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Making Huge Gains with Weight Lifting

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Want to Make Huge Gains with Weight Lifting?

For those of you that follow me on my Facebook Page, or are friends with me on Facebook, you know I did a 40 day challenge to get us all ready for our summer bodies. One of my posts sparked a slew of comments and questions and I felt the information was so important that I’d write a blog post about it for everyone else to read. So here it goes:

Part 1

I know some might not like this – just MY opinion – but I noticed I’ve been taking all these gym classes and I do NOT feel sore at all afterward. Even the day I took 3 classes in a row – nothing. I was a little disappointed because I thought I’d at least feel a little sore. Somewhere. I mean, they’re different classes, something new for my body to experience, different routines, new exercises, faster, etc. But, nothing. I did a lot of thinking and one thing these classes all have in common (especially the weight lifting/power sculpt ones) they do too many reps, causing you to choose a much lighter weight than you might use out on the gym floor. You’re moving quickly to the beat of the music, to the instructor that’s flinging that weight around, and you CAN’T lift heavier. You have to choose a lighter weight otherwise you won’t be able to lift it for the 49th time. But that won’t build muscle. That builds endurance.
Someone said to me once: “But I sweat during my workouts. My muscles feel sore while I’m working out. I do multiple reps and sets and my arms/legs are killing me!” Feeling pain AS you’re lifting is not the same as building muscle. Let me explain.

If while you’re lifting weights, your arm starts to hurt, it gives out, it starts to burn — that’s just Lactic Acid building up. Your body has run out of the energy it needs to keep doing whatever it is you’re doing and you have to stop otherwise it sends out the lactic acid to “Burn you” to make you stop. That’s not the same as feeling soreness 24-48 hours later from your muscle being ripped apart, repairing themselves and rebuilding a bigger, stronger one. If you just wave your arm up and down really fast with no weight in your hand, eventually the ATP (energy) runs out, the lactic acid builds up, burns, and you can’t wave your arm around anymore. That’s not going to build muscle. It builds endurance. I was always taught that in order to BUILD muscle: You lift HEAVY. Slow reps. No more than 10 reps (if you can do more than 10-12 – it’s too light).
I normally do 25lb bicep curls, but in that class I was using 12lbs (the largest they had) and my arm quickly died because she made us do almost 30 reps fast. One class, the woman made us do 100 lunges with our right leg on a bosu ball without stopping. It was ridiculous. I really felt like I was going to hurt myself. The weirdest part was the next day – not sore. On Monday, I took 2 classes back to back and in both classes they did multiple shoulder exercises, some while you’re jumping around like a lunatic, I thought for sure something was going to rip as I whipped my arm all over the place. 2 days later – nothing. Not even sore. I initially took the classes mainly for the cardio, but since I have Leia, my puppy, to run with, I don’t need it. I can run with her for a half hour every day.

I also did it for fun, and to change up my routine. I took the Power Sculpt classes thinking I’d build SOME muscle. But, no pain, no gain. I can’t believe I felt nothing. I do a half hour of weightlifting in the weight room and I’m sore for days.
I decided to spend my gym time back to what I did years ago. What WORKED. Strictly lifting weights. Heavy weights. No cardio. Maybe a yoga class once in awhile to just to stretch and relax. I’m not building any muscle with the other classes, though. I can still burn a significant amount of calories lifting heavy weights and at least I’d build muscle while doing it. I don’t need endurance in my triceps! And, the cardio just makes me so damn hungry. When I only lift weights I’m not hungry at all. This week has been a constant struggle to not eat everything in sight.

Part 2

After my post last week about how I wasn’t ‘feeling it” with my gym classes and how I needed to go back to my old, old routine of lifting heavy, I got a lot of questions such as: What do you mean by heavy? How heavy is heavy? I can’t lift heavy – how am I supposed to lift heavy if I can’t lift the weight? How do I get to the next heaviest weight if I can’t lift it?
Let me explain what I meant. Let’s say, just for example, you are doing Bicep curls and you are using a 15lb weight but it’s getting too light: (you’re able to do 12+ reps or you never feel sore after working out your biceps or you’ve been lifting the SAME weight forever). Time to move up to the next weight. You try the 20lb weight but you can only do 5 reps. No problem. That’s okay. That’s normal. Think about it. You just did 5 reps of a heavier weight! Way to go! Here’s a few things you can do to make the 20lbs your “new” weight.

