and so forth.

Steph:
But we’re also going to talk about some of the things that get a little bit controversial. For example, is the barbell the be all end all tool of strength training. And we’re going to dive into that and more today on this episode. I’m so excited that you’re here for it and our two sponsors today. First, the core four, embrace your body, own your power. This is my book that came out in mid 2019 and book. It is as relevant now as it was then and has been since the last four or five years that the program is based on, has been around for, but really if you are up, you’re looking for a way to get off of the roller coaster of restrictive, punishing yourself, exercising to sort of earn and burn your food. You want a different way. You’re just tired of that cycle going over and over and over again.

Steph:
You’re ready to exit that craziness. Then I really encourage you to pick up a copy of my book. It does not look like any other sort of nutrition, fitness mindset book out there. I really designed it so that you can find more peace of mind, more sustainability, and ultimately build more trust between your body and your mind. I know that it is going to help you. All you have to do is head over to where you find books, whether that’s a bookstore that you love going to, that’s the internet. You can find it in many different places online or just head over to my website, Steph gaudreau.com I will sign a copy for you personally and drop it in the mail to you and then of course send you a free bonus so you can check that out. Steph gaudreau.com and I would love for you to go and grab your own copy if you’ve been waiting.

Steph:
Now is the time and before we jump into today’s content, today’s show is brought to you by the nutritional therapy association, the NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners like myself. I did the program in 2018 and it was one of the best things that I have ever done for myself professionally in the realm of nutrition, the NTA emphasizes whole foods, properly prepared nutrient dense frameworks as the key to restoring balance in the body. They’ve just launched a brand new online program for NTPs where students take an in depth look at things like function and dysfunction of body systems, food quality, health and wellness barriers, emotional wellbeing, environment, the importance of sleep and movement and stress. And you know, we love all those topics here and how they affect the body. As a student, you’ll be empowered with motivational interviewing techniques, clinical and practical skills, and all the most up to date knowledge to become a highly recognized and respected nutrition and wellness professional in your community. Registration is now open and seats are filling up quickly. You can learn more and save your seat by going to nutritional therapy.com and of course, remember to mention my name on your application.

Steph:
Welcome back to harder to kill radio. Dr. Jen Hostler. Thank you so much for being with us today. Thanks for having me. I’m so excited to have this conversation with you. And, um, person, I know we’ve talked on Instagram quite a bit, so I’m really excited to be here. Yeah, yeah. And we just spent the last 20 minutes off air talking about all this amazing stuff and I just said, okay, like let’s listen, start recording and get some of this down because today I’m sure we’re going to touch on a variety

Steph:
of things, but we are talking about, um, some stuff with training with barbells. We, uh, share some similar, uh, I guess beliefs, maybe not the right word, but some similar perspectives with helping women build strength and why that’s important. And so we’re gonna I’m sure touch on a lot of these things today, but I really love your perspective as a physical therapist also existing in this world of talking about strength and what that means and body image and what that means and dye culture in the fitness industry. And I think it’s a really unique place to operate from

Jen:
[inaudible] as um, it’s, it’s like bridging all of the like a little bit of health care and in with like my background and strength and conditioning cause I think the healthcare is a whole another world that needs a reform in addition to the fitness and um, like online fitness community too. I think it’s all, and it’s all very similar issues but a little bit different. And so I kind of like being a little bit in a foot in the door of both, kind of, that’s like my whole goal is let’s bridge the gap between those two. So yeah.

Steph:
What initially got you interested or kind of spurred you to start covering some of the topics that you do on your personal Instagram? I know you, you all have one for your, uh, your business that you run with your husband and, and stuff like that, but what really, what was the catalyst for you to start talking about some of the other issues that you talk about now on your Instagram account?

Jen:
Um, so probably like most people, it was mostly my own personal experience. Um, I think that’s where a lot of people’s like stories, they end up, Oh well I went through this. I don’t want someone else to go through this or I want to help somebody else because, um, I struggled a lot with like, um, body image and just, uh, not ever having any idea how to be healthy without like obsessing over being perfect or like fat loss. Like, I just thought when I started on my journey, like I knew I needed to be healthy, but everywhere I looked it was like everything that was information about being healthy and learning just how to take care of yourself was so blended with actually you need to be chasing this perfect body and it needs to be fat loss. And that was just all the information I was finding.

Jen:
And um, years of unpacking and learning cause I was never consistent with anything. Like I think I tried [inaudible] Oh like everything under the sun from zoom by did like my local MCA is like elliptical stuff. I bought some flirty girl fitness DVDs when I was an undergrad. I don’t even know what that is. Whatever, some bullshit stuff like that. And then I um, got into starting to learn. My undergrad was in extra degree. It was an exercise, exercise, science and kinesiology. I started learning how the body worked and learned a lot more and started doing a lot more of my own research. And it took me a lot longer to actually figure out what’s not a bunch of bullshit and what actually is legitimate information on taking care of yourself. And so because I’ve realized that there’s not good resources for women to go to that are not tainted with this obsession with fat loss. I just started sharing some of my [inaudible] experience, some of the things I was learning. Um, and yeah, I think that’s kind of where my entire Instagram and my coaching and my website has come from.

