The TRUTH About Bodyweight Workouts for Women Over 40

The TRUTH About Bodyweight Workouts for Women Over 40

If you’re a woman over 40, you may be wondering if bodyweight workouts can really help you build muscle and lose fat. After all, getting to the gym isn’t always easy with your busy schedule. But do bodyweight exercises really work? Is it possible to lose weight or build muscle using only your own body weight? Here, we dig into the truth about bodyweight workouts.


The Role of Calories 

Calorie intake plays a huge role in both losing weight and gaining muscle. To lose fat, you need to create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than what your body needs to maintain its current weight. To gain muscle, on the other hand, you need to consume more calories than your body needs so it can use those extra calories to build muscle mass. Once your calorie intake is in check, then you can focus on your workouts.


Building a Strategy 

When it comes to bodyweight workouts for women over 40, having a strategy is key if you want the exercises to “work” for you. Just like any workout plan that uses dumbbells or barbells, bodyweight plans should also be periodized—meaning they should have specific goals and progressions that help you reach those goals. For example, if one of your goals is gaining strength, then make sure that each session is focused on building strength rather than endurance or power (which are other types of periodization). This will ensure that the exercises are actually helping you reach your goals instead of simply wasting time with random exercises. 


Rep Ranges Matter Too! 

You also need to make sure that the rep ranges used in each session match the type of goal being worked on—for example, if your goal is hypertrophy (gaining muscle size), then don’t use endurance rep ranges (12+ reps). Instead, stick with 8-12 reps for hypertrophy-focused training sessions and 3-5 reps for strength-focused sessions. 

Exercises can (and should!) also be manipulated depending on where you are in your periodization—you can either make them easier (more reps) or harder (less reps) by changing variables such as tempo or range of motion in order to produce muscle fatigue appropriate to your intended rep range better.  

For example, elevating your feet on an incline pushup makes the exercise more difficult than doing traditional pushups on the ground would be; conversely, lowering yourself onto a low box makes pushups easier because it takes some of the tension off of your muscles during the movement.  

Knowing how and when to manipulate exercises can keep your workouts challenging and effective — no matter what equipment (or lack thereof) is used!


In conclusion, yes – bodyweight workouts can be effective at helping women over 40 build muscle and lose fat! While managing calorie intake is important no matter what kind of exercise program you choose, having a well-thought-out strategy and understanding how rep ranges work will help ensure that the exercises chosen match up with whatever goal(s) being worked on — whether it’s gaining strength, building muscle, or increasing endurance! 

With these tips in mind – get out there and start crushing those bodyweight workouts!




Healthy Eating Doesn’t Make You Lose Weight

Healthy Eating Doesn’t Make You Lose Weight

So you’re trying eat better, but the weight isn’t coming off? You’re not alone. Here’s why “healthy eating” alone doesn’t work for weight loss.

The Truth About Healthy Eating

Getting healthy does not guarantee weight loss, and thinking that way may be getting in the way of you reaching your physique goals.

I know that for many ladies – weight loss and the journey to become more “healthy and fit” coincide.  And the line is often blurred, with so many “health” foods, gadgets, and supplements being marketed as a magic solution to make you fit, trim and lean. But the thing is, those things are not one in the same. So here’s a few things to consider if you want to be healthy and lose weight.

Weight Loss Basics Still Matter

Most of us have expressed the desire to be more fit and healthy as if they’re the same. We tend to assume that being healthy and losing weight are the same goal and, depending upon the information you consume, that thought is likely being confirmed.

Maybe you’ve experienced going to the doctor and constantly hearing about how you need to lose a little bit more weight to help solve some problems that you have in an area that has nothing to do with weight loss, like a knee issue, back pain, or fertility. We’ve often heard that if we lose weight, it will help. And while losing weight does affect blood markers, that does not mean that getting healthy and losing weight are the same.

Think about it.

There are so many loving, caring moms out there, who only eat organic foods.  Some grow their own vegetables, and even grind their own  grains, almonds, etc to make bread and other whole grain or gluten-free products. Yet they rarely lose weight, and many are gaining!  This may even describe you, a person doing alllll the healthy things, but not seeing the scale move the way you want it to. This is because a healthy diet does not automatically equate to weight loss.

