Build that muscle, ladies!

As a woman there are many times that I have been told that lifting weights will make me look manly. However, I am here to politely disagree.

Not only does proper weightliting help with osteoporosis prevention, posture correction, and increases flexibility; it also changes body composition and creates that "toned" look that we are all told about. In order to have defined arms, for example, one must build muscle and lose fat.

There are times where the number on the scale may not change but you could lose inches in certain places and that can have a lot to do with muscle growth. A pound of fat looks a lot larger than a pound of muscle.

Not only that, you can also start to feel pretty badass when the weights get heavier!

So don't be afraid if we tell you to lift some heavy weights, I promise it will be beneficial.


-Rena Bartlett, Transform 180 Trainer




FITT to Transform

Fitness trends will come and go but training principles are the foundation for experiencing long term results. One rule in the fitness industry that has stood the test of time is the FITT principle:






"Frequency" or better yet consistency is how to sustain your transformation. A simple yet effective way to make gains is 2-3 days of strength training followed by 1-2 days of recovery. Maintain frequency for 30-90 days then reassess your progress. If you feel weak, restless or experiencing pain, recover for a week and then move forward. Key note - rest or recovery doesn't mean "do nothing" it's synonymous with stretching, foam rolling and meditation.


"Intensity" is the spark required to transform. Whether you add more weight, take a shorter rest break, do a superset, or train within your target heart rate, you have to approach each set as if it has the potential to change you - because it does. For instance, train to max capacity on the last set of each exercise. It's those final 1-2 reps with good form that build results. The key is to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable - by doing so you'll look and feel better physically while mentally feeling unstoppable. 


"Time" refers to the duration of a single workout. Variables come into play such as individual experience, goals and schedule but at the end of the day we want to avoid "wasting energy". Unless you're a competitive athlete training for an event stick to a 60 minute max workout time. For instance 30 min strength training followed by 30 min aerobic endurance, or vice versa depending on personal goals. Recent studies have shown that even 15 minutes a day can also be beneficial. Ultimately it comes down to setting non-negotiable time to train so you can achieve long term results. 


The "Type" of fitness you choose is the art of the transformation. The great thing about training is that when it comes to getting better, stronger, faster we're only limited to our imagination. Whether you prefer free weights instead of machines or you enjoy bodybuilding over powerlifting, a general rule to remember, especially for beginners, is to focus on ONE training method at a time. Learn it, master it, then decide if you want to try something new. Also be sure to alternate intense training sessions with "active recovery" workouts that focus on flexibility, mobility and balance. That way you remain strong, durable and prepared. 

Movement is medicine so keep training stronger & smarter. And remember - train consistently first then focus on training consistently intense.


Rod Redondo - Transform180 Personal Trainer

Strengthen Your Back and Improve Your Posture

One of the most common imbalances I see in new clients is upper cross syndrome. Muscular dysfunctions such as these can often lead to poor exercise technique, poor posture, compensation patterns, and even injuries. 

UCS is the tightness of the upper traps and levator scapulae (upper back muscles) as well as tightness of the pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles). To go along with tightness in these areas are weak deep cervical flexors (neck muscles) and weak middle and lower traps (mid-lower back muscles). Muscles are interconnected and if one muscle group becomes weak another becomes tight. This "cross" of tightness and weakness creates the conditions of UCS.

Common symptoms of UCS include forward head posture, rounded shoulders, shoulder pain, headache, improper breathing, and a hunched upper back (kyphosis). UCS can be the result of years of sitting with bad posture, poor exercise technique (e.g. biking with rounded upper back position), and imbalanced training (e.g. someone who trains their chest often while the upper back is rarely trained). 

What can you do about it?

1. Stretching of the chest and anterior deltoid.

There are many great stretches for the chest and anterior deltoids. Here are a few basic ones to get you started.

The broomstick stretch - One way of doing this stretch is to bring the broom over the head as far as possible until you feel a stretch across the front of the shoulders and chest. Slowly lower the bar until you reach a position where you feel a maximum stretch. Hold for 60 seconds.

Another way is to take the shoulder joint through its complete ROM (range of motion) Bring the broomstick over your head and down to your lower back without holding a static stretch for longer than five seconds. If you can’t get the broomstick behind you very far just go to the end of your range of motion before bringing the stick back in front of you. Continue to repeat this movement until your range of motion improves and you can eventually reach your lower back.  Below is a short video of the ROM broomstick stretch.

The squat rack pec stretch - Bracing the bottom of your palms against a squat rack frame, stick your chest out, draw your shoulder blades together, and lean forward while pointing your finger tips behind you to feel a stretch across the pectoral and anterior deltoid region. You can do this with one arm or both arms at once. Vary the height of your hands relative to the upper body to shift emphasis of the stretch.

Wall Angels - Wall angels targets the muscles in the thoracic spine region and opens up tight chest muscles. This mobility exercise also increase the range of motion in the shoulder joint. Below is a great video of wall angles that you can practice at the gym, office, and home.

2.Myofascial release.

The goal with self-myofascial release is to improve the quality and extensibility of soft tissue. By working deliberately and massaging the target area, we can affect the resting tone of soft tissue and help to free up chronically tight muscles.

Place a lacrosse ball on various positions on the pec major and minor. Working from the middle outwards, slowly apply pressure and massage the chest. I like to use the side of a doorway or squat rack. Below is a great instructional video.


3. Strengthen the back.

Face pulls - Face pulls strengthen and reactivate the scapula stabilizers. Facing a high pulley with a band attached, pull the band directly towards your chin, separating your hands as you do so. Keeping your upper arms parallel to the ground. Stand in a straight line and “tuck the ribs in” so that you avoid any hyperextension of the spine. Complete 3 sets of 12-15 three times a week.