Steph:
Yeah, we were talking off-air a little bit about fat loss and how nuanced some of this stuff can get. And I’ve had many guests on in the past where we’ve, we’ve talked about certain aspects of, of this and how nuanced it can really be. And you know, when you’re helping women to explore what it’s like to build strength or whatever that that comes along with that, things like, you know, their confidence, how they feel in their bodies and so on and so forth. Why do you see that the sort of unrelenting pursuit of fat loss gets in the way of those other things? Or how does it get in the way of those other things?

Jen:
Yeah. Oh yeah. And that’s like one of the biggest things that I learned through strength training. So like picking up a uh, barbell even though it was something that ended up causing some issues for me later on down the road. But picking up the barbell and seeing how strong I was was the big catalyst for me personally changing and realizing, Oh my body is more than like an ornament for other people to enjoy. Like it actually has some cool things that can do like deadlift a lot of weight or pull me up over a bar. And the more often I did that, the more um, grounding it felt for me. So that’s kind of my like way of grounding myself, bringing myself back into reality and bringing the focus back onto like real life. And the more that I learned, I started training other people and when I started working with women, um, that was what I saw.

Jen:
I was like, I always talk about it as like the magic behind strength training. Like you just get to see that your body is more than what it looks like. And I think that the way our bodies look are the least interesting thing about us and weight training is just one example of something beyond that that helps women. But the hard part with that is that most women are still under the premise that we started lifting weights and it makes us bulky. And so, um, that is one of the biggest things, um, that I talk about too is we fear lifting weights because we don’t want to be bigger. And a lot of that is still that like a whole, um, women need to be small, need to be focused on shrinking, always obsessing over fat loss. And if we’re constantly afraid of gaining weight or anything like that, it just, it holds us back from things that are so very important and can be a catalyst in helping us feel comfortable in our body, which I think is what strength training really does and is for most women that I work with.

Steph:
Yeah, absolutely. There’s also sort of this aspect of, I’ve seen, I’ve seen, right? Women do pick up the way you’d say, do start ticks, variance, all of these other things that they’re enjoying, loving that they’re experiencing these new things. It’s fun, it’s motivating, right? All like there’s so much great stuff that comes along with it and they’re like, I feel better in my body. And yet, um, you know, like my, I needed to buy bigger jeans or now my cute like fitted worktops are too tight and they’re that race. So there’s still that aspect of the body size. Um, how do you help women unpack all of that?

Jen:
So this is something that happens to me all the time. Um, I, I feel for women when this happens because I honestly never fit into clothes in the first place. I was always athletic growing up. I was a gymnast and a soccer player, so I had always have had these big massive thighs. Shopping for jeans was like a miserable mess. So I would end up in tears like every single time. It was just an unexpected thing. I dreaded going clothes shopping with my mom. And that even went all the way into my twenties. And this is what I see most women, what happens, they go into the fitting room and we try on these clothes and we don’t fit into them. And then we go down this spiral of shame. And um, that’s on a whole nother topic. But this frustration with our own bodies and one of the biggest things I help women do is think about maybe it’s not you.

Jen:
Maybe it’s the clothes like most clothes are not designed. Um, and it kind of goes into that whole like diet culture and women need to be small and most clothes are just not designed for, um, women with athletic bodies and, and in the, even if they were, they’re going to be designed for athletic bodies. Don’t have one look either. So like you can’t pick one body and then design all the clothes for it. That’s just impossible. So it’s up to us to kind of do our own work to figure out, Oh, where do clothes, where are their clothes that make me feel comfortable? And unfortunately, I don’t think there is enough places that offer clothes that are comfortable or feel good and in people’s bodies. But I’m maybe not going to the places you know that don’t fit you a great are one of the things I tell women, but just unpacking that whole like maybe it’s not my body, maybe I need to just think about it’s the has been one of the catalysts I think for a lot of the people that I work with, clothes shopping is just hard no matter what.

Jen:
It’s just then you see things and maybe cellulite. And that’s another thing that women always are like, Oh, the lighting and I looked like this and I’m just like, wow, it’s not the best lighting either. That overhead kind of like, you know, I was to think of the queen cover for Bohemian Rhapsody when they’re like, their faces are super shadowy actually. That’s like perfect queen, my favorite. I love that you said that. Um, yeah. And so there’s just always, there’s always something when we go clothes shopping and it’s a hard, hard thing I think for most women. And it’s like something, and we, a lot of people take for granted maybe, but the lighting’s never good. It’s always way too hot. Can we just talk about that for like a minute? I hate it. And when you have bigger legs and you’re trying to peel leggings over them, like it’s so frustrating.

Jen:
I’m like, man, did I just do a full workout? Like in the fitting room? Try not close. Like I don’t know. But um, so it’s just never optimal and it’s never that great of a time. But buying clothes that fit you and you feel comfortable in or one of the most important things and dealing with the fact that maybe your clothes don’t fit you anymore is um, not an easy task, but being comfortable in your clothes is important. And that’s what I tell most of the women that are working with it anyways. And if they still are struggling with the fact that maybe their legs are getting a little bit bigger, um, we talk about, well, what are all the other benefits that are happening when we are strength training? And one of my favorites to talk about, and this is probably the physical therapist in me, is the bone density.

