Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

Podcast Episode #280: Muscle Building with Jen Sinkler and Kourtney Thomas

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Topics Balanced Bites Podcast | Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe

1. News and updates from Diane [1:30]
2. Introducing our guests; Jen Sinkler and Kourtney Thomas [3:56]
3. Something I'm digging: self care [9:56]
4. Strength training and women [19:53]
5. Myths of cardiovascular training [24:32]
6. Differences in strength versus cardio training [31:30]
7. Training for aesthetics [40:32]
8. Hypertrophy training [49:41]
9. What hypertrophy training looks like [57:59]
10. The Bigness Project [1:04:12]

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You’re listening to the Balanced Bites podcast episode 280.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to the Balanced Bites podcast. I’m Diane; a certified nutrition consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21-Day Sugar Detox. I live in San Francisco with my husband and fur kids. And I’m about to pack up and head to the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, so I’m super excited to have some guests with me here today. Liz is on a quick break this week, and I’m talking with some fitness powerhouses today; Jen Sinkler and Kourtney Thomas. Can’t wait to get into the show, but before we do, let’s hear from one of our sponsors.

Liz Wolfe: The Balanced Bites podcast is sponsored in part by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants (including me; I’m an NTP), emphasizing bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes local, whole, properly prepared nutrient dense foods as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s ability to heal. Nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants learn a wide range of tools and techniques to assess and correct nutritional imbalances. To learn lots more about the nutritional therapy program, go to There are workshop venues in the US, Canada, and Australia, so chances are you’ll be able to find a venue that works for you.

1. News and updates from Diane [1:30]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright; hey everyone. It’s me, I’m here, and before I get into chatting with Jen and Kourtney; let’s see, what do I want to give you guys this week? Don’t forget I’m usually on Facebook Wednesday at 4 p.m. Pacific time. I’ll pretty much give you a heads up before hand on Instagram and on Facebook. I didn’t do that in a couple of recent weeks, because I was traveling, and where I was traveling to just recently was Los Angeles; I went to a Los Angeles area police department conference that was about resilience and health; learned some new stuff on cholesterol and testing that will be helpful for people who have maybe some confusing numbers or maybe your parents are just nervous that they have high cholesterol and they’re being told that they need to take all kinds of medications. Lots of updates on you guys on that, but I’ll bring that to the show in the coming weeks and/or maybe the blog. It may just be a guide that I hand out so that you guys can have that to download. So be on the lookout for that.

And, another quick update about the 21-Day Sugar Detox. In previous years, we’ve always had a big community group every single month; so we’ve always started the first Monday of every month. But we’re changing that up a bit for 2017, and instead of having one every single month we are actually doing it 4 times a year. So we won’t have one for February this year. There will be one for the whole community in March, but there are always coaches who are running groups every single month. So if you’re like; wait a minute, I missed it in January, I want to do this in February; you can check out or just go to You’ll see there’s a coach’s button; you can find a certified coach either in your area or somebody who is just working remotely online. They all have groups over the internet. All kinds of fun stuff for you guys to take part in. You will have support; you don’t need to have our online support, you can have actually in real life support, and you can have a direct coach that you guys can talk to, so that’s going to be really helpful. So check that out;

Alright, so today I have Jen and Kourtney with me. You guys have virtually met Jen Sinkler before on the podcast; I believe at least twice.

Jen Sinkler: At least twice. Hi! Hi guys!

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey.

Jen Sinkler: Thank you for having me back.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m so excited to talk to you guys. And Kourtney this is your first time being on the show, so thanks for being here.

Kourtney Thomas: Thanks for having me.

2. Introducing our guests; Jen Sinkler and Kourtney Thomas [3:56]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, I’m going to let you guys do a quick intro about yourselves before I actually ask you maybe a little bit of an ice breaker question. {laughs} Because the way our show works we usually do something that we’re digging this week. But why don’t you guys give a little bit of your background, just so folks get to know you a bit more before you tell them what you’re digging this week.

Jen Sinkler: Kourtney, you want to take it away?

Kourtney Thomas: Alright, I will. So I’m Kourtney Thomas; I have been a personal trainer and coach for; oh jeeze, quite some time now. Spent a little time in a facility, and then went out on my own. So I have my own business, and I do most of my coaching online. Personally, I started off mostly as an endurance runner for a really long time; ran a bunch of marathons, was super into that. Somehow along the way found people like Jen and Girls Gone Strong, and really kind of found myself personally in essentially kind of bodybuilding type of workouts. Definitely heavy lifting and a lot of stuff in the gym. You give me 10 different kinds of biceps curls, and I will do them.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Kourtney Thomas: So I do a lot of coaching in that now. Yeah, and that’s kind of my gig. My favorite saying is big arms, big life. That’s what I’m about.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I love it.