Many ladies assume that as long as they eat clean, healthy, or organic, that calories don’t count. The reality is that you may see beneficial health improvements from an extremely healthy diet, but not see physique changes. This is because gaining or losing of fat and muscle require either a surplus or deficit of calories:


If you are trying to lose weight and are eating an excess of calories, even if those are the most amazing healthy organic calories, they’re still going to cause weight gain. If you are eating maintenance level calories of the most nutritious foods on the planet, you are still eating maintenance level and will stay the way you are. If you’re eating less food, you will probably see the scale go down or some weight shredded off, even if it’s “junk” food.


If you want to be healthy and lose fat, you need to eat healthy at a calorie deficit.  If you’re going to gain muscle and be healthy,
you will have to increase those same healthy calories, to put yourself in a caloric surplus.  If you’re someone who is on the fence – you want to lose a little bit of fat but eating super healthy foods isn’t all that important to you – good news! you still can lose weight and not be eating 100% healthy, clean and organic.

That’s why it’s essential to know both ends of the spectrum. The reality is, it doesn’t matter how healthy you are if you’re eating too many calories, and it doesn’t matter how unhealthy you are if you’re eating fewer calories. You will probably still lose some weight, whether or not that is a healthy weight that you’re losing.

So if you can find a healthy medium where you’re doing both, that will be the best-case scenario mainly because you are tailoring it to yourself. You can be “kind of” healthy, hitting your macronutrient level by eating a sufficient amount of treats, even if those things are what somebody else might consider junk food.

As long as you’re hitting the amount of protein and fiber your body needs and hitting the calorie level for your specific goal, then you can still see progress. This should give you both hope and a reality check!

Getting “Fit” vs Getting Lean

The second thing that I would say to consider when we’re thinking about being healthy is that being fit is not the same as being leaner or thinner. As I said in the first point, someone can be unhealthy and underweight. So assuming that because someone is skinnier than you means they are healthy is just not the case.

If you are taking excellent care of your health and body, working out consistently, eating healthy foods like whole grains, vegetables, and high protein, you are a healthy person even if your weight does not reflect that. On the contrary, some people are not exercising, not eating the healthy foods, getting insufficient protein, and not correctly fueling their body; even if they are underweight, that does not mean that they’re healthy. Knowing this allows us to have the freedom on our journey to do what it is that we set out to do.

How does this relate to your goals?

Well, if fat loss is your goal, understand that exercises that are “heart-healthy,” high endurance, or make you feel good may not actually be related to your goal of a physique change.

Your endurance may improve, but endurance and fat loss are not the same. Having a “healthy” heart does not automatically equal a smaller body size.  So if you’re attempting to lose some fat, you may need to adapt the style of exercising accordingly.  This means specifically executing fat loss behaviors, such as hitting a certain amount of protein, eating a certain amount of calories, doing some strength training workouts (your best friend when you’re trying to lose fat because it helps you hold on to muscle mass and keep your metabolism nice and high), and sometimes – limiting cardio for periods of time.

Sure…If you’re only looking to be healthy, then that means you can do whatever exercise makes you feel good.  Get your heart pumping and get those endorphins…

Just remember, endorphins don’t cause weight loss.

So..what do you really want? 

When you start to see fit/lean and healthy/weight loss as separate entities, you can begin creating the goals that you want, knowing what to expect from the actions that you’re taking. If you’re looking to lean out, then it’s about understanding what the basics of fat loss entail and making sure that those are incorporated, regardless of your health goals.

You can have a health goal, and you can have a fat loss goal. Just make sure that the actions and expectations align. That means you should not be upset when you eat healthily, exercise a lot, and see physique changes. Don’t say, “I just want to be healthy again,” when you mean “I just want to be the size that I was.”

Remember that your journey has different seasons, and each phase brings something new.

When you are in a muscle-building phase, you are looking to build muscle. You’re not necessarily looking for fat loss.


When you’re in a fat loss phase, you’re not looking to build muscle. You’re looking to lose fat and hopefully hold on to some of the muscles that you had.


There’s also the Chill phase when you’re not looking for anything. You’re not paying attention to what you eat. It’s a time to relax, be more intuitive, and have some mental freedom from tracking food all.the.time. BUT…that means you’re not expecting fat loss. You’re not expecting muscle gain. You’re not expecting anything. You’re just taking life as it comes because your focus is on mental clarity, relaxation, and not having to log everything.


It may seem nitpick-y to spell the differences of these phases out, but when you’re working your butt off to get results, it helps to make sure that you are getting the terminology right to express what you are looking for.