Jen:
Let’s talk about that. Uh, so I, when I did my clinical rotations, um, my third one was 16 weeks long and it was in an inpatient rehab hospital. So these are hospitals that people who maybe were in the hospital for some reason and like a normal hospital, they had a stroke or something really significant, broke a hip. Um, they then are not ready to go home cause they can’t take care of themselves. They need intensive rehab so they need like they get three hours of, of therapy, occupational and physical a day. And so I did a 16-week rotation at this hospital and it was an hour and 15 minutes North of where I am in Florida. So it was a little place called Brooksville and there’s really nothing there. The average age of my patient was probably like 85 or 90 years old. So it was very older population.

Jen:
But when you work with an older population like that, you see what happens if we are not working on things like bone density. So a bone density peaks when we’re like in our twenties, I don’t remember the exact age of the twenties and thirties. Twenties probably, right? [inaudible] I think so. Yeah. But, um, our body’s constantly adapting to things and if we are not loading it, then our bones will eventually start becoming frail. And there’s a couple of, um, different mechanisms behind that, beyond those things. But one of the simplest ways to just make your bones like strong and healthy is to put load on them, not like, you know, um, crazy amount of loads all at once. Of course it has to be like small little increments over time. But, uh, if you do this and you do strength training and loading your body, your bones get strong. And if you don’t, as you age, they start to get weaker to the point where we are at risk for fractures, fractures with small daily activities.

Jen:
Some of the people I worked with had fractures doing heart rolling over in bed, Oh, when they’re in their eighties. So just rolling over. That’s not, that’s not very much forced. But yeah, there’s, um, and then the other thing is when people fall, which sometimes that happens as we age, our balance doesn’t, um, our balance does the client a little bit. It doesn’t as much if you strength train again, but, um, think about a normal time that maybe you’ve fallen or hit yourself or like fallen down. Now I’m 27, 20, almost 28 where you don’t think about that, but when you’re 80, that’s the worst thing that you could ever happen to you because the possibility of you fracturing a hip for women is so high. And the mortality rate after a hip fracture is really, really high as well. It’s one of the worst things for women. And so because of all of that, I’m like, ah, whatever age you are now, let’s get a little bit of weight on your body. Let’s get those bones built up a little bit because when you’re 80 and some little mishap happens, you’re going to be so thankful that you had a little load.

Steph:
Yeah. Okay. So can you break down for us what that might look like? Because I think that, I think on the whole, many of my listeners are either strength training or they’re, you know, they’re down that path. But if there’s somebody listening to this show who’s newer to the, to the whole world of strength training or some kind of resistance training, I mean, what are we talking about here? Cause I think that’s where a lot of the confusion comes in because people will say things like, well, I do resistance bands, you know, this is what I have access to or I walk. And so that’s, that’s getting impact or what, you know, so on and so forth. Right. So there’s this sort of spectrum of things and I think it might be helpful to sort of go through like what are the, what are the types of movements that are really going to be beneficial for things like laying down your bone or stained shit, strengthening the bone that’s there, right?

Jen:
That people have a clearer picture of, of what’s really going to give them the most benefit. Absolutely. So, and that’s ideally strength training two or three times a week is honestly enough to simulate some sort of bone growth and provide you with the health benefits you need. Like it’s, it’s that simple and it doesn’t mean like you need to be doing like overhead squats with 400 pounds. I don’t know who can do that. Somebody probably can’t. But like it doesn’t mean you need to be doing that. And it also means that we still need to be doing a little bit more than just a resistance band. Ideally, now everybody is going to be at different abilities with what they have access to. But um, when it comes to adding weight on or loading the bones, we’ll talk about that just in and of itself. There’s a couple of ways our bones are unloaded.

Jen:
One is just from weight, so just from like pressure on the bone. So having a dumbbell or a barbell set on maybe your collarbone. Um, sometimes people can actually get hypertrophied or larger bones from that. They actually have shown studies of, um, baseball throwers. They have higher parts of their bone density where the muscle attaches. So that’s the second part is when the muscle contracts, so like muscles attached to, usually it has two attachment points where it is, there’s like approximal on a distal attachment point, we’ll just call them attachment points for now. So when a muscle contracts, it’s like a rubber band and it shortens and you can’t see me. I’m doing hand motions. Of course, I talk with my hands a lot. But when it, when it contracts, it pulls on what it’s connected to, which is the bone. So if the muscle is contracted or is attached to the bone, you’re pulling on that bone and that force is stimulating the cells that create all of the bone tissue and the osteoblasts and telling them, Hey, let’s make this bone a little bit stronger for the next time this happens because I am getting pulled on essentially.

Jen:
And the way that, um, people, the way that I refer to this as that force is the language of the cells. It’s kind of just an understanding yourselves or what lay down more bone tissue and force is created from either pressure, from the weight or from a contraction of the muscle. So hopefully that’s not too confusing, but it’s not just I need to add weight. It’s also just contractions of muscles too. Um, and the thing about our bodies is though they get very, very efficient. So our brains, our brains and bodies are so much smarter than us. That’s like what I say to everybody. Like, we think we’re smarter than our bodies. We’re not, this is mother nature over like thousands of years of, of, of figuring things out. And so our body’s really smart and our brain’s goal is to obviously keep us alive, but also to minimize our energy expenditure.

