The Age Old Weight & Rep Debate

Did everyone survive their Tuesday? Mine was looong. Well, the work part was long, the time after work always flies by!

Was up and at ‘em for a lifting workout this a.m. My goal was to do upper-body weights and to lift heavy. High weights, low reps, an extra set, and longer rests in-between. Sometimes it’s nice to change it up and challenge my muscles in a different way!

Warm-up: Sprint Intervals on Elliptical

Minutes Level
0-3 10
3-5 14
5-6 17 (sprint)
6-8 15
8-9 18 (sprint)
9-11 16
11-12 19 (sprint)
12-14 16
14-15 18 (sprint)
15-17 15
17-18 17 (sprint)
18-20 14

Straight Sets:

Exercise Weight Reps Sets
One arm dumbbell snatch  25 lbs 5 4
Romanian deadlift to row  60 lbs 5 4
Wide-grip lat pulldown  60 lbs 5 4
Incline dumbbell shoulder press  25 lbs ea 5 4
Incline dumbbell curl 10 lbs ea 12 3
Tricep pulldown 40 lbs 12 3
Swiss ball crunch  14 lbs 20 1
Russian twist  14 lbs 40 1
Prone jackknife  bodyweight 15 1
Plank up  bodyweight 16 1

Cool-down was stretching! It was neat to do all straight sets as well, as I normally alternate many of my moves. The plan is to do one upper-body workout a week at high weights/low reps like today’s. Then I’ll do a low weight/high rep workout (ie a DVD), and then a full-body workout that falls in between. That’s the thought process behind it all anyways :)

My desk-breakfast was less than stellar today. Boo.


  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp homemade granola
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • handful frozen whole strawberries (defrosted overnight)

I dunno, I was just not into this. I think it was the flax. Too much. It wasn’t hearty enough for a breakfast either. And maybe missing nut butter. I’ll stop complaining :P

I forgot to pack an extra snack today, luckily there were some Mini Egg cookies left.

These were still the talk of the office today. A lot of people asked for the recipe. It’s pretty easy to make a delicious cookie though, all you need is butter and sugar. Ohheckyes.


And big hunks of Mini Eggs ;) Please ignore my chipping nail polish, but do bring your attention to my talon-sized fingernails. Fatty February baby!!

For 130 calories, my mid-morning snack, while delicious, was not very filling. So I had a cuppa tea to help things along.

Yogi Chai Rooibos. Think it’s my favourite flavour from my Bloggie Valentine stash.

My boss walked in while I was eating lunch and told me I eat the largest salads he’s ever seen.


Leftover breaded chicken breast on spinach and other various veggies. Homemade salad dressing of 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice and dash of pepper and parmesan cheese. I’m finally starting to get the hang of making my own salad dressings. This one was quite tasty!

Rushed home for supper again. Tonight’s meal comes courtesy Leah at Leftovers for Lunch. Quinoa and Salmon Stew.


Quinoa & Salmon w/ Tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided cooking spray
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
small bulb of fennel grocery store didn’t have it!
2 cups water oops, totally missed this
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, undrained
1 pound salmon fillets, skin removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tbsp dried dill
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 small lemon

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir in quinoa. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes (with liquid). Return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and boil gently over medium heat until quinoa is translucent and tender, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in salmon. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat until salmon turns opaque and is cooked through, about 1 minute. (Check and cook an additional minute if needed.) Turn off heat. Stir in dill, lemon juice, and zest, plus remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salt to taste, if needed.

I served it with a whack of frozen veggies. Was trying to use up the remnants of three different bags!

Lovelovelove this stew!! For some reason, when I cook salmon I always want to pair it with maple, but dill is such a wonderful flavour with it! I also veggie-fied it a tad by adding carrots and green beans. And yes Leah, I am most definitely having stew leftovers for lunch tomorrow ;)



Few pieces of the chocolate I also got in my Bloggie Valentine package! Very dark and rich, splendid.

And check out what I got in the mail!!


A $10 gift certificate to the Running Room. Apparently they track your purchases and give you “points” based on how much you spend. I’ve spent enough for ten bucks! It was a verrrry pleasant surprise seeing as I had no idea they do this. But also unsettling to see how much I’ve spent at that store since last summer :\


So as I was coming off my heavy-duty weight workout today (for me anyways!) I saw Fit Bottomed Girls tweet about Tracy Anderson’s new reality show. For those of you who’ve never heard of her, Tracy Anderson is a personal trainer known for working with stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna. Her “claim to fame” is telling women they should never lift anything over 3lbs and doing 40-60 reps. She also loves to isolate small muscles. Bah!

