9 Things you probably didn’t know about my Coaching Business

9 Things you probably didn’t know about my Coaching Business

Read time: 7 minute read

A lot of women assume that I just ‘comp prep’. This couldn’t be further from the truth! I have also heard over the past couple of years things like ‘did your business survive the lockdowns?’, ‘are you still coaching?’

I find the questions surprising, as yes, I am still coaching. I am ALWAYS coaching. I love it. Literally nothing will ever stop me. BUT I can see why the misconception is there, as I am lazy with social media when compared with other fitness businesses! 

To learn more about me and my biz, read on, or watch my latest YouTube video where I speak about it in detail 🙂 

 1. I never ‘planned’ to coach, it all came about by accident. 

I always wanted to run my own business, trying my hand in a few areas including a fashion label from 2009-2012. But fitness was always my number one love. With body and health issues to boot, I needed a place to sort through them so I could heal and grow in the best way possible. 

I worked as a PT in multiple gyms, helping with technique, weight loss and nutrition until I started to find my ‘niche’ – I just loved helping women feel good in their bodies. As I had racked up a lot of skills around physique building and nutrition with all of this research and practice (driven by my own obsession with achieving this ‘perfect’ body), I started applying these methods to my female clients, they got amazing transformations, I (or most often they) posten them on social media, and the clientele just kept on coming

I ended up being known for creating amazing female bodies out of seemingly nothing. Now things have moved beyond this but I do still love a recomp client. 

Online coaching was an accident too! I started taking online clients because I was just too full. Online coaching was not a thing back then. I would get client after client and instead of turning them away, I came up with the idea of doing ‘online’. I charged them half the price, and thus the online training component of my business was born. I had one condition – they had to come and see me for technique in the beginning, and for each new program. This meant I could meet them in person, ensure they had the correct training technique and that they were handling the whole process in a healthy way. 

I think any PT who doesn’t have any kind of in person checkup system in place without having years of in person experience behind them is reckless and has no place in the industry. Dieting is dangerous and personal training is more than just getting someone to do a pushup.   

2. I’ve been doing in-person PT for 21 years

Shocked? I joined the industry when I was 18 (2001), so that was 21 years ago. I have worked in over 10 gyms, and I have been working full time for this entire time, with the exception of 3 years where I studied Design and I worked as a PT part-time. 

The highlight of my PT career and something I am so grateful for is the time I spent working in what is formerly known as Elite Physique. I started working there when I was 23, around 2006, and I continued working there until 2014. In those 8 years, all I did was either work a floor shift, where my job was to walk around and help members with their technique, or I was training a client. 

Why was this gym so good? It was a powerlifting and bodybuilding gym, the only one of it’s kind in canberra and there were about 8 of us PTs working there full time, all training hard, obsessed with weights and body recomposition, and we learned from each other and built our brands up with the supervision of other great trainers. I am forever blessed to have worked there as it set me up for a lifetime of success in the fitness industry with base level skills that no online trainer will ever be able to match. 

 3. I used to think social media was a negative thing, so I never used it. For that reason, my social media is only showing the tiniest insight into what I actually do. 

I started coaching way before social media, and at the time I didn’t think it was a ‘thing’. I thought it was fake, as most of the content I saw on there were people I know making statements that aren’t true. For that reason and time reasons, I invested no effort into social media. My business is word of mouth and I have never needed it. 

I also feel that coaching work is deeply personal. Most of my clientele aren’t just working on losing weight. They’re working on emotional blocks, and this is personal, so I don’t think social media is the place to share these kinds of breakthroughs. 

Fast-forward to 2022, and I wish I had had a better mindset around it. I wish I had seen it as a place to promote truth rather than just being triggered by untruth. But, it is what it is, that was my journey and my focus was elsewhere. Now people think I have no clients and are constantly asking me if I’m ‘still coaching’ 😂 I will be upping my social media game in the future though, as truth is needed more than ever and I don’t see it going away any time soon! 

 4. I am concerned with the health and happiness of my clients, and how they feel within their bodies. How they look is a secondary focus. 

