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.


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.


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 😛


3 Biggest Workout Program Mistakes + How to Fix Them



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…


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…


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.


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.


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 for more information

Should You Be Sore After Every Workout?


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.


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.



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.


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

​How To Brave The Weights Room

I know the feeling. You’ve never set foot in the weights section of the gym or you are entering a new gym, you don’t know where anything is or how anything works, and honestly, you’re dreading it. Thoughts are racing through your head: “What will everyone think? Won’t I stand out? What if I make a fool out of myself?!”. Even after years and years or weight training, I’ve been there, I’ve felt that. And I’ve been dealing with multiple girls feeling the same way!

You’re probably well aware of all the benefits of lifting weights, improved muscle tone, increased bone density, inner and outer strength. Now, you just need to get started with it, which is easier said than done.

I want to empower you to get in the “testosterzone” and start making positive changes for your health and happiness. By stepping in there you will gain access to all the equipment you need to sculpt your body and build your strength, so what are you waiting for?

Plan Ahead.
Write down a workout plan or even just a rough guideline of the exercises you want to do, including sets and reps if you can. Ensure you’re familiar with the correct form for all the exercises – YouTube videos are a great free resource you can take advantage of for this. It is much easier to get started if you know what you’re there to do.

Plug In & Dress Up.
Make yourself an awesome empowering gym playlist full of your favourite songs. Pop it in your ears before you head into the weights section to make you feel like a badass! And don’t forget to wear a gym outfit which flatters your body and makes you feel fabulous. Ensure your leggings are comfortable and secure. Nothing ruins your vibe more then when they slip down as you squat. Why not try some clothes from ASICS ZA. (Bonus points if you find 2 photo’s of me on the website :P)

Get an Induction.
The vast majority of gyms will offer a totally free induction, an interactive tour of the whole gym, including the weights room. Use this to your advantage. Ask questions, request demonstrations and familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Some gyms even offer a complimentary personal training session which you can use to check your form on key exercises such as squats and deadlifts.

Take a Friend.
Grab your girl and drag them to the gym with you. The weights room is much easier to enter when you have your bestie by your side. You can train together, experiment with different machines and encourage each other to be brave. Or like I’ve done with my challenge girls, I go with them, its not as aggressive as personal training, it’s just me training with them and giving them little tips and hopefully making them feel comfortable.

Tactical Timing.
If you’re going it alone, a great way to build up your confidence is to head into the weights section at an off-peak time (i.e. not early morning or just after work). This means it will be more quiet, leaving you able to explore everything the gym has to offer in peace.

Get Talking. 
If you’re worried about your form on an exercise, then remember that the gym staff are there to help. They wont judge you for asking for assistance. Every master was once a beginner and it is much wiser to ask for advice then to injure yourself through performing exercises incorrectly.

A Finally, Remember…
Most of the people in the gym are too focused on themselves and their goals to even bat an eyelid at what anyone else is doing. They aren’t there to judge other people. If someone does notice you, they will most likely be thinking how much respect they have for you for working out. You’re doing this for you, not for anyone else. Don’t look for external validation, instead focus on why you’re in the gym in the first place… to better yourself, by yourself, for yourself. – inspired by my other half, JD….

The first time you enter the weights section, it will feel a little bit daunting. However, it gets easier and easier until eventually it becomes second nature. One day you will look back and wonder why you ever worried about it! If you want to know more about how to lift weights, how to formulate a workout program and how to build mental and physical strength; you can purchase my 8 week Gym guide through this link to help guide you. CWF Gym Ebook

Have fun training!


If all else fails, just hit the road for a good old road run. haha



We all have exercise excuses we’re often unaware of. We put the alarm clock on snooze, forget our gym clothes at home, or simply don’t make the time to fit in that exercise class. But what if I told you that for all the common exercise excuses out there, I have a bunch of solutions…

Firstly, if you try rebounding, I can almost guarantee that exercise excuses will be a thing of the past.


The feeling of impending doom is sometimes all too real when anticipating your gym session at the end of the day. A lack of sleep, lack of exercise and lack of nutritious foods can also add exhaustion to a busy schedule


  • Make the commitment. You’re also too tired to wake up for work, but you still go! Exercise needs to rank high on the list of priorities.
  • You will never regret a workout, unless you’re feeling unwell. But generally, it gives you a guaranteed good feeling once you’re done.
  • Just show up. If the thought of a really tough or intense workout is putting you off, just make it your goal to arrive – doing a little versus doing your whole session is still better than nothing. Once you’re there you can decide how much you’re up for, and chances are your energy levels will pick up and you’ll forget you were tired!
  • Try low impact exercise. It helps to energise and oxygenate the body. Exercise also helps regulate circadian rhythms and can improve your quality of sleep.


Between demanding schedules, traveling, working two jobs or perhaps kids, it really can feel like there’s simply no time for exercise. But I’m here to tell you otherwise!


