Benefits of lifting heavy

Lifting heavy. Maybe you’re ready to get your hands on that barbell. Maybe you’re still not sure if lifting heavy is for you.

I’m not here to sell you why you should lift heavy. Yes I have an online ebook to tell you all of that, but here all I can share is the research I’ve done and how lifting heavy has affected my body, my mindset, and my self-esteem.

Whether you’re all in or on the fence about starting, I hope this post will help clarify the benefits of lifting heavy and give you the confidence to cross from the carpet to the rubber the next time you hit the gym. (The red to the black mats in my gym specifically) haha

Here, we break down how lifting heavy leads to a bigger, faster, stronger body.

Bigger – Benefits to muscle

A common concern women have when considering lifting is that they will get too big or look like a bodybuilder.

I’m here to break it to you not-so-gently: you won’t.

Bodybuilders work insanely hard to build the muscle and maintain a lower body fat composition — measuring and weighing their food. And that’s just normal day-to-day life. You should read what they go through the days and weeks leading up to a competition.

The truth is building muscle is the only way to get that toned physique you crave. And lifting heavy is the best way to get that muscle.

But more than helping you achieve that perfect bikini body, building muscle has significant other benefits.

Strength

At 172 cm and 63 kg’s, I don’t look like a menacing meathead who can deadlift twice her body weight and squat 100kg’s. Fact is, I can’t, you don’t have to either. There are women smaller than me out-lifting me by 100kg’s or more.

Being able to lift twice your body weight is seriously empowering.

It’s also practical. Are you lifting kiddos on a daily/ hourly basis? Do you want to be able to move that furniture or heavy bag without waiting for your significant other to help you?

By strengthening your muscles, you’ll also reduce your risk of injury in other areas of your life. Think about it. Your muscles surround vital joints, tendons, bones, and organs. The stronger that muscle, the more protection there is.

Metabolism and why you need all the donuts

Muscle mass is the “engine” of the calorie-burning machine. As you strength train and increase your muscle mass, you build a bigger, more efficient engine that burns more calories and helps you lose weight.

Not sold yet? What if I told you lifting heavy lets you have donuts, burn calories at rest, improves your blood sugar, cholesterol, and improves blood pressure.

Faster – Benefits to central nervous system

I know I said I wasn’t going to sell you guys on lifting heavy, but I feel like an infomercial. Did you think lifting heavy only had benefits to muscle? Think again. Lifting heavy also has a huge impact on our central nervous system.

Basically, when someone lifts heavy, their muscles all perform as a group faster and more efficiently. The neural communication to triggering those muscles improves, giving a person who lifts that split-second edge to react. Quite important, considering how quickly you need to react to situations in real life, you may change your mind.

In a LiveStrong article, Eric Brown writes about the value lifting heavy has on motor unit recruitment, coordination, and synchronization of motor units. “The stress placed on the [Central Nervous System] is directly proportional to the load you are attempting to lift, so the heavier you train, the greater the Central Nervous System response,” he writes.

Stronger – Benefits to the bone

Another common concern people that don’t lift weights have is the impact lifting heavy can have on joints and bones. You may be sensing a theme here of misconceptions.

You guessed it: Lifting heavy improves bone density and decreases bone loss.

Through a process known as bone remodeling, strength training stimulates the development of bone osteoblasts: cells that build bones back up. While you can achieve some of these bone benefits through aerobic exercise, especially in your lower body, resistance training is really the best way to maintain and enhance total-body bone strength.

Posture

Building all of that muscle and improving bone density has another subsequent benefit: improved posture.

With more and more of us suffering from nerd neck after hunching over our computers every day, this may be the greatest reason to start lifting. Working together and working against your every hunch, your muscles naturally begin to hold those bones in place and return them to the body’s ideal alignment.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have work to do to fix extreme postural deficiencies, but if you’re lifting heavy you’re on the right track.

 

I hope this was helpful and that I would see more and more girls moving over to the weight section from the cardio machines, if this is not enough benefits, and if you can’t sense my absolute passion for it? I don’t know what else to tell you!

 

But you’re not going to get a tight toned booty by sitting on it 😛

 

Self-Care Practices Beyond Beauty

Ain’t no bathing recommendations today.