Jen Sinkler: And you’re right in the middle of a cross-country move as we speak. I love the hotel art behind you; is that what we’re looking at?

Kourtney Thomas: It's a vacation rental, yes.

Jen Sinkler: Ahh.

Diane Sanfilippo: I was wondering how you had artwork up even before, when you just moved.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: And I may have been questioning the artwork just a little bit.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: So I was like; hmmm.

Jen Sinkler: Welcome to Colorado; she’s getting rustic. {laughs}

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Got that rustic motive going on.

Diane Sanfilippo: It looks like the Colorado version of Jersey Shore décor.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Kourtney Thomas: Oh yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like, in a shore house in the Jersey Shore, everything is beach themed. You're like; we’re at the beach, but there’s beach décor on the wall. Anyways.

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah, that’s what every picture I’m looking around the room is; so yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s amazing. Jen, why don’t you give them just a little bit of a background on you, because I think it’s been a while since you’ve been on the show.

Jen Sinkler: It has been. It has been. It’s been a minute. My name is Jen Sinkler, I have worked in the fitness industry since 2003, when I was the fitness editor and then editorial director of fitness for Experience Life magazine. I have been coming at my work from an athlete’s background before that, but I very quickly realized I needed to be able to write and explain how to do exercises, not the way athletes teach people; which is, you know, just do it like this. {laughs} That does not make for a very good coach.

So I started going to certifications ranging from bodyweight to kettle bell to Olympic lifting, to Crossfit, to a bunch of callisthenic body weight stuff like ground force method; PAC fit was in there; sandbags, and then more recently academy. I guess the point is, I wanted to be able to enter fitness at a lot of different points and teach fitness from a lot of different viewpoints. So I kind of consider myself an eclectic on that front, and I like to try a lot of new things. Which is actually in part how Kourtney and I ended up on this podcast together {laughs} because one of the things I got curious about was the type of muscle growth training that she focuses on, and I’d never trained to get jacked before, so that’s what we’ve done.

The last 4 years I've owned a fitness business. It’s really; I’ve realized I don’t know how to say what I do anymore, though. {laughs} Because it’s like …

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Join the club sister!

Jen Sinkler: Right! I mean, what is this question.

Diane Sanfilippo: Every Uber driver asks me; I’m like, shoot!

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} I know. I mostly say I sell strength programs online. I teach women how to be strong women; and men, actually. I’ve got both in my audience. I’m a writer and a personal trainer and I host fitness retreats, and I sometimes write for magazines; what do I do? I don’t know.

Diane Sanfilippo: Do all of it.

Jen Sinkler: And my husband and I own a gym, and we have run strength classes forever. It’s too much now. I’m trying to get it down to one line without sounding like a total lunatic. So far, mission not accomplished.

Diane Sanfilippo: That might be boring though.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: So the quick back story, too, on how Jen and I were first introduced. {laughs} Which I actually kind of love this story.

Jen Sinkler: Oh my god.

Diane Sanfilippo: Before we ever even; didn’t I like ruin your life.

Jen Sinkler: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: So I was going to a Move Nat workshop in West Virginia and that summer changed a lot of lives here, because Tony Kasandrinos, who you’ve met him in person I know, at least at PaleoFx, who owns Kasandrinos Olive Oil, he and his sister. That was where he and I really became friends. We drove 9 hours each way to West Virginia from like New Jersey, and I was like; ok, you’re my little brother now, you know.

Jen Sinkler: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: It was the following week that you were coming to Move Nat, right?

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: And didn’t you tweet, or something, about how stoked you were to just unplug.

Jen Sinkler: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: And you were like; I’m just going to disconnect. I’ve been online and plugged in for so long, and you were just stoked. Like, I’m going to be camping, and I’m going to be barefoot. And then I ruined it all with one tweet.

Jen Sinkler: You burst my bubble. So hard.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: So hard. I get this tweet back that says; “there’s internet here.”

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} It was like, ok.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, but I was like, “there’s wifi here.”

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} I was coming from Vegas. I just really needed that sort of chill, unplugged feeling. I still had a bunch of sequins packed in my duffle bags.

3. Something I’m digging: self care [9:56]

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. Alright, so, why don’t you guys tell us, just before we get into all kinds of questions about training, what are you guys digging lately? I mean, we know that you’re digging training, and building muscles.

Jen Sinkler: No, let’s not talk about that. That’s fine. I want to talk about fingernails.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Because you are my role model on this. Your fingernails, Diane, are always just.

Diane Sanfilippo: Well I have a question about fingernails then.

Jen Sinkler: Pun intended; pun intended, but they’re on point. Heh, heh, heh.

Diane Sanfilippo: I just had a manicure. So.