  • Make a choice and prioritise exercise. It needs to be one of your non-negotiables like brushing your teeth. Our bodies are designed to move and exercise helps us to feel more energised, to build strength and stay healthy. Remember why you need to do it when you’re tempted to skip!
  • Commit to 20 minutes. You can torch serious calories in just 20 minutes of exercise if you’re prepared to get intense. And anybody can make time for 20 minutes, right? CWF Home workout are perfect for just that! You can buy it here! CWF Home ebook
  • Make the effort to prepare before bed. A 20-minute session of meal-planning and packing gym clothes is often all it takes to make your morning run smoother.
  • Make one activity on the weekend fitness based. Go for a family run on the beach or a challenging hike to a pretty destination instead of watching a movie. You’ll sneak in an extra workout, and have less to try fit into the working week.


Most people associate exercise with two things – gym contracts and personal trainers. And both of those can be pricey. But that isn’t the only way to exercise!


  • Explore free options: You’d be surprised at the free exercise opportunities available in your area!
  • Train at home. This is one of the best and easiest options. You can find free online sessions, no gym clothes required, and only minimal equipment is needed. Fitness DVDs are also a big help, or ebooks like my CWF Home ebook on my e-store. CWF Home ebook for sale



Exercise feels like a big time waster when you’re not sure how to perform specific moves or even which exercises to do in the first place. Gyms can often feel intimidating for this very reason.


  • Attend fitness classes: the trainers are in charge of keeping you in check.
  • Exercise with an informed friend. Shadowing someone who knows what they’re doing gives you a good guideline of what to do and how to use specific machines.
  • Follow youtube tutorials – any information provided by a professional is going to touch on good form.


The truth is, quick fixes such as extreme exercise plans or fad diets, seldom work. I always say there’s no magic formula when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and feeling your best. The trick is to accept this and find something you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like hard work, but rather slots into your lifestyle.


  • Choose a better reason for being fit: health, energy and happiness are stronger reinforcements than simply looking in the mirror, especially when visual results take their time.
  • Be patient. True healthy habits are a slow burn; energy will creep up slowly, kilos will drop off slowly. Don’t expect immediate results.
  • Take a selfie – it’s true! Photo evidence really is the best way to measure your success, especially when it’s slow.
  • Make sure you set a goal and know how to achieve it. Ask a fitness friend what type of exercise you need to be doing to get the look you want. This will prevent you wasting time on moves that don’t earn results.


With arthritis, potential osteoporosis and brittle bones often getting the better of us, it’s easy to think that exercise will only do further damage or aggravate pain. Plus, many of us have old injuries from school sports that tend to flare up later.


  • Remember that exercise is the number one preventative against a list of illnesses. It is a form of defense you can’t afford to neglect.
  • Stiffness and soreness is normal after a few initial sessions, you need to push through for a few weeks to really feel the benefits and even alleviate pain.
  • With ageing comes a loss in muscle mass, and bone density lessens as a result. Exercise is crucial in building muscle strength, strong bones, improving posture, helping us heal quicker from injury, improving range of motion, improving balance and preventing falls.

Carla West Fitness ebook FAQ!!

Hello there! I don’t know if you realized but I launched the CWF challenge on the 7th of May, one of first and many challenges to come. It has been going really well so far and we have a bunch of girls that are in week 4/half way with the plan already and I couldn’t be more proud of them!!

On the 4th of June the Ebook will go on sale to ‘the public’, you will have the opportunity to start the program at any time you wish, be added to the motivational Facebook group, which I have to admit is the highlight of this challenge! haha

The next challenge will be on the 1st of October as our ultimate Summer prep!

Here are some FAQ’s to help you out!

Nummuro Uno:

Q: What is the difference between partaking in a challenge compared to just buying the ebook?

A: With the 8 week challenge I’ll be doing it with you and be there every step of the way, constant check in’s, measurements, photo’s, constant feed back etc.

2. Q: Will there be a Meal/Nutrition plan included?

A: No there is not a Meal/nutrition plan included in these ebook, but there are nutrition advice included. We are currently writing a meal plan that will be sold separately from the 1st of August.

3. Q: When & where will the ebook be sold?

A: For now the ebook will be opened to the public on Monday the 4th of June, and will be be sold on my facebook page until my website will be upgraded. 🙂

4. Q: Can I do it anywhere in the world?

A: Yes! This plan is sold online and can be done anywhere in the world. We currently have girls in Cape Town, Joburg, Durban, Germany, USA and Dubai doing the plan.

5. Q: What is the difference between the Home and Gym workout program? Without the fact that you need a gym of course.

A: The home workout is more circuit based and better for fat burning. The gym program is more for muscle building and losing body fat at the same time to shape an athletic body.

6. Q: What equipment will I need for the home plan?

A: For V.1 you won’t need anything except an exercise mat.

