Why You Aren’t Seeing Results When Strength Training

July 19th, 2021 by Debbie Martilotta

As a trainer, people often ask me how frequently they need to train to achieve results, and there isn’t one perfect answer: Our bodies are all different, which means they can respond differently to the same stimuli. But if you’re lifting and lifting and still not seeing results in your strength training routine, it’s probably because you’re lacking consistency in your workout or diet or both.

The process of getting stronger doesn’t have to be complicated, but keep reading for the three main reasons you may not be reaching your gains goals.

1. You’re mixing too many different modalities

To see measurable results in any fitness routine, you’ll want to stick with one primary training modality. If you’re only strength training one day a week (and spending your other sessions doing cardio), it’s going to be challenging to build muscle. The reason? Your muscle fibers won’t be exposed to the level of stress they need to grow. Muscle stress is imperative to building strength because it causes micro-tears of your muscle fibers, and when your body repairs these tears, they come back stronger. Most of my clients find success in 2 30-minute sessions with me weekly.

If your goal is to build muscle and get stronger, resistance training is your best bet. If you’re a beginner, working with your body weight is a great place to start, and as you begin to build strength,  you can add more resistance with weights. And to help maximize your results and save time, your workouts should consist of compound exercises, like squats presses, walking lunges with bicep curls, and deadlifts, that target multiple areas at once and force you to exert more energy than the isolated movements that target a single area.

2. Not sticking to a workout plan

Doing the same activities over and over can feel mundane, but it’s necessary if you want to put on muscle and increase your strength—which is why it’s essential to develop a workout plan. For example, let’s say your goal is to strengthen your legs. Doing four sets of 12 deadlifts once isn’t going to make much difference – but doing that same workout for four to six weeks and progressively increasing the weight will.

In addition to your nutrition, you’ll need to focus on your recovery. Properly warming up and cooling down will better prepare you for your training sessions, and help you prevent injury and burnout. Adding mobility work into your routine can also help maximize your performance as you train, improve your overall movement, and reduce and prevent pain and injury.

Another factor to focus on is getting quality sleep; it’s recommended adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. A good night’s rest is essential for muscle repair and growth. As you sleep, your body secretes a muscle growth hormone, which works to repair the micro-tears that occur from strength training and make your muscles stronger.

And if you’re someone who likes to mix things up, schedule activities where you can do other modalities like yoga, cycling, biking, or running.

3. Not focusing on your recovery and nutrition

Lifestyle variables—like nutrition, recovery, and sleep—also impact your ability to get stronger. You’ll want to make sure you’re eating enough to support your energy needs when you’re training and in your everyday life. Your caloric needs will vary based on your lifestyle and goals, so you will want to work with your trainer on an individualized nutrition plan for you.

Because training is nuanced and individualized, use these tips as a starting point. If you have the access and means, consider working with a certified personal trainer who can provide you with more specific tips and tools to help you reach your fitness goals.

In part from our friends at Well+ Good


The 5 Best Strength-Training Moves For Your Hearts’ Health

June 22nd, 2021 by Debbie Martilotta

There are certain types of workouts, like running and spinning, that we know are good for our hearts. They are, after all, literally called “cardiovascular exercises.”

But if you want to keep that blood pumping at peak capacity, those daily three-mile jogs can’t do the job on all on their own. So grab a set of heavyweights because cardiologists say that regular strength and resistance training is more important to heart health than you might have realized.

According to Satjit Bhusri, MD, board-certified cardiologist, heavyweight training is similar to sprinting in that you can only do both for a short amount of time because it requires such high amounts of energy exertion.

“Your heart doesn’t know what exercise you are doing—it’s a pump and it’s built to meet supply and demand—so the higher the demand, or intensity of the exercise, the more blood that is needed to meet those demands,” he says. The result? Increased heart rate and blood pressure, which help to strengthen the organ over time. If you need more proof, a 2019 study found that combination training (aka integrating aerobic and anaerobic workouts throughout the week) increased lean body mass, strength, and cardiorespiratory fitness better than an aerobic-only routine.