Now, I can understand doing low-weight training for endurance. But I’ve never been able to understand how doing ballet and pilates inspired moves can make a person physically longer andtoned.” Whenever people tell me they don’t want to “bulk up,” I respond by saying by say “muscle only grows one way.” What I mean is that, you’re either building muscle or you’re not. If you want your muscles to show (or look toned), you have to do what it takes to build that muscle. You need to strain it enough to tear the fibres, and then let it recover enough so those tears can repair and grow.

There’s nothing technically wrong with 60 leg lifts in a row, it can make you stronger. My point is, you need to put more strain on your muscles to see results. I just feel this Anderson chick is only perpetuating the “bulk up” myth that so many women are afraid of. I guess it depends on your ideal body composition anyways. I would rather look like this:

…than this:


Question of the Day: Thoughts?? Does Tracy Anderson make your blood boil too, or do you think she’s on to something?


Posted on February 23, 2010, in Workouts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 52 Comments.

  1. my salads are huge tooo! I eat them out of mixing bowls… but veggies = volume right?

  2. I think there are benefits to high reps, low weight AND low reps, high weight. One builds muscle endurance and one builds strength. (or so my Body Attack instructor says.) Three lbs sounds a little low though.

  3. I don’t know much about Tracy Anderson but I definitely agree with your ideal body composition (Jessica Biel)! I’ve found that yoga has really helped to tone my arms, but I definitely still do some weight lifting and am NOT afraid to make it hurt. :)

  4. BEEFCAKE! Lifting heavy is my style! Look at me…not bulky at all.

    I’d knock Tracey Anderson out…very annoying!

    I’d rather look like Jessica too. Not that there is anything wrong with Gwenyth…just not MY ideal type.

  5. Large salads are totally a good thing!! yum!

  6. I totally agree with you, I hate it when I see women at the gym lifting teeny tiny weights. I lift heavy and I LIKE to lift heavy.

    You should read the “New Rules of Lifting for Women” by Lou Schuler. Great book! I think you’d like it!

  7. I’ve never heard of Tracy Anderson, but I definitely agree with you – plus, 60 reps sounds so boring!

  8. What a great workout for you today! I thought I did a lot of strength training, but mine is nothing compared to yours!

  9. I don’t have time to do 60-100 reps with 3 pound weights…

    Most women (and I say MOST knowing that it doesn’t mean ALL) won’t bulk up to the point of looking really weird without chemical aid. To say that a woman shouldn’t lift anything more than 3 pounds is kind of silly- especially considering all of the heavy lifting women do carrying their kids around :) It is far more functional to lift a little heavier AND it is good for our bones.

    It pisses me off to hear that women shouldn’t lift heavy- women should do whatever feels right for their body.

  10. I’ve never heard of this person, but lifting 3lb weights for 60 reps is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I’d much rather look like Jessica Biel too.

    Also – are those cookies chewy and soft, or crunchy? I think I need to make them, but I like my cookies soft. Please say they are soft! haha

    • Soft and crumbly, but not uncooked and gooey. Definitely not crispy! I think they key is to drop the dough on the pan in little balls (not flattened) and to take them out of the oven at first sign of browning on the edges. Try them – you won’t be sorry! ;)

  11. I’ve never heard of Tracy Anderson but I agree with you. I do as much strength training as I can and I’m FAR from looking like a bulky man. Doing quality reps and heavy weights has only made me stronger!

  12. AGREED-jessica beil is a HOT MOMMA.. she looks soo freaking goody and id much rather look muscular than skinny/sikly..that freaking tracy girl is on crack.
    BOO sry bout your breakfast girl! you redeemed it w. yo cookie!
    so funny what u tweeted about your boss and salads..ppl tell me that all the time!! they also are always like “how do u eat so much and stay skinny?!!” nutritional values..people

  13. last post, sorry missed the q and a sesh. thanks for the deets girl!

    and this post, tracy anderson. wow why does such drivel come out of people’s mouths?! I am not even into weights, at all!, as you know. But i balance my body on my arms and hover/float, which that’s clearly more than 3 lbs and i am lean and toned. I hate it when people make lame comments and non-thinking people just listen and do it…even if it’s clearly misinformation!

  14. There is nothing wrong with doing more reps with lighter weights. That is actually a good technique to alternate with heavy weight few reps. That way you can work on both slow and fast twitch muscles.

    However, you need both. There definitely is an art to maintaining the fragile, willowy look like GP has. And that means no lifting heavy. And what does she do if she needs to lift a 5# bag of flour, have someone else do it? :P

    I am more about strength and power. I am certainly not bulky by any means, but just let someone try to take my purse!