7. Q: What happens after the 8 weeks?

A: We are currently writing V.2 of the gym program which will be an more advanced, athletic program and V.2 of the home program, a home program with equipment you can purchase for your home gym. More info coming soon 🙂

8. Q: What makes this different to any other program?

A: My favorite question, this is not a “fatloss” or an “introduction to weights” program, this is a lifestyle program. Something you can continue months and years after you purchased it, because it is not based on fads and trends but the 3 principles of having a healthy body. Strength, Endurance and Mobility. The most important things I’ve learned over the years is that 1 or 2 of those without the others have no benefit. You need all 3, and that is why I am so passionate about this program and how it aligns with my values.

9. Q: Payments methods:

A: Internationally you can pay with Paypal, and if you are local to South Africa you can do an EFT.

10. Q: Price?

A: The ebook by itself will cost R300 – 20€ – 25USD – 20GBP

Challenges: R500 – 35€ – 40USD – 30 GBP


I hope to have these products listed on my website very soon!

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to email me at

Here’s a slideshow of some of the reviews so far:

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All my love!


How heavy should you lift

Are you new to the gym? Know the benefits and you’re ready to start crushing workouts but have no idea how heavy you should lift?

Today I’m going to be telling you about just how heavy you should be aiming to lift and where to get instruction on lifting technique.

But first, a science lesson.

Heavy weights to build muscle

When we lift heavy, we stress and fatigue our muscles, causing microscopic tears. This is a natural and necessary process. It is also why after exercise we feel soreness.

In the recovery stage, our bodies overcompensate or adapt in repairing these tears, protecting us against future damage resulting in bigger muscles. This process is known as muscle hypertrophy.

Now, that explanation is oversimplifying a bit, but you get the general idea. If you want a more in-depth explanation, here’s an article that goes into more depth on muscle hypertrophy.

There are two schools of thought on how to achieve this process and build muscle.

The first is working with low weights at higher repetitions. For example, doing 20+ reps at 30- to 50-percent of your one rep max.

The other is working with heavier weights at low repetitions. In this scenario, you’d be working in the 70- to 90-percent range for three to five reps per set.

Studies show that both methods improve muscle growth and increase strength.

So it’s really up to the lifter to determine their preference. However, to induce maximal strength and associated neural adaptations, heavier weight and lower repetitions with good form is suggested.

However, the catalyst for either method is discovering that true one-rep max.

How much should I lift?

Maybe you’ve done that HIIT class or aerobics class and used the 5kg dumbbells and felt a good burn afterwards. That means you lifted heavy, right?


That doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard or that the workout wasn’t worth every drop of sweat you put in. It just means you need to change your thinking around lifting heavy.

The human body is capable of moving multiple times its bodyweight.

Think of the little ant. The average ant can lift 50 times her bodyweight. Others can lift 100 times her bodyweight.

Now we are not as impressive as ants, but we are capable of more than the pink dumbbells.

Here are general guidelines based on industry data for what a novice, beginner, intermediate, and advanced lifter should be capable of lifting.

Now, this does not mean that you should just walk up and start lifting this weight. We all have to crawl before we can walk and run right?

How should I start?

Lifting requires a lot of technique. This can be super frustrating for a new lifter who just wants to feel like Wonder Woman and lift all the things.

Focusing on proper technique will help prevent injury and will allow you to lift heavier in the future. Start each lift with a light weight bar. Then you can progress to an empty barbell. Then you can start adding weight.

(Perhaps also include several movements concentrated on stability and mobility to start off with. Think of stability in a way to effectively use strength and supporting yourself while lifting heavier loads. Mobility in the other hand is related to how ‘good” your joints are moving, especially hips, shoulders and ankles. This is important for proper form and range of motion. Both these concepts will be explained in a next blog, but you will surely understand where it plays and accessory role to lifting heavier weights in a safe manner.)

There are a lot of great (and not-so-great) tutorials on proper technique for each lift. While I hope to eventually include my own library of video resources, Youtube offers a lot of great tutorials on how to perform the lifts.

How do you know that your technique is good enough to progress?

Ask a trainer.

Whether you have a trainer at the gym watch your form, or hire an online coach and video your lifts, you absolutely need someone to evaluate your form.

Trust and listen to your trainer.

Lifting heavy with proper technique stresses your body in ways no other workout or activity has in the past.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

A lot of the muscles and mobility issues that weightlifting reveals are results of poor lifestyle choices — for example, sitting for long periods of time hunched over a computer.

Embrace the fact that you are taking tangible steps to correct these issues.

Finally, once you do begin to add weight, do not be afraid to push yourself. In addition to stressing your muscles, you need to stress your mind. You will give up mentally way before your body gives up physically. Trust that you have the strength to push through.

When doing sets of heavy weights, you should be struggling by the fourth or fifth rep. If all five reps go up without issue, you can lift heavier. Likewise, if the first two reps are a struggle, check your ego and go down in weight.

There is no perfect program or ideal weight range that you should be hitting. All of the advice and evidence out there is purely anecdotal. Find what works for you and get lifting.

Here’s a chart I found online that gives you a good guideline of how you can calculate the weight you should/could be lifting.

How heavy have you been lifting? Let me know in the comments below!

All my love,

Carla xx