Q and A Jan 11, 2013

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Question: I have enjoyed reading your emails and your posts at challenge fitness this past year.  I appreciate your enthusiasm to help others with their fitness goals.  So I wanted to take the time to say Thank You!

Now to my little challenge.  I am 43 years old and was overweight for years but strong.  I muscled through things I probably should not have but all was fine.  Today I am much leaner after changing my lifestyle over the past 2 years eating better and getting regular boot-camp style exercise.  I have also gotten into running as a fun thing and portable exercise to do.  I have noticed recently that my knees have been bothering me a bit.  There is no swelling and no physical sign of a problem just some popping and an occasional dull pain.  I am hoping that this is just showing me that I need to better strengthen them but they should be pretty strong from the types of workouts that I do (typical bootcamp stuff).  I guess I am just curious what way you would find to best strengthen the knee joint for all my activities to prevent serious injury?  I am a bit intense and tend to push through little aches and pains but starting to worry a bit about my joints.  I recently have been doing more bosu training again and that seems to target the stability of the joints really well, and perhaps that is what I need is more stability training.  I also own a TRX and I could throw in some TRX pistol squats to help as well.  Enough blathering about me just curious to your approach when you find weaknesses like this?

BTW – a couple years ago I moved to a natural running form (fore-middle foot), so I have already improved that (FYI).  I am only running up to 10K right now and at most a couple time a week so not lots of distance.  Bootcamp we do short running bursts usually 5 min or less than 1/2 mile at a time so not like I am over-running at this point.

Answer:  Thanks for your question, you’ve contacted me before and I appreciate the opportunity to help you and others.

As for running, I’m not the expert. I also enjoy knee pain just as you’ve described as well 😉

It can be from a variety of sources.

When I get knee pain, I try to isolate the cause of it. I keep meticulous notes on my training and it’s sort of like the process of elimination to decide what exact movement caused the pain. Once you can figure this out, then it’s a matter of reducing that exercise. If you narrow it down to running, then you can further narrow it down to distance, running surface, foot wear etc.

Applying ice on a regular basis as well as rolling out your IT band can never hurt. Strengthening the quads through things like wall sits and isometric movements is helpful. Your bosu ball training is great for proprioception for ankle, knee and hip joints.

Sadly for me, my orthopedic surgeon says that it’s just wear and tear and joints eventually wear out. I’m better at listening to my body. Joint pain should NEVER be ignored. I try not to do the things that aggravate my knees and neither should you.

My fav ‘go to’ guy for injuries has a program that you can try for knee pain. I highly recommend it as it has preventive care and ways to identify what your problem is. I’ve been in line to see my orthopedic surgeon now for 9 months and am still waiting, so this is a timely way to cope. Click HERE for his program, it’s only $27 and well worth it.

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I hope that helps 😉


I featured Mike Westerdal and his partner in bench pressing, Chandler Marchman this week on the blog. They have a program called Bench for Reps. I got a few questions and had a few of my own, so I put them to the duo, take a look:

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What’s the benefit of doing the bodyweight bench test?


Besides the obvious increase in the number of reps you will get on  the bodyweight bench rep test, you will also benefit from the “Better Form For a Bigger Bench” form tutorials (which will help your 1 Rep Max as well). And given the nature of the program, you can also expect a dramatic increase in musculature (both size and shape).

What inspired you to create this program?

What inspired this program is the frustration I see in so many lifters today that want to be successful in this test but have no road map. All I want to do is help people that want to be helped, and this program is dedicated to just that.

What’s YOUR bench press experience?


(Chandler Marchman answers this) I’ve been bench pressing for 15 yrs. now, however it was not until the past 5 yrs. that I knew HOW to bench press. Learning what I have and wanting to help prevent the frustrations that I had in the bench will be what I hope my lasting legacy will be in this most awesome lift… 

How does your program address both strength and endurance?

In order to excel in this test you simply must train with a focus on both maximal strength as well as endurance. Building them in unison is what will put you in the best position for success.   

Does your program just address upper body conditioning?

Not at all. The bench is not just an upper body lift, its a total body lift. And if you don’t have a program that addresses your entire body, then you’re limiting your chances for success.

Will my physical appearance benefit from this program? Will I LOOK any better?