I am always looking into motivations behind weight loss – is it to feel better, learn about nutrition, and prioritise themselves? That’s a motivation I will accept. Is it because they’re associating it with some kind of external reward at the end? That’s a motivation I won’t work with, unless they are willing to look deeper. I also rarely ask to post before and after as I feel this is personal to the client. 

I have had clients leave because I refuse to do something that they want, because I know (or at least suspect) it will hurt them in the long term. This is OK. Often I see them with another trainer or coach afterwards and this is OK too. We all have different motivations behind our businesses and different life experiences that lead us to make the decisions we do. But for me, it’s health, happiness, and love for oneself. That’s it. If that comes with an amazing physique too, then great!

5. I use subconscious reprogramming and energy work to support my clients more deeply 

Many of my clients, let’s say over 70%, have an interest in feeling better from the inside out. They aren’t just trying to get skinny, or trying to get on stage as a bucket list item (which is fine by the way, competing for the experience is a great reason to compete). Some of my clients are purely mindset clients, working through blocks in my online courses and where needed, we ‘unblock’ their limiting beliefs to help them on their way. This approach works when someone has a good idea of what is going on, or what their patterns are. 

Where this knowledge is absent or suppressed, I use reiki, which is a subtle energy healing practice that provides deeper insight into things the body may be holding on to. I speak on what I saw in the session, and this starts a dialogue which we can then dive deeper into. 

So it’s not just about the appearance or the loss of body weight, it’s about the health and clarity of the mind and the energetic body space. We often have limiting beliefs and stuck energy that make long term change almost impossible and by uncovering and transforming them, the outside changes are more likely to stick. It’s hard to express that in a social media post you just see the ‘before and after’. 

6. Competition prep is only 10% of my business 

I have 45 clients at any one time, and at the moment only 7 of them are competition prep clients. Competition prep was once around 75% of my business, but I have been phasing it out to make way for more holistic coaching practices. 

I LOVE competition prep. I really do. I just feel a lot of pressure to steer away from it as what I really offer in my business is much deeper than that, and much of the public perception of competition prep is that it is ‘shallow’. While this is true for many women who compete, it is not true for all. So I feel this aspect of my business make it hard for me to focus on those body-image, nutrition-for-health messages as people automatically put me in that ‘fitness girl’ box. 

So I do a few prep clients, then there are some who I just love to train and who have trained with me for many years, and the rest are body recomposition clients but as mentioned above, my goal for them is to have them reach a place of happiness in both mind and body. 

I feel there are plenty of prep coaches out there now too, and so long as the client is healthy in mind and body, they will be able to have the competition experience with another coach. I mostly take on women who need that extra level of knowledge or support, so if I feel I can offer them something that no one else can, and I have space at the time, then I will take them on. Everyone else I refer out to other coaches. 

7. I would rather someone feels happy in their body as it is, then to diet down and not be happy

If I sense that someone wants to lose weight to feel happy, I will call it out and we will work on that issue. I will not diet someone who isn’t interested in learning the craft of healthy living – tracking macros to gain an understanding of nutrition, training with balance, working through mindset blocks, and increasing health and vitality 

Losing weight does not make you happy but the things you learn along the way to losing the weight do – nutrition, boundaries, balance, sleep, healthy gut, femininity, body acceptance. So often I will have a client cancel coaching not because she has reached her ‘dream body’, but because she has reached a place of peace and happiness within her body. 

8. I have really deep and honest conversations with most of my clients 

I love personal development, and I love to learn about people. With a long history of mental health issues, I am comfortable with almost any discussion, no matter how confronting. I probably should have been a psychologist really! I love the human condition. 

So we talk about everything, I tell them almost everything about my journey, we learn from each other and this is 10000% the reason why I have had so much success in my business over the years. It is important that people feel seen and safe, especially when dealing with matters of the mind and body. 

9. I spend over $20k per year on furthering my education, and broadening my horizons so I can be a better coach. 

With a launch coming, this is the first time I have ever deliberately ‘branded’ my business, It has a name for the first time, a structure, and a long-term plan moving forwards. I am very excited. With that being said, I don’t think people quite understand what it takes to run a successful business. 