The terminology you uses indicates where your mindset is, and can be a huge indicator of why you’re not seeing the progress you want. So don’t be afraid to sit with the question “what do I REALLY want” and answer it unapologetically – even if it’s “unpopular.”  I get it, we live in a society right now where either side of the fence can be looked at as horrible.  One community is shouting, “Love yourself the way that you are, don’t ever try and change anything.” But then another community is telling you to change everything about yourself because “You suck, you’re fat. You don’t belong in this society.” The person who wants to enjoy life and not be concerned over their weight is shamed for being “unhealthy”, while someone else who wants change how they look is made to feel bad about it.

I see so many ladies don’t want to admit their actual goals, for fear of being excommunicated from the self-love community, or health-shamed.

Find your happy medium!  What are your standards of beauty? Own it, even if it’s unpopular with another crowd. You’re going to be 100% unhappy if you’re in one camp shouting “Rah, rah!” when what you REALLY want is the results of another camp.

If you want to lose fat, there is no shame in that.  If you are pleased where you are and want to be healthy, there is no shame in that.

If you want both, then be honest with yourself and do what it takes to make the two of those things align in a way that works for you.


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5 ways to take home workouts to the next level

5 ways to take home workouts to the next level

**How to avoid the biggest mistakes that most home exercisers make**

I’ve always been an advocate for having a home gym setup in case of emergencies.  But for some people, working out at home is the reason why they DON’T see the progress they want.

With more of us working out at home than ever before, there are even MORE options for the home exerciser than everrrrr before. Nearly every gym is offering “on-demand” options online, and every fit pro on IG is providing “quick and easy” moves you can do with little to no equipment from home.

IF you’re working out at home for only a week or two, then feel free to take FULL advantage of testing any and every idea or option available right now.  Use this time for getting in YOUR movement any way that you can, and discovering styles of exercising that you didn’t know even existed to see if you find something you like. Give yourself the gift of variety at some point of your journey, it can be just the thing you need during high stress periods, or for a quick break from your usual (more strategic, less variety) workout plans.

However, physique adaptations can happen in as little as 3 weeks, so plan accordingly.  Rest weeks and planned downtime can be an amazing gift if you’ve been running yourself into the ground – OR – it can be the nail in the coffin of your goals.

IF you will likely be working out from home for LONGER than 2-3 weeks, have a back up plan.    

To make the best of your at home workouts, and assure you get continual, compounding results even during the quarantine, avoid these 5 mistakes most home exercisers make: 

1) Not taking your workouts seriously. Just because you’re home, doesn’t mean you get to slack off/do laundry between sets (ok…so I’m talking to myself on that one! 🤣)

2) Being Random. Workout with a purpose. Once you’re out of the newbie phase, random Pinterest/homemade, etc. workouts won’t have the same effect that they used to.

3) Not progressing. When a workout gets easy, or you can lift heavier, etc…do it! Just because you sweat or can still “feel the burn” doesn’t mean it’s “working” in the way you think. The only way to keep seeing changes is to make an effort to progress in your workouts.

4) Not changing it up. Doing the same exercises/workouts/videos is not going to have the same results in Month 6 that it had in month 1. Don’t be afraid to move on (even if it’s just for a little while) when the workout is no longer serving you (or… if you can quote the video word for word.)

5) Not giving yourself room to grow. Make it a point to purchase heavier weights, incorporate new videos, or other equipment that allows you to make the exercise harder over time.  Don’t stifle yourself by refusing to equip yourself for the next level.

Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you! 

Working out for your goals

Working out for your goals

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When it comes to working out, most of us have a reason for doing it. Usually what we choose to do is based on what our goals are, and where we are in our personal journey. There is a huge difference in workouts between someone who is just starting out and someone who is a competitive lifter. Let’s take a walk through our phases of lifting, or what “grade” of school each belongs to, ’cause just like school, the higher the grade, the more challenging work needs to be done!