TRX rows - Adjust the TRX straps to your height. Set your body in a straight line, as if you were in a plank position. While keeping your arms straight, walk your feet forward until there is tension in the straps. Make sure to keep your palms facing each other in a hammer grip. This is starting position.

To begin the movement, retract your shoulder blades back and down. Now, pull your torso towards your hands keeping your elbows close to your body. Your body should remain in a plank and your palms and wrists should stay neutral. Lower your body back to the starting position and repeat. If the exercise is too easy, move the feet a bit farther forward.

One arm row - To perform the exercise with your left arm, position your right knee and right hand on a bench. Leave your left foot flat on the floor and bend forward so your torso is horizontal. Hold the dumbbell in a hammer grip and your arm extended straight down. This is the starting positon.

Lift the weight to the left side of your chest while keeping both shoulders leveled with each other. Keep your back flat while your core keeps you from moving your torso. Lower the weight slowly to the starting position. Perform the exercise with both arms.

4. Do 2 back exercises for every 1 chest exercise.

5. Better posture while working.

Many offices are getting better at implementing ergonomics and giving their employees comfortable working areas. For your work area at home you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a great chair (unless you can afford it). You simply need a chair that has an adjustable height so you can set your feet comfortably on the floor, a solid cushion to sit on, and good lower back support. You want the height of your monitor to be such that you can look straight ahead and not have to adjust your neck angle to view the screen. Even stacking some books under you monitor should do the trick.

-Adnan Mujic, Transform 180 Training, NSCA CPT

Train the brain

Today, more than ever, the interest in physical fitness is growing. Between the internet and social media it is hard to miss the latest and greatest technology or fitness tool that will help you achieve your fitness goal. The main components of physical fitness are simple and sometimes it is easy to take simple concepts and try to individualize them so much that confusion and sub par results can occur.

In this day of "on demand" society we are often seeking the ultimate life hack. From my personal experience, and myself being guilty as well, one of the most underrated or underdeveloped skills is the ability to move beyond your current comfort zone. One of the least trained aspects of physical fitness is the mind! I am speaking nothing new but rather a gentle encouragement that growth comes on the other side of adversity. I'm not talking about hurting yourself or training till you feel you are going to die. I'm talking about little decisions like parking at the end of the parking lot and walking into work, taking a flight of stairs instead of an escalator, or ordering that burger but choosing not to have fries.

Obviously this is information that we all know, it's simple but sometimes simple is hard!

Check out these links below on some awesome examples of how far your brain can take you !

-Blake Bender, Certified Personal Trainer at Transform 180

Make it a lifestyle

Fitness should enhance your life, not control it. Let it become a part of your lifestyle. Not as a chore or something that you feel like you HAVE to do, but let it help you get through your day. Let it be a decompression after a long day of work, or an energizing way to start your day on the right foot. Let it be therapy if you are feeling down or angry. Come in to feel energized even if you leave a little sore. Making fitness a lifelong commitment is tough, but you might find that after a while you wouldn’t know what to do without it.  


-Rena Bartlett, Certified Personal Trainer at Transform 180


How do I find the motivation?

This is the number one question that I get from clients. "How do I find the motivation to complete all of my workouts and keep my diet on track?" I learned the answer to this question at the start of my own fitness journey. It is not about motivation, it is about discipline. Motivation is unreliable. It comes and goes just like the sunshine here in Seattle. Motivation really helps to get the ball rolling, but it won't get you to the finish line. There will be times when you have no motivation to workout or stick to your meal plan. As humans, there are many outstanding factors that could influence us in negative ways, and we will use those as excuses not to get our workout done. "I'm tired", "I'm too stressed out", "I had a rough day", "I have too much to do", just to name a few that I have personally used.

So what do we do when there is no motivation to be found? Cue discipline, the superhero trait of all superhero traits, saving fitness journeys from crashing and burning since the beginning of time! Right from your very first workout, you must begin to instill the discipline within yourself to get your workouts done and eat right. As this discipline grows, it is what will help you succeed and smash all of your goals. Like a fine wine, it is what will get you through the tough times.

How do you initiate discipline? It's easy! Think about what you are doing in a logical way. For example: I am going to the gym for 55 minutes. That is not even an hour of my day. I watch Netflix for longer than that. I can do this! or It only takes 10 minutes to boil water and steam veggies. It would take me longer than that to go eat out somewhere. 

We don't complete workouts or cook meals because we build those tasks up to seem more difficult than they are. When you get stuck, remember this: think logically, you will always feel better after a good workout and healthy meal, don't rely on motivation 24/7 - rely on yourself and your own discipline. Be your own superhero! 


-Shawna Holt, Certified Trainer & Operations Manager at Transform 180 Training


Take pride in your progress, big or small

Feeling stuck? That’s okay, we have all been there before. Maybe something is going a little slower than you anticipated or you aren’t seeing the changes you were hoping to see. Fear not, you are still making progress! Try focusing on the things that are going right. Look at where you began and then take a look at where you are now. Celebrate every victory you have because whether big or small, it is still a victory. You have come so far, just keep going.


-Rena Bartlett, certified personal trainer at Transform 180 Training.

Don’t let the numbers control you

It is a common goal to want to be a certain weight. Everywhere you look, media is telling you that you need to lose weight quick, that media being magazines or movies or whatnot. It is no wonder that it is so ingrained in us. However, try not to let it control you. Check to see progress in other ways. Take measurements, progress pictures, or just take a look at the progress that you have made in your lifts. There are so many other great ways to tell if you are moving forward. Whether or not the scale says what you want it to say, you are here and you are making progress.


- Rena Bartlett, certified personal trainer at Transform 180 Training.