#1. You lift your 15lb weight for one set and then the 2nd set you lift the 20lb weight as many times as you can – 5 reps IS FINE! You do this every time until you can get up to 10 reps. It may take a few tries, a few sessions. Just keep trying. 5 reps one week. 6 the next, then 7, until you can get to 10. Once you do, no more 15lb weight. Stick with the 20lbs from now on. Woo hoo!

#2. You start with the 20lb weight FIRST. Your muscles aren’t fatigued yet and you are stronger. You try to lift as many as you can – maybe you can even do 6! and then you drop back to the 15lbs and do your usual 10+. Every session you start with the heavier weight, do as many as you can and then return to you lower weight to finish off your session.

#3. Drop sets. You start with 20lbs, do as many as you can (let’s say 6 reps), then immediately (no rest) grab the 15lbs and try to get to 10 reps (or as many as you can) then immediately grab a 10lb weight and do as many as you can, then grab a 7lb weight and do the same, then 5lbs. You are starting with the HEAVY weight when you are well rested – pushing yourself as far as you can, then putting less and less weight on it, but your muscles are fatigued so even though you are lifting lighter, your muscles are still fighting to lift when their fatigued. That builds the muscle.

#4. Start with the 15lb weight, do your set, then switch to 20lbs, do as many as you can, then grab a 25lb weight (don’t freak) and try to lift ONE measly rep (or as many as you can). I know a lot of you are saying “There’s no way” but here’s what you can do. Let’s say you can only do 1 rep of the 25lb weight – you can HELP yourself lift it. (Did you ever see a guy helping another guy do their last rep on a chest press? Same thing). Take 2 fingers and gently help your other arm lift the weight up by putting the 2 fingers under your other hand and lightly push up, then let go and SLOWLY let the weight return to the down position. Fight the gravity. (See picture above). I read that the down, negative, (against-gravity) part of the rep, is what really shapes that muscle. NO letting the weight DROP back down lazily. Slowly lower it. If you can barely do the 20lb weight, then stick with the 20lbs (don’t switch to 25lbs) and do this with the 20lb weight until you get up to the 10 full reps. Same deal.

There’s 4 ways you can help yourself get to the next heavier weight. Try one, try them all! Let me know how it works, or which one worked the best for you. You can do this with any body part, any free-weights, any machine.

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Yes! You Can Do Obstacle Runs With Your Kids!

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Ridiculous Obstacle Course Races with your kids!  

I’ve participated in Mudd Runs, Spartan Races, and Obstacle Course runs, and last summer was the first time my youngest was old enough to participate – and she’s the athletic one in the family. When I saw this latest challenge I knew this would be a great way to include my daughters in the fun.

I strongly believe in doing activities with my children instead of spending money on objects they’ll be bored with in a few days, or will end up getting donated in the future. I love trying new things and I hope by showing my daughters what I do, or having them participate with me, they’ll in turn continue to be active when they’re adults. (And, maybe share these types of moments with their kids one day, too!)

I chose this ROC Race (looks cool, yes?) since my daughter was so young, but she proved to be braver than the two of us. Several times she said “I want to go first.” Or “I want to do that obstacle over. I want to try the harder route.” It really impressed me and made me proud. She ended kickin’ both our butts! I only hope I’m a good role model to them.

The best part was the fun we had. We laughed the whole time, pushed each other, and motivated each other through every obstacle. No fear! I kept saying: It’s not fear, it’s excitement, and it was! At the end, we wanted to do it again, and we’re sad that it was over.

I know a lot of people are afraid of these runs, but unless you’re competing for prizes or money, no one watches you or makes sure you’re doing the obstacles correctly or doing them at all. If you feel something is too hard or scary: you just skip it. No one is forcing you or pushing you. You can walk, You can stroll. You can run. You can help each other. It’s supposed to be fun for a reason. There were people of all different ages, physical fitness levels, old, young, overweight, men, women, kids, grandparents, etc.

I did a Mudd run with my girlfriends last year and we had nothing but fun. Some obstacles were hard, but we helped each other through all of them. We even helped strangers and they helped us back, cheering each other as we went!