After spending a month abroad, a day back home and leaving again for the next conference, today is my first full day back home, and I’ve decided to turn this Tuesday into a self care Sunday. Today is SUCH a gloomy day here in CPT and I would wish more than anything else to take a long hot bath but because of the CPT drought, this is what I got up to instead…

Self-care ideas are so often packaged up as a beauty-related posts. Now sometimes it is and unless you’re an avid bathing hater, there’s not many people who would argue that having a bath doesn’t make you feel absolutely fantastic.

The same goes for a face mask. Or doing your nails. All these things things involve you cutting time out of your schedule to do something for yourself. However self-care doesn’t necessarily need to involve partaking in an activity that concerns itself with aesthetics. Self-care means dedicating time for yourself to anything that replenishes and revives you. Something that ups your energy levels, decreases stress and tends to both your physical and mental needs.
So, I’ve got thinking about the self-care practices that I’ve incorporated more and more over the past couple of months as the work pressure has increased, but I haven’t been able to switch off by taking my daily bath like I did in Germany. #capetowndraught
Carla (46 of 79)

Find your crowd. There are certain people that whenever you are around they have such a calming and uplifting effect on you that just leaves you feeling energized. For me that’s JD, my parents, my dog and a few selective friends. I never look at my phone, we laugh, we tell stories and we eat. It’s heaven. Identify the people you have in your life that make you feel this way and organize your schedule so that you get to spend as much time as possible with their company.

2. Exercise. I know it’s such a classic cliche coming from a personal trainer, but there really is something special that happens when a client or friend says ‘I LOVE THIS’ instead of ‘DO I HAVE TO DO THIS? Exercise doesn’t just have to be one thing, and you don’t have to like the same workouts as I do. It’s about empowering yourself and mind through movement, whether that is weightlifting, running, yoga, or all of thee above. Whatever you decide, it’s a time for you, phone-free, where you’re taking the time to exclusively care for yourself both internally and externally. Find your thing and participate in it as regularly as you can.

Carla (50 of 79)

3. Outdoors. Growing up we ventured out on camping holidays every weekend and school holidays, so I spent a large amount of my childhood making dens in the woods and exploring most of the country I grew up in, South Africa. Even when I go away with my friends now a big part of the weekend is camping and hiking. There’s such simplicity in following a trail, eating your jungle oats bar, not seeing anyone else for hours at a stretch, being completely off the grid. I mean if that’s not the ultimate self care then I don’t know what is…

4. Music.  So this is something that I’ve been trying to do more; making playlists on Spotify and downloading albums I enjoy and then just putting them on and listening. I love anything acoustic, live or in my room. I use to play the piano, and although I’ve lost most of my skills and being able express myself creatively in that way, music will always be a part of me. Even if it’s just a throwback playlist taking you back to a certain time in high school, or your holiday from last year. Music has an amazing impact on my mood.

Carla (48 of 79)

5. Writing. The irony, as I’m writing this now, but writing, blogging and instagramming if that’s even a thing is how I love to express myself. If you, as a reader had to know how much I write, that never get’s published, I hardly post 10% of what crosses my mind or get’s written, because sometimes I just need to get things out. I don’t need anyone else’s judgement on my opinions, but writing my thoughts down definitely organizes and clears my chaotic mind.

6. Organisation. Now this is SUPER LAME I know, but a re-organize or just a little tidy-up is really up there with my most chill-inducing tasks. A little Sunday spring clean, fresh sheets, starting your week on a organized and clean note. I can’t think of anything more satisfying haha

3 Biggest Workout Program Mistakes + How to Fix Them

3 COMMON TRAINING PROGRAM MISTAKES + HOW TO FIX THEM

FIRSTLY…

A training program should have PURPOSE. You’re following it for a specific reason, I hope… These days almost anyone can be a “personal trainer.” But let’s be real, just because someone does a workout themselves, likes it and puts it on their Instagram, or worse on paper and SELLS it, DOES NOT MEAN THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE DOING THAT. It also does not mean it is a proper program.

A training program should be progressive, should work towards a specific goal, and in my professional option should be functional. If that’s not your jam, well then by all means go buy the 6 week summer shred from literally any insta-famous fit chick. But if you want to learn, and train with purpose, this one’s for you sister.