In addition to boosting your heart health, Dr. Bhuari adds that strength training also has the ability to build muscle, improve bone strength, and ultimately help you perform daily activities more easily. “The end result allows a person to be more active in their everyday life while improving their overall quality of life, too,” he says. “Also, the increased cardiac output correlated with strength training helps control and lower a person’s blood pressure.

In order to reap the maximum benefits from your strength-training workouts, Dr. Bhuari recommends exercises that work multiple joints at the same time. “Multi-joint exercises help improve coordination, flexibility, burns more calories, and elevates cardiac output compared to simple movement strength exercises,” says Dr. Bhusari. Here are a few of his favorites.

1. Squat
2. Lunge
3. Bench press
4. Shoulder press
5. Plank

Click here to read the original Well + Good article

 


Are You In “Shape”?

May 10th, 2021 by Debbie Martilotta

Whether you are in shape or not is often based almost solely on how you look, or how your clothes fit. Yet, how your body performs with regards to strength and stamina as well as a range of motion is even more important. This is where I like to suggest you ditch your scale.

If you are seeing yourself as too lean or too pudgy, we can work on your diet. But weight alone is not the true story when discussing your level of fitness or health.

It seems counterintuitive but strength comes first. You may be thin but your engines may also be small thus weak. In the long run, you are not well protected from disease and aging. On the other hand, you may be “chunky” but have plenty of muscle to protect your organs and skeletal structure. I like to encourage strength and flexibility testing to establish basic fitness and better assess susceptibility to disease and age-related decay.

Strength training is my go-to for all clients. If you can lift heavy, complete 2 30-minute sessions per week aerobically and you are enjoying an active life, able to physically pursue your interests, then I’m confident you are fit. If your “shape” is not what you were hoping for, we can work together on your diet and nutrition.

It is true, we have a mental image of what “fit” looks like, but from my experience, not every client falls into that look.

 


How Exercise Supports Your Mental Fitness

May 18th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

A healthy body is home to a healthy mind. However, there are numerous different types of sports and a wide range of exercise and training. Which type and how much exercise will keep your mind in top shape?

This is the question that has been explored by researchers at the University of Basel and their colleagues at the University of Tsukuba in Japan through large-scale analysis of the scientific literature. They have used this analysis to derive recommendations that they recently published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Coordinated sports are particularly effective

The research group evaluated 80 individual studies to identify a few key characteristics. Endurance training, strength training, or a mix of these components seem to improve cognitive performance.

Heavy lifting during strength training also strengthens bone density, which can reduce the risk of breaks and fractures as you age. If you lift heavy, you test your mental strength as well.

Lifting heavy increases production of a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, the neurotransmitter related to producing new brain cells and improves cognitive function.

However, coordinated and challenging sports that require complex movement patterns and interaction with fellow players are significantly more effective. “To coordinate during a sport seems to be even more important than the total volume of sporting activity,” explains Ludyga.

A higher total extent of activity does not necessarily lead to a correspondingly higher level of effectiveness for mental fitness. Longer duration per exercise unit promises a greater improvement in cognitive performance only over a longer period of time.

All age groups benefit

Just like our physical condition, cognitive performance changes over the course of our lives. It is great for the potential for improvement during childhood (cognitive development phase) and during old age (cognitive degradation phase). However, the research group of the Department of Sport, Exercise, and Health (DSBG) at the University of Basel was unable to find an indicator of different levels of effectiveness of sporting activities within the varying age groups.

Furthermore, sporting activities from primary school age to later age do not have to be fundamentally different in order to improve cognitive performance. Different age groups can thus be combined for a common goal during sports. “This is already being implemented selectively with joint exercise programs for children and their grandparents,” says Pühse. Such programs could thus be further expanded.

Intense sports sessions for boys and men

The same volume of sports activity has a different effect on physical fitness for men and women, as we are already aware. However, the research group has now been able to verify this for mental fitness. Men accordingly benefit more from sporting activity.

Differences between the sexes are particularly evident in the intensity of movement, but not in the type of sport. A hard workout seems to be particularly worthwhile for boys and men. Paired with a gradual increase in intensity, this leads to a significantly greater improvement in cognitive performance over a longer period of time.

