I Won a Telstra Best of Business Award for Accelerating Women

I Won a Telstra Best of Business Award for Accelerating Women

Read times: 5-minute read

What a whirlwind that was!

I received an email almost 12 months ago now – ‘you have been nominated for the Telstra Best of Business Awards, click here to enter your business’

In 2017 I had some experience with Telstra’s awards program, and what I remembered most was the clarity I received about my business as I worked through each stage. Despite having no confidence at the time and being selected as a finalist, I was told by one of the judges I was a close second to the overall prize. This boosted my confidence in myself and my business exponentially, and since that day I always intended on doing it again.

So as I received the nomination I clicked through, and began putting my entry together.

The Telstra Awards are a rigorous process, so it’s not something you can breeze through or do in a weekend. There are four stages, each more involved than the one before it. You are notified after each round whether or not you have made it through, and if you do, you continue on to that next level. Each level they want to understand your business on a deeper level than the one that passed.

From the beginning I had the final round in my sights – the pitch pack – and so I put it all out on the table from the beginning.

The process 

The first round is multiple choice, social media links, your website and a short bio on your business purpose and story. If you’re selected to share more about your business you enter stage two, which were 3-minute videos responses on all aspects of your business, including; 

  • Company purpose and solution
  • Culture and team
  • Financials and future 
  • Business story 

They offer specific categories to best suit your business, I chose ‘Accelerating Women’ and ‘Championing Health’. For each category you submit additional answers to explain how you are contributing to Australia in alignment with the criteria of that specific category.

Once I reached the third round, I almost called it! It required 5 x 5 1500 word answers to each aspect of your business. As a solo entrant I struggled to complete it alongside my client load. You also don’t realise how much information there is to share, and how little 1500 words is, when you’re trying to explain what you do to strangers!

With the editing support of a long-term client, I passed through that stage to the interview stage – a 30-minute interview with the judges. They were extremely knowledgeable in their own fields and by this stage knew all there was to know about your business and vision.

From there, I made it through to the awards night as a State Finalist in both my chosen categories. I was SO excited!

The pitch deck was further away than I thought though – I needed to WIN in order to give my pitch. 

I WON the Accelerating Women award!

Dressed up in a gown, hair and makeup done, I attended the awards night with my two favourite people – my bestie and my partner. 

Then came the announcement – ‘I am so proud to announce that the winner is, Wildly Strong’. I was shocked! I took the stage to accept my award and deliver my acceptance speech. I was overwhelmed but also just so happy and proud. 

It was the best thing I have experienced in my business so far. And it’s not for the reason you may think.

I have no formal training in business. I am heart-led and my intuition is what brought me to where I am now. I followed my gut, shared my story and supported women in overcoming the same struggles I have overcome.

So I have no mentorship, and I get no business feedback, but the awards program offers me an opportunity for just that. It asks important questions of you as a business owner, and forces you to get clear on your past, present and future in a way that makes sense to strangers – not one of my strong points!

The National Experience 

So here I am ready to put together a pitch pack – the part I was most excited about. Judges from across Australia were selected for the panel, and you have 10 minutes to pitch your business to them. Aware of the fact that I had no formal training or any clue about corporate lingo, I put together a pitch that I was super proud of. 

They asked me questions around investment, how I was going to ‘challenge the establishment’ and things like this, to which I replied I would have to get a mentor. I hadn’t thought this far ahead, as I don’t have many resources available to me.

They gave me really great advice on what I could do to grow my business with the resources I did have – creating partnerships with other professionals that my work gels well with.

So a night of mingling, a pitch pack presented to judges, a masterclass where we met the CEO of Telstra, and a 6-hour long awards ceremony I was presented with my state finalist award. I didn’t win the national prize, but as a realist I wasn’t expecting I would. It was the experience I was seeking and the clarity around my own business journey that was most important to me.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. I have such clarity around who I serve, the direction I am taking, the story that led me here, and what I need to do next in order to continue accelerating women into the future.

I was offered a speaking opportunity with the Defense Force, an article in the Canberra Weekly, an interview with one of the judges Div Pillay in June, and I made an appearance on Sunrise off the back of this awards program. These are valuable experiences that came off the back of the publicity I received in the awards program.

Where am I going now?

If I am honest, I am resting! The two awards ceremonies were on either side of my PTSD healing sessions in Byron Bay. I didn’t really get a chance or space to process what came up in my session, and I fell behind on client work! I am still catching up.