These five things are typically missing from most workout, fitness, or training programs. I have come to find this through my own clients telling about other programs they’ve tried, as well as purchasing and trying programs myself.

First up…

NO PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD

Most online programs and training templates in general are 4-8 weeks long and then they end. Then you jump onto a new program each month, but the phases don’t build on one another.

You will not improve if you do not use progressive overload somehow. Progressive overload refers to overloading your body in comparison to what it has previously experienced. You can do this through tempo, sets and reps (volume), increasing weight, or decreasing rest periods. There are many ways to use progressive overload in order to make gains. These are just a few of the big ones.

So if you’re not told to add weight, or reps, slow down your tempo, or decrease rest periods, you are likely NOT using progressive overload and need a new program.

Progressive overload does NOT mean to try crap loads different exercises every time your enter the gym. Which leads me to my next point…

LACK OF CONSISTENCY (TOO FANCY)

Most workout programs try to be too fancy. Perhaps the creator thinks they need to change things up weekly, or even every day. And again, if you like that type of training, you do you boo. Just don’t expect to get REALLY good at anything when you focus on everything (which is really focusing on nothing).

How do we measure progress in strength or movement quality or pain reduction if we do not train some of the same movements consistently? You can’t! Movement patterns are skills. Skills need repetition in order to improve.

Yes, muscles need to be surprised and challenged from new angles. But for the most part, functional, compound movements will get you what you’re looking for in terms of strength and physique. Be consistent, and embrace getting GOOD at a few movements. It all goes back to mastering the basics. If you have not yet done so, there is LITERALLY no need to get fancy. Unless you’re into getting injured.

NOT FUNCTIONALLY FOCUSED OR BALANCED 

Listen, movement and workouts for most humans just need to be balanced. You spend the majority of your day sitting, or unaware of the way your body moves (or doesn’t move).

Often times, workout programs are created with a heavy “bodybuilding” focus. Are you trying to be a body builder? Or live functionally for the rest of your life? If you’re trying to be a body builder, then duh, follow a body building program. But if you’re a normal chick who wants to lift weights, get stronger, and move functionally, then you should be doing that.

HOW IS YOUR CURRENT PROGRAM DOING? 

Does it prescribe enough rest, or are you working out 2 hours a day and drinking juices for 28 days long?

Is it functionally focused?

Does it provide consistency but still include progressive overload?

If yes, then girl you’ve got yourself a kick ass program.

If not, then I have just thing.

CWF GYM training guide is a 12 week progressive strength and hypertrophy program designed with these principles in mind. And it will change the way you look at “workout” programs forever. (Shameless plug)

 

Contact me at carlawestfitness@gmail.com for more information

Should You Be Sore After Every Workout?

TO BE SORE OR NOT TO BE SORE?

Should you be sore after every workout? How often should you be sore?

To start off, no, you should not be sore after every workout.

WHAT IS MUSCLE SORENESS?

If you’re not sore it doesn’t count, you didn’t work hard enough. This is an old myth and it’s simply not true. Muscle soreness is PRIMARILY due to micro tears in your muscle fibers. This is what the muscles have to recover from and literally heal from when you experience soreness.

DO YOU HAVE TO BE SORE TO GROW MUSCLE?

Nope.

All you need to do to grow new muscle is to stress that muscle more than it has been stressed or stress it in a new way to elicit a growth response.

This CAN happen without actually feeling sore. You must also remember that feeling sore is a pain receptor response. So, this can vary greatly from person to person and muscle group to muscle group.

When you feel sore, you have in a sense, damaged the muscle fibers and it needs to recover in order to (ideally) come back stronger.

“Also, if your aim is to build muscle there are essentially 3 major mechanisms – i.e. muscle damage (which we usually think about), mechanical stress (which is like stretching an elastic band, think about how the weight stretches or force down your arm as you try to pull it up) and then lastly there is a mechanism called “metabolic stress”. This metabolic stress is produced by increased volume (i.e. maybe like 20-40 rep sets) which leads to you depleting your readily available energy sources and subsequently results in a stimulus for growth. (if you are really interested, please see (The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training, a scientific paper).” – JD Conradie

Lastly, if your aim is to become stronger, then the amount of weight you use is more important than the amount of repetitions and normally produce less muscle damage and soreness, however, rest is still essential as the rest of your body systems (i.e. nervous system) will need to recover successfully to see improvement and perform optimally.