Newbie Gains (Grades 1-4)

When you first start working out, chances are you are coming from your couch and you just want to “move more.” You could literally do anything in terms of exercise and it will yield results. Much like elementary school. Your first few years of learning is where the basics come from. This is where you are learning to just move. Weights may or may not be on your radar yet, but walking more, running, exercise videos, gym classes, etc. Anything you decide to do, will give you results for your work. This is referred to as “newbie gains.” You are only ever a newbie once, so this is a time to take advantage of this first year or so just doing anything and everything. Eventually, all good things come to an end and after a year or so, these gains will be hard to come by.Working out for your goals SocialMediaGraph

Growth (Grades 5-9)

The results from your first year or so of lifting have stopped occurring. Now its time to apply the knowledge you have and start challenging the body. Your workouts should be strategic choices, based on your goals. In the newbie phase you could do anything and get results, but in a growth phase you have to start incorporating things you may not like in order to get results. What was once tough before, now becomes easy to do. Maybe you could only do 2 pushups and now you can do 15. You need to think of ways to add resistance to that move in order to get results. When you began, walking a mile might be enough of a challenge, but as we grow, that mile turns into five, then 10. This is where changing steady state activities to something like HIIT comes into play.

Challenge (Grades 10-12+)

Working out for your goals SocialMediaGraph (1)Lastly, challenging the body to do things it hasn’t done will be the final phase, and the one where all seasoned vets end up living in. This is where we have to constantly challenge ourselves to move differently, lift heavier, build endurance, strength, flexibility, and evolve through each new workout. Even with an activity like lifting, the challenge will be to lift heavier, or increase time under tension. When a 200lb squat becomes too easy, the challenge will be to increase the weight. This is also where your goals come into play more. If your goal is fat loss, then your workouts will be tailored differently than if your goal was strength based. Over time, your resistance will change, so you need to adapt the numbers to constantly challenge your body.

It is important to continue do things you like doing. Those type of activities help aid in stress relief and relaxation more than getting results. But if you aren’t willing to challenge yourself, then you will constantly spin your wheels over and over again.


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Guest Post – Leigh Anne’s Strongman Competition

Guest Post – Leigh Anne’s Strongman Competition

Leigh Anne is a long time EM2WL vet who decided to push her limits by entering Strongman competitions. This is a recap of her last event.

Leigh1I am still reeling from an incredible Strongman competition weekend and I need to share! I competed in the first Strongman at a gym in Charlottesville, VA. There were over 90 competitors, it was over 90 degrees and all but one of the five events were outside.

It was a long day.

I weighed in at 242. My previously steady weight of 237 was definitely boosted by eating super well a couple days prior. I ate well that night and ended up getting some delish local grub at a farmer’s market the next morning, along with the most amazing iced coffee I’ve ever had.

I wore a tank top. I never wear tank tops, but it was HOT! I got two compliments about how “bad ass” I looked in my tank!

I did not have my best showing, but I can identify where I need to improve and where I messed up. I was not confident in my squat and I bottomed out – but I expected to. I was not confident. I skipped a 340-lb. deadlift to try for the 360, when I shouldn’t have … but I tried and it moved! The truck pull was deceptively easy from the start and I did not brace myself nor get enough momentum to pull the full 50 feet when I hit the up-hill grind. BUT … I cleaned a 100 lb. axle and never did that before! I loaded a 135 lb. stone to a 54-inch platform when my previous max was 125 to a 48-inch platform. The roar from the gym when I finally got it loaded (it was a struggle, ya’ll!) and my coach’s wife yelling in my ear to NOT STOP was life. That was amazing.

Leigh2I cried several times that day. Not because I was upset with how I did, but because I was so proud of those around me. My amazing friend, Autumn, pulled the Mission BBQ truck the entire 50 feet and did not give up. She has been training for less than a year and I am so incredibly proud of her.

Then I met Mary Jacobson. Mary is 62 years young. Mary had gotten dehydrated a couple days prior, blacked out in her apartment, woke up in the hospital, pulled the IV out of her arm and told the staff that she had somewhere to be! (Please, I am not advocating doing this, but the independence, the drive and the determination of this lady was demonstrated here). Mary deadlifted 340 pounds. Mary pulled a 2.5 ton truck. Mary put on an amazing show, shared her knowledge. She was amazing. This lady is a cancer survivor. She was in a coma for two years. She won’t let anything stop her.

And I am honored to have met her.

Two days after this competition, I have signed up for my next one. It will be 10 weeks away – the first weekend in October. I plan to cut between now and then … and I have planned my meals to equate a 15% cut for now. A couple of the events at my competition in October are moving events, so I need to incorporate cardio into my training, but I hate the treadmill, elliptical and bike. My plan is to do light farmers, tire flips and truck pulls when possible. I am anxious to see what this cut does … and hoping for the best!!


