I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC


Last weekend I presented my strength workshop I Am Not Afraid To Lift at Drive495 in New York City to a sold-out group of 30 people.

The workshop was open to both men and women, however the majority of attendees were women.

IMG_9511 The Women from Results Driven Fitness in Central Valley, NY

This was significant because it is not often that a group of 20 plus women gather together to discuss and learn about strength training ranging from dead-lifts to weighted pull-ups.

I touched upon the “Bulking” Myth when it comes to women’s strength training but I did not have to cover too much on that topic because everyone was in agreement that lifting weights builds a better, not a “bulkier” body and that it was really cupcakes that make women “bulky” not lifting weights 😉 .


In fact one of the participants shared her story that she actually LOST weight when she started to lift weights more frequently, which was opposite of her goal of wanting to put on muscle weight. More often than not this happens. Women tend to lose weight and/or lean out when they start to lift weights more regularly. They gain muscle, but either lose a few pounds or maintain the number on the scale but drop a few clothing sizes.

I even had a client yesterday share with me, as she went through her sets of weighted pull-ups with 12kg (26lbs), 18lbs, 14lbs, 10lbs for 1, 2, 3, 4 repetitions respectively that she had actually LOST weight and recently she has been lifting heavier weights than she ever has since she started training with me four years ago.

Often I wonder why, specifically, it is that people read my blog, follow me online, and listen to what I have to say. What is it that makes what I have to say and what I write about different from what some other women in the Fitness Industry have to say?

Before the workshop I emailed out a questionnaire to participants and one of the questions that I asked was “What do you seek to learn at this workshop?”

One of the registrants answered this question for me in the questionnaire. She hit the nail on the head in particular in the second part of her answer:

“Are there different considerations or adjustments that need to be taken/made when women strength train versus men? A lot of literature, both online and books, on strength programming are written about men and seem to be tested by men–SFG bloggers, Breaking Muscle, and T-Nation…there are some women who will share their programming, but rarely are women trainers talking about strength. It’s mostly metabolic conditioning, being fit, or “being good to yourself.” I want to hear about simple strength building for women or at least from women.”

Let’s start with “Are there different considerations or adjustments that need to be taken/made when women strength train versus men?”

I advocate that women train just the way men do, because that’s what I do and what we do at Iron Body Studios and we deliver results. There is no special program for women versus men. All men and women dead-lift, squat, do pull-ups, press, and kettlebell swings. Whether man or woman, the only differences are based upon the individual’s fitness level and any physical limitations they may have based upon past injury or for some other reason.

Of course there must be special considerations made for women who are pregnant or postpartum.  However, women who are pregnant and postpartum still do the majority of the same movements that we have our non-pregnant and non postpartum clients do except we monitor load, volume, exertion, and ensure that they are training specific exercises to maintain core integrity as much as possible throughout pregnancy and regain it postpartum.

Next, let’s discuss “I want to hear about simple strength building for women or at least from women”, and this is where she hit the nail on the head.

I write about strength training and programming to build strength. For example:

  • Generally, what do you have to do to in order to reach your strength training goal or goals?
  • More specifically, how to you train to complete the Iron Maiden or Beast Tamer Challenge?
  • How do you build strength to press a heavy kettlebell?
  • More specifically, how does training double front squats improve your overhead press strength and skill? (Taught at the workshop and next up on my Seven Ways to Train for a Stronger Press blog series!)
  • How do double kettlebell dead-lifts improve your barbell dead-lift?

A short excerpt from the workshop about how double kettlebell dead-lifts improve the barbell dead-lift:

As I have said before I am not Pink and Fluffy, I’m not going to write about or post a #selfie of my latest “sweat sesh” (a phrase I LOATHE by the way), but I will walk you through some simple but not easy kettlebell snatch chains or swing intervals that will make your feet and eyeballs sweat; BUT I will not try to be cute and trendy and refer to it as a “sweat sesh”.