My point being, have some fun this summer. Get a group of guys or gals, your kids, your spouse, and sign up for something. Enjoy the weather, do things you’ve never done before, push yourself out of your comfort zone, check it off your bucket list, and have a blast! Life is short. Memories last longer than ‘things’.

P.S. I started the ROC race hoping to inspire and motivate my kids. I wanted to push them out of their comfort zones and let them see their full potential. See how strong they really are. At the end of the day, they ended up doing it to me. There was a Marines challenge where you had to hold yourself in a chin-up pose for as long as you could hold it. Throughout the long day, many women tried. The woman that was able to hold it the longest, held it for 1 minute and 30 seconds! I watched as several of them tried and saw how difficult it was.

My daughters told me to do it. I initially told them no way. I hadn’t done a chin-up, or pull-up since my Cross-Fit days. I was lucky if I could hold it for 10 seconds let alone a MINUTE AND A HALF! To make matters worse, the Marines stood around as you did it and SCREAMED at you, called you names, tried to wear you down. I have to admit, I was afraid. Once I signed up, it was too late though.

I climbed up, held my arms in a chin-up pose, bent my knees, and closed my eyes, and tried to breathe. After the initial screaming at me that I wasn’t so special, as I hung there and they laughed at the girl in the pink shorts and pink polka-dot T-shirt, they started cheering me on. Everyone. The Marines. My daughters. The crowd that was forming. I had no idea how much time had passed, how long I was hanging there, but I felt strong. I could do this!

When I finally let go I had held on for 1 minute and 48 seconds!  I was the new champ. And, this was after 2 hours of running in the obstacle course!

Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary. But, when you do, it’s the most rewarding feeling ever. Just Do It!

Have you ever done any obstacle course, fun runs, Mudd runs? If so, I’d love to hear your stories! Which was your favorite? Which one would you sign up for this summer?

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Overcoming Obstacles in Your Fitness Journey

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Overcoming Obstacles

Over the winter, not a day went by that I wasn’t met with some kind of obstacle preventing me from reaching my goals. There always seemed to be some unplanned, unimaginable catastrophe, or a last minute change of plans that somehow burgeoned into a major dilemma that required me to drop everything I was planning to do. Sure, some of it was in my head (I’m exhausted. I need a break. I just want to curl under a blanket and read. It’s too cold. Too hot. Too early. Too late. I have too much to do. Tomorrow. Monday. Next week.)

But other times, there’s situations beyond your control. Just being in a relationship, working full-time, and having kids, can completely blow up all your good intentions. I can’t tell you how many times I drove home from work and cheered myself on the entire way home: “I’m throwing my gym clothes on and immediately going downstairs, turning on the music and working out. No One Will Bother Me! Woo hoo!”

Then you get hit with “I have a science project due tomorrow.” “I had a huge fight with So-n-So in school today.” “The washing machine broke.” “I’m working late, you’ll have to start dinner.” “Can you drive me to my friends house?” The list goes on and on, and I’m sure you have many phrases to add to this list. How are you supposed to keep in shape when things keep popping up?

There is always an alternative plan, another path, another way to fit in what you need to do, but it does take organization and planning. Search through your schedule and see what’s possible. I remember years ago, after my 2nd daughter was born, I NEEDED to get back in shape but with two small kids, there was no time. Back then, I realized that I didn’t need to sit in the cafeteria for an entire hour eating and yacking about drama and gossip, and other negative conversations. I found a local gym less that 10 minutes away and decided to work out on my lunch hour. I had it all planned out. 9 minute drive, 1 minute to change clothes, workout for a half hour, change back into work clothes, 9 minute drive back, 10 minutes to eat my salad. Totally doable and didn’t take away any time from my family or my long to-do list. I found sitting in the cafeteria was actually a waste of a good hour! I did this for over 6 years.


After many, many years, of running on my lunch hour, I decided to try hitting the gym after work. It worked perfectly in the beginning. I changed into my gym clothes before I left work, drove straight to a gym 10 minutes from my house that was on the way home, worked out for a half hour, and went home. Loved it. I got my workout in before reaching home and dealing with any problems. There’s always a way!