In contrast, the positive effect on women and girls disappears if the intensity is increased too quickly. The results of the research suggest that they should choose low to medium intensity sporting activities if they want to increase their cognitive fitness.

Science Daily


Supporting You During Covid-19

March 24th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

My biggest priority is keeping clients safe and strong during this #Coronavirus stay-at-home order. The effects of this pandemic are changing the world and we can only control what we can control, so with that in mind…

I’m taking workouts virtual and bringing DBM Strength Training to you! Let’s stay strong together by joining with our friends and training as together as we can right now.

Strength training classes are scheduled every Tuesday at 6 pm and Sat at 9 & 10:30 am EST. Cost is $10 per person, my preferred payment app is Venmo. You can pm or text me for details and the Zoom link.

With the mandated at home order, watch for exercise videos and virtual classes! Three weeks is a long time to be away from the gym.

While we are at home temporarily here are a few ideas;

Look for opportunities over the course of every day to put your body under some kind of brief resistance load. Even if you only work hard for one minute (or less) at a time but are relatively faithful to incorporating these “micro” opportunities into your daily routine, the cumulative effect will still be incredible.

If you don’t have exercise equipment in your house, there is still a lot you can do to stay fit, active, and sane during these trying times. Online streaming services, the internet, and mobile app stores are loaded with a variety of free and low-cost at-home workouts for all fitness levels and workout preferences, and many don’t require any equipment.

Turn up your favorite tunes and dance like nobody is watching! Whether you are solo or with your fam, this can be such fun. Challenge yourselves to keep adding one more song and keep moving longer every day.

If you have the luxury of a yard (and many do not right now), get your rake out and clean up from winter. Your spring yard will thank you and so will your body.

Hit your local trails! Many of them are pretty quiet right now so dress for the temp and go exploring. Maybe meet a friend at the trailhead and keep a 6′ distance while you hike together. The app Alltrails is great for exploring.

Staying socially engaged during a stay-at-home order requires creativity! Some good ideas are being shared on social media and this article has several.

Watch your diet! Eating nutritious food is best during times of stress. Let’s support your immune system with great recipes that will also support your fitness goals.

How many ideas can you share with the DBM community? We welcome your suggestions and tips.


There Are No Short Cuts to Your Fitness Goals!

February 5th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

In order to see any kind of progress in your health and fitness journey, you must show up for a 30-minute, high-intensity workout, twice a week and eat a clean, high protein, low carb diet! There are no short cuts, just say’n…

Let’s get real. Sure, you can cut your calories in half, or spend your mornings or evenings doing cardio to lose some pounds, but I can promise you your results will not last nor will they give you a healthy, functioning body.

When it comes to weight lifting for weight loss, it is important to keep a few key points in mind.

  • First, you will not get BIG from lifting weights. You get “big” from overconsumption of energy (calories), which can be converted into fat or muscle based on the types of foods you eat and the exercise you do.
  • Second, you can lift more than you think—and you should (with the help of a personal trainer).
  • And finally, if weight training is done properly you may be sore the day or two after your workouts (especially if you are new to resistance exercise). This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, and it is a normal response to weight training. Be sure to stretch, drink plenty of water and incorporate sound nutrition to help your body recover quickly between workouts.

Watching the scale too closely is another issue for clients. I’ll hear, “So the scale is up and I’m doing everything right, my clothes are even fitting better! I don’t get it?!” Then we measure and sure enough, their inches are down. Muscle is denser than fat and it also takes up less room. That’s why you can look leaner yet actually weigh more than someone without muscle definition.

Again, if your goal is to be strong, healthy and have a fully functioning body, proper diet and lifting heavy weights with the guidance of a certified personal trainer will get you there!

in part from ACEfitness


The Surprising Benefits of Weight Training

February 5th, 2020 by Debbie Martilotta

The most common misconception about weight training is that it adds bulky muscle mass, a fear of some women. While elite male lifters can — and want to — get very developed, for most people the result is simply well-toned muscles.

Other benefits are increased mobility, more support for your joints and the ability to stay self-sufficient in your later years.