If I was genetically elite, shredded all year round and 23-years old with a pro card, maybe I wouldn’t have to do things the ‘hard’ way. But I do, because I am a normal human being and I am far from ‘elite’ when it comes to the gene pool. I’ve had a hard life and nothing has ever come easily to me. 

I focus on being a better, wiser, stronger woman in order to secure stability as a business owner in a saturated market, rather than on focussing on my body. The body fades and there are more ridiculously perfect women entering the industry every day. 

So I spend a lot of money and I am totally cool with that. As my clients, and/or followers, you get to reap the rewards of that!

So those are the things I don’t think you knew about my business! Or, did you? Comment below if any took you by surprise?

Jen x

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

Making the Most out of the Christmas and New Year Period

Making the Most out of the Christmas and New Year Period

Read time: 6 minute read

With Christmas just a few short days away, I wanted to share how I navigate, and encourage my clients to get through the Christmas and New Year period, without derailing all of their hard work.

This is, assuming you have been working hard this year on your health and/or body goals! If not, then maybe you can use this as a strategy for next year, when you are slaying your goals 😉

Let’s start with the first tip; 

1. Try to keep your food ‘cleaner’ in between events

This just means, when not at a Christmas lunch, family dinner or new years eve party, eat as healthy as you can. Keep your carbohydrates and processed foods lower, stick to a high-protein, healthy fat diet with loads of fruit and vegetables.

The reason for this is to compensate, and allow room for indulgent days without ending feeling like a blown-up whale (which I know we all have done in the past!). Resist the urge to graze in between meals and events, but absolutely do allow yourself to enjoy celebratory foods and drinks when the occasion arrives.

2. Do not attempt to stay in a calorie deficit

Most people will tell me that they ‘can totally diet over christmas’, that it’s ‘just one day’ and the rest will be fine. This is fine and all, but unless you have a serious reason to stay on track, like, you’re competing in a bodybuilding competition in March, there is really no chance of navigating this time of year without derailing.

All good diets and health transformation goals require a break here and there, and all transformations require you learning how to adjust to life with events, setbacks, and roadblocks. The best way to approach them is to actively approach one with your awareness in check.

This means, you try to stay on track with maintenance calories, but you do not try to diet. And, you take Christmas day off. And New Years Day, if this is a celebratory event for you.

So get out of the deficit, and take this period of time as a time to learn to accept that some days are going to be out of your control, and that diet breaks are actually really healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Keep exercising as you normally would, or replace your exercise with an equivalent activity such as switching gym sessions for beach walks, or HIIT training for yoga, something along those lines. So you are keeping the body moving, but you aren’t pressuring yourself to do exactly what your usual routine dictates for you to do. 

3. Limit the alcohol

This is one of the main reasons why people feel like rubbish over the Christmas period. Drinking too much is a depressant, can damage the intestinal lining, and disrupts sleep. These are very real downsides of drinking alcohol that overpower it’s ‘antioxidant’ effects.

Feeling the pressure to drink from friends/family? If they’re the kind of people to drink what you consider to be ‘too much’, then my tip is to get a drink when first offered, then just sip on it throughout the night. After a few drinks no one will notice if you’re drinking or not, and the next morning you can wake up and exercise, or make a healthy breakfast, rather than feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck like the rest of your family/friends.

I mean, why is it that we ‘celebrate’ holidays by drinking ourselves silly and binging on junk food? When did ‘celebration’ lead to self-punishment?

4. Change your mindset – think of it as the last chance you have to relax before beginning a brand new, killer year

Do you want to start the new year feeling completely overwhelmed and off track? Chances are that no, you don’t! If over-eating and consuming tonnes of alcohol is how you feel good, then this doesn’t really apply to you, but I don’t remember the last person who said to me that they thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they ate and drank until they felt sick

It’s also hard to get things back on track after a rogue couple of weeks, especially if you started your holiday season on December 1st (I know some of you did! Lol).

So many of us whine all year about being stressed out, overworked, sad about not being able to travel, we have symptoms that we aren’t getting on top of. It makes no sense to get the only break you will have this year and use it to dump junk into an already overworked, over-stressed body right before it goes back into normal life overdrive again.

