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Strength Training Questions

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  • Strength Training Questions


    1) Are there any DVDs to learn crossfit or body weight exercises? I have seen some videos on line, but what about DVDs? Is PX90 such a DVD? I can't commit to an hour EVERY day, but I was looking for a video just to learn proper form/technique. I guess I can search youtube, but I am not sure what to search for - I need advice on where to start?

    2) Primal strength training are suppose to be short in duration but high in intensity. How do I increase intensity - by lifting heavier weights or increasing speed as I go through the moves?

    3) How can I change my body shape? I have lost weight and am happy, but my "pear" shape is still...well, a pear! Do I need to do specific exercises to target "trouble" areas? Or is that BS?

    4) If you have 20 mins to strength train, which is better? A) do 10 different strength moves during your allotted 20 mins or B) do 3 or 4 different strength moves 3 times each during your allotted 20 mins.

    5) Can you get benefits from "a little here, a little there" instead of 20 mins all together? For example, can I do a set of sit ups while I am feeding my toddler and then an hour later do some jumping jacks and then an hour later some push ups? If so, should I do each exercise to exhaustion or pick a certain number of reps (ex: do 20 push ups and then stop)?

  • #2

    Coincidentally, I came across another low-carbohydrate site yesterday. (Strangely, it also seems to be a religious site.) Anyway, they have a page on "muscle building" which claims that you can do a three-step process that will encourage muscle-growth.

    First, you have a low-carbohydrate meal. Secondly, you do high-intensity exercise for a short period of time to burn glycogen out of the muscles. Thirdly, you take a snack that is high in protein - but accompanied by some carbohydrates to restore glucose and glycogen. One of the ways to take the high protein snack is to drink a drink made from protein powder. That rang a bell. I wondered why Mark had protein powder in his "pyramid" - I'm guessing it's there for this kind of purpose.

    Anyway, here's the page in case it's of interest:

    For activities it mentions weightlifting, biking, and climbing stairs. They also state:

    Concentrate on the legs because these muscles are so much larger than other muscles of the body.</blockquote>

    That&#39;s quite true and sounds sensible to me.

    The sets of sprints that Mark recommends would probably be another good option.

    Personally, I&#39;d avoid exercises that attempt to target particular muscle-groups, because there are disadvantages to those. They&#39;re not what any Stone Age person would have done: they engaged in activities not exercises. Moreover, those exercises don&#39;t seem to be as healthy or as useful as more whole-body exercises. Mark seems to be saying this. So do others, like Exuberant Animal:

    If you want to lift weights, I&#39;d get good one-to-one tuition. I don&#39;t think descriptions and pictures in a book or even a video are good enough. You need to get the alignments exactly right if you&#39;re dealing with heavy things.


    • #3


      I&#39;ll have a go at answering your questions. I am a personal trainer. In terms of great bodyweight training, there are a couple of great sites that sell really good simple, effective body-weight based training programmes.

      One is fityummymummy, and the other is turbulence training. Just google them they will come up. All e-book based, and there are lots of good vidoes on the sites. I would recommend fit yummy mummy if you want to exercise at home. In terms of DVDs I am not really sure, but they get a bit boring. the e-books and programmes from these two sites are much more intersting and allow you to customise and change things up.

      First of all, make sure your technique is corret. If it isn&#39;t you are wasting your time not matter what you do! If you&#39;re not sure, please see a trainer to get it sorted, and make sure they have the appropriate qualifications. So many people have terrible technique. I have to re-teach 90% of the clients I see how to squat, lunge etc.

      2) You can increase your intensity by lifing more weight, or doing more effective exercises, or by doing the exercises slower with pauses, pulses etc (faster is not usually better, unless you are trying to train for power). I give out alot of really-tough body-weight exercises to my clients, and this is also how I train most of the time.

      3) Technically (well this is the CW line, I haven&#39;t researched &#39;alternative&#39; ideas personally) it isn&#39;t really possible to spot-reduce in terms of taking the fat off, but it is possible to work the muscles in certain areas to improve the look of the area. I personally wouldn&#39;t bother, just do good all-over functional training and it will resolve itself.

      4) You can do a total all-over bodyworkout in 20mins. Easy. I do this all the time. The trick is to use all-over exercises as much as possible, using lots of muscles groups at once. Don&#39;t take breathers, move straight from one exercise to another.

      5) Anything is better than nothing. I would try to get time to workout for 20-30mins in one go a few times a week, but its totally ok to do a bit here and a bit there. If you can do 20 of anything you are probably not working hard enough. If you can get to 12, you need to make the exercise harder. That&#39;s my philosophy and it is backed up by research. Don&#39;t waste your time doing heaps of reps of an exercise. Take it to the next level and just do 8-10 reps.

      Hope this helps. Any other questions just ask.


      • #4

        If you want a programme, there are some good ones over on

        The community there is pretty friendly (if straight-talking) although not everyone is primal.

        Look for articles by a guy called Wet Wolf - a lot of the girls there swear by him for totally reshaping their bodies.

        Try this one:


        • #5

          Thanks for all the info. The 5 million dollar program seems interesting, but I have no idea how to do those exercises. I would have to look up each individual one and learn them. Or pay for a trainer, and the only thing stopping me there is 1) cost and 2) I want a trainer that has read the PB and won&#39;t be telling me to lift for specific muscle groups. I was looking into the crossfit gym but it&#39;s far from my house and uber expensice.

          For now, I am doing stronglifts 5X5 on Mon and Fri and then a HIIT workout on Wed that I kinda developed from MDA. I just started this program this week. The rest of the days are walking/hiking or elliptical at 65% heart. If the weather is good, I push the kids in the stroller, but if it&#39;s bad, I duck into the gym (or if I just need a break from the kids, I go to the gym). I actually prefer working out at the gym than at home b/c I have a babysitter at the gym!