So, it’s a rest from me, and I have a few exciting things in the pipelines that I can’t tell you about yet – but it’s coming sometime in September.

The Telstra 2024 Best of Business Awards nominations are now open, so if you know of a business that could benefit from this process in the future, be sure to nominate them here!

13 Tips Helpful Additions to a Fat Loss Dieting Phase

13 Tips Helpful Additions to a Fat Loss Dieting Phase

Read times: 6 minute read time

Dieting can be hard work! But there are lots of things you can do to make it easier for yourself. In this post I am sharing 13 things that make dieting, or fat loss phases, easier. 

No matter what your body goals are, you need to enjoy your food and lifestyle enough to keep it in the long term. There’s no such thing as an eating style you hate that can get you the body you want in the long term. 

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Fat loss: Wildly Strong Women

Most of the tips are food related, but I guarantee they will help!

1. Egg Whites

This is really about volume, and in a way you can keep your egg-based meals the same in weight and volume without the calories. The yolk in an egg is around 50 calories, but the equivalent weight in egg whites is around 20 calories

 They can be rubbery so if you use whites only, you will need sauce. The yolk contains fat which is what gives eggs a creamy flavour and texture

 I used egg whites in oats and rice porridge, to create more volume and a fluffier texture. I used it in protein pancakes, and every couple of weeks I made an egg white pizza! So, they’re great. You can buy them in a packet in most supermarkets.

2. Protein Custard

Protein custards are fun because it’s like having a whey protein shake, but it thickens up just like custard, so you can eat it with a spoon, more like a dessert. 

 I used vanilla flavour to make really thick smoothies and smoothie bowls (which is something you can’t do on low calories as you need heaps of banana or avocado to make it fluffy). The texture of the custard will thicken it up, without the added calories.  

 My favourite brand is Red Dragon Nutritionals, and the vanilla custard flavour is to die for! Muscle Nation is also super popular. 

 I also use the custard to top my oats, or have some with muesli, berries, things like this. Or, you can just have it on its own.

3. Air-Fryer

I got an airfryer after deliberating for months. I am terrible with the oven (and super impatient) so throwing potatoes into the airfryer was amazing for me. I made crispy white potatoes, but also sweet potato chips almost every day. All you need to do is spray them with a little olive oil cooking spray, and cook them on a super high heat for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I had a little sour cream and light sweet chili sauce, and sometimes I had them plain with salt. 

 You can make lots of other things in the air-fryer but the chips are my go-to.

 

 4. Zucchini

This is another volume trick, just like egg white zucchini is high volume and flavorless, so it’s highly versatile. By the end of my prep I was having both egg whites and zucchini in my oats, because it made the portion size bigger but without the calories.

Zucchini can also be used as noodles (we call these ‘zoodles’!) if you’re wanting a bolognese style meal, but can’t fit the pasta into your macros. 

5. Low-calorie sauces

This includes low-fat dressings, low-sugar dressings, and things like this. My favourites during my prep were Callowfit, and I used them on everything!

Keep in mind when you diet for some time, you don’t actually have the same taste buds as when you’re not, and your pallet gets quite bland. So as much as you usually would prefer a full-calorie balsamic vinegar dressing, know that the low fat version will be amazing when you’re in a dieting phase. When you go back to the real thing, it’s almost too much at first!

6. Flexible Dieting

This is an eating principle that saves everyone on a diet. In the old days we had set and rigid meal plans for fat loss, they worked but were impossible to stay with in the long term. Bodybuilders were the go-to people for fat loss, because people didn’t want to get smaller, they wanted to get ‘toned’. So to cater for this market, we would just prescribe these diets that were working for us.

I only did that on a handful of occasions before working out that a wholesome diet is better for the everyday person (one who is not obsessed with the gym), so not long after I started implementing variety. This was better, but also still restrictive.

I then brought in flexible dieting, which is where the person on the diet determines what they eat, whilst still sticking with calorie and/or macro targets. This way you eat your favourite foods on the daily, and you don’t miss out on things. You can make it more of a lifestyle, you learn about food, what your body likes and needs, and you’re likely to stick with it in the long term.

7. Save your TV shows for cardio

This one isn’t food related but, leave the TV for your cardio sessions! If you have to do a few per week, find a show you want to watch and wait until cardio time to watch it.