So, relax, allow your body the time to lower stress levels, physically, emotionally, mentally, so you can recuperate and feel refreshed come the new year!

5. Write down some goals for the holiday period and keep them handy

Keep a list on your phone, or find a quote that represents an ideal holiday period for you. Is it putting your feet up? Set yourself up for an amazing new year? Reading a book? Connecting with your children and extended family? Finding time for meditation, exercise, or hiking? What is it you would ideally like to do for the break?

Setting intentions early on can really start to get the ball rolling here!

6. Implement one of your new year’s resolutions early

This is a hack in a way, to get you out of the mindset of going rogue for two weeks and then trying to reel it in to get the year started right. All you do is, get one of your new year’s resolutions, and action it right away.

For me, I want to reduce my caffeine consumption next year, so I have already, as of the 18th December, started the process of doing that, going from 350mg/day to 250mg/day. I already feel better and by the time the 1st January comes around, I should be up to 0-100mg/day (the maximum I want to be consuming from this point forward).

This is a goal I can maintain over the holiday period and it will also set me up to hit the ground running when January 1st comes around.

So, those are my top tips for making the most out of this christmas/new year period.

Let me know if you plan on trying any of them in particular!

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

Jen x

Pre and Post-Training Nutrition

Pre and Post-Training Nutrition

Read time: 4 minute read

PRE AND POST TRAINING NUTRITION: How does it work and how important is it really?

The purpose of pre and post-training nutrition is to provide your body with the most effective nutrition to support your training and body composition goals, increasing the availably of those nutrients at the time you need it most. These two nutrients are protein and carbohydrates; protein as a building block, and carbohydrates as fuel.

Meal timing aside just quickly though, as I want to make it clear there are things that are way more important, and need to be prioritised FIRST in order to maximise your chances at overall success:

  • Adherence and consistency when it comes reaching your macro targets,
  • The quality of your training and training methods, and
  • Your overall health and stress levels.

Without these things in check, it won’t matter what time of the day you eat what nutrient. So, overall health and consistency first, and perfectly timing your meals second!

Now to answer the original question; how do I best time my meals?

Here is a very simple run-down of how you would approach your nutrition before and after training, for those ready to give it a go:

 

PRE-TRAINING:

  • Eat a carbohydrate and protein rich meal, with lower fat. This could be something like lean meat with rice or potato, oats with whey protein.
  • Make sure to leave at least 90-mins to digest the meal before you train.
  • If you are training first thing, and you’re not ‘dieting’ you can train fasted
  • If you are dieting, I recommend you have a small protein-meal before you go to the gym, to avoid stressing your body out too much (especially for females). Something good for this could be protein custard, a protein yogurt, or similar.
  • If you’re training at night, then carbs and protein can be consumed pre training really easily

POST-TRAINING:

  • You want to eat something that is higher in carbohydrate and protein, but lower in fat and fibre, as the faster this meal is digested, the better for muscle recovery.
  • Think – white rice or potato with lean beef or chicken, or rice cakes with jam and a whey protein shake in water.
  • The higher your choice of protein is in the amino acid Leucine, the better this will impact your muscle recovery. This can be found in the largest amounts in lean meat, egg whites, and whey protein supplements.

Meal timing is great if you’re wanting to just just that little bit more from your nutrition and training. If you’re not quite there yet, and you find all this timing info overwhelming, then it is completely OK not to get this right in the early stages. You will still make progress. Many of my clients have competed (and won) without worrying about meal timing at all!

The image is chicken breast with jasmine and wild rice, and some pomegranate seeds – delish! There’s a little spinach in there (I had too much in the fridge!) but this is a pretty good option for pre or post training 😉

Hope this is helpful. Leave any questions in the comment section below and I’ll answer them for you

