Category Archives: Strength Training

Strength In Numbers

This past week has been a really exciting week for networking! It all started when Bret Contreras wrote a blog post titled “Where My Ladies At.” Be sure to check it out for yourself because it’s a very inspiring compilation of 13 strong women training hard in the gym!

Bret’s post was a take off of Nia Shanks Beautiful Badass movement. Nia is one STRONG female!! She can deadlift 300lbs and ladies, one look at Nia and you will see she is FAR from “bulky” – so get that silly myth out of your head right now if it’s your reason for not training heavy! I suggest you witness this for yourself, check Nia out here.

Monday after Bret’s post ran, Molly Galbraith and I were tweeting back and forth about lifting. That quickly turned into an idea of training together. She mentioned that she and Jen Comas Keck  were getting together to support Julia Kaufman Ladewski in a meet in August. I thought, let’s get some more ladies involved and one thing lead to another – now the weekend of August 20th evolved into a gathering of some serious brains, beauty and brawns! We will all be joining for one hell of a girls weekend to support Julia, train together and have a girls night out…including but not limited to Molly Galbraith, Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, Jen Comas Keck, Mandy Stafford, Nia Shanks, Jen Grasso, Julia Kaufman Ladewski and possibly Neghar Fonooni. I am SO stoked to meet these amazing women, train, talk shop and hang!

Bret also connected a handful of us from his post (Thank you Bret). I can tell you readers this, great things are ahead. We are all going to put our strength, passion and brains together as we join forces to create a bigger movement for females and strength training.. REAL STRENGTH TRAINING.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these Beautiful Badasses yourself. I have previously mentioned Jen Grasso, but make sure you bookmark the rest of them as they all have great knowledge, passion and hard work ethic!

Your valuable list of strong female resources:

Elsbeth Vaino – Her Blog and Female Fitness Forum
Molly Galbraith – On Elite FTS
Marianne Kane – Free Fitness Workouts
Rachel Guy – Rachel’s Website
Nia Shanks – Nia’s Website
Jen Grasso – Renegade Fitness, Jen’s Blog
Neghar Fonooni – Neghar’s Blog
Jen Comas Keck – Jen’s Blog and Interview on Robertson Training Systems
Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic – Website (and link to her blog)
Julia Kaufman Ladewski – Blog
K
ellie Davis – Mother Fitness and Get Glutes

If I have missed anyone or another valuable website, please feel free to add them in the comments section!!

Again, I am so STOKED to begin networking with these incredible women of strength! Together we are going to bring new meaning to STRENGTH IN NUMBERS – we are joining forces to bring you all the best in the female side of the strength and conditioning industry.

In the words of Bret Contreras “It’s about time you gals made some shit happen” — AMEN!

More exciting news to come!

p.s. For those of you who want to check out the original Beautiful Badass post – you can check them out on Nia’s site. She is also in the works for creating great T Shirts. Join the movement!!

Shed Fat & Shape Your Legs

Don’t miss the May issue of Oxygen Magazine! Just a few more weeks left to grab your copy off the newsstands for an inside look as Sled Training hits the mainstream magazines!

Last year was an exciting time for me as I began developing a relationship with the staff at Oxygen Magazine. Over several months, we worked together to create a killer feature article on Sled Training – one of my favorite training tools for a great challenge, a lot of bang for your buck and a ton of fun!

Finally, a few weeks ago, the piece was released and we can all see and enjoy the fruit of the labor! Sled Training is not just for the Performance Athlete – Sled Training can and should be done by all!

For additional information on this feature, you can also go to OxygenMag.com

A HUGE thanks to the staff at Oxygen – Rachel, Val, Paul, Diane, Stacy, Nadia, Erin and the many others who contributed to a memorable experience and who put together such a special piece!

Interview with Not Just A Man’s World (Part 1 & 2)

Shortly after completing the Arnold Classic, I had the pleasure to do an interview with Ammi on Not Just A Man’s World. Ammi put together a very thoughtful collection of questions that range from motivational topics, diet, training and personal tidbits. As Ammi mentions, she and I (especially when put together) are not short in our delivery – therefore, she is releasing this interview in four parts that will be running on Thursdays during the month of May.

For those of you who have followed my blog throughout these Figure preps, there is still never-before shared information due to the nature of Ammi’s questions. You can check out last week’s interview (part 1 here ) and this week’s interview (part 2 here). Stay tuned for the third and fourth portion to be released over the next two Thursdays.

Ammi’s blog has been on my blogroll for sometime now. She provides a great collection of information in a very well-organized manner. Make sure to navigate your way through her site and follow along as she discusses topics on training, dietary strategies for fat loss and women-specific challenges.

We hope you enjoy!

Your Firm-Up Lean Out Secret!