Jen:
And so it gets efficient at the things we do. So if you’re doing the same exact gym routine every single day or every day that you go to the gym, your body’s going to get efficient at that and it’s no longer going to be a challenge for you. And so that means the cells are no longer going to pay attention or they may just maintain where you’re at. Um, so that is where the concept of like progressive overload comes in and that’s where every week we need to be trying to either push it a little bit with weight or um, adding a little bit of a different challenge with maybe repetitions. Um, sometimes you can get a little fancier and just change the stimulus. So maybe switch to a harder exercise, things like that. But we have to constantly be working to either improve or add load or change it up a little bit because our bodies do get efficient at what we’re doing.

Jen:
Yeah, they’re super smart. They are way smarter than us, like way smarter. So, um, and so that’s where that whole like, and I, and I don’t mean by the way, like we need constant variation, right? So there’s the whole spectrum between do I constantly switch it up every single time or do I do the exact same routine every single time? And like everything in life, there’s kind of a happy middle between. And I usually say like I keep things as simple as possible. That’s like my whole training program. Simply strong. Like I want to keep it simple and just following a regular strength training program, four to five weeks of every week, let’s try to push it just a little bit a Western training and then the next four to five weeks you can switch the training program, maybe change different exercises, pick different, um, intensities that you do, things that’s like what I normally recommend everybody to do for like optimal health, optimal bone density, building strength, um, and just keeping yourself healthy. Yeah, I love that.

Steph:
Do you ever see, do you ever struggle, this is kind of a personal question, I’m like what she gonna say, cause I struggled with this as well, but do you ever struggle with the, the sort of balance between knowing what you know and saying, knowing all of the benefits of things like resistance training, strength training, you know, on the body, on our physiology, on our, you know, in our minds are the mental benefit. Do you ever struggle with that as opposed to, you know, people who just say I’ve tried strength training and I don’t like it or I had a bad experience and I’ve written it off or it makes me get injured? Like do you struggle to sort of find the balance point between those two things where you say, okay, well yeah, like I respect your, I know we won’t. Like I know you’re super respectful of people’s desires, you know, how do you’ve also sort of come back in and remind them of why physiologically and for their body and mind it’s so important.

Jen:
Yeah, I that’s like that is that I have a lot of internal conflicts about, so we talked about that earlier before we came on here and that’s definitely one of them because I, first of all, validate anybody’s choice for what feels best for their body. That’s like the first and foremost thing because I don’t think we do enough of that as fitness people as healthcare providers especially. And I will kind of like tap into that side of things a little bit more. But I think that’s the most important thing is just say that’s it’s understandable where they come from and I’m validating that first and foremost is the normal way I do it. But in the end, um, my goal isn’t to push my agenda on somebody. It’s more to question what’s really going on. And this kind of comes down to like all of my recommendations are all my answers to almost all things is, it just depends.

Jen:
Like I don’t ever push. Like I will say, I will make a blanket statement and say that as a physical therapist and a healthcare provider, I really do. Like I will preach a message that I think every woman should try to get some sort of resistance training in. Um, because it’s just too important for our bodies as we age not to. And I see the debilitation, I’ve seen it. I work with people. I have an 87-year-old patient right now who she worked on a farm and did a lot of physical activities, but then, uh, in the last few decades she hasn’t done any exercise, which she’s like, I wish I would’ve done this stuff. Like I wish I would’ve kept up with it then. I probably wouldn’t be working so hard right now just to be able to hold my head up. That’s what we’re working on with her.

Jen:
And so, um, I will kind of make that blanket statement, but I will also validate people who have struggled with it in the past. And honestly, that’s kind of where my like niche as a physical therapist and a strength coach comes. Um, in, I’m looking word searching here. It comes in handy. There it is. I, um, I love working with people who’ve had those struggles because it’s really common and people, there’s a lot of people who, one, it just doesn’t feel good in their bodies. And I think that has a lot to do with pain and um, other things that maybe it just wasn’t the right, I don’t know, type or exercise selection for them. And so I always say, aye, I want you to try this and just see how it goes. I’m not going to push it on you, but let’s see if working together with me a different approach might be better because, um, we don’t, there’s like so many things in our lives, and I use this one a lot.

Jen:
We don’t get like one bad haircut and decide haircutting is not for me. I’m just, I’m never going to get to a hairstylist again. Like that just doesn’t happen. Right. We don’t throw all of it out. When we get one bad haircut, we just say a hairstylist maybe didn’t understand what I tried to communicate with them or maybe this hairstylist. Um, just honestly it isn’t a thing as experienced as they need to or maybe they were lying and they don’t actually have a hair stylist license, which I think is kind of what happens in the fitness world sometimes. But, um, so those are all the, the, the factors that come into play. And so I will always try to see if there’s some form of resistance training that feels good for people, but also, um, we don’t need to lift super heavy weights for it to be effective. Right. So sometimes there’s just other things and forms of loading that maybe aren’t with weights and some form of exercise that is not, it’s still addressing the bone density issues and other, um, health benefits, but aren’t necessarily whatever their negative experience has been with weight training before.