Jen Sinkler: I know; obviously did. I was supposed to have one today, but you know how it goes. Launch week, and pre-launch week; you know how that kind of situation unfolds. And with my propensity for procrastination, needless to say, I ended up canceling my appointment. So I’ve got; look at this one.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: This one popped off, and I just, I just put on the closest color that I had to it. This is not a good fingernail situation right now. But what I’m into about this; recently. Today is just not representative of the way it’s been lately, ok. I ended up; I think I’m in some sort of fingernail cult or club now that I didn’t actually mean to join, but I’m really enjoying my time here. It’s this place pretty near my house, but you have to make an appointment literally months in advance. And I didn’t know that when I first called. I had just seen all these incredible Yelp reviews. So I call, and they say; you know, in July, and they say, ok we have an availability in October, or something.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: I was like; what?! You know what, fine, put me down. Sign me up. Whatever manicure it is that people will wait that long for. So then what happens is, once you're in; then you're in. she doesn’t take new clients all the time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Jen Sinkler: Like right now, I think you could get an appointment in May.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ll fly in. I’m just kidding {laughs}.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} I know! I want you to. Actually.

Diane Sanfilippo: The look on Kourtney’s face is so hilarious. She’s like, I can’t believe you are talking about fingernails. Can we…

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} Well, I’m just saying that I needed to reframe; because I didn’t get very many mani/pedis in recent years because I didn’t appreciate them. I’d lost my sense of appreciate. This has been a big moment for me. Now I’ll go, and I actually appreciate it for what it is; which is a luxurious act, and an act of self care and some time to myself. I’m glad I took a lot of time off, because I wasn’t appreciative of those kinds of things. I would constantly think; hurry up, hurry up. So the second thing I’m into this week, and this time period, is meditation again. I’m back to meditation. I’ve been talking about it for literally years; being like, any second now, I’m going to start meditating again.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: It used to be a habit, and this is the time. I feel more appreciative of my life than ever before. I think it’s probably because; just regardless of your political leanings, it’s a turbulent time. And, I’ve enjoyed sort of getting to be; giving myself a reality check. Which I realize is ridiculous to say that manicures are giving me a reality check, but it’s the sort of; check your privilege sort of thing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Jen Sinkler: And it’s caused me to get a lot more involved in my community, so I’m marching on Saturday. That’s another thing I’m into this week. I’ve had 3 now; I’m going to let Kourtney talk. Goodbye! Sorry.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Scott, go ahead and edit some of that. Bye. {Laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Keep it all; keep it all.

Kourtney Thomas: I have to say; I don’t know. None of that; probably not much of that stuff, with the exception of kind of the end, I definitely am big into connecting and stuff, but with the literally 3 hours ago move; that’s a future pull that I feel; what’s going on in this community. But one of the things that I’ve really been into, and it’s been about a year now. My husband and I, when we were in St. Louis we moved from a really, really big old house to a; not a tiny house. Not like a …

Diane Sanfilippo: Not an actual tiny house. Yeah.

Kourtney Thomas: But like an 800 square foot house; and we basically had to get rid of half of our stuff. And along; so not totally minimalist, but kind of like, with that whole big life thing. I just; I don’t want any more stuff. I’m really into; how can I take out the things that really just don’t mean anything so I can spend that time and energy and money on other experiences that we can have together. So that’s definitely something that I’m very into.

And then kind of the other thing is slow fashion. I had a client back in St. Louis, she’s a fashion designer, and she started basically a vegan leather brand, totally redesigning really, really cool motorcycle leather looking jackets and bombers and all this stuff. She finds these fabrics from all over, and she has a designer do the liners. Just really, really cool. And I’m kind of learning about all that stuff. I’ve definitely been really into; I don’t see myself ever stepping foot or spending money in a mall again. Like, I’m really into scouring the internet for sustainable fashion, and different stuff like that. So those are my two things.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. My husband and I; well, they hear what I’m into every week. So I don’t know that I need something new. But I just wanted to comment on Kourtney’s; we did the same thing when we moved from our condo on the East Coast to our apartment on the West Coast; not surprisingly we can’t afford as much space, you know, rent-wise in San Francisco; but we halved our square footage and we had to get rid of a ton of stuff. And now we have this one big closet; in the front of our house we have this one big closet that we call the garage, because we don’t actually have a garage, and it’s our storage closet, and we share a closet in our bedroom for clothes that’s about the size that each of us had in our previous place. So same kind of thing where it’s not necessarily a tiny house; but just downsizing and continuing to do this cycle of purging.

Which, Jen, I know this happens to you too, and I don’t know if this happens to you, Kourtney; but for those of us who have kind of a big public following, companies are constantly sending us stuff. And some of it is awesome, amazing, great. I’ve asked for it; I’ve said yes. Some of it; I’m like, how did this get here, and now I have to figure out what to do with it, where to put it. So I’m totally with you on that. We’re psyched about it.