In the past, we used to walk on the treadmill 40-minutes per day, while staring at the walls! Or we would have to bribe someone to walk with us, or to stand next to the treadmill and entertain us as we walked. There were no iPhones, netflix, movies to watch on the treadmill. So do all of us old school dieters a favour and make the most of this technology.

8. Sugar-free maple syrup

I used this on egg whites with oats, and on protein pancakes. I also made french toast on a few occasions. It’s extremely sweet and as I said in the previous point, you won’t notice that it’s not the real deal when dieting.

9. Natvia brown sugar

This is totally random but I use it on everything – I sprinkle it on my oats, put it in cups of tea, and use it in my protein pancakes. It’s super sweet but with this brown sugar flavour which in my opinion reminds me of the real thing.

I also mixed it with cocoa powder to make a super low calorie hot chocolate (which I will get to in a minute).

Note this is a natural option which has not been shown to be harmful to your gut health, which many other sweeteners have been. It also doesn’t spike your blood sugar like real sugar or artificial sweeteners can do and lastly, it’s a plant, and it doesn’t make you crave more sugar.

10. Lot of veggies and big salads

You can eat a lot of vegetables to create high volume meals. Cooking them in a pan or in the oven makes them sweeter and crunchier too.

Keep in mind also that almost any vegetable can be eaten in a fat loss diet. Bodybuilders do broccoli, but as a normal human being, you don’t have to do that!

11. Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are another highly voluminous food. You could switch out 1 cup of rice for 8 rice cakes and you would be munching away for ages. In dieting you get to a point where you only have 10 gms carbs allowance in a meal, so two rice cakes is perfect for that.

I used mine with nut butter, protein custards (that was fun), tuna, light cream cheese and cinnamon, and more.

12. Popcorn

This is similar to rice cakes in that you can eat a lot of popcorn for not very many carbs. I made mine fresh in a pot and added cinnamon, paprika, himalayan salt and natvia brown sugar. It was delicious.

13. Cacao powder

Pure cacao powder is amazing as a treat, especially if it is cold. I used 1tsp with 1tsp Natvia brown sugar, boiling water and a little milk for a hot chocolate treat. You can also mix it into oats when you are really craving chocolate, and if you want even more chocolate add a square of dark choc as well.

Other honorable mentions; 

  • Powdered peanut butter (I like YUM Natural best)
  • Avalanche hot drinks (though be careful with your gut here)
  • Sweet teas, or teas you add Natvia to (I like Rooibos)
  • Use spray olive oil to cook with, or on potato, veggies, etc. 
  • Sugar free drinks on occasion

Those are the main tips I have for making a dieting phase easier and more enjoyable! Let me know if you have any of your own that you want to share. 

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

Lessons From A 25+ Year Health and Fitness Journey

Lessons From A 25+ Year Health and Fitness Journey

Read time: 10-minute read

I’ve been in the health and fitness game for a long time. I’ve made every mistake, and paid for those mistakes time and time again.

It pains me to see everyone making those same mistakes, as there is so much ‘new’ information online, and none of it addresses the root of what it takes to sustain a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

In this post I have reflected on this, so here 10 of my top lessons from my 25 year journey. 

1. Emotional Regulation should be your number one priority

It starts in the mind (which stems from the BODY), so you can’t be healthy if your mind-body isn’t aligned ⁠

This is first because this is KEY. I learned this after many years of perfect eating and training, when I developed chronic fatigue. As I explored the mechanisms behind this illness I learned of how dysregulated my nervous system was, and it was this dysregulation that led to my condition.

I already had depression, anxiety, ADD, and PTSD diagnosis, but because I was so removed from my body, it didn’t click until I was physically unable to function. 

What does this look like?

  • Learning to feel into the body
  • Healing and or facing childhood trauma
  • Asking questions about your uncomfortable emotions
  • Seeing a therapist if you need to
  • Taking time to reassess your job, relationships and life choices. 

These things aren’t easy, they’re a journey, but I can assure you there is freedom (and better results in all life pursuits) if this one is explored in its entirety.

2. It’s a PROCESS. No one masters the habits overnight.

We all fall backward and have to jump back on the wagon again. ⁠

Rome wasn’t built in a day! Along your journey there will be setbacks, as it is impossible to just ‘decide’ to change and have no problems. Think of change like an onion, as you peel back one layer another appears.