I don’t like to toot my own horn much, but I do want to share some exciting information with you all. 🙂 In the latest issue of Oxygen Magazine, April 2011, you can find my article, “Your Firm-Up Lean Out Secret” on page 114.

Also, on page 30 is a preview for another article to be released in next months issue and we are all very excited about this one!!

If you haven’t picked up your issue or read the article already, be sure to do so! These are training strategies that I use both on myself and with clients! It’s a great full body blast incorporating multiple muscle groups, elevated heart rates, grip strength and fun! The concept is great because you can get creative with varying the exercises as well as complete it almost anywhere – including outdoors as we get into spring!

Also, in addition to finding Oxygen Magazine on the newsstands, you can find them online here . You can even follow Diane Hart and her behind-the-scenes coverage of various fitness events, working with the models and interactive messaging with the readers in her blog here.  

Check it all out and enjoy!!

All SHOW and GO!

Ahhh, you all know I love a good strength and conditioning challenge. I haven’t shared a lot of my personal training videos lately and that is simply because I keep some of Carter‘s program design private as it is his intellectual property. The following however is a new favorite of mine and one I must share!

We are in the home stretch of my figure prep for the Arnold Classic and I am proud to say that I still have as much hustle in my training sessions as I do the stage physique. I am also very pleased to report that my back has been pain-free (knock on wood) since I started this prep. I no longer consider myself an injured athlete with a fear of flaring up my low back. Though I am still cautious, I am confident in my health and movement.

Right now, Carter has me on a two-a-day schedule that is heavy with cardio or as he prefers to call it, Energy Expenditure Work :-). I am also strength training four days a week with two push / pull days, a quad dominant leg day and a hip dominant leg day. At the end of each strength training session, I have the beloved CONDITIONING!

As you know, I love to push my limits when it comes to conditioning and cross the finish line with the hardest effort available despite fatigue setting in. The following is my current conditioning segment on Friday’s push / pull training session. I have recorded the entire circuit from start to finish so you can see I do indeed practice what I preach. You can also see how hard we train and I still have the GO behind the SHOW

Push / Pull Conditioning Circuit
Reps and Regulations:

  • Explosive Burpee into Pull Up x AMRAP
  • Vertical Thrust x 8 – 10 reps
  • Jump Rope x 15 seconds
  • Complete 5 ROUND in as little time as possible

The other beautiful component of this circuit is the self-regulation. The objective is to take as minimal rest as needed, however, you may take as much rest as you need to complete the circuit. The burpee / pull ups are AMRAP (as many reps as possible) so that is relative to your abilities and the weight of the vertical thrust can be  selected based on your strength abilities. Even further, this circuit can be measured and progressed simply by cutting down your rest time and or adding weight. It’s all about relative intensity baby!!

Have at it and enjoy!

Video filmed at Under Armour’s Combine Training Center (UACTC) and a special thanks to Mike Whitman. 😀

Strong Legs are Sexy Legs!

 

Alli McKee

Alli McKee

  

I love the feeling of the heavy bar on my back. The initial lift as I un-rack the weight and settle under the bar. Backing out of the squat rack and situating my stance. My entire body is comfortably under tension as I lower down and then drive through to the upright position while feeling everything work together.

Today was a lower body training day and I can feel myself regaining my strength back each week. Despite a herniated disk problem that limited me in the last show season, I feel my body is working very well for me this time around. My body fat is coming down at a great pace and my strength is going up each week – it’s a beautiful balance to have.  I just reached 135lbs again for four sets of eight on my back squats. Although I’d like to see my squat climb more, I’m happy to be doing more than my body weight – hell, I’m happy to be doing them at all 🙂

I have a very good feeling for this season. My mental and my physical state are in sync and it’s a lethal combination! I’m training and dieting like a winner and it’s so much fun right now. I am really enjoying the time spent on creating myself this time around. I love the release I get from training, the challenges I work through and the social aspect as I have been floating between my three gym locations. I’m blessed to work for such a phenomenal company, FX Studios which is partnered with Under Armour. The energy from my colleagues and the fitness enthusiasts around me are making this an incredible go-round.

I was at the Under Armour facility today for a lower body training day. Still the same pattern I mentioned in my previous post about the strength emphasis followed by diverting movements.

For those of you who like to follow the training or gather ideas for your own training, here is what today looked like:

A Dynamic WarmUp:
1. 5 minutes of jump rope
2. Hip Circuit:

  • Double leg hip bridges x 8
  • Single leg hip bridges x 8 per side
  • Fire Hydrants x 8 per side
  • Forward circles x 8 per side
  • Reverse circles x 8 per side
  • Superdog x 8 per side.

3. Bodyweight Super Leg Variation:

  • Bodyweight squats x 16
  • Bodyweight reverse lunges x 16 total (alternate legs)
  • Bodyweight split jumps x 16 total (alternate legs)
  • Bodyweight squat jumps x 8

4. Overhead Squat with a dowel rod x 8 reps
5. Front Squats with the naked barbell
6. Back Squats ( 2 sets of 8 ) with progressive weight building up to first working set.