SO WHEN IS IT OKAY TO FEEL SORENESS?

Don’t get me wrong, feeling sore is okay and it should happen. But not after every workout. If you’re sore after every workout, you’re likely not recovering and building new muscle. This is not what you want if strength or muscle gains is any part of your fitness goal.

You’re expected to feel sore when you start a new phase. This is because you will be loading the muscles in a new manner (doing different exercises) or for a different amount of volume/intensity (more sets or more time under tension). This is when you can expect to feel sore.

If you are eating optimally and getting adequate sleep, you can expect to feel minor soreness after each workout. I wouldn’t even call this soreness. The level of soreness I am talking about is the kind that you may not even notice until you start warming up and stretching the area the next day or two.

So any time you change up your training, you may experience soreness. But you absolutely 100% do not need to feel muscle soreness to make gains my friend.

“It is also important to be aware and know when to push and know when to manage. You do not always have to perform at your best and produce PBs, it is good to push and perhaps have 1-2 weeks of decrease volume/amount of training to enable the body to adapt and train. Think of it this way, if your goal is to build muscle you are essentially building a new structure. For this structure you need builders (Enzymes, other proteins), materials (amino acids, energy), a plan (DNA, RNA) , stimulus or a manager (exercise) and time (rest).”  – JD Conradie

My BIG Project reveal | The CWF Real life nutrition guide

Everything you need to know about it!

 

It’s been a long time coming….. and I swore I would never open that can of worms, or cross that bridge but here we are….

 The first ever CWF meal plan and nutrition guide is finally here! 🎉🎉

50 pages of information and education written by yours truly to fully help you understand your body, nutrition and how to meal plan! 

It includes 2 MEAL PLANS with detailed macro friendly meals, focusing a lot on micro nutrients and woman’s health. 

WHY you ask? And why NOW?

Because after a few weeks into the first challenge, the girls were killing it, smashing their workouts but the ONE thing holding them back was nutrition? “They could’ve gotten better results if their nutrition was better”, “workouts were great, but my nutrition wasn’t” and I wanted to change that. 

By providing a detailed informational healthy eating plan, that if you are in the middle of exams, started a new job, moved house and everything in between you have your plan and your meals prepared and zero excuses! 

In this Ebook, you will find:

Table of contents

What you won’t find in this book:

  • Difficult to follow, time-consuming recipes which long lists of glorified ‘superfood’ ingredients that you have to source from a niche supermarket or foreign country.
  • A restrictive set of dietary rules, health fads or extreme diets.

Few important notes: 

1. By purchasing this ebook, you will receive a discount code to get R100 off any product off the @naturesnutritionsawebsite.
2. If you purchase this, you will get any of my other 2 training ebooks HALF PRICE! (Next week only!)
3. If you have already purchased my training ebooks and partook in my first challenge you can get the other ebook for half price (when purchasing this one) (Next week only)

This plan will go on sale on Monday, the 6th of August. 🎉🎉🎉🎉

To buy the guide

https://www.facebook.com/commerce/products/2057576590960441/

or
Email me at carlawestfitness@gmail.com for more info

 

Indoor vs Outdoor running

It’s a Monday morning in the middle of July in Cape Town, South Africa. 7am I drive to the gym in the dark to get my first run in of the week.

But, on this Monday morning, where it should be the depth of winter… I quickly come to realize that this will be the most beautiful sunrise, it’s already 20 degrees outside and there is NO wind blowing. (rare for this part of the world) I take a sharp left on the R44 and drive down to the beach, for my first outdoor/coastal run since moving back to South Africa.

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And this was my experience…

If you can block out the cat calling, and the obvious irrational fear of being attacked for your phone and car keys that you are stupidly running with in your hands because you didn’t prepare properly, you can actually start taking in the scenery. And what an absolutely gorgeous view it was. Breathing in the fresh ocean air first thing in the morning and feeling you shoes hitting the side walk definitely has a few if not a lot more physiological benefits than running on a treadmill looking straight in front of you in the gym.