Share your success, no matter how large or small.  You never know who you may inspire to hang on just a bit longer.  We love featuring results and journey stories in REAL time, not just before/afters.  If you have a victory (scale or not) let us know and allow us to share with the fam, by submitting to

“It’s like I’m looking at someone else’s body” – Journey Update

“It’s like I’m looking at someone else’s body” – Journey Update

An update to My Journey (so far)

I ended last with finishing up the EM2WL Beginner Strength Training Manual for 12 weeks and prior to that, I did Cathe’s Muscle Max for 6 weeks.  I started (seriously) on 1/1/15.  At the end of both programs, I had lost 10 lbs and 10.5 inches total.

I started back doing Muscle Max, Slow & Heavy and walking our garden track.  I started STS on 1/24/16.  I’m not sure if y’all have ever done STS before but in Meso 1 that woman LOVES pushups!!!  Like, seriously…I can’t do pushups on my toes and I have to do them on my knees.  Well, I got “creative” and decided to put extra towels under my knees to have even more cushion.  BAD IDEA!!! I totally messed up my knee!  I haven’t been able to do lower body exercises AT ALL since!  I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Patellafemoral Pain Syndrome as well as mild/moderate arthritis.  Thank goodness the week I injured my knee was the last week of Meso 1.  So I had an active rest week (which I couldn’t be active at all) then I started Meso 2.

The whole knee thing put me into a tailspin with regards to my diet/calories.  I was eating at 15% cut during Meso 1 which was 1890.  So during my rest week and when I started Meso 2, I checked my TDEE on Fitbit because I was just maintaining.  To my shock (which, in hindsight is shouldn’t have been a shock) my TDEE had dropped quite a bit because I wasn’t getting my steps in…DUH!!!  So, grudgingly I lowered my calories to 1676 (yes I’m totally spoiled with eating all the food on this diet).  But you know what, it wasn’t hard at all!!!

I have to admit, I was so down because the doctor restricted me to no lower body for 2 weeks (which was at the beginning of Meso 2) the “old me” tried to make a come-back and I was ready to just stop doing anything.  But Anitra suggested/told me to just do the upper body workouts, there was no reason to stop doing everything!!!  Thanks so much Anitra!!!  I just started walking again but I’m still restricted to just walking for the next 4 weeks…then I can slowly add lower body exercises using just my body weight…so I’m still in the healing process, but I’m getting there!

I lost 6 pounds and 7.5 inches just in my first month of STS!  There’s one thing that I’ve learned through all of this…the scale isn’t nearly as important as it used to be.  I’m more concerned with inches lost than pounds lost.

Since starting this new lifestyle a little over a year ago, I’ve lost 19.5 lbs and 25.5 inches!!!  I’ve gone down two sizes in jeans (16 to 12).  I’m so excited!! This journey so far is beyond rewarding.  It’s a slow and steady pace, but I’m eating food and I’m not starving!!!  More importantly, I’m starting to see the changes in my body/taking shape.  It’s almost like I’m looking at someone else’s body at times.  If that makes any sense… Like I look in the mirror at my side view and my butt is perking up and getting a nice roundness to it!  I can see it, not so much anyone else yet, but it’s there and it’s gonna “bust out” someday soon!!! LOL  My confidence is coming back…slowly, but it is.


The top row was taken in April 2015 when I finished Beginning Strength (my last update), and the bottom was taken June 2016 one and a half months after finishing STS.

I just can’t express how much this lifestyle has changed my life and my outlook on food and fitness.  My only regret is that I waited so long to realize the smart way to do it!!!! But I don’t dwell/beat myself up to much about it… won’t do me any good.  I’m just spreading the word to anyone who asks and will listen.  As a result, I have introduced a dear friend to EM2WL who was on WW for years and totally frustrated and after a reset and now at cut, she’s lost 12 lbs in 9 weeks! And she has her boyfriend on it too and he’s knocking it out of the park too!!!

Currently, I have finished STS and have started Jillian Michaels Body Revolution.  I will not be taking measurements or weighing myself any time soon.  You see, down here in the South, the humidity is nasty and I have edema in my hands and legs/feet.  I’m finding that it could be hormonal/aging.  I’ve had to put the scales away because I’m weighing between 3-7 lbs heavier.  That is very difficult for me as I’m a scale addict.  But the reality is, I have to put it away in order to maintain my sanity.

The message I’m trying to get across to everyone is just hang in there, it will happen.  You may have setbacks that throw you off track, but do what you can and stay the course. That’s the beauty of this – if I can do it, you can too!!!


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