Debunking Popular Health & Fitness Myths – Part 2

By Adrianna McDonald


This is a big misconception amongst the ladies. I say it over and over again: lifting weights to build muscles is a long, hard journey, which requires lots of discipline. Weight training is by far the best way to increase lean muscle mass, speed up your metabolism, lower your body fat, and most importantly improve overall health.  Women do not produce enough testosterone to suddenly turn into HULK! At least, not naturally.

Trust me, I’ve been lifting, for more than 10 years, regularly! Women on average have about one tenth the testosterone of men, the level of testosterone varies greatly and influences women’s strength development more than is typical in men. What’s more magical about lifting iron is that it improves confidence, self-esteem and increases libido. So, step off the treadmill or stepper and start lifting! Stop being “afraid” and embrace weights to build and sculpt the body you want.



Even though you’ve worked out and raised your metabolic rate, the caloric deficit may not be enough (and in most cases never is) to be able to eat whatever you want. You can’t out train a bad diet! It’s still calories in vs calories out. This is most likely why you are not seeing any progress in the gym. Be smart!


Believe it or not this type of training on its own will only increase your muscle endurance. It for sure has it’s place in a weight training program and in bodybuilding it has its purpose at the very end of the comp prep. However, the definition and shape of your muscles is defined by a mix of muscle mass and body fat. The bigger the muscle and the less fat, the better the definition (genetics do help as well).

Photo 7-13-16, 4 47 32 PM


Muscle soreness (DOMS) becomes evident six-to- eight hours following activity, peaking around 24 to 48 hours post-training and it simply is an ‘inflammation’. DOMS is most pronounced when you introduce a new activity, increased intensity or volume or if you are a total beginner to physical activity. Your body is making adaptations to better prepare your muscles to do that activity again.

You may not get soreness all the time since your body will be able to withstand a bit more after every training session, especially if you are working out regularly. But stop for a week or more and you will get sore again. The strength and size gains will still happen providing you target the muscles with the right stimulus.


As stated above, truth is that you will feel less sore as your body adapts to your workouts and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively. That is why you should regularly change your workout routine (2-3 weeks). But genetics play a major role to how sensitive we are to pain and soreness. People have different pain-threshold (i.e. no-responders, low-responders or high-responders to soreness). If you’re a high-responder, you will experience DOMS more acutely than someone who is a no- or low-responder when given the same training load.


Is Weight Training for Everyone?

By Adrianna McDonald

In my honest opinion, yes -absolutely!

Weight training with a structured, well balanced program for gradually building up strength offers great benefits to health and physical development. It is one of the best tools for building up your confidence and mental resilience.

I believe it should be part of everyone’s lives. The benefits of gaining strength through such training are visible in many aspects of everyday life, such as:

  • getting up from a chair;
  • walking and running;
  • playing with our children;
  • helping us with daily tasks and activities without suffering from joint pain;
  • sleeping better and waking up full of energy;
  • having a great physique or losing few kg;


What’s even more remarkable is that strength training helps us stay nimble and resilient as we age. Exercise and especially weight training is the best anti-aging  product you can find.

I surely don’t feel my age and look younger as well 😊


Ideally you should do strength training focusing on large muscle groups 3+ times a week, 45mins-1h each time to increase growth hormone secretion.

Strength training induces the development of additional new muscle cells and more resilient tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Added strength improves neuromuscular control, which in turn protects you from injury, especially important for the back, since lower-back pain is often caused by weakness of the abdominals and/or back .


Exercise of the week: Sled drag

Sled dragging is a great strength and conditioning exercise with many benefits. As there is less muscular tension and reduced joint loading, there is much less risk of injury and muscle damage & soreness. This also makes it a good lower-body rehabilitation exercise for those recovering from knee, ankle or hip injuries. 

Doing sled drags can help strengthen weak areas such as the hamstrings, hips and glutes and improve squat and deadlift performance. It can also improve one’s flexilibility and mobility due to the nature of the movement.

I love using the sled as a part of the workouts. It’s great for developing power, strength, muscle size, or conditioning. I call it enjoyable pain. The beauty of it is that it is so versatile. – Adrianna McDonald, PT

You can pull forward, backward, sideways, high or low. If the sled is light you can sprint as hard as you can to build acceleration and speed (and feel your muscles burning!). If it is heavy  you will increase your muscular endurance and lower body strength.

The forward drag is great for posterior development (hamstrings and glutes). It’s good to have the strap placed around the abdominal or the hip area. Use big steps to pull the sled along. 

The backward drag really works the quads, especially in a squatting position (see video below) and hip flexors. 

Both these types are used in Miranda’s leg workout as the last exercise (a finisher). Doing an intense exercise or two for about 5-10 minutes at the end of a sound strength training workout is perfect since your energy stores are low. A good finisher will help produce great fat loss since it places a great demand for energy. As your glycogen levels are low, body fat will be used to provide energy at this point in the workout.


Exercise of the week: Sumo Deadlift & Leg Curl Superset

As mentioned previously legs are a key part of my workout programme. On leg day my trainer and I use a combination of supersets and individual exercises. A superset refers to performing two or more exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. This really pushes the muscles to work hard and burns more fat.

There are many different combinations of supersets. For example, the superset described below focuses on the same muscle group and involves a compound and an isolation exercise.

Here are Adrianna’s tips on sumo deadlift + lying curl supersets:
1. Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is a wide-stance deadlift where your hands are on the inside of your thighs.

It is a hybrid between the trap bar deadlift and the conventional deadlift. Your hips start closer to the bar (especially if you think about pushing your knees out to get to the bar, versus pushing your hips back), and you’re also much more upright.

Starting from this wide-stance squat position, push yourself up (and the bar) through your legs using (i.e. squeezing) the hamstrings and glutes to lift the bar

The sumo deadlift works a large set of muscles including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, parts of the lower back, and even the adductors (inner thighs).

2. Lying hamstring curl

This isolation exercise involves flexing the hamstring muscles and lifting the lower legs towards the glutes. The muscles are naturally stronger during the eccentric phase of a contraction. The eccentric phase refers to the phase in which the muscle is being lengthened and the weight is being lowered down.

An advanced trainee can adapt the principal of variable resistance by alternating foot position. This can be achieved by selecting a slightly heavier weight and performing the curling movement with the toes pointed up towards the knees and the lowering movement with the toes pointed down and away.

Pointing the toes towards the knees will draw additional recruitment from the calves which helps make the movement easier.


Rotating the feet slightly outwards will draw more recruitment from the lateral portion of the hamstring. (Biceps Femoris)

Rotating the feet slightly inwards will draw more recruitment from the medial portion of the hamstring. (Semimembranosus & Semitendinosus)


Exercise of the week: Romanian Deadlift

Now that I am 14 and a half weeks out from the competition, training and nutrition are really starting to take the spotlight in my daily routine. Of course, training is key in getting my body ready for the stage takes a lot of hard work in the gym.

I always start my week with leg day since, as a female bikini competitor, it is important to have rounded hamstrings and glutes. Therefore, my trainer Adrianna has made sure that training posterior chain is a priority in my program. One of the crucial exercises to achieve this are deadlifts and there are a few variations.

This week we did the toes-elevated Romanian deadlift (RDL) version which makes it easier to tense and load the hamstrings, especially if you are very flexible. When performing the lift, it’s important to think of pushing the hips back and letting the torso bend forward in response to the hips moving backwards. This will maximally load the hamstrings. See the video below to get a better understanding:

In the next post you will find out a bit more about my nutrition and how that is another crucial factor in looking fab on stage.

Stay tuned.