As an added bonus, having more muscle can also help you with your weight goal. That’s because the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you burn. Add a calorie cut into the mix and you’ll lose weight.

Muscle is denser than fat and it also takes up less room. That’s why you can look leaner yet actually weigh more than someone without muscle definition.

To make the most of strength training, lift heavier weights than you think you’re able to. Yes, challenge yourself, staying within safe limits. You don’t want to try to lift a weight you can barely pick up off the weight rack, but most people underestimate the amount they can handle or fail to progress to heavier weights, according to the American Council on Exercise, and that limits the effectiveness of strength training.

Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym. All you need are 20 to 30 minutes every other day to accomplish training goals. Do one to three short sets — eight reps per set — with high weights and a mix of exercises that target all the major muscle groups.

If you’re new to strength training, get your doctor’s OK first and work with a trainer on proper form.

Our recommendation is 2 30 -minute sessions or group class + session each week, along with a clean diet, and you’ll be amazed at how good you feel, and look!

By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter, U.S. News


Rev Up Your Metabolism

February 19th, 2019 by Debbie Martilotta

A recent article by Health.com (Jan/Feb 2019) has some great advice that I agree with as a personal trainer, here are the highlights.

Your muscles are in charge

A pound of muscle burns 7-10 calories/day compared to 1 lb of fat which burns only 2-3 calories/day. We all know that after you hit your 20’s, you lose muscle as you age. That muscle loss can slow your metabolism by 15% (your calorie burning power). While building new muscle can help counteract this trend, it is even more important to engage the muscle you already have. Every time you challenge your muscles by strength training, you burn calories by working out and continue to burn calories after you put your weights away.

Do 2 30-minute sessions of resistance training each week and in 3 months, your resting metabolism will be about 6% faster. When you exercise, focus on major muscle groups and do not shy away from heavy weights (60 – 75% of your maximum lift).

A lack of Protein can slow your metabolism

If you are not already on the protein bandwagon, get on board! Your body needs amino acids to stay functional. Without enough protein, your body will be forced to tap your muscles. When you lose valuable muscle, your resting metabolism slows.

Make sure you are putting protein in every meal and snack – starting your day with 15 grams (about 2 eggs) is a great idea. Don’t overlook whey, one of two proteins found in milk. Whey protein is rich in the amino acids muscles thirst for and can aid in recovery after workouts.

Dieting is the enemy

Any weight loss diet can leave your metabolism slower than when you started. We highly recommend a lifestyle diet of plants and proteins (no grains, sugar, highly processed foods or processed starches) and eat enough calories to satisfy your resting metabolism. The easiest way to do that is to multiply your body weight in lbs by 10.

Your metabolism likes sleep

Lack of sleep tends to slow your metabolism, in part because that’s when your body repairs itself (which burns calories). Sleep well, eat well and exercise hard for 2 30-minute sessions each week and your metabolism will thank you.


What I Learned During 13 Years Of Strength Training

February 5th, 2019 by Debbie Martilotta

It all started when I was 18. At the time, I was slowly recovering from an eating disorder known as anorexia nervosa, and my dad was trying to help me get healthy again.

“You know, there’s a way you can eat a lot more and still be skinny!” he said. “Come to the gym and workout with me.”

It’s funny how different my ideal body was back then, 13 years ago. I was judging myself by what I saw online and in magazines. I wanted to be emaciated-looking. I wanted to be small and petite. I wanted to be “less.”

My first trip to the gym was immensely unproductive. My “hardcore workout” consisted of some abdominal machine work, some crunches, and…wait for it…sleeping on the mat. Yup, I fell asleep on a mat about 15 minutes after walking into a gym for the first time in my life.

Despite what happened during that first visit, I’ve been steadily going to the gym for more than 13 years now. In that time, I’ve completed countless numbers of lifting sessions. But it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the process of strength training and how it made me feel. I soon became passionate, determined, and dedicated to making gains, both physically and mentally.

Today, I’d like to share with you 13 lessons I’ve learned along the road to becoming a stronger, more fit, and more confident me.

