In the lusty 1999 comedy-drama flick, Hustlers, Jennifer Lopez’s character, Ramona, teaches newcomer Destiny (played by Constance Wu) her incredible pole dancing moves. As Lopez (who dominated that role btw) shows off her top moves – “the martini”, “the tabletop” and “climb” – awe-struck Destiny says, “I can’t do that. I don’t have the muscles to do this.”
Ramona shuts her down quickly. “Every girl has muscles to do this”as she twirls down like a fairy.
You may not have any pole dancing aspirations but even so, Ramona was right. Muscles let you do some really cool sh*t!
Not to mention, muscles give you freedom to do things on your own when needed. Since moving to Tennessee, I’ve hauled a mid-century bookcase, glass coffee table, and other furniture from my car and into my apartment. I didn’t have the luxury of calling on someone for help but I used the knowledge I have about how to properly deadlift and squat in order to safely move things around on my own.
Training Is an Investment In Your Health’s Piggy Bank Account
Far too many people are out here approaching their physical training with a short-term investor’s mindset. What does a short-term-thinking investor do?
- She chases get-rich-quick schemes
- She turns to non-experts’ advice to make investment decisions (i.e. friends, strangers on the internet, or fear-mongering TV pundits)
- She panics when the market dips and rides high when the market is doing well. She lets market movement dictate her emotions
This isn’t any different from someone who trains with a short-term mentality:
- She hops from program to program for quick fixes and never completes one
- She turns to Instagram influencers, non-experts, and friends for training advice
- She views training from a single lens only – fat loss, a number on the scale, or a body part
- She is emotionally tied to what her body looks like in a single moment
- She measures success by a single metric or by comparing herself to others
The short-term mentality never works for investors and certainly not in fitness. Working on performance-based fitness goals is your single best shot at success with training for the long-term. More importantly, this mindset helps cultivate muscle building and shaping!
Here’s what a long-haul mentality looks like in strength training and general exercise:
- She seeks out guidance from professionals (i.e trainers, nutritionists, physical therapists, etc.) in order to improve
- Acknowledges that she can’t know everything and do it all on her own and seeks to learn more
- She shows up consistently for herself through training, recovery, and nutrition. She knows she’s the sum of all her good habits not just a single day or week out of the year
- She measures success through multiple metrics – how her clothes fit, her energy levels, progress photos, scale, performance improvements in the gym, etc.
- She selects programs carefully and sticks it out patiently in order to see the results take shape (literally and figuratively!)
- She understands that the body is complex and sometimes, other experts are needed to assess a new challenge like hormonal imbalances, pelvic floor recovery, etc.
- She practices grace and self-compassion with herself, especially when she slips up or misses a few days
The long-haul mentality views training as lifelong investment and every “penny” towards her habits, health, training, and food choices compounds to deliver muscles, an athletic physique, and general wellness. There’s nothing wrong with a fat loss goal or wanting to train to look a certain way. But as our dearest Ramona demonstrates, muscles can do a lot more than just look good.
The long-haul mentality views training as lifelong investment and every “penny” towards her habits, health, training, and food choices compounds to deliver muscles, an athletic physique, and general wellness.
Get Buff, Sister!
- Train movement patterns (squat, push, pull, lunge, hinge, etc.). This is how you become a strong and capable human. If an exercise is too complex or requires too much equipment to execute, skip it.
- Follow a plan that trains those patterns repeatedly. If Day 1 your program calls for Squat 5×5, Dumbbell Bench Press 4×10, Reverse Lunge 3×8/each and Constant Tension Glute Bridge 3×20 – you’re doing those same exact movements weeks 2, 3, and 4 (or however long your cycle is). There’s no need to change your workout every single time.
- Increase your N.E.A.T. This stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis or non-exercise activities like sleeping, walking, standing, and generally existing. Your body expends energy all the time and the easiest way to increase N.E.A.T. outside of your training program is simply to look for ways to be as active as possible. Walk more, stand instead of sit, carry your groceries the long-way. Move around, boo!
- Outsource to a professional. Every once in a while, I outsource my programming to another trainer, hire a personal trainer, or nutritionist to help me get to a specific goal. Yes, even as a trainer I seek out professionals because I love the accountability or I want to learn something new. I offer one-on-one online strength training for this very reason. My ladies value accountability and coaching from someone that knows what it’s like to juggle a million things at once (biz, corporate career, social life, family, etc.)
- Use challenging weights in the RPE of 7+. Your rate of perceived exertion on a scale of 1-10 is an easy way to calibrate how challenged you feel in a given exercise and when you should push yourself harder. Ideally, you’re pushing yourself at an RPE of 8 or more depending on the day or what your program calls for. For example, if your plan is to lift heavy 2x a week and go light 1x, your RPE those heavy days will likely be around 8-9. Your recovery or lighter day might feel like an RPE of 6. A restorative yoga class is an RPE of 1-2. Catch my drift?
- Sleep 8-9 hours. Sleep is by far the most underutilized muscle-building “hat trick” there is besides walking. This is crucial to your day-to-day recovery and prevents unnecessary snacking and excessive caffeine consumption. If you can’t clock in sleep due to stress or a newborn, adjust your training so you have plenty of space to recover from those sessions.
Don’t underestimate the power of muscle-building. Mainstream media might scare you into thinking muscle = looking like a dude, but that’s not the case. Muscles are beautiful and it tells everyone around you that you’re a woman that takes care of herself.