Q and A Sept 21,2012



pull up workouts

I’m so excited that I have a space at home to train when I can’t get to the gym, or when I want to do some video workouts for you. My gym is only about 90% complete, but it’s good enough to get a few workouts in. I’ll be  doing some workouts and getting some videos up for you soon from my own Challenge Workout HQ.

On with today’s Q and A…

pull up workouts

Dear Shawna,

Is it possible that I am gaining weight in muscle? I now weight 116, rather than my usual 112-114. It’s certainly not a lot of weight, it has simply arrived and seems not to want to go away. I have definitely put on some muscle in my arms/shoulders and have abs definition. My waist is less “wasp-like” than it was when we began “working out together” a year ago. It now measures 27″, rather than the 25 or 26 I remember. I think this is from my obliques popping out. Gaining weight has never been something I have thought of as a positive, so it’s kind of an anomalous situation for me.


Dear Sara,

Thanks for your question, I always like to hear from you. I know that it doesn’t ‘seem’ like a lot of weight for anyone else, but for you it can be of concern given your small frame. First off, let me ask you this…how is your strength? You’ve mentioned that your upper body strength is improving and you can see more muscle definition in your arms and shoulders. You’re getting close to your first pull up, a big step for someone that struggled to get a push up. Your weight gain can be a reflection of some lean muscle. As suggested, it can also be that your abs/obliques are developing, These are all good indications that you’re gaining muscle.

Your best indicator is to actually measure arms, chest, waist, abdomen (an inch below your belly button), thighs and hips. From there you’ll be able to see exactly where you’ve added any growth. I’d closely monitor by measuring weekly.

pull up questions

Imagine a pound of butter (or meat), it’s actually quite a large volume. It’s very difficult to put on pounds of muscle in a short time, so you if your weight continues to go up weekly, it’s more likely to be fat (sorry).


I love your challenge workouts but wonder where they fit in your weekly training schedule.  For instance, if I am following your pull up program, where would something like push, pull, burp fit?  Thanks! Concita,

Dear Concita,

Good question!

The push pull burp is a short workout and could be done on a day off or it could be swapped out for one of your regular workouts if you really wanted to. The whole thing with my challenge workout programs is that it doesn’t matter what DAY you train on, so if you would normally do say workout #7 on Tuesday, you can interrupt and do it on a Thursday instead. You’re going to benefit from the challenge workout interruption.

You may need to do a modified version of the challenge workout, in which case, if you want to do the full version of the challenge (without modifications) you may need to wait to finish one of the challenge workout progressions in order to complete the challenge.

By the way, I have no problem with anyone doing any challenge workout with modifications. The whole idea behind the challenge workout philosophy is that the challenge should be personal. No one needs to crush anyone else’s time or score as long as you beat your OWN best. Make a note of your modification and improve on it next time.

I know you suggest lifting heavy weights, but I tend to put on weight easily. I’m not interested in getting any heavier! Brenda


I can’t emphasize it enough…muscle is good, even if it means the scale is a little heavier. I should probably be about 100 lbs, but instead, I’m close to 125 lbs, but it’s the muscle on my bones that keeps my metabolism stoked, gives me strength and shape. If you find that you’re gaining weight in all the WRONG places, then it’s likely your nutrition and not your training that’s the problem. Like I told Sara in the question above, it’s best to take body measurements and not go by the scale to determine if you’re making progress towards your goals. Keep in mind that it’s not the number on the scale that people notice when you walk into the room, it’s how you look in your jeans. Muscle will make your jeans look amazing. As well, heavy weight training empowers you to conquer anything you put your mind to. I’m all for the mental strength that challenge workouts provides as much as any physical strength I get from it.


By the way, just a head’s up. Take a look at  my Boot Camp Challenge Workouts. If you’re a trainer, (or if you create your own workouts), these are perfect to add to your program. They’re 12-15 minutes in length and can be done in a small group, boot camp or individually.  Just another tool in your tool belt….

boot camp challenge workouts