So you start eating better, now you have less inflammation and more clarity to see the waves in your emotional state or those things that trigger it. When you’re triggered, you may spiral back to old habits in order to regulate yourself. In noting that, you need to develop a new habit to regulate, rather than leaning on those things you’re trying to quit – cigarettes, alcohol, sugar, etc.

Be patient with yourself and think of it like you’re going on a quest, and on this quest you want to uncover all those things that are holding you back from your dreams, and work through them one by one. As you do this, work to be happy and grateful for what you already have, and this takes the pressure off!.

3. We all have different needs and genetic capabilities – learn yours. 

This is KEY! We all have different muscle shapes, strength capacity, waist size, abdominal shapes, body fat storage limitations, sensitivities, and histories. Your past will influence your present, which is why the first point is so important.

If you’re wanting to change your body, then knowing those who excel in physical endeavors are built differently. They most likely don’t share your story. They most likely have more responsive bodies, lower body fat set-points, a faster metabolism and better levers for lifting. Don’t compare your journey to anyone else but your own. 

4. Nutrition is the number one variable you can control (in a sea of environmental toxicity – so start there)

If you don’t eat well, you really have no chance. There is no other way to say it! We are all impacted by our environment, epigenetic suggests up to 95% of our health outcomes are related to just that. It’s hard to avoid pharmaceuticals, petrol fumes, and some of us have high levels of emotional or psychological stress, but we can all control our diet.

This means; low refined sugar, no seed oils, no fried foods, no trans fats. It’s not that hard to do, but it’s hard to accept as those foods are SO addictive. So, start in the kitchen!

5. Weight training has positive carryover into ALL aspects of life

Weight training is beneficial for; 

  • Bone density
  • Injury prevention
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Mental health
  • Strength levels
  • Sports performance
  • Hormone function
  • Nutrient uptake

And, it can make your body more resilient. When you train well, the nervous system upregulates and has to return to normal again. The more you do this, the more it can stretch, the more you can take on in your everyday life. 

6. Being lean is NOT where the happiness lies

I have been shredded three times. The first time I was miserable as I had major body image issues and I had hedged all my bets on being lean. When I arrived there, I was more disappointed than I had ever been. The next time it was a little better, and the last time I was well aware that it was for the sport and the enjoyment, and so it was great, but I would never choose to live that lifestyle in order to stay lean, as the sacrifices I had to make were too high. Same goes for you!

7. It’s important to identify what you’re willing to do and how you want to live, and weigh that up against how you want to look.

And then, you want to work on accepting how you look. 

⁠How you look is largely genetic, and most people won’t tell you this. This means you won’t buy their programs or sign up to their weight loss diets. I tell my clients this, they understand what is realistic for them and what it takes to achieve the body they desire to have.

For me personally, this means being around 70-73kg, I have a nice shape, but I have no real visible muscle despite when I am lean looking very muscular. After a lifetime of chronic dieting and stress, I have to accept that this is what my body considers to be safe.

So ask yourself, what about this weight is safe for me? If there are realistic changes you can make to be healthier, then it’s likely you will lose weight as you make those changes. If you’re already living a truly healthy lifestyle, then understanding any further leanness you may achieve will not necessarily stick around.

Keep in mind also, that obesity is never safe for the body. Our bodies carry healthy amounts of body fat, but this is never in excessive amounts.

8. Community is essential – you need to have a safe people in your corner.

No-one can make it on their own!⁠

If you don’t have people in your corner cheering you on, it will be hard to change. I have experienced both sides, where I had friends that were not egging me on at all, in fact behind my back hoping I would fail. This means that when I would change, I would feel disconnected and with that disconnection came me ditching my efforts in an attempt to fit back in again. 

Recognise that good connections are people who; 

  • Support you
  • Listen to you
  • Compromise with you
  • Don’t need to be right all the time
  • Ask you how it’s going
  • Point out positive changes in you

They are not people who criticise, put negative ideas in your head or hold you back.  

9. SAFETY is needed for any lasting change.

Safety for me is something I only learned in 2022 as I heal my childhood trauma. I had no idea I didn’t have safety, and no idea how to recognise it.