    I am not going to be one of those women who has osteoporosis and stopped posture when they are older from a lifetime of being too thin and not doing strength training.

    Strong is beautiful.

  15. Sad about your dissappointing breakfast but Tuesday is over so it’s


    I look forward to it, not because I eat waffles at school (boo time crunch and dorm living) but I live vicariously through your delish eats!

    Nicole G

  16. Oh I cannot stand her!! How is not lifting anything greater than 3 lbs supposed to help someone function in real life? Muscle is what helps fuel our metabolism. It’s not scary. I love knowing other women out there love to work hard with weights too :)

  17. I like lifting heavy…I like “feeling” strong, you know? Especially when it carries over to real life, like when you’re carrying $100 worth of groceries at once because you don’t want to make more than one trip, or you haven’t done laundry in 3 weeks so your basket weighs a ton. Ok maybe that’s just me :-)

    I also like filling out my workout log and seeing how much heavier I can go now than only a few weeks ago. I don’t see much of a difference in the mirror (yet?), but I know I’m getting stronger!

    • Haha, I snapped at my neighbour the other day for offering to help me with a tonne of groceries. Couldn’t she see I was enjoying the heavy lifting workout I was getting out of it? :P

  18. Tracy makes my blood boil!! She is so uninformed and from things I have read about her a very shady businesswoman to boot!

  19. I’ve never heard of this 3lb max and 60 reps. That’s nuts. What Lily said in her comment is how I was taught to lift.

    And like you always change it up so that your body doesn’t get use to what it’s doing.

  20. Urgh, whatever. I think some women look better buff and with nicely defined muscles, not sickly thin. But I also do think that petite works with other body frames.

    Actually, disregard what I’m saying since I don’t know much about lifting…I’m a lazy ass who hates working out her (non-existent) muscles. ;-p

  21. Madeline - Greens and Jeans

    Traci is responsible for Madonna’s creepy man arms, so I think I’m going to pass…

  22. How did you make it without any water?!?!

    Glad you liked it! ;)

  23. Seriously?!?! That’s her method?!? That’s bonkers!!!

    I have to confess I absolutely love weight training. I just love how it changes the shape of your body. PLUS muscle helps to burn fat!

    It just kills me how girls are afraid to
    lift and lift heavy. You have to work to
    muscle failure peeps!!!

  24. Oh MAN. I have such mixed feelings about Tracy Anderson. I have read countless articles about her (I second the other Lara’s thoughts on her business practices) and seen many of her videos on Gwyneth’s website. I also read thet FBG review today as well.

    The problem is probably that I am slightly biased because I am kind of in love with Gwyneth Paltrow. That said, Tracy does seem obnoxious and a total know-it-all. However, I am a weight amateur, so I really can’t cast a vote either way on the reps/weight debate.

    Personally I would rather have a sleeker, less-muscular body, but that is just my preference for MY body (not necessarily others). And actually looking at the photos, I don’t see that big of a difference between Jessica and Gwyneth? They both look slim and toned to me. I guess Jessica DOES have more muscle, but not a scary amount or anything.

    Sorry, now I’m rambling. Great thoughts in this post!

    • That’s definitely why I mentioned everyone has different goals. In fact, I think most women view Gwyneth’s body composition as more “feminine” and desirable. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I was never athletic growing up, so I’ve always wanted something more “sturdy” looking like Jessica Biel :)

  25. I agree and Jessica Biel is my body idol, she has a body that is toned but doesn’t look ill like most hollywood women. Your dinner looks delish x x

  26. This could have not been written in any better time. I have just finished reading a page long interview with Tracy Anderson and it just made me very, very angry.
    Her ‘method’ is so strange is goes beyond words. I don’t think she understands human anatomy and nutrition. All of it is about never ending punishing exercising and self-deprivation.
    I am citing her: ‘Building too much muscle in certain places will make you bulk up,so focus on waking up smaller muscles around the big muscles.’… OK… ;-)

  27. She literally makes my blood boil and I think she should be placed far far away from all women and media sources.
    She claims that women should lift tiny amounts of weight, like that will actually help anyone, all her clients do not look lean and muscular and sexy, they look like they need to eat.
    She promotes unhealthiness and weird smallness which is then impossible for any woman in the real world to achieve as they do not have 3 hours everyday to lift 3 lbs repeatedly until they cry.
    Sorry I really hate her.

    • Hahaha, I love this comment ;) “Weird smallness” is right. By convincing women they shouldn’t bulk up, she’s making more and more women (and GIRLS) feel like they need to be teeny tiny to be beautiful. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with looking strong!