Lesson 1: Women, You Will Not Look Like Men
No matter how hard you work out at the gym, you will not—I repeat—not look like a man. Women simply do not have enough testosterone in their bodies to increase their muscle mass to the point where they look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The women you see pictured online with huge muscles use steroids.

Without these dangerous drugs, you can still see amazing changes in your body shape and tone. You get there by following a healthy diet and by lifting weights—real weights. Don’t be afraid to go beyond the colored-plastic 5-pounders and grab some iron. It won’t make you bulky, but it will make you strong and lean.

Lesson 2: Strength Training Shapes Your Body Much More Than Cardio Does
There are two components to physique: muscle and the visibility of that muscle. We increase muscle mass when we strength train. We increase muscle visibility when we lower our body fat percentage. To increase muscle visibility, you must strength train. In other words, in order to display your muscles, you have to have them! In contrast, cardio is great for heart and overall health, but won’t do anything for your muscle tone.

Lesson 3: Strength Train The Major Muscle Groups
When most people decide they want to change their physique and improve their health, they tend to focus on the body parts that bother them the most. For women, often this means lower body and stomach. For their part, men often focus on biceps and chest. To improve muscular balance, prevent injuries, improve overall appearance and strength, and increase caloric burn, you must train all the major muscle groups—the ones you see in the mirror and the ones you don’t.

Focus on compound exercises that use large muscle groups—exercises such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and rows. Then add accessory, or isolation, exercises that target smaller muscle groups. Such exercises include leg curls, triceps extensions, and rear-delt raises.

Lesson 4: Going For Spot Reduction? If Only!
Newsflash: There is no such thing as spot reduction, meaning no exercise can burn fat in a specific area. Your genetics, not your workouts, determine the areas where you can gain and lose fat. A good diet combined with intensive strength training is what creates an aesthetically pleasing physique.

Lesson 5: Continuous Progress Requires Progressive Overload
The SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) is simple: Your body adapts to stress (in the form of exercise) by gaining muscle mass and strength. To continue building your physique, you must constantly increase what you demand of your body through a concept called progressive overload. One way to achieve this is by adding more weight to the bar. But you can also do it through any combination of increasing your reps per set, increasing your range of motion for a certain exercise, improving your technique, or reducing the rest time between sets. All these techniques give you the freedom to change, monitor, and adjust your program so you can keep challenging yourself.

Lesson 6: Diet Schmiet—Mind Your Calories!
I’ve attempted all kinds of diets—low fat, high fat, zero sugar, only “specific foods” diet, and on and on. None of them worked. About three years into my weight-lifting career, I decided to dive deeper into the science behind body composition changes. I hoped to answer several questions: Why do we get fat? How do we lose fat? Are certain foods fattening? Do some foods burn calories just by digesting them?

Along the way, I realized there are three possible scenarios for an individual’s body weight and caloric intake:

  • The number of calories you consume each day is equivalent to the number of calories your body burns per day. In this scenario, you maintain your weight.
  • The number of calories you consume per day is greater than the number of calories your body burns. In this scenario, you gain weight.
  • The number of calories you consume daily is less than the number of calories your body burns per day. In this scenario, you lose weight.

Simply put, we gain fat when we eat too many damn calories, not because we eat or avoid specific foods. I’m a big proponent of the 80/20 rule, whereby 80 percent of your diet consists of highly nutritious, minimally processed foods, and 20 percent consists of low-nutrient, processed foods. The good news is you can still eat those foods you love. Just eat less of them. Maybe a lot less.

Lesson 7: Food Has No Moral Code
Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind?

A cookie is bad for you, while a salad is good for you.
I was bad because I had a piece of chocolate cake. I’d be good if I had broccoli and chicken.
Thinking of foods as “good” and “bad” is called orthorexia, “an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.” Orthorexia sounds great but, in reality, it undermines your long-term success, both physically and emotionally.

Labeling foods as good or bad only encourage a negative relationship with them. In reality, food is neutral; it’s meant to be used as fuel for the body—and to be enjoyed! A healthy diet isn’t all black or all white—it comes in shades of grey. Yes, it’s rich in nutrients, but if you want your diet to last the long haul, it also needs to include foods that give you pleasure.