Steph:
Yeah. Well, that leads into the other question that I want. I’ve, okay. First, thank you for, thank you for going through all of that and I think that’s going to be incredibly helpful because honestly, I hear a lot from people in my community that they’re, you know, they’re in the gym six days a week really working super hard. They’re wondering why they’re not getting, they’re not seeing improvement. So there’d be a lot of issues. Why a lot of reasons why. Um, but you know, see to hear from somebody with your credentials, your experience, your sort of blending of all the things, they’re really great at what we don’t need to be like hammering the crap out of ourselves, but also we do need to have appropriate things like load or volume or whatever. Like that’s, that’s going to be so beneficial for people. But we were talking earlier, segue to what I said about one of the things that I think is super intimidating for women especially, but also I think for some men is the concept that the barbell is the be all end all. Like you haven’t arrived until you are doing the most complex things with barbells. Whether that’s, you know, a high bar squat or a snatch or an overhead squat like you mentioned earlier, you know, break down for us, your sort of opinions and sort of perspectives on the barbell as a tool for strength training and uh, where its limitations lie.

Jen:
Yeah. Um, this is a big thing to unpack a little bit, but as you, my bias, so if I lose your, get off on a tangent, I tend to do that. Sometimes they just wrote me back in. But, um, so when it comes to barbells, the first thing I’ll say is that it’s a tool that’s like what we get lost in. It’s not the tool is just a tool. It’s a great tool. I love the barbell, but I also sometimes, um, there’s sometimes a better tool to use that is more, um, that won’t cause as many or won’t be, I don’t want to say cause because barbells aren’t necessarily a problem, but there’s sometimes as a better tool to use to achieve the same goal without the risk opposed or, uh, combined with it. So sometimes some people are not ready for a Barbeau and sometimes some people may never be ready for a barbell unless they work really, really hard to address certain mobility restrictions and, and their joints or preparedness or there just some bodies that don’t feel good with certain movements.

Jen:
Um, and different anatomies come into play with that. So myself, I have a very, very short tour so it almost doesn’t exist. My back is very crooked. It literally does it. My hip and my rib cage are one in the same, um, which makes clothes buying super fun. Oh, like we talked about earlier, but I actually have a very crooked back. So I have scoliosis and they wanted to do surgery on it, but then, the curvature is pretty significant, but it’s okay. And I had a lot of back pain in the past and um, and I started lifting and the back pain, uh, actually got better. And then I got different back pain from the bar belt deadlifting I was doing. And I had that pain for years and didn’t really know what was going on. And this was towards the end of my undergrad, beginning of physical therapy school.

Jen:
And I finally just got rid of the barbell and realize maybe the barbell just doesn’t feel good for me. I don’t think I did this on purpose. I don’t remember what happened. I just know that I wasn’t using a barbell as much. I think I was training more at my apartment gym and I didn’t have access to it and I was like still putting on muscles, still feeling good strength training, but I was not using a barbell for anything and I felt better and my back pain got better and I wasn’t working specifically on my joint mobility issues and I was like, Oh, maybe I don’t need the barbell. And this kind of was um, obvious to me after I started learning some more about movement and all the things that I learned in physical therapy school and the things that are going on with my body.

Jen:
So because I have a short torso, longer legs, I’m not a very good squatter. And I was squatting and deadlifting and both of them were actually uncomfortable. I don’t pick up the bar very well from the ground unless I do like more of a Sumo style, which is something I learned later cause I was not doing a Sumo style where your legs are wider. And once I stopped doing that, my back felt much better. And when I see people in the [inaudible] that come and see me to see me for pain or pinching or whatever it is that’s keeping them from being able to do something or they just want to get rid of it and their training was a bar bell, I gr, I assess all of their body depending on what’s going on. And I’m like, okay, maybe you don’t have the best. Your body’s just not prepared for putting a barbell on your back and holding it there.

Jen:
Let’s just try maybe a really heavy goblet squat. So goblets like holding a kettlebell or a dumbbell in the front and see how you feel. And I don’t know the exact statistics, but I feel like it’s like nine times out of 10 that just felt, feels so much better and that is still accomplishing loading in a squat pattern. It’s just in a pain free way. So if you can accomplish the same goal or task or purpose or whatever that you’re trying to accomplish with a barbell, but you’re also at the risk of, or feeling pain or uncomfortable, then let’s see if there’s something else that maybe is another tool that can still help you accomplish that task, but not with the same risk or maybe not with the same discomfort that year.

Jen:
If you have a lot of asymmetries, sometimes, um, the barbell will force you into a path that’s uncomfortable for your spine or for your hip or for something else like that. And what I found is that people are very, very reluctant to give up their barbells. And I understand because barbells look really cool, like barbell back squats. I love watching people do them because I can’t, I could, but I just choose not to because it feels better for my body and I still find myself sometimes wishing I wish I could just barbell back squat. But I’m also, by the way, not actively working on it right now. But, um, I find that a lot of women are a lot of people in general and just, we see all these people doing these like beautiful back squats and it’s great for them, but you also see a lot of people doing all kinds of other things and maybe that’s fine for them, but it’s just, it’s not always right for you.

Jen:
And it’s always important to pick the thing that’s the best for your body because if we choose something that the whole point of the gym is to be in the gym like 30 or 40 years from the road down from, from now. Like you still want to be in the gym. Anything that compromises that is just not worth it. So if you’re using a barbell for maybe a bench press or for squatting or your style of deadlifting and it’s causing pain or contributing to pain and you’re just trying to push through it. Like again, like we said earlier, bodies are smarter than us. Pain is normally a signal. Maybe it’s time to just switch it a little bit. I’m not saying give up weight training. I would never say that. I’m just saying, no, there’s other options. Let’s explore them. Absolutely. Um, and I am the same way. I’ve got about a fingers

Steph:
within between my last drip and my, the top of my hipbone crest. Right. And, uh, yeah, I find certain things like I, we were talking earlier before we started recording straight bar deadlifting for me, it’s just not, it just is not a great movement. And I, you know, over the years I’ve gone back and tried to tinker with it and, and it just, you know, it’s just not ready for me. So I see a trap bar. I’m like, come on, let’s see, let’s get this done.