  28. I agree, Jessica is where it is at. I always wondered what the 3lb weights were for. Perhaps it makes sense though, if you don’t eat enough to rebuild muscle maybe you shouldn’t do heavy lifting.

    By the way Susan, while looking for Oatmeal toppings this morning I came across a container of Fluff leftover from some Christmas Fudge making activities…it crossed my mind to put it on my oats, and I completely blame you :)

  29. The stew looks great! I need to make my Morrocan salmon salad again…been way too long.

    I don’t know much about weights/Tracy Anderson, but that sounds kind of loopy to me. Of COURSE you need heavier weights than 3lbs to gain a decent amount of strength. That’s not everyone’s goals, of course, but if that IS your goal, 3lbs won’t do much. We only know the limits of the human body when we push them.

  30. I don’t know much about Tracy and I didn’t know that she advocate lighter weights/higher reps but I do know that her body-only workouts have been a lifesaver. Especially when I’m on vacation, I can get a killer strength workout in my hotel room with just my body and a chair!!!

    I think she’s good at what she does but I like heavy weights too. I suppose it just depends on what sort of fitness routine you’re striving for. I like a little bit of everything, personally.

    I always get comments from my boss on my lunches, it’s like people are amazed at how I can manage to bring my lunch every day and still eat well…?

  31. I vote blood boil! lol! I mean in real life do you ever lift have to lift a 3lb. object 60 times? Maybe if you work in some sort of factory assembly line. However you might have to pick up a 25 lb. baby several times. Move a couch. Go rockclimbing. I mean why not train in a way that can help you do real life stuff and look hot?

  32. I’d much rather have J Biels body!

    And yes, Tracy Anderson is frustrating and just perpetuates that myth that women shouldnt lift anything bc they will bulk up! Simply not true!

    Im all for heavy lifting–I honestly find low weight high reps hard to do now b/c I feel it isn’t doing anything…it feels so easy to me now.

    What’s weird is that Tracy Anderson trains both Gwenyth and Madonna and they are COMPLETELY different. Strange.

  33. erintakescontrol

    Never heard of Tracy Anderson, but I don’t really pay much attention to television or celeb news.

    I have quite a bit of fat I want to burn, but I do want to bulk up my muscle. I love my heavy lifting days!!!

  34. I think the pictures speak for themselves here. Jessica Biel is a hottie-patottie!

  35. I love cookies that are the REAL deal – butter, sugar, eggs. Why mess up “grandma’s” recipe, you know?! That Tracy lady is insane! If I’m going to life, then I’m going to LIFT. Sometimes I don’t even understand why they bother making 1 or 3 lb weights but then in my sport, younger girls work out and they use those weights. I’m sorry but if a 10 year old is lifting the same amount as a 30-something, that’s messed up!

  36. I’m still working through phase one of New Rules of Lifting, and I LOVE lifting heavy! Sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough (those workouts can be short), until I wake up the next morning, and I am super sore (that never happened with the low weight / high rep days).

    I was telling some co-workers about it, and they were firmly in the low weight / high rep camp. oh well. The way I justify it is if I “bulk up”, I just won’t strength train for a month or so….muscle dissapears so fast without constant work! Nothing permanent :) (though I’m doubting I’ll get bulky…)

    Oh! I have a dumb weightlifting question for you, miss future pt! On the cable machine (like the one used in a lat-pulldown), the plates are numbered but I don’t know how much each of the plates weigh! I don’t know why I can’t find that answer online :)

    • I’ve seen those cable machines before! If it goes 1,2,3,etc, then I’m pretty sure that it just means 1=10 lbs, 2=20 lbs and so on. Those cable machines typically go in 10 lb increments, and they often come with little 5 lb plates that you can stick on top of the stack. Hope that helps!

  37. I don’t think there is anything wrong with lifting lower weights, higher reps- but no more than 3lbs? That is ridiculous! The average woman does not bulk up without steroids. I say, Bring on the Iron!


  38. ive never heard of tracy anderson but i agree with you whole-heartedly! no more than 3 lbs?!?! that is ludicrous. anyway~ the quinoa looks awesome and so does your lunch. sorry bfast was a downer but i am sure that delish cookie made up for it. butter makes everything delicious haha. my cookie recipe has LOTS of it. i LOVE how you changed up your workout! may have to give that a shot soon. thanks for the idea! love you!

  39. Tracy Anderson is a nut- have you seen her sample DVDs? Or her face for that matter?!

    She’s insane and should not be listened to- just go hunt down her diet of 800 calories a day too- real good “role model” to be preaching to the health and fitness industry…

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