Make Yourself Big & Densely Boned.


If you're a woman... By the time you're in your 30s, you should definitely start looking down the road (in my opinion) to what condition your body is in, and start to think about preventative steps you can take for your health.


One of the main things that was on my mind earlier this year was the condition of my bones.

My maternal grandmother has osteoporosis. I've had older students in yoga class who had it as well. It doesn't look like fun.  So anything I can do to lessen the chance that I will get it as I age, I will do.

And if I can do it without taking a pill... Amen.

Thinking back five months ago, when I began working with my trainer, he asked what my goals were.

"I dunno," I said. "Get stronger. And fitter. Without having to run."

He put together a program that would involve a few different things... One of which was lifting heavy weight for just a few reps.

I was someone who could barely bench press more than the 45 pound bar on which they put weights. I had worked with kettle bells in the past with trainers.  But heavy weight wasn't something I had really done.

This trainer was going to change all of that. While he is a trainer at my gym and works with clients to get fit, he is first and foremost a strength coach. He's worked with professional athletes to get them stronger. He himself spends a lot of his training days lifting heavy.

He was going to get me to do the same.

Kettle bell circuits is something we do quite a bit.  Cleans. Snatches. Swings. Windmills. Turkish Getups. Not easy stuff when you're swinging around the heavy bell. I was familiar with it though.

But after a month of kettle bell activity - not having even touched the dumb bells - we went to the barbell.  And threw weights on it.

He started off by teaching me the proper technique for doing squats and deadlifts. We practiced that a lot. Then we threw on weight.

My usual for the first few weeks was deadlifting 95 pounds. That was the barbell (45 pounds) with two 25 pound plates. When I hit the milestone of 135 pounds (the barbell plus two 45 pound plates), I was really happy. And it happened only a month after we started the journey, and I had only been doing the heavy lifting once a week. Fast progression!

"How much do you think I can get to by the end of this year?" I asked. That was a little less than six months away.

"I can get you to 185," he said. Confidently.

I couldn't even imagine. That seemed so large.

But the weeks went by. We pulled back on deadlifting. We focused more on squats, which weren't easy. And cleans with the barbell. Then we got to a new program a few weeks ago. And soon I was deadlifting 150 pounds. Then 165 pounds. Then 175 pounds.

And then 185 pounds, about three weeks ago.

And we still had two months left in the year!

"What's considered the next milestone?" I asked him.

"For you?" he said.  "It would be 225 pounds. That would be the bar, plus two 45 pound plates on each side."

This time I could imagine it.

So last week, we got me to 205 pounds for three reps. Yep, we broke the 20-pound mark.

"My ass is strong!" I said.

He wanted me to try 215 pounds.

I was game.

So we put the plates on... That is one 45 pound plate, one 25 pound plate, one 10 pound plate and one 5 pound plate on each side.

I went down and positioned myself. I braced.

The bar was not coming up off of the floor. No matter how hard I tried. It was just too heavy.

I was proud of the 205 though. Well, well, well, well above my body weight... And over 200 pounds. It showed me I indeed was strong.

"I really wish I'd had you take a bone density test before we began training months ago," he said to me. "Because with your progression, you will have likely seen tremendous improvement in bone strength."

I know he's right. I'd come a long way. I was proud of what I'd accomplished to date. And the way my heart rate jacks up (over 150 beats per minute) from just doing 1 to 5 reps of lifting heavy weight... I knew the cardio effects were doing great things for my body in addition to the bone density.



Earlier this week, on Tuesday, he had me do a program where we were going to work up to one rep of a heavy weight. But I misunderstood him.  We worked our way up to 185 pounds on the bar. And I'd thought he wanted me to do three reps.

So I did.

But just after my second rep he says, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!"

I finished the third rep and brought the weight to rest.

"I thought you wanted me to do three reps?"  

He laughed at me.

"No," he said. "I wanted one rep of 185 as your heaviest weight. But you lifted that like it was nothing!"

I noted that it had gone up pretty easily.

"When you're taught proper form, it makes it easier," I acknowledged.

So we decided to go for it.

He made the bar the 215 pounds. I wrapped my straps around my wrists and the bar.  I braced myself. And I lifted.

Holy hell it was not easy.

But it came up, and I locked out into position.

Then glided the bar down in reverse form.

That was 215 pounds done.

And I still have just under two months to get to 225.

My bones are strong and dense. I've come a long way from deadlifting kettle bells.