We watched the minimalist documentary recently; I was like, I don’t know if I want to go that far. But I think thinking about it is a big deal. And just getting started; and to your point about experiences. I think even having more stuff is just like; it stresses you out looking at it, you constantly have to deal with it. And for me, constantly having to clean up my stuff. {laughs} Because I’m a messy person.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Yeah. I mean, me too. And we downsized from a house in the suburbs in Minneapolis; we moved to Philadelphia, which is my heart home. And David, my husband, was willing to; we’re in a row home now. Which is exactly; I loved being packed into.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: I want to feel like we’re all in it together.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Jen Sinkler: Really; that’s row home life for me; you know what’s going on with the neighbors. Oh my gosh; David has gotten so into spying. He doesn’t spy through the windows, but he knows what’s going on.

Diane Sanfilippo: this is like; I mean, that’s like old Italy, too.

Jen Sinkler: Oh yeah, totally!

Diane Sanfilippo: To have the neighbors.

Jen Sinkler: We’re in the Italian market; yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, ok. Last thing I was going to say about this; Jen and I basically lived like a parallel life change situation. You just moved, was it this past summer?

Jen Sinkler: Mm-hmm. July.

Diane Sanfilippo: And we moved a year before that. Same kind of thing where we went back to the cities that we loved, sort of dragging our husbands along; pretty much willing participants but also slightly, you know, a little resistant. They’re not city guys; neither of them. And then we actually also met up in Italy last summer, which was kind of hilarious and random and awesome. But anyway. Yeah, we’ve had that really similar situation. And that’s just been really fun. It’s been really fun.

Jen Sinkler: It’s interesting to hear the common threads in what we’re liking and how they do end up leading to simplicity and appreciation of simplicity. I am feeling that so hard right now. All the shiny objects; you’re so right. I’ve gotten a lot more discerning about who sends me things. I have to; because it feels a lot like, Kourtney made the reference to slow fashion; there’s the fast fashion, and just the production. If I have a hunch I’m not going to be super into it, I don’t want to waste it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, totally.

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4. Strength training and women [19:53]

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, so we have some really good questions here. We’re going to talk about training and working out. You guys have been asking me for a long time what’s a training program that I’m doing; and as soon as I saw what Jen was working on, I was like; well this is something that’s really similar to what I’ve been doing pretty much the same; obviously her program is just releasing now {laughs} so I haven’t been doing her program. But I think you guys are really going to love learning about what it is that Jen and Kourtney have been working on.

And some of the questions; we put out a call for questions about finding the right workout for you, and you know, the reason I put that question out was, because as you guys have heard Jen and Kourtney’s backgrounds; and especially Jen dabbling in a lot of different things very intentionally, and Kourtney having a varied background; because most of us as athletes we kind of do. We like one thing, we see if we like another. But I wanted to see what kinds of situations you guys were in to then see what we can apply in terms of knowing different types of training or different types of activities that you might find fun.

So the kinds of things that we’re not going to be talking about today are specific types of exercise to do with specific health conditions. It’s not really what I was trying to get after with this conversation. And I will; I promise you guys, I know a lot of you are dealing with things like adrenal fatigue or autoimmune disease or specific health challenges. And I promise to find someone to talk to on the show about, in the near future, with regards to specific training or exercise routines that are good for different types of recovery in that way. But that’s not really what I think what we want to get into today.

What I want to talk about, though, is strength and women getting stronger, and I think some of the conversation can actually lead to; those of you who are interested in a way to train for adrenal fatigue; this is actually a type of training that; maybe not full blown intensity day 1; but it’s the type of training that won’t generally lead to fatigue in that way. So what we’re going to talk about today you guys can definitely pay attention, ears up; {laughs} that’s my dog. This is for you.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I just wanted to ask you guys, just out of the gate. What’s important for women to know about building muscle and just as a baseline; why is it important for women to build muscle, regardless of which type of training we’re going to do to build muscle, why is that so important that we do it.

Jen Sinkler: Well, the benefits of lifting weights are just so long and varied; regardless of whether you're a man or a woman. So you’ve got these universal benefits, like better sleep, better mood, better hormones; more mitochondria, that’s the better metabolism. You’ve got bone density, you’ve got better balance, better power. I mean, the list is so long. And what I think has happened more so than any specific, “here’s why women in particular should lift,” and there are those benefits. Hormone balancing benefits, etc. but this is; women who have just been missing out on being told that they should lift for longer. People should lift. And women are people {laughs}. So that’s how that works. Kourtney, what do you have to add to that?

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah, I would just really agree with all of that. I think; I mean, it’s something I didn’t know for a really, really, really long time. How many of us just started off with aerobics videos and thought that was all there was, and that was the only way you could be physically fit. So there’s so much more to it than that. And the far greater benefits of kind of digging a little bit deeper and getting that different stimulus is huge.