Note: I always vary my warm up depending on the muscle emphasis for that day, but I also keep certain movements consistent for proper muscle activation, CNS activation, mobility and movement prep. Again, there are so many ways to structure warmups, have fun with them and pair your training knowledge with common sense. 🙂

The Strength Component:

Again a lot of this can be tailored to your abilities, likes / dislikes, needs, etc. but here is a glimpse of a lower body workout for me at the moment:

1a. Barbell Back Squat 4 x 8 – 12 reps
1b. Push ups (think of all the various versions to choose from) x 20 reps
1c. Core / Abdominal work

2a. Reverse Lunges (Barbell or Dumbbell) 3 x 12 per leg (NOT alternating!). (Note: for added challenge and range of motion, elevate your front foot on a weight plate)
2b. A pulling movement (ie: TRX rows, band rows) x 20 reps
2c. Core / Abdominal work

3a. Stability Ball Leg Curls (single leg if you’re able) 2 x 15 – 20 per side
3b. Core / Abdominal Work

Conditioning / Finisher:
The options here are endless as well as the structure of the intervals and intensity. Today I challenged myself to 75 flights of stairs. Another gym I have access to is only a 1/8 of a mile from the other. It’s in a building that is 25 stories high. I LOVE running the stairs. It’s task oriented and it’s hard as hell each time I get to the top. It takes me roughly 4 minutes to the top, 1 minutes to rest and 4 minutes back to the bottom.. repeat 3 rounds today for a total of roughly 27 minutes.

Again, lots of options from sprints, Airdyne bike intervals, etc. I have been having a blast mixing it up this season.

Stay tuned for more training suggestions to come!!

 Wishing you Health and Happiness,
Alli McKee

100 Rep Kettlebell Complex for Fat Loss

Ok, I’ve had my Ra-Ra moments, let’s get back to training 🙂

For the last few weeks, my training regimen has been demanding and fun! I wanted to jump-start my fat loss early this season and started with two-a-days right out of the gate. My training weeks have looked something like this:

Monday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (A day)
Tuesday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (B day)
Wednesday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (C day)
Thursday – p.m. cardio
Friday – a.m. cardio, p.m. lift (A day)
Saturday – lift (B day)
Sunday – rest
Monday – repeat week, beginning with C day

I imagine my workouts will change over the next few weeks but so far, the results have been very favorable. I have come down several percentages of body fat already.

My workouts have been structured to get a metabolic response. I still have a strength emphasis (ie: upper body push, upper body pull or lower body) but they are structured to be more total body taxing. I am also moving more quickly through the training session (although they still take me the better part of 50-80 minutes depending on the day).

My dominant muscle groups for the day (ie: pulling) still focus on 3-4 sets of each pulling exercise (ie: BB wide grip bent over row, DB bent over row, pull ups, lat pull down, etc.) They would be paired however with diverting exercises such as core work, lower body movement or the contrast of pushing…although nothing to exceed the challenge of the primary exercise… more for activity, recovery and the efficiency of the workout.

After the strength portion of the workout, I have been wrapping up with different metabolic finishers. I look forward to these the most in the training session. I love the “suffering” as I feel weary out but keep pushing to the finish 🙂

complex is a string of exercises back to back (using the same piece of equipment) without rest until fully finished. One of my favorite complexes at the moment is on my Pulling day. I do a 100 Rep KettleBell Complex x 3 Rounds. Here you go friends, give it a try!!

100 Rep KB Complex
Right side KB swing x 10 reps
Left side KB swing x 10 reps
Right side KB clean x 10 reps
Left side KB clean x 10 reps
Right side KB snatch x 10 reps
Left side KB snatch x 10 reps
Right side KB racked squat x 10 reps
Left side KB racked squat x 10 reps
Right side KB push press x 10 reps
Left side KB push press x 10 reps

I prefer to use a timer so I can keep track of the time it takes me to complete a full round and the time I take to recover. I have been completing the KB 100 Rep Complex in roughly 3 mintutes and rest about 2 minutes.

Perform 3 rounds and you should be feeling pretty smoked at the end of your session with a metabolism that is geared up for burning fat for many hours to come!!

(**weight choice** I’d select a weight you find challenging through the complex. Make sure you are not “arming” the kettlebell and actually using your body for the proper technique. Also be sure not to compromise your form by selecting a weight that is beyond your control)

Final Notes: The KB Complex, like any other complex, can be structured in so many different ways. Have fun making up your own versions. Try all left side, than all right side. Work the complex from the last exercise to the first. Change the exercises all together, change the piece of equipment. You see, the options are endless and up to your creativity.

Have fun! and send feedback!

Alli McKee