SO this what safety is, for anyone who doesn’t know; 

  • It is having non-judgmental people in your corner
  • It’s being able to speak your mind without fear of negative consequences
  • It’s people who have a genuine interest in your life
  • People who can be present for you 

If you feel you lack safety, then this is where I would start! Seek out a therapist as this can be a great way of learning what safety feels like, and I’ll give you a tip, it feels strange but also very right to your nervous system.

You may have heard me talking about this alot of late, particularly as it relates to weight loss. Safety is key for any physical goal, as without safety we have chronic stress, and in chronic stress the body is surviving, not thriving, and you can’t achieve things that your body deems unnecessary when it is simply trying to keep you alive!

10. Your needs will change with each phase of life.

One minute it feels important to be skinny, the next it’s important to be strong, then suddenly we care more for mobility. Ride the waves and don’t judge your earlier choices as you occupy new spaces. ⁠

Changing your preferences is normal, and it’s important to embrace this and not fight against it. I see really often people posting about how they once cared about how they looked, but now they don’t, but rather than sharing in an empowering way, they’re mocking the girl who thought weight loss would make her happy.

Weight loss doesn’t make you happy, but your belief in that was your only hope for safety in that phase of your life. What you did in the past was what you did to survive. There are no right or wrong things to do if they lead you to your best life.

I have done; 

  • Cardio and fun runs
  • Weight training and bodybuilding
  • Powerlifting
  • Strongman
  • Walking only while I had chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Back to bodybuilding
  • Now back to walking only really light training as my body recovers through trauma therapy 

I have resistance every time I can’t weight train, as it is my preference but at the same time i have to ride those waves – if the body doesn’t want to do it, then I need to give it a rest. My point here is, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ exercise routine, food, training style or phase to be in. Do what your body can do at the time.

So those are my top 10 tips for you! I hope you gained some new insight.

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

Keys to Building Muscle as a Female

Keys to Building Muscle as a Female

Read time: 8-minute read

There are a million reasons why you should build muscle, including; 

  1. Bone density
  2. Protection from injury
  3. Metabolic health
  4. Healthy body composition
  5. Nervous system resilience 
  6. You can pick stuff up
  7. Confidence!

So with that being said let’s go deep into how you build muscle. Let’s start with what you should do; 

  • Eat at maintenance calories or above
  • Lift weights 
  • Focus on recovery
  • Sleep well

And what you shouldn’t;

  • Diet 
  • Do lots of cardio

With that in mind, let’s get on with the article. We are going to cover; 

  • What you should do training wise
  • What you should do food wise, and 
  • What you should do in terms of recovery

Training!

Your training needs to be focussed on lifting weights! I wrote a post a few weeks back on ‘5 reasons you’re not seeing results in the gym’ – check that one out after you finish reading this one! 

When it comes to lifting weights, you really need to train every muscle group twice per week, even three times if you’re a beginner. You also want to focus on your posterior chain. Lastly, you want to be consistent. So that is; 

  1. Train each muscle group twice per week
  2. Focus on your posterior chain
  3. Be consistent! 

Note the main muscle groups that we train include are; 

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves 
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Abs

So you want to do at least two exercises for each muscle group twice per week. If you went three days per week that would be either three full body days, or one lower, one upper and one full body. If it were 4 days/week you can do two upper and two lower, or just split the muscles up in a way that you train them each twice per week still. This ensures everything can be trained twice per week. 

Then we have my second point of focussing on the posterior chain. This is when you have passed your introductory phase but here you really want to focus on; 

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Back
  • Abs. 

And you want to be able to do a hip-hinge movement, you can find a link to what this is by clicking here

From there you can learn to squat and deadlift, as these are the movements that will bring you the lasting results (and motivation) when it comes to training. Understand these are hard though and there is no point in doing them if you can’t do them correctly. Hire a professional for these or start really light and work your way up from there!  

Also on the topic of training we have cardio, and the main thing I want to point out is that cardio is counterproductive for muscle building. It increases cortisol, which is a catabolic (ie muscle wasting) hormone and if the more frequently you do cardio, the less need your body feels it has for muscle. It thinks it’s best to lose it, as it’s not sure how long you’re going to run for and muscle is not as important as body fat for your survival. 

Walking is not catabolic, if it’s not excessive. Running is. Biking is the most likely to preserve muscle mass out of all of the moderate-intensity options, but again you don’t want it to be excessive, and you want to ensure you’re eating enough food to fuel it. 