Jen Sinkler: Yeah. And there’s also the heart health; there are just a myriad of benefits that we’re not even listing all of them, because the list is so long.

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah.

5. Myths of cardiovascular training [24:32]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, we’re saying there are so many benefits to it; I think there are a lot of misconceptions. And just to lay some groundwork, because it’s important that people hear that. People think; and I think, when I say people, I really think it’s women in particular, think and assume that in order to get in shape or get fit or be working out, they picture a certain amount of time on a certain machine, or running even; this many miles. And what can you guys say about what that type of training; specifically cardio training, does for the body. What’s positive about it, and where does that end; versus what’s positive about strength training? Because I have what I think people need to hear about it, but I want to know what you guys think. Especially women; since most of our listeners, I’d say at least 80% of our listeners are women. What do they need to know about the myths and truths there about what they’re getting from that versus what they’re not?

Jen Sinkler: With regard to strength training and running; and I’m not disparaging running because there are a lot; or cardiovascular endeavors to begin with. There are many benefits to cardiovascular exercise. But you’re right; in that the marketing is, “become a marathoner if you want to get fit.” There are a lot of shoulds.

But if you think about what that does; you sort of end up in a calories-in, calories-out sort of relationship with your body. It’s constant caloric management. Whereas with weight lifting; or lifting weights, I should say, you’re actually changing your body’s ability to deal with calories. You’re changing a whole lot about your internal environment. You also end up changing your relationship with food.

Now, this is anecdotal in the experience of myself and my clients; but your appetite changes. And this could be true across the board, so I don’t want to make any sweeping claims. But what I see with lifting weights, is you start thinking about food as fuel, and your relationship with food tends to become healthier. I’ve seen that over and over; especially with the women that I coach.

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah, I would 100% back that up. Again, coming from that running background, where it definitely becomes that; “Oh I did X amount of running today so I can eat X amount of things.” Or, you know, “Oh, I can have a beer tonight because I ran.” Or whatever that may be, and that does kind of lead to some, you know, unhealthy, uncomfortable feelings around food. And when I kind of made the transition; and I’ve kept running throughout all of this. Combining it, to a lesser degree, with a lot more lifting. But when I kind of made that transition, and realized that there’s just so much more to eating and fueling your body and growing and not just constantly, “be smaller, do less” whatever that may be. That’s a pretty big thing to note.

Jen Sinkler: Well, and what happens is when people start lifting; when women start lifting, especially, you get this, “Oh.” Realization. This is what I wanted my body to look like anyway. I thought I was saying that I had to do this, or I was told that I had to do this to get this look, and what ends up happening is with less stress you get with more of the look that you were going for; that happens a lot. And again, I don’t want to prescribe one look that people are going for, because that certainly isn’t true. But you hear; in marketing terms, you’ve got lean, toned, that sort of look; that roundness and fullness to the shoulders, to the glutes, to the legs. That comes from lifting weights.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. And eating food. {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Yeah, eating food.

Kourtney Thomas: So much food! So much food. It’s wonderful.

Jen Sinkler: Can we talk on the cardio thing for one more minute though; because the science on cardio versus lifting is super interesting, and this is a topic that’s close to my heart because of the Lift Weights Faster programs; because it caused a lot of fights. It caused a lot of infighting in the fitness industry, to parse out exactly what benefits there are to lifting weights versus cardio.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Jen Sinkler: And you can find research supporting either side. There’s a; I believe, 2013 Meta analysis that I found really interesting though. It looked at the lay of the land out of all of the research, and was like; you know what, there’s probably a lot more overlap than we know. And you’ve got some PhDs saying, “You know what? I don’t even think we’re studying the right things.” And then others are like; you know, because lifting weights; you’re VO2 max doesn’t expand in the same way as if you’re doing a lot of traditional cardio. So is that important to you in your life, and in what way. The answer may be yes, the answer may be no. but if you’re worried about picking up your kids, and running to the top of a hill without being winded; you’re going to get that. You can get that through just lifting weights; or lifting weights faster. And what I mean by that is light, quick, ballistic movements that mimic both the heart action, keep the blood moving through the heart, long story short, so that you get this sort of cardio-esque metabolic kick with the strength component, as well.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And it’s not that when you're lifting weights and strength training you don’t get any cardiovascular work.

Jen Sinkler: Totally; yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because you really can’t squat much without getting a little cardio going there. I mean, you break a sweat, your heart rate is up depending on how heavy it gets. You might get a little of that cross eyed/star eyed.

Jen Sinkler: People get really bound up on the definition of cardio.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Jen Sinkler: it depends on; just talk about the benefits you want. Do you want to be stronger, leaner, less winded when you’re exerting yourself? Then there’s quite a bit of overlap between the two.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, and I think our listeners; you know, a lot of our listeners are crossfitters, were crossfitters, or have been interested in Crossfit.