Jen

Women Need a Strong Posterior Chain – Here is Why, and How to Strengthen it

Women Need a Strong Posterior Chain – Here is Why, and How to Strengthen it

Read time: 6 minute read

The posterior chain is a group of muscles that make up the back (posterior) portion of the body structure. They include the back, glute, and hamstring muscles. The abdominals (mostly the inner portion) tie this chain together into one functional unit. Most people, and especially women, have a weak posterior chain, and these are the muscles you need to strengthen when you want to improve performance, body composition, health and posture. They are also extremely helpful in pregnancy as your weight will be pulled forwards with the baby, so maintaining strength through the posterior makes child-bearing less uncomfortable. Exercises that require a strong posterior chain in order to do them well include the squat, lunge, bench press, push up, pull-up, and deadlift. Interestingly, these are the movements most people seem to want to start on. I never program these exercises until a client has a strong enough posterior chain to handle them well. Personally, I have never met a woman who doesn’t have ‘symptoms’ of weakness in these areas, and who isn’t experiencing issues with their hips, knees, or lower back when they start training with me.

IDENTIFYING IF YOUR POSTERIOR CHAIN IS WEAK

In posture, you can identify it through forward-rounded shoulders (palms tend to face backwards when relaxed), kyphosis (the upper spine is over-rounded and hard to extend), lordosis (where the lower back arches inwards creating what you may call a ‘duck butt’), and/or collapsed feet, which usually come with inwardly rotated knees. You may have one, or all of these imbalances. When you train, weakness can be noticed if performing weight training causes upper body discomfort including your lower back or upper traps (top of your shoulders), or lower body discomfort such as painful knees, hips, or tight hip flexors. When squatting or lunging, if your glutes and hamstrings are weak your knees will want to rotate inwards, and you will want to push back up with your toes. You may over-arch your lower back in order to press back up to the beginning of the movement. You may feel like you never get the ‘burn’ through your glutes that you are aiming for. When pressing or rowing, you may find that you never feel your back muscles the way you want, or your upper traps and neck might feel painful and inflamed the next day. Shrugging your shoulders when performing upper body movements is a sure-fire sign that your posterior chain is weak Abdominally, you may find your lower back hurts, or your hips and thighs take more weight, and ‘burn’ more, than your abs do when you’re trying to strengthen them Essentially, if too train on a weak posterior chain, although you may get stronger at first you will find that eventually you will stall in progression, as your body isn’t in it’s ideal position, and the larger, stronger, supporting muscles whose job it is to perform those movements, are hindered or inactive.

IMPROVING THE STRENGTH OF YOUR POSTERIOR CHAIN

Strengthening the posterior chain is simple but can take a bit of messing around depending on how out of line your posture is, and how tight you are in the ‘wrong’ places. Below are the steps you would take, and that I take with my clients, to get their posterior chain working efficiently;

  1. Learn how the movement is supposed to look and where you are supposed to feel it, for any exercises involving the glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, or back
  2. Choose a weight that is light when you are learning. Leave your ego at the door. It is also a good idea to keep your learning to machine-based exercises until you get the basic principles, and move on to things like squatting and deadlifting later on when you’re ready. If you are re-learning, then you will need to lower your weight compared to where you were at before, if you aren’t feeling it in the right muscle groups.
  3. Note where you are feeling the exercises, if it’s your back, glutes and/or hamstrings, this is correct. If it is your neck, upper traps (shoulders), lower back, knees, or hip flexors, this is incorrect.
  4. Use stretching and activation exercises for the muscles that aren’t ‘switching on’ for you. This includes band exercises, bodyweight exercises, ball or foam rolling, static and dynamic stretching, and some basic/light strengthening movements.
  5. Continue this process until you ‘feel’ the muscles you’re aiming to feel. Once you feel them on basic exercises, then move on to harder ones such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, or other full-body movements.
Keep in mind, results won’t come unless you take the time to master this

Remember that results, whether you are seeking a muscular look, posture correction, enhanced performance, or any other objective, come when you do the movements well, regardless of how heavy the weight is. I have had women come in and see me who are squatting 80kg+, but in order to get their glutes ‘working’ and supporting the movement, we have had to drop the weight down to 30kg and, much to their shock, they find this harder When your posterior chain is ‘activated’ and functioning as it should, your nervous system will become more resilient and powerful, as will your body in general. Heavy weights should only be lifted once technique is perfect, as building more muscle on unsupported foundations creates more work in the long run to correct it, and trust me when I say this, at some point, you will have to correct it. Hope this helps you to accelerate your results in the gym 😉 Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

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