Lesson 8: Be Realistic About Your Expectations
You’ve finally decided to start your fitness journey. You’re excited. You’re motivated. You think to yourself, “I’m going to have my dream body in 3-6 months!”

Good for you—but not so fast. For most mortals, it takes way more than three months to achieve that dream body, whatever it may be. With consistency in your exercise and diet program, you will see measurable and noticeable changes in three months—just maybe not the kind of before/after transformation you see so often on social media.

Getting a fit body and adding quality muscle can take years. Get into it for the long term.

Lesson 9: Consistency And Patience Are Keys
Motivation can get you started, but habits keep you going. It won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but putting in a not-so-great workout beats no workout at all every time. Keep at it and don’t give up. Being consistent will bring you closer to your goals while also helping you develop the grit and work ethic needed to continue despite obstacles. Treat every day as an opportunity to grow and improve, and rely on your discipline—not your motivation—to get you to the gym. If you miss a workout, don’t get down on yourself. Just get right back into it!

Lesson 10: Don’t Be Obsessed With Scale Weight
For years I’ve been attached to a magical number on the scale, a number that would make my life so much easier, fuller, and happier. In reality, there is no such number. Your weight comprises fat mass and fat-free mass (bones, muscles, connective tissue, organs, and water), and it’s a dynamic measurement, one that fluctuates in response to stress, hydration, carb intake, fiber intake, types of foods, time of the day, and sleep.

Lesson 11: Mental And Emotional Strength Gains Are Coming Your Way
Just as muscles grow by repeatedly overcoming resistance, we grow as people the same way. Sometimes life can seem like a daily resistance workout you never signed up for. If you’re lucky, strength training can help you learn how to show up and do the work.

I fell in love with strength training because it has better prepared me for life. Strength training tests your will power. It challenges your patience and dedication as you progress, regress, plateau, and progress again. There’s something empowering about that, especially for us women.

Lesson 12: You Won’t Always Have The Support Of Others
Some people—even those closest to you—may not understand your new fit lifestyle. That’s OK. Not everyone has to agree with you, because the most important person in your life, you, will understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. Take care of your own health and well-being first. Focus on getting stronger, healthier, and fitter. The rest will follow.

Lesson 13: Remember, You’re Much More Than Your Body
Strength training doesn’t guarantee you’ll find happiness once you’re lean. Or that your life will be any more meaningful than it was before. Or that your friends and family will love you more. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get wiser or become a better person. All your troubles and hardships may not vanish into thin air, but you will feel healthier, stronger, and, hopefully, more confident. And that is huge!

Over the years, I’ve witnessed so many people (mainly women) attaching their self-worth to the number on the scale or the size they wear. Know that you’re so much more than that. No matter what your body is up to on any given day, learn to love it all and treat your body well. After 13 years of strength training, today I am healthy, energized, and strong. I am a capable human being, and I’m much more than just my body. And so are you.

by Sivan Fagan


8 Health Benefits of Lifting Weights

March 12th, 2018 by Debbie Martilotta

Lifting lighter weights for more reps is great for building muscle endurance, but if you want to increase your strength, increasing your weight load is key.

Add compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and rows to your heavy weights and you’ll be amazed at how fast you’ll build strength.

Love the lean, defined muscles on super-fit ladies? “If women want more definition, they should lift heavier since they cannot get bigger muscles because of low testosterone levels,” says Dr. Jason Karp, an exercise physiologist, and author. “So, lifting heavier has the potential to make women more defined.”

The key to this one is consistency, as research has shown that lifting heavy weights over time not only maintains bone mass but can even build new bone, especially in the high-risk group of post-menopausal women (Women and Weight Training for Osteoporosis).

You may burn more calories during your 1-hour cardio class than you would lifting weights for an hour, but a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended.

The effect is magnified when you increase the weight, as explained in a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Women who lifted more weight for fewer reps (85 percent of their max load for 8 reps) burned nearly twice as many calories during the two hours after their workout than when they did more reps with a lighter weight (45 percent of their max load for 15 reps).

 

Article courtesy of Shape Magazine