Jen:
Yeah. And that’s like, it’s so much more empowering to be like, it’s not, it’s not saying don’t train. Right. You still have other options. A barbell is not the end all be all. And you can still be like, Oh, I feel so great. Let’s do this trap bar. Like trap. Ours are great. I love them. Not everybody has access to them, but no, there’s, there’s so many different variations. Like, um, I have been following Brett Contreras a lot recently and I love how he shares so many different variations and ways to do things. And um, I tried to share that with the people that I work with too. So I have a simply strong group that I program for and we have a Facebook group and I’m like, Hey, if there’s like a, if you’re uncomfortable doing something, there’s probably like 3 million, not 3 million, but there’s so many other ways we can adjust that accomplishes the same task. Let’s do those things. Let’s be creative. Let’s look at it as an opportunity and a challenge to problem solve here. Get creative and find ways to load things that still feel comfortable and good in your body because the most important thing is to feel good. Yeah.

Steph:
Yeah. Like if you’re, if you’re totally wrecked from what you’re doing, I mean, it’s interesting because we all, I think a lot of us have that experience where we’ve pushed it too hard. Right? We have Dom’s like we can’t sit down without falling, but falling backward. That sort of just falling into the toilet. Yeah. Toilet trust fall. And, and yet there is, there’s still this mentality of uh, and we get this in my group all the time. Like, you know, if I’m totally lit trust falling because I blew my quads out doing 150 wall balls yesterday, um, you know, should I go in and like train really hard today? And I’m just kind of like, I mean you probably don’t feel very good. Like what can you do to just maybe, maybe just move around a little bit, but I would love for you to speak on sort of this idea of building capacity because I, I see what tends to happen a lot, which is, and this is I think normal.

Steph:
And like I said, we’ve all been there but we get real excited. We’re starting out. We just started like gung-ho. We’re like in that peak of motivation, maybe we’re seeing the novice gains and we just go so hard. Then we’re now taking five days off because we gave ourselves quad dorms or whatever. Can you sort of speak to this idea of building capacity and in those kinds of three pieces of stress recovery? And then adaptation and how they all work together because I feel like it’s like it’s sort of finding the right mixture for people and then they’re like, well, I’m not seeing any gains or this is just pointless or you know, whatever. I’m not seeing the improvements that I want to see. So how do you, how do you help people understand that process of building capacity?

Jen:
Oh yeah. That’s something, and I actually made this little infographic post on Instagram, um, about this exactly. Like what is exercise and what are we doing and how is that working? Because this is how I explain basically everything. Everything I do, whether it’s like you’re in rehab and we’re working on pain and whatever, like maybe tissues that are, I don’t know, quote-unquote damaged or painful or we’re just building capacity in our strength and um, and like strength training in general. And so that’s like what we’re doing with exercise. That’s the whole point of it. So you start with whatever capacity you’re at and then you create, so exercise is a stressor. That’s what I tell everybody. It’s, you’re creating a little like microdamage in the muscle. You are basically taxing the system. You’re telling your body. It’s the way we communicate with our bodies and say, Hey, I want you to be X based on whatever you choose.

Jen:
So if you’re weight training, I want you to be stronger and I want your bones to be a little stronger so that the next time I do this, um, you’re a little stronger. And that’s kind of how the brain reads that stuff. So we’d go in, create this little microdamage, send this message to our body and then we recover for whatever amount of time it is. And then once we recover back up to the original capacity or before, then we’re ready to do this all over again. And when I say recover, that’s the most important thing that people don’t understand when we are recovering is when we’re actually making these adaptations. Your, your brain and your cells are working really hard to, um, maybe fix any of that little damage or micro-tears that are happening and your nervous system is, um, and your brain, especially when we’re sleeping, is creating like little pathways of, Oh, maybe this skill that I was doing, this is how we’re going to do it next time.

Jen:
And there’s like all these things that are happening, but it happens when we rest, not when we’re in the gym. We don’t actually make any gains in the gym. You’re, we’re kind of tearing ourselves down a little bit. And so it’s, it’s the adequate recovery and recovery is not just for rolling and it’s not just taking time off the gym, it’s adequate sleep, which is probably the most important. And I talk about sleep all the time for a lot of different, um, things because sleep does everything basically. But it’s very, very, very important for our recovery. And then also the amount, right amount of nutrition. So we need to make sure we’re eating enough protein so that we have the building blocks. We need to build up the muscles that we just kind of tore down a little bit. Um, and enough carbs so that we’re replenishing our glycogen stores.

Jen:
And so all those things happen and when you give yourself enough time off from the gym so that when you get back into the gym you can push it again. And sometimes, like you were saying when you first start, you’re going to have a lot more of these like symptoms of dorms and things are going to feel really, really taxing. And it’s kind of like shocking. The system is almost what I say. It’s like, Oh, what the heck did I do? And I usually tell people that, um, if you, so when people are asking, so like one of the questions that we get all the time or I get, and I think you were kind of alluding to this too, is well, if I have really bad dogs, like if my legs just feel fried, do I go into the gym again and train? And if I have it planned for that day and my question is always like, well what are your, what’s your reasoning for needing to go to the gym that day and can we move it back a day a little bit and can we do something else instead?