Jen Sinkler: Yes!

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean; Liz and I both did Crossfit for quite some time; myself for a bit longer. I haven’t in a couple of years, not formally. But strength training is something I’ve done since I’m in high school. I mean, playing soccer; the soccer team was in the weight room a couple of days a week. Learning how to leg press; you know, on all the machines I’m sure we weren’t squatting with a barbell at the time.

6. Differences in strength versus cardio training [31:30]

Diane Sanfilippo: But for sure, when we talk about women looking for ways to train, one of the big things that does come up that I want to encourage women in the direction of strength training that is a little bit less of that cardio influence is because we’re trying to look for things; {laughs} this is just what I see in the community, in my community. And I know we have cross over, but the fitness community and the nutrition community; it’s like, it’s sort of the same, but it’s sort of not. The nutrition people are always kind of nervous about all the different types of training. The fitness people are like; give me all the things.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I feel like most women need to hear that the results they will get from slowing down, and not worrying about running, or jumping, or doing all these fast adrenaline based movements that tend to be more catabolic and break the body down and are high stress states; and move towards anabolic and building the body up. And this is something; so you were talking about food as fuel, and you need to be eating in order for your muscle to kind of grow and get the booty that you’re trying to grow. Which I’m like; “Ladies, I’ve been eating for a long time.” {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s back there, it’s been there.

Jen Sinkler: There’s a reason you’re shopping in Brazil.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} When I was there, I was like; these pants are the best!

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I think it’s really important for women to hear that; like you said, Jen, even the aesthetic results that we want, we think we need to be burning calories and getting on the machine and having an hour of cardio or even doing Crossfit 5 days a week might not be the answer if you’re in a situation where you’re stress levels are already so high. I want to know what you guys love about strength training; and then I want to get a little bit more into specific types of strength training. I know you guys have a specific type of strength training that you talk about in the program that you’ve created. But what’s happening while you're training and after when you're lifting weights versus doing something that’s more cardiovascularly taxing; because I have what I know and assume from what I’ve learned over the years, but I just want to know if that’s what you guys would have to say about it. What should women know about that? When you strength train, what’s happening with your body?

Kourtney Thomas: I know for me personally; kind of the biggest thing in all the different kinds of strength training that I’ve done from kind of more of the Lift Weights Faster then kind of slowing down, getting a little bit heavier; then now to what I’m doing, which is a little bit in between. Moderate loads, moderate intensity. For me, it was always; because I didn’t come from an athletic background. I didn’t play sports; I wasn’t in the weight room in high school; none of that, right? So for me, it was learning a lot of how to connect with my muscles and my body and how it was moving in space. And then how that felt, you know. Picking up this type of implement or that type, and really kind of feeling strength happen. That’s not any kind of technical explanation; again, anecdotal on my side of things.

But you know; and then after, again, I don’t feel wasted. I don’t feel; I’m not going in, like you said, to just get it; you know, get this crazy workout and be sweating and heaving on the floor or anything like that. Just feeling accomplished in the end, and over time kind of seeing and feeling the fruits of that as far as body composition. Mental is really huge; again, stress management, sleep management, huge. It kind of all rolls together. In the moment, and then over time, realizing; wow. This is because I was lifting, I’m feeling this way.

Jen Sinkler: What you’ve got in common between cardio and weights is you can manipulate volume, intensity, and density. You’ve got to do something faster, something heavier, something just more of it. And it becomes a huge demand when it comes to cardio. I think you hit that ceiling a little earlier; that’s where Diane nailed it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Really good point; yeah.

Jen Sinkler: You end up, you start breaking your body down, you have to do more. It can be hard on the joints. I think the big revelation that happens over and over with my clients is; they didn’t know it could be this easy.

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Jen Sinkler: Because in comparison, it’s easier to manipulate what you’re doing with weights.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Jen Sinkler: You still have to progress; I mean, progressive overload is a principle that is at play, and I’m not by any means saying that lifting weights is easy, period. But the results you want can be easier to get. And that’s such a huge revelation and huge moment when you’re like; ah, it could have been like this all the time? I’ve been trying this, and trying this, and trying this. And a lot of things do work. And some of it, to be honest, is about variety and rotating through when your body is asking for a switch to be able to recognize that and pursue something that makes you healthier in some way, and that continued variety may be the answer.