HIIT training is only good if controlled, you’re conditioned for it, and eating well. Otherwise, avoid it. It won’t help you put on muscle. 

Then you want to make sure you’re consistent!

This means, whatever training program or schedule you have that meets the above criteria, you want to be consistent with it. Follow the same routine and try to lift more weight, or complete more repetitions each time you do that particular workout. You won’t always be able to increase, but the point is you try to. This is what we call progressive overload. My clients follow programs for 8-12 weeks before changing. 

So to recap, that is; 

  1. Train each muscle group twice per week
  2. Focus on your posterior chain
  3. Be consistent! 

Now we want to look at food! 

The main thing here is to eat enough! When it comes to muscle, this is what you need to know; 

  • You need to eat maintenance calories, and
  • You need to eat protein

When it comes to maintenance calories, this is the amount of food you need to eat on a daily basis to survive and do your activities (many women don’t eat enough here!). If you multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 16-18, this will give you a rough idea of how much to eat on a day you’re active, the higher number on a weight training day and the lower number on a ‘rest’ day. 

If you need to work out your weight in pounds, this is your weight in kilograms, multiplied by 2.2. 

Keep in mind that for a woman, muscle is not essential to our survival, nor do we have the hormonal profile to gain excessive amounts of muscle, so we need to create the environmental conditions to make that possible. 

Protein is essential as this is the building block, and contrary to popular opinion it is animal protein that is key here. I have had three pescatarian/vegan clients in my life, and they got less results as far as weights are concerned. If you follow a vegan bodybuilder and they’re amazing, understand it’s not their diet it’s their genetics (so they’re outliers), or performance enhancing drugs. 

So protein should be your weight in pounds in grams, so if you’re 130lbs, this means you need to eat 130gms of protein per day. Use a calorie tracking app for this. 

Note if you are in a deficit, your weight training is only going to serve you as muscle maintenance, not building, as there is no excess fuel available to build ‘unnecessary’ muscle tissue. 

Lastly, we have rest!

Sleep is KEY. As we sleep we release growth hormone, which helps us build muscle. If you don’t sleep, you miss out on this powerful hormone. 

If you don’t rest, then the same applies. When you train, you tear the muscle and they grow back stronger as a protective mechanism. They need a day or two to rest in between sessions, and you want to train them again once rested. 

If you train on top of sore muscles, there is just not the same benefit 

The same goes for beginners who train to the point of debilitating soreness. This is not necessary, you want enough stress to elicit a response, but not so much that it takes you a week to recover. 

So sleep, and rest. More is not better when it comes to building muscle!

In summary; 

  • Training wise you want to focus on weights, and limit cardio
  • Food-wise you want to focus on eating your maintenance calories, prioritising protein
  • Recovery wise, you want to focus on getting good sleep, and rest in between sessions

Keep in mind that things like; 

  • Pre-trainers
  • Keto diets
  • Vegan diets
  • HIIT cardio

….are not the key to building a lean, strong physique. They have nothing to do with it really. 

What you need is patience, consistency, and mastering the basics and you’ll see muscle growth over time!

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Female Training.

 

RIP Louis Simmons – What he Contributed and How You Benefit!

RIP Louis Simmons – What he Contributed and How You Benefit!

Read time: 7 minute read

A little over a month ago, the fitness industry lost a legend – Louis Simmons. He is notorious for his unique contribution to the industry and his impact on both men and women in training. 

Louis’ primary focus is raw strength, specifically powerlifting. He trains some of the world’s best powerlifters at his own gym, Westside Barbell in Ohio, USA. His methods are used worldwide and have been re-interpreted by trainers everywhere! Including myself. 

The more obvious aspects – think chains and bands – those were Louis’ contributions.

Louis placed great emphasis on building what we call the ‘posterior chain’ – a group of muscles that are priority in superhuman strength – the back, glutes, hamstrings and abdominals. The posterior chain is essential for any physique goal, athletic performance goals that involve peak speed and/or power output, and lifestyle goals such as weight loss, body recomposition and general wellbeing. 

My clients know that all I focus on in their training for the first couple of years is building that posterior chain, because when it is strong, all goals can be reached much more easily. 

In order to optimize the strength of this posterior chain, he invented a lot of equipment, or exercises, to do just that, and these exercises have been re-created worldwide. For this post I am going to share those exercises that I use with my own clients, that are vital for female training success!