          • #6

            Sofiawahaj, would you like to skype me sometime and we can go over technique? Let me know what programme it is you need to know about. I&#39;m a trainer and I&#39;m primal, so I should fit the bill .


            • #7

              8 reps? 10 reps?

              I read everywhere that the proper range for strenght training is 1 to 5 reps

              And the muscles aren&#39;t sore the day after strenght training

              Is there any bodyweight STRENGHT programme which goes for low reps?

              I will be normal. I will be NORMAL again


              • #8

                Hey there,

                I&#39;m sure you&#39;ll come across something that will work for you, but if you are serious about wanting to workout and don&#39;t mind sweating your butt off, then I would strongly urge you to look in to your local crossfit affiliate. They often offer intro classes for free so you can check it out to see if you like it. Classes are about an hour or so, and they are intense....but scaled to your ability.

                I&#39;ve been crossfitting since December and it has brought me here to MDA. I&#39;ve seen countless people change their lives through Crossfit, and it&#39;s the greatest team building thing you could imagine. We say it&#39;s like belonging to a team where you practice together but don&#39;t have a game on Sunday.

                If you want to do the workouts at home, follow the mainsite at and there&#39;s also Have fun, but be safe with it!


                • #9

                  Thanks NZPixie for offering to teach me over Skype! That&#39;s very sweet of you, but I think I need to be in the gym with the bar and stuff. I mean, I am not sure that my squats are even correct? I do need a trainer. This weekend we are having a primal bbq in Seattle and I know that some trainers will be attending that, so I hope to maybe find someone there (and hoping they will be affordable!).

                  I REALLY want to do crossfit! It seems like the perfect thing for me. I looked into the nearest crossfit gym (which is 30 to 45min away) and thought about it. But 1) it&#39;s REALLY expensive, like $300 to $400 per month! and 2) they don&#39;t provide kid care and I am a stay at home mom with 2 toddlers. I have to have kid care. (BTW, my gym membership is $9/month and about $20/month for kid care - VERY affordable and walking distance from my house).

                  For now, I will just keep doing what I am doing (stronglift 5X5 on Mon/Fri and HIIT on Wed, sprints on Sun, and low level cardio the rest of the time). And hopefully, if I can find an affordable PRIMAL trainer, then I will aim to learn proper crossfit techniques that I can do at my own gym. NZPixie - by any chance, do you live near Seattle???


                  • #10

                    Sorry, I live In New Zealand! Probably not much hope of ever coming face to face with me!

                    Don&#39;t worry about finding a Primal trainer, just look for trainers that say things like &#39;functional training&#39; in their descriptions. Or a Paul Chek trainer, these are good and they are pretty global, there should be some in your area. Any trainer worth anything can teach you basic movements like squats, lunges, basic lifts, pulls and correct abdominal engagement etc. You should only need one or two sessions with a good trainer if you are self-motivated. They will give you cues to remind yourself to do things properly.

                    In regards to the 8-10 reps questions, this is where I start my clients on programmes, because I have clients who are mostly very low-level exercisers or just starting out. You need to build basic motor patterns and correct technique before moving to higher-weight, lower rep training to maximise strength, and you need to have the equipment around and know how to use it (i.e power-rack for loading your squat bar).

                    It really all depends on what you are wanting, if you are wanting strength without massive bulk, then yes you train at low reps with high weights. But mostly my clients are women and just want to stay in shape and get a bit of a body-weight cardio workout along with their strength training. Most of my clients aren&#39;t that interesetd in getting strong for strongs sake. There are heaps of different ways to train, and generally speaking it all works to some degree.


                    • #11

                      NZPixie, great to see a Primal personal trainer in NZ! I&#39;m a NZer also I&#39;ve been doing weights for about 2 months and the trainers at my gym put me on the standard 3 sets of 12 reps. Should I start lowering the reps to 8-10 and increase the weight?


                      • #12


                        How about 5 to 8?

                        Increases the RAAAAAAHR factor...but only if you&#39;re sure about form.


                        • #13

                          yes drop to between 5 and 10 reps, depending on the exercise and how hard you find it. To be honest I don&#39;t usually let my clients train at 5 reps unless I am with them or I know they are really sorted with their technique. As I mentioned before, most people can&#39;t squat or lunge properly. If you have incorrect technique you can damage your knees and do more harm than good.

                          And don&#39;t do crunches, if they gave them to you. They are a total waste of time.


                          • #14

                            If I am limited to bodyweight exercises for whatever reason, will I get strength gains if I keep them under 10 reps but do them as slowly as I can? I can do about 40 pushups at once, and one time I tried exhausting myself on just one excrutiatingly slow pushup. What merits are there in training that way?

                            You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


                            • #15

                              Training super-slow when doing bodyweight exercises increases the &#39;time under tension&#39; of the muscles. The time under tension is what gets you the strength/mass building result. I would mix up the length of time you spend in an exercise, do some pulses, some &#39;halfways&#39; (where you go all the way to the end point of the exercise i.e pushup, squat, come halfway back and go down again), some &#39;stages&#39; where you go down in three or four starts and stops and then back again.

                              A great way to get your muscles tired before you do super-slows is to do some impact exercises like jump squats, jump lunges, clapping pushups, burpies etc.

                              This greatly reduces the number of repetitions you are able to do after the impact exercises. It is important to have very good technique when doing these.

                              A great and inexepensive way to increase the difficulty of your bodyweight exercises is to buy a resitance band. They cost between $5 and $10 and are available in lots of different resistance levels.