Now, that’s in conjunction with repetition and progressive overload. This is where the term “program popping” comes into play; in this disparaging sort of way. If you’re trying something new every single day or every single week, and you’re not stimulating your body in order to grow bigger, stronger, faster, leaner, etc. then you're not going to get the results you want. So there is a balance. Follow a path for a while, and then when that path isn’t taking you where you want to go, follow a new path. That’s been a big part of my journey through fitness and strength. Try a new thing. We don’t have to beat our heads against a wall; I know so many of us end up skipping workouts because we feel like we have to do them. We’re not going to enjoy it, it’s not going to be fun, it’s going to be way too hard. So liking your workout.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} That’s the best indicator that you’re doing the right workout.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I think a good thing that you brought up; because so many of our listeners are dealing with issues around stress, and fatigue, and, you know, I ran for a period of time and trained for one half-marathon and did that for a minute. A minute being probably about a year of my life.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But I could see how, what you were talking about Jen, about needing more; whether it’s intensity or more miles or something. When it’s from that type of training, as we get older and have more stressors piled on top of our lives, that this is where a lot of women who are asking us and saying, “Oh, I’ve always trained for a marathon a year,” or whatever it is. It’s like, well, the way that works in the context of your life becoming more complicated, busier, more stressful; I’m sorry to tell you, but I’m not sorry that you can’t keep doing that if you want to be healthy the way you want to be healthy. Or someone all of a sudden; ran to stay in shape and all of a sudden they’re gaining weight and can’t understand; and it’s not just about calories and it’s not just about activity, it’s about what your hormones are doing in response to the type of training that you're doing; and this is where strength training and specifically what you guys are really focusing on lately, which is hypertrophy training. And really just building muscle and building a shape; which you know I think most women today are really not shying away from anymore. I think we see, you know I posted a picture on Instagram when we were in Italy, and my triceps was actually visible; and people were like, “Get it girl! Look at those guns!”

Women now, you know, want to see that and are excited to see that on other women. And not only that, it’s contributing to a healthier physical state where it’s not about just being fatigued and run down and having to run for 2 hours a day. We can get that workout done in a lot less time and get the results we want.

7. Training for aesthetics [40:32]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, what’s the deal with training for aesthetics? Why is it; what’s going on with the fitness climate right now where people are all about trying to look a certain way, and what is it about the type of training that you guys are doing now, and the program that you’ve created that women really want and need. Men and women; but I’m going to focus it on women all the time here. But what does it do, and how is it different, and what do people need to know about that?

Jen Sinkler: Well, I’ll take the big picture and then I’ll let Kourtney talk about her program, because she just did an incredible job writing it. I cannot say enough nice things about it. It completely changed the way I think about my body, which was so unexpected, I thought I was going in to do this “meathead” thing that it would be boring to me. Sorry, Kourtney, I’ve never been this blunt about it before. And I didn’t expect to love it; and I love it, I love it.

Anyway; what’s happening big picture in the fitness industry and why it’s so nerve wracking to talk about your aesthetic goals right now, is I think we have this long history of being dictated to, as women, what we should and should not look like; what we should not say; any manner of self expression whatsoever. Right? We’re very nervous about what we look like, and how does it stack up, and what is the norm, and what are the standards. And having been dictated that through marketing, through all sorts of messaging for so long, I think there was a necessary backlash against that. And so you had this pendulum; at least in my area of the fitness corner, there was a backlash, or there was a pendulum swing all the way to the other side, which was completely due based, versus looks based, and I was all aboard that train.

I was like; listen, let’s learn some skills. Let’s learn some kettlebell skills; let’s learn how to do Olympic weight lifting; let’s do power lifting. Because it’s a very intrinsically motivating thing. It keeps you coming back for more, and I think we needed to get that relationship back with our bodies as more than something to look at; to be looked at. And now, I think what I see happening is; we have a collective improved body image. We’re starting to; you know, there’s a reason we’ve got all this queen talk around right now. My friend, Erin Brown’s motto for this year is queen sh*t. and that’s all these little self care moments; you take a bath; that’s queen sh*t. it’s like, it doesn’t have to be luxurious. Yes, we are worthy of our own love. And the timing of all this; I don’t think it’s any coincidence that then we can now admit that we want to adorn ourselves with muscles. We want to; they can be an accessory. They look great with outfits. This is; again, this is my aesthetic.

Diane Sanfilippo: The booty goes with everything.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} I’m not trying to dictate it, but it could be really fun and it could be an act of celebration to mold and change your body and to take this luxurious self care of yourself. You get to go to the gym, and you get to decide where you want muscles on your body; and then accessorize like that. How fun is that?

Diane Sanfilippo: I see, Jen.

Jen Sinkler: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: This whole thing has been about finding a new way to accessorize.

Jen Sinkler: You know that’s all this has been for me. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Now it all makes sense. The fanny pack wasn’t enough; she’s like; hold on. I need to build my butt a little bigger.