When I started writing my books, the problem was in my head. I loved writing and wanted that more than the gym. It was weird at first because weightlifting was always part of my life – for almost 30 yrs. But I wanted to write more. And let me tell you – I found MANY ways to fit in the writing: very early in the morning, late at night, on my lunch hour, I’d even jot down ideas and scenes while driving, waiting in a Dr’s office, while my children did their homework. Suddenly there was pockets-of-time that were never there before.

This past year though, after publishing my third book, I had enough. Sure, coming up with ideas, characters, and scenes was fun, but everything else was becoming a chore, and my family was being neglected, I was moody & miserable and I hadn’t seen my friends in forever. I wanted my life back but found it harder to get back into it this time. I struggled all winter.

I bought myself a huge DVD exercise set for Christmas that I loved, but when I came home from work on many occasions, my younger daughter was either in the den doing homework with her books spread all over the rug where I needed to work out, or my older daughter brought the kids she babysat for over our house to hang out. My workout room was converted into an instant playroom.

Another time, I came home from work and everyone was actually in their rooms! I tiptoed into my room, threw on comfy clothes and snuck down stairs and saw this:

tea party

My full-gym was converted into some kind of tea party for my daughter’s dolls, and I wasn’t allowed to touch it.

Another time, I decided to do walking lunges around my entire basement which is huge and spans the entire length of my house. As I was well into my set, about 10 reps in, I turned the corner and came in contact with this in my way:


Apparently, this part of my basement was converted into a classroom.  (As I’m writing this, my husband just called me to tell me our dryer isn’t working! I give up). Which reminded me of the time my dryer broke:


Anyway. There will always be roadblocks, challenges, obstacles. You HAVE to come up with a new plan. Even if they keep happening (and they will) get to work and devise a new strategy. Grab a pen and paper, a calendar, a scheduler, anything you need and figure it out. It’s better when you write it all down and can see it come together right before your eyes.

I recently switched my workouts to the morning, which is working well. I get up at 6am, which isn’t too bad – everyone is still asleep – workout for a half hour in my basement and jump in the shower. It starts my day on a positive note and keeps my eating on track too.

I mentioned on my Facebook Page a while back that one day when I had a lot to do when I came home, but NEEDED to get my workout in before I seriously lost it, I tried this:

I did one set of tricep dips, then started dinner. Then another set and watered the hanging baskets. Then another set while cleaning up the kitchen and setting the table.
Then I did a set of biceps, cleaned the litter box, then another set, then brought garbage out to street, then another set while straightening up the den.
It felt good. I was getting my workout in and still doing everything I needed to do after work. Instead of resting between sets, I cleaned up.
I woke early this morning and decided to do the same thing again. I did a set of chest presses, then got my clothes, makeup and hair things, ready in the bathroom. Another set and then emptied the dehumidifier, another set and cleaned up the kitchen, a set of pushups and then I packed up my car with everything I needed for work. I just kept doing this until it was time to go in the shower. I only managed 2 sets of back, (I ran out of time) but felt good that I worked out almost my entire upper body AND got things done around the house.
I can’t do it all, but there is always a way out. Always a brand new plan to try. Even if you have a bad day, a bad week (or two) just keep trying.


I’d like you guys to find a pocket planner that has a time schedule. Look over your day and find certain times of the day, certain hours, where you can squeeze in workouts, runs, gym classes, etc. Then make time on Sunday’s to plan out your week of meals. If that’s too much, plan out your breakfast for the week, and then create healthy snack ideas for the following week. Keep doing this until it becomes a habit and soon you will see it’s doable. You can do something like this: (Whatever works for you).

6:00am – Work out Abs for a half hour

6:30am – Drink 2 glasses of water in bathroom

8:00am – Breakfast: 1 egg, turkey, onion, tomatoes, peppers, with 8oz milk

11:30am – Run up and down stairs at work for 3-4 minutes. Drink 2 cups of water

12:00am – Snack: Kashi Go Lean cereal with 4oz milk, blueberries

2:00pm –  Lunch: Salad with grilled chicken, 2 more cups of water

2:45pm – Walk around building before going back into work

7:00pm – Dinner: Salmon with asparagus

7:45pm – Go for a 1 mile jog

You can play around with the schedule and see what would work for your day. Everyone is different. But, sometimes when you write it down, it actually seems possible.

What do you do to overcome your obstacles? Do you schedule things? How do you balance exercise & eating healthy?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to SurviveEvery Five Years & The Bridges Before Us

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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