The very nature of this program requires you to focus on building maximal strength as well as muscular endurance. When you focus on building those two elements of fitness you can expect to build very thick, lean, and dense muscle as well as burn fat at an accelerated rate.

If you think this program is right for you, take a look at it HERE. I’ve reviewed it and it’s a great plan, lots of direction. Well worth it =)


I got asked a great question the other day from a friend of mine. They wanted to know if push ups can help increase your bench press. Well instead of me giving you the answer, I wanted to share a great article from bench press experts Mike Westerdal and Chandler Marchman.

So check out the article below.

5 Tips to Increase Your Bench Press

Written by Mike Westerdal and Chandler Marchman

So we have been getting a lot of questions lately about how to increase your bench press so we thought it would be a great idea to share our 5 most effective tips that you can use today to start seeing better results.

So here are the 5 tips below:

Tip 1: Push Ups Address The Weak Points That Show Up While Bench Pressing

Push Ups address the weak points such as triceps and shoulders, which can cause you to not lift as much weight. Basically you are patching up the leaks to your roof which in this case is your body.

Tip 2: Focus on Perfect Form

While bench pressing, it is important to follow perfect form so you do not develop a bad habit, which can lead to injury later down the road. Do not worry about how many repetitions you can do at first. This is a mistake many people make as opposed to perfect form.

Tip 3: Push Ups Help With Endurance For MORE Reps

Another one of the great benefits of doing push ups is that it will build up your cardiovascular endurance which will allow you to do more reps while you are bench pressing. This is one of the most under rated techniques that rarely gets discussed.

Tip 4: Upper Back Strength is a “Key” Ingredient

One of the most over looked areas of bench pressing is a strong upper back. Many people think it is all about strengthening the chest. However, when you lift the bar up, you are also using other major muscle groups and one of them is the back. Inside the Bench For Reps Test Program we show you “exactly” what needs to be done to develop the strength in your back to bench press your body weight more than you may have ever thought was possible.

Tip 5: Exercise Different Body Parts For FASTER Results

Even if you do push ups as mentioned in tip #1, it is still important to strengthen other body parts such as your triceps, shoulders and back. Now, there are specific exercises that can accelerate your results much faster that are outlined in our Bench For Reps Test Program.

So we hope you enjoyed this article. If you want to learn more about how to increase your bench press then we have a great resource for you. Our BRAND NEW Bench For Reps Test Program shows you how to bench press your body weight for 5, 10, 20 and even up to 30 times.

Many of these techniques are some of our most coveted secrets. Combined, we have over 30 years experience and we reveal all of our knowledge with “done for you”
videos once you order the program.

Click Here to Learn More About Bench For Reps Test Program <<<click to learn more


Question: Shawna how did you get started in fitness? I’m a personal trainer and need some direction. Sonia

Answer: Sonia, I was actually a school teacher for nearly 20 years as many of you know. I always dabbled in fitness, but never considered it as a full time career. I had a small private studio out of my house that I trained small groups in. Then I went to a conference that literally changed my life, almost over night. I knew that my calling was to take on fitness as a full time endeavor.

I started a fitness boot camp a month later, kept my studio running and taught school for a few months. Then I resigned from my teaching position and blew up my boot camps. I eventually closed my small studio and then started doing online fitness coaching. My passion and business continued to grow. Now I have a successful boot camp that I run part time (with the help of amazing staff). I’ve co-owned and mentored others to start fitness boot camps. I have several online programs, including online coaching.

How did this all start? It was a conference in February of 2007 called ‘Fitness Business Summit’. I credit these three days as my life changing event.

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Here’s a secret: I even got a tattoo somewhere to commemorate how my life changed. I never thought I’d ever do that sort of thing, but this was a BIG thing for me. (Maybe I’ll show you a picture of my tattoo someday…)

You can attend this event too. It’s in March this year and I get the pleasure of speaking at it. (I’m not in a panic yet, but I will be since the event has grown to over 500 people in the audience). Attendees are the most dedicated and motivated people in the fitness industry that want to help grow their fitness business and help a boat load of clients in the best way possible. There’s an amazing line up of speakers. You can read about them HERE.

If you’re in the fitness business, this event is a MUST. Check it out HERE.

If you’re not in the fitness biz, then disregard, and everyone can just forget all about that hidden tattoo…maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it 😉