Jen Sinkler: Exactly. To give it something to rest up on. Yeah, you see where I’m going. And you also have this added benefit of; her hypertrophy training does not fry your nervous system in the same way. I mean, I was coming from this super heavy strength background just more recently with power lifting; and I was shocked at how quickly I could recover. And when I say hypertrophy, I mean that is building the size of a muscle. That is all that means; making it hyper sized. So you manipulate your sets and your reps and the exercises you do in order to gain that size. And it’s so hard to gain muscle that you have to basically go for broke. Go for it; try as hard as you can to gain muscle. And then you end up with the look; you hear everybody wanting Michelle Obama’s arms; I’m like, then try; don’t worry about getting “too big” of arms. It probably isn’t going to happen.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah! {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: And you hear too big in air quotes; because for me now, my new aesthetic I’m going for is He-Man arms on She-Ra body. And I hope that that’s not offensive. But that’s what I want; He-Man arms, She-Ra body. Princess of Power. Weren’t they cousins; were they cousins?

Kourtney Thomas: They were something, yeah. They were related somehow.

Jen Sinkler: I’m very into She-Ra right now.

Diane Sanfilippo: They were something! {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} Oh my god, are you suggesting that they had an inappropriate relationship?

Diane Sanfilippo: I have no idea, but now I need to definitely Google it.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} What was going on in the castle of Grayskull?

Kourtney Thomas: Yes! Oh my gosh. Our youth was amazing.

Jen Sinkler: I know, it was.

Kourtney Thomas: The best.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I think it’s awesome that it’s also shifted; I think we’ve seen a lot of changes in the aesthetic component in the fitness industry between; at one point in time it was only body builders and like fitness, or figure competitors who really looked at strength training. Then we went to Crossfit athletes; and I would say the public at large, the community at large, people who train would see games level competitors, and especially the women, and be like; “well I don’t want to Crossfit because I don’t want to look like that.” I’m like, listen honey.

Jen Sinkler: Good luck; try it.

Diane Sanfilippo: You just get into the gym for a while, and then see if you look like that, because you won’t; the way that they train is totally.

Jen Sinkler: It’s awesome!

Diane Sanfilippo: But it’s also totally different. People think that you just mistakenly somehow end up jacked. Which, nothing wrong with it. I think it’s amazing. But there’s also this totally flipped mindset that just because you step into the gym; it’s almost like they think it’s easy to do that. So like what you were talking about, Jen, where you’re like; if you want to build that muscle you better focus on it and build it. Those women have worked hard to get there and get that.

Jen Sinkler: So hard. So hard.

Diane Sanfilippo: And that’s a privilege they have to be able to move and do what they do. But I think so often women just don’t get it. You just don’t wake up one day; this takes hard work.

Jen Sinkler: {gasp} I’m jacked! Oh my gosh!

Diane Sanfilippo: I know {laughs}.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: How did that happen!

Jen Sinkler: I wish. I really wish, that would be so amazing.

Kourtney Thomas: It would be really amazing. The whole conversation around; “I’m worried that if I lift weights or lift weights too much or too heavy or too whatever that I’ll get too big/bulky,” I’m like; but really that’s all I want. That’s what I’m going for.

Jen Sinkler: I want to be bulky, yeah.

Kourtney Thomas: Because again; there’s a disconnect between the look that people are seeing that they think they want, in their mind; which is a little adjustment, like Jen said. It’s a little bit different for everybody.

Jen Sinkler: Yeah.

Kourtney Thomas: But, in general, some part of that look is made really by a lot of hard intentional work in the gym, like we were just talking about this. You have to be so deliberate in order to get that look; to get Michelle Obama arms, you’re doing constant arm and shoulder exercises; frequently and lots of them, and different ones, and heavier and lighter, and somewhere in between. Yeah, you’ve got to work for it.

Diane Sanfilippo: I remember years ago, when I was training; and probably, basically this is what I was doing. I was doing hypertrophy {laughs} how do you.

Jen Sinkler: Hypertrophy.

Kourtney Thomas: Act like a cat; hypertrophy.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so that’s what I was doing with my trainer, who was the same trainer; you met him, Jen.

Jen Sinkler: Yes!

Diane Sanfilippo: We were doing that type of training years ago; and I remember thinking; oh my gosh, I’m getting huge. Which I’m not saying that now; obviously, we have a mindset of whatever this “huge” is, it’s not good or bad. It is, and for some women, it’s good. You guys are like; we want to build bigger muscles. I’m like, I want to build bigger muscles. But then it was like; ugh, am I getting huge? And then I looked at pictures, and I’m like, “Oh, I was just totally shredded.” {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: Like I had bigger shoulder, and I was not. So it’s like; that’s the thing. That’s what it takes, as you guys were saying, to get the look that you want. And it isn’t an accident that somebody will build muscle to a degree that they do have more there. Jen, it’s not an accident when you’re like, “I want to get the He-man arms.” You don’t just get there.

Jen Sinkler: No.

8. Hypertrophy training [49:41]