So with that said, here are a few things Louis Simmons contributed to the industry that you may not even know you have been benefiting from!

1. Box Squat

I use the box squat to teach women how to squat, as when you’re new, it is hard to get to that goal position we call ‘parallel’ – where the hips are horizontal to the knees at the bottom of the squat. The reason you can’t reach this position as a newbie is because you don’t have the strength in the posterior chain to stabilize the movement. 

When we use a box, you can learn to sit all the way back without worrying about falling down, as the box is there to ‘save’ you. If you fall, you just land in a seated position on the box. So if you haven’t tried this in your own training, and have trouble squatting to parallel, try this one out!

2. Glute-Hamstring Raise (GHR)

This is my absolute favourite exercise by Louis Simmons. I spent around one year working on this, as I had ZERO hamstring strength at the time. My goal with all of my clients is to have their posterior chain so strong that they can do this exercise without any problems at all. It takes around 12 months of great training and programming to reach this milestone and from there it’s just a matter of improving technique.

3. Belt Squat

The belt squat is a great way of lowering nervous system load, and avoiding putting repeated strain on the shoulders and spine, as in a belt squat the weight is loaded through the hips. You can do many exercises on the belt squat including marching for hip stability, roman-deadlifts or sumos for glute/hamstring development. Or, you can just squat!

It’s an amazing piece of equipment for anyone who experiences lower back pain during squats, or doesn’t’ yet have the shoulder or upper back mobility to hold a barbell across their back just yet.

4. Safety Bar Squat

This bar was created to lower the pressure on the shoulder joint, but it also loads the weight further towards the front of your body. I like using this bar interchangeably with my female clients as it is a great way to increase upper back and abdominal strength, as when you reach parallel, there is no bar to pull your traps/lats into so it’s all up to you and your back, and abdominals. 

It also allows you to stand more upright, like you can with a front squat, but without the pressure on your shoulders and traps supporting the barbell weight on your upper chest. 

Generally, females lift around 10% less with this bar as compared to a back squat, but the benefits carry over once you return to the standard barbell, as your abdominals and upper back will have adapted and become stronger.

5. Reverse Hyper

This machine is designed to overload the erector spinae, which are the muscles we call ‘pipes’ that run alongside your spine from the pelvis to the upper back. When you lift with a barbell, the spine is constantly being compressed, so this allows athletes to ‘decompress’ their spine and strengthen their erectors at the same time. 

For women who aren’t powerlifters, loading the erectors is not as important, as they load up with almost all lower body exercises when performed correctly. I generally prescribe it as a single leg exercise, or a slow-controlled movement for the glutes, lower and and hamstrings.

6. Inverse Curl

This is an amazing machine, although I have only seen one in a gym – Club Lime Phillip, in the ACT. It is like a reverse hamstring curl, where you are supported by a selected weight and can lower yourself down via your hamstrings, and ‘curl’ back up. It operates in reverse much like the assisted chin-up/dip machine, as the more weight you put on, the lighter it is. 

The nordic curl is a variation of this, though the inverse curl would act as a ‘training wheels’ version of the nordic curl as I don’t know many women who can control a nordic curl movement without assistance.

If you want to see more, check out my latest youtube video where I covered a little about Louis Simmons and his exercises in more detail!

Jen x

5 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

5 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

Read time: 7 minute read

Spinning you wheels and not getting the results you seek in the gym or your lifestyle routine? If so, you are not alone, so I thought I would dedicate this post to all the ladies out there who are busting their butts but can’t work out what’s missing!

Essentially, results come from consistency, adequate training with progressive overload and plenty of recovery, and for most people, really good nutrition.

Let’s start with the first, consistency.

 

  1. You’re not consistent enough

Consistency is key, and the main reason results fall short. This probably comes more under ‘mindset’ but without it, you can’t get results. Building a body is a long-term endeavour, it can’t be fast-tracked or skipped, you just eat and train, train and eat, and be patient.

All professional bodybuilders can attest to the time and dedication it takes to build a physique, particularly one that turns heads. On the plus side though, a body built over the long term is something you get to walk around in.

The reason people fall short on consistency is because they chase the fads – fasting, no carbs, double workouts, HIIT sessions. These things have benefits yes, but when it comes to the long-term results, eating well, and eating a lot of good food, daily and consistently and pairing this with a solid weight training regime is the only way.