Jen:
So if you’re going into the gym to train the same exact muscle group and you’re having like significant jobs, I’m like, just give yourself a little bit of a break. I err on that side a little bit more often, especially for people who are newer just because it’s not comfortable to have a lot of times and it’s a sign that they’re still really sore. The recovering, let them recover adequately so that you can go a little harder the next time. If it’s lasting five days, that might be a sign where either not recovering well, probably not sleeping well or um, maybe we went a little bit too hard. So knowing the right entry point is really important so that when you are doing the thing in the gym, it’s not pulling you back five days, not being able to do something beyond that. And then the other thing to remember is it’s not that you can’t do anything.

Jen:
So like a light cardiovascular exercise and movement, general movement and mobility is really great to do for muscle soreness. [inaudible] that’s like, so we still can do something. Um, but I know a lot of people have a hard time with if they’re really sore or not feeling like they’re fully recovered, not, um, going to the gym or taking a day off. That’s something that I’ve found is, is kind of hard for most people. That’s a whole nother topic in and of itself. It is. And also occurred to me that I didn’t ask you to define what Dom’s is. So if people go, Oh yeah, they’re a little bit like, what does she talk to you about? What does that, so Dom’s delayed onset muscle soreness. So that’s that. Like I worked out and now I hurt and it’s really sensitive every time I move that muscle.

Jen:
And it usually happens the day after. Sometimes people is the second day that’s uh, usually worse. But it’s more common in new training. And then when you do a new exercise, so if you’re a new to training, it usually is, and it’s the thing that this most people are going to be experiencing here come January when we have a lot of people starting up again. So you start a new program that’s normal to feel that to start and it does get better. Like it, it always gets better. That’s one of my least favorite parts about not being able to do an exercise or even train pretty hard for a while. So last year I had mono for like a month and coming back I was like, Oh, I know that I’m going to have to deal with these Dobbs for a while, but it always gets better.

Steph:
Yeah. Yeah, it always does. And you know, I think that’s one of the things that people struggle with too in my community is they’ve had to take time away for whatever reason, they had a baby or they’re a new parent, right? So their co-parenting or went through a busy season with their job or they went back to school and they just needed time away or they’re injured or sick or whatever, fill in the blank. But that anticipation, you’re first of all the feeling that I’ve gotten weaker and it’s all, it’s all for not, you know, I worked really hard and now it went away. Um, can you speak to the concept of sort of developing a baseline of strength in those cases and how you might not be losing quote heavy air quotes, all your gains, all disease?

Jen:
Yeah, definitely. Um, so I touched on this on my Instagram stories just recently too. Um, because this is something that I think it’s hard. It’s hard for a lot of reasons and I’m not gonna like to unpack all of those, but I, I do a little bit and so I usually ask people when they’re struggling with this, first of all, like, what is it that you’re so afraid of? Like what, what is all the things it and like, what are we really working with? Because a lot of the times we just need to voice it, you know, a lot of the times it’s maybe I’m afraid of gaining weight, which is, you know, that whole topic in and of itself, or I’m afraid of losing all my strength or my muscle mass. And that’s a whole another topic too, which is understandable. You work really hard and you’re like, yeah, like I’m strong.

Jen:
You get to see these muscles, like flexing is fun and then maybe an injury happens or you have a baby or um, maybe you’re caring for a sick loved one and you just, that’s your priority shift a little and that’s okay. Um, and they’re like, Oh, and it’s frustrating. So like first of all, it is frustrating. I totally get it. I love training and when I can, I get stressed. Like it’s, I just, I enjoy it and it grounds me. So I totally understand where people are coming from that or where they’re coming from when it comes to that. But when you’ve trained for awhile, you don’t, it takes so long to like lose everything you’ve gained. So somebody who’s been training like a few years, you have built up such create amazing bone density. And um, you also, when you have lost something, you gain it back faster.

Jen:
There’s actually some research to support that. So that’s nice to know, but you’re not gonna lose it in a few days or a few weeks or even a few months. That’s like the first thing to think about, like especially bone density. It’s just, it’s takes years to do that. Like, and even in a year, if you lose it, guess what? You built it up in the first place. Our body is always adapting, so it’s always ready and waiting for us to tell it to be stronger. It’s always there to do that. At my 87 year old patient, I’m still getting her stronger. We’re still working on her bone density. She is still working on all those things. And so it doesn’t matter where you’re at in your life, there’s different seasons where things are going to be prioritized. Um, and you always can get back to it. So it may take some time and patience and more work, but you always will be able to put the muscle back on.

Jen:
You will always be able to get your strength back up. It’s not some like crazy thing that once you lose you’ll never get it back again. That’s never true. I love that. And also it really speaks to um, the process, right? It speaks to the, you know, you went, you did all, you did all this work. It’s not just going to poof magically disappear in a week. And, and so I think that that is probably going to be really helpful for people as they’re sort of working through that mindset piece because yeah, it can be really, I guess sort of like sad for folks when they think, Oh, I worked so hard and now I’m not going to be where I was before. Oh yeah. And a lot of people they identify as like fitness people. Like it becomes part of your identity sometimes and the more we are attached to those identities and then they get taken away from us for whatever reason, the harder it is to cope sometimes.