I soon as I get comfortable with my pace, I start looking around, noticing details on the buildings I’ve never bothered looking up to, waves crashing next to me, people commuting to work. But I feel like I’m flying. Sure, I have loads of work to do, but this feeling, I want it to last a bit longer. It was only a short run as I didn’t have much time but the time definitely flew 100 times faster than running on a treadmill. I feel addicted to this feeling now and I can’ wait to go on another unplanned perfect weather run. Until then, you will find me on the treadmill. My safe space.

Here are the Pro’s of both though:

Treadmill:

  1. You can keep your phone, keys, water, towel at hand without running with stuff in your hands.
  2. You set your speed/pace and tend to stick to it better.
  3. Safety (It’s South Africa after all)
  4. It’s easier, the treadmill belt assists your leg turnover.

Outdoor:

  1. Scenery. So much to look at and take in, it makes time go faster.
  2. Fresh air. (Totally underrated)
  3. You adapt to your surrounding better incl. weather and running around people.
  4. Soft tissue conditioning that occurs with road running. (Does not occur with treadmill running because the plate or base on the treadmill “gives” more than road surfaces)

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That being said, outdoor running is definitely beneficial when training for a race, but I will continue doing both. But it’s always good to have a back up, either way.

Happy running!

My 4 favorite smoothie Recipe’s

In collaboration with Nature’s nutrition.

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If you have been following me for a while, in bits and pieces I’ve shared how I struggle with eating certain texture’s and colours, which mostly influence fruit and veg.

So when Green powders drew my attention on the market I was intrigued, something perfect for me. As it will be much easier for me to drink my micro nutrients. So you can understand my excitement when Nature’s nutrition reached to me to review one of their products!

I did it live on my insta stories and people loved my live taste test review, especially when I described the taste as ‘it taste’s like health’. haha

After some tips and tricks I decided to add it to some smoothies, and who else to call but my raw living smoothie making QUEEN of a sister Anneke.

This girl knows her smoothies in and out and honestly, I’m not lying, but as I’m typing this she’s just making smoothies behind me, and of course I ordered one 😛

Okay back to the OG post and recipe’s, after I received the special ‘powders’ I gave her a WhatsApp Image 2018-07-24 at 08.49.29call, we set a date and I went to go visit her with my basket full of goodies at her flat in Stellenbosch to teach me her ways.

 

Here are her 2 favorite smoothies recipes:

  1. Green smoothie
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp Almond butter
  • Half cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop Super Greens & Reds powder

2. Glowing green smoothieWhatsApp Image 2018-07-24 at 08.49.31

  • Half cup pineapple
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Half cup almond milk

My personal favorites:

3. Very Berry

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 cups frozen Mixed Berries
  • Half cup of water
  • 1 scoop Super Greens & Reds powder

4. Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 1 tsp nut butter
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ¼ cup ice
  • and cinnamon to taste.

Full review on the Nature’s nutrition Super green & Reds in Citrus Berry flavor. 

Taste: I love everything that tastes like citrus, that being said, your smoothie should have the same taste. If you put this in with chocolate/Banana/peanut butter, you will taste it and it won’t go together so well. It goes the best with frozen berries for me personally.

Texture: This was the tough part, not like I struggle with this enough already with normal food, but just stirring it with water is not enough with this powder, you need to blend it with other textures and preferably with a blender or shaker then you won’t taste it all. Oh and it has a ‘brown’ color and will change your smoothie into that color as well, and it won’t be green anymore.

Benefits: Like I said in the beginning of this blog post, I really struggle with getting in my greens and have my whole life so having this around is definitely a life saver. By drinking this I am getting nutrients from plants I never would have eaten otherwise.

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Including these:

  1. 300mg Vitamin C
  2. 10g plant protein
  3. Dairy free probiotics
  4. 223mg Potassium
  5. 40mg Calcium
  6. 17mg Iron
  7. Its Vegan friendly
  8. High fibre
  9. Preservative free
  10. <80 calories per serving

Will I include this in my daily routine? I had the best intentions to become a green smoothie drinking morning person, but to be honest in winter I’ve struggled with that, when It’s cold, I just want a bowl of warm oats and coffee. But I will definitely try and incorporate it more in the summer!

Again a big thank you for Nature’s nutrition for giving me the chance to review this product! A must for everyone’s daily routine, pantry and life!

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