There are outliers, yes, those who do this kind of thing and look great, but this is not why they look great. If they look good with these methods it’s their genetics that have allowed it.

 

  1. You’re following poor programming, or have poor program balance

Training should always be a strength-based development program with cardio as a ‘topper’. Cardio should never be the focus – including HIIT. This is not the way to build a strong, lean physique.

Programming should be progressive and not random, so you need to follow a program which is within your capabilities and where you aim to increase strength in each exercise over a period of time. The program that follows that will be more challenging in either exercise order, volume, load or all three, but it won’t be completely different from the first one if your focus is to get results.

I believe the ideal time period for a program is 8 weeks if you’re in the first year of training, as you can progress a lot more quickly within that first year. I even do 4-week blocks for brand new clients. Once established and stronger all over, I find 12-weeks to be a great time-frame to commit to each program.

If you break it down over 12 weeks, it takes around 2-4 weeks to find the ideal weight and learn a new exercise, and then 8-10 weeks following that to really push your capabilities with those exercises. Just as you start to get bored or plateau, it’s time to change in up. This is where patience comes in, changing your program all the time because you’re ‘bored’ or ‘impatient’ will only hinder your long-term progress.

 

  1. Inadequate nutrition

Changes in body composition are even more dependent on food intake than training. If you don’t eat enough you will have inadequate nutrition to recover and build muscle from your sessions, but if you eat too much you will gain body-fat.

You also need to determine what kind of constitution you have – can you handle dairy, processed foods, gluten and wheat, or not? For some people, a whole-foods diet is essential for progress but for others they can be more flexible. You need to work out where you fit here and stick within reasonable boundaries if you want your body to respond positively.

I always try to get my clients eating as much food as they can, whilst still feeling good, and not gaining body-fat. For some women this is 1700 calories, and for others it’s 2300. Everyone is different and unique differences are uncovered not with a calculator, but with consistent tracking, patience, and check-ins where we look at weight, measurements, photos, and strength progression.

This applies even when dieting – you want as much food as you can get away with, and you don’t want to be eliminating food groups unless your body tells you they need to go (and there are professional ways to approach this).

 

  1. Improper technique

Back to training – you can’t build a physique if you don’t have good technique.

I get that is feels good to enter a gym in your first week and put a 60kg barbell on your back, but if you’re not doing it properly all you’re doing is ‘impressing’ the people around you whom also have no idea and sabotaging your results in the long term.

Most women don’t naturally have the structure for weight training, they need to build it. This means developing the glutes, hamstrings, abs and back muscles to a point where your posture is sound, and those muscles are working just as hard as (or harder than), the muscles that are naturally developed like the quads and traps. See my post on the posterior chain here, to dive a little deeper into that.

Some women take 12+ months before they can squat 60kg, and others take 3 months. Some need to do months of mobility and postural correction whereas others need minimal. If you want to learn good technique, you need to hire an experienced professional. Just because someone has a gym or 300K followers on Instagram does not indicate experience – it indicates cash in hand and time spend on their phone, posting things that trend and interacting with other accounts.

Research someone’s history and understand the industry is very new, and the more years spent mastering their craft, the more you’re going to get for your money. The overall point here is, good technique will have you burning more calories, and building way more overall muscle (in all the right places) than poor technique will. So don’t skip the fundamentals and again, be patient.

 

  1. You are training too much!

Lastly here we have over-training. It is not that common to over-train in a way that is damaging for athletic performance but it does happen, particularly when there is poor programming or if you aren’t eating enough to fuel your activity.

Where I find it most common is amongst gym people who are trying to change their body composition. Doing ‘more’ is not always the answer. Well, it’s rarely the answer. It is crucial to choose an exercise load that your body can handle, and that you are nourishing for. If you eat as little as you can, and train as much as you can in the hopes that this will ‘speed up’ progress, you are misinformed.

My philosophy with my clientele is always to give them as much food as possible, and as little training as possible, that is needed to get results. I never through extra training in, particularly cardio, in the hopes that they will get more out of it as this just isn’t the case Long story short, over-training can leave you falling behind on your goals and it just isn’t worth it.

 

What to do if you’re doing any of these things…

Stop. Reset. Restructure your approach. Seek professional help if you must but avoid continuing down a path that isn’t working well for you! Send me an email if you want more information about any of these topics.

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Female Training

Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

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