Jen:
And on something that I see as a physical therapist all the time because I do work with a lot of people who have been injured. And if you, for example, are an athlete who had an ACL surgery, you are out of sport for like a year sometimes. Most of the time that’s a long time of not being in your sport when your sport may be your identity. And so it’s hard to come to terms with that. But understanding that your identity is so much more than that. You’re not just an athlete, you’re not just a fitness person. You’re more than just like how much you can deadlift if you have a lot more to offer than the, to the world than that. It’s the same thing. Like we have a lot more to offer the world than what we look like. We have a lot more to offer our world, the world than videos of our squatting that we were doing before if you have to take some time off of it.

Jen:
So it’s just a lot of things to keep in mind that, um, it’s not guaranteed that we’ll always be able to do this. So that’s another thing that I like to remind to expect if we’re starting to train that there’s going to be some time in your life between now and the end of it that you’re not going to be able to train consistently. Like that’s just, it’s expected to happen like, um, and the more we can expect it, the less of a shock it is and the more we can cope with it a little bit easier because life is just crazy. Like you are going to be traveling. Life is not like this little like perfectly managed. I’m always going to have my routine. It’s always going to be fine. Like there’s going to be a time in your life when you can be on it, on the gym, like going five times a week, six times a week, killing it. You’re like making your PRN, your dead lift, your peering, your squat, you feel great. And there’s going to be times when you’re like, man, I just wish I could get to the gym, but like I’ve got other things going on and maybe it’s like once or twice a week and that’s like good enough.

Steph:
Yeah, I love that. That’s so great. Yeah. Like you know, anything you can do is better than probably not doing it at all if you have the option right earlier, you know, you sort of, we have this tendency sometimes to sort of throw the baby out with the bathwater and say like, well, if we can’t do exactly this, you know, all of the days that I want to do, then why bother? And that’s not necessarily gonna give you the, you know like you can still get a benefit.

Jen:
Exactly. And it’s, it’s so, it’s so, so, so important to just show up if you can. No matter what, like showing up, no matter what’s going on is one of the most important things. And it really does. If you have like an injury or something like we were talking about before and, or you just like, Oh, I can’t do a certain exerciser. If you broke a foot for an example like that doesn’t mean you have to stop training. It just means now we get to be a little bit more creative in what we’re doing. Or maybe we just shift our focus and that’s kind of what pivot. Like that’s one of my favorite things to say. I’m a big friends fan, so I always say that like we just have to learn how to pivot and fitness in life. And that’s like life advice too.

Jen:
But, and in our starting training in our fitness world too, it’s just like, well, I know that something’s going to happen at some point, so let’s just pivot at that point. And that’s usually, I think what people come to me as a physical therapist for, I’m really just like a pivot expert. So they do like, we’re going to shift what we’re focusing on and he all the body in the process and um, make sure that we’re still like working on something if we can. But also if there’s like a time in your life when you can’t and all you can do is get outside and walk for like 20 minutes, then that’s so good enough because it’s still better than sitting and doing absolutely nothing. And sometimes they just have to accept that and be okay with it. Awesome. I know that it’s temporary.

Steph:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, this has been so fun to get to chat with you finally in real life and well I guess as close to real life as we can get doing, we’re on opposite coasts of the country. Um, let folks know where they can follow along with you on social media and what your website is and all that good stuff.

Jen:
Sure. So I, um, you can find me on Instagram at Jen Hostler. I post a lot on there and then I have my website, John hustler.com and that is most of my social media and that website is for women specifically coaching women. I do a little bit, um, we touch on all aspects of health because they just, you can’t have one without the other. Um, but if you like mobility and learning a little bit more on the like rehab side, I also have a business called movement upgraded and you can follow us on there and learn a little bit about how to take care of your joint health so you can find me on both places. They’re awesome. I think that’s where I’m at mostly. So yeah, it was super fun chatting with you.

Steph:
Yeah, we’re going to link all of that in the show notes. I’m just so grateful that you made some time to hang out with me today and just rap about all these things. Share your expertise with my listeners. I know they’re going to be incredibly grateful and I just, yeah, I can’t wait for this to come out and for us to be able to share it with everyone. So thanks for being here.

Jen:
Well, thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. I really appreciate it.

Steph:
Hurray. My friend that is a wrap on episode 265 the very first episode of harder to kill radio in the year of 20 freaking 20 this show is now in its fifth year, which is bananas and it’s just such a pleasure to continue bringing you the best people on the planet. Truly folks who are really out there to help and build people up instead of continuously pointing out what’s wrong with them or you know that they’re never going to be good enough, and here’s just like the latest quick fix that you can use to to fix it. That’s not what we do here. So if you’re new, welcome. Thanks for joining us. If you are a longtime listener of the show, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. No matter if you’re new or you’re a veteran, we’d love to have you hit the subscribe button on your podcast app right now. Go ahead. Just tap it. It’s super easy, free for you, but that is a way to get the show automatically put onto your device every week. As soon as it hits the presses, which is officially 1:00 AM Pacific time on Tuesdays in case you are wondering. Okay, there we go. That is the first official episode of this year. I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday season, a wonderful new year, and I will see you back on the show next Tuesday until then, be well!

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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