My goal is to empower women through strength training. Through strength training they will gain confidence, self-esteem, freedom of movement to complete daily tasks without the assistance of others. Such as declining assistance with “heavy” groceries from the grocery store clerk and having the ability to carry all six grocery bags in one trip rather than make three trips.

As a result of this confidence, self-esteem, and independence through strength, women will feel GOOD! When you feel down go lift something heavy or swing a kettlebell, nourish your body with REAL, healthy food, and then you will feel GOOD! That’s my self help book for ya’ – “Unsexy Training” Methods all the way!

For those of you who know me, you know that I am sensitive, caring, and giving, but I am a doer not a dweller. Life is too short to dwell for too long, go DO something about it!


This past Saturday at I Am Not Afraid To #LiftNYC everyone stepped out of their comfort zone and tried a movement they have not tried before or lifted a new, heavier, weight for the first time.

Many did an assisted pull-up for the first time,My favorite moment? When I just about burst into tears for fear of doing my first (assisted) pull up!” ~Melanie T.

More specifically:

  • Laura S. hit a PR with a double 36kg (160lb) Dead-lift.
  • Michi T. did a bottoms up press for the first time ever and crushed it with 10kg (22lbs)
  • Jessica M. did a 10kg (22lbs) weighted pull-up for the first time AND she had NEVER trained weighted pull-ups before!

 Jessica’s husband Chris Merritt, who also attended the workshop, owns Beyond Strength Performance in Northern Virginia. Make sure to go check it out if you are in the NoVA area!

  • My distance coaching client Jessica V. who also attended the I Am Not Afraid To Lift in New York City last weekend provided to participants a tangible example of how the double kettlebell dead-lift improved her barbell dead-lift:

“The addition of double kettlebell dead-lifts into my strength training program improved my barbell dead-lift form and technique better than any other assistance drill I had previously attempted. 

Previously, I did not always load my hips properly and I found myself lifting with my back and leaking tension or simply not creating enough tension to initiate a pull or complete multiple repetitions with good form.

Working double kettlebell dead-lifts improved my hip hinge and forced me to generate and maintain maximum tension throughout the entire lift.  Standing directly over the bells helped me to better understand how to pull weight while keeping the load close to my body–ultimately making sure that my lats were fully engaged from the initiation of the pull to the completion of the pull.  A proper hip hinge, with maximum tension in the lower body, taught me how to sit back into my hips so that they were loaded correctly and made initiating the pull with my hips and not my back or shoulders completely achievable.

Essentially, the concept here is that with lats fully engaged and a fully loaded hip hinge, one could sit back and hover the weight off of the floor.  And finally, achieving a full lockout at the top of the pull–generating a standing body plank–reinforced the feel of maximum tension and the need for tension before, during, and after every pull.

Additionally, the handle size of kettlebells provide an excellent grip training aspect that makes “breaking” a barbell or holding a barbell for consecutive pulls much more manageable. “ 

For those who are new to lifting, this workshop is about learning to lift,

“I never felt like I couldn’t participate and I came away with so much knowledge and a renewed sense of purpose.” Emily S.

For those who already have experience with lifting, this workshop is also about taking your lifting to the next level… and of course laughter…

“My whole butt is on fire…” ~Artemis 

and dropping a few F and M-F bombs…

If you are not afraid to lift I hope that you will join me for I Am Not Afraid To Lift Boston #LiftBoston on November 8 at Iron Body Studios!

Learn more HERE ==> http://bit.ly/NotAfraidToLift

Register HERE under EVENTS ==> http://bit.ly/LiftWorkshopRegister

Early bird pricing through October 1 – $149.00

Regular price after October 1 – $199.00

Based upon #LiftNYC I made some adjustments to the workshop agenda to improve the flow of the material covered and to ensure that we are able to cover everything planned in the time allotted. I will email out a detailed agenda that reflects these adjustments to #LiftBoston participants after they register.

I look forward to lifting with you on November 8!

View Pictures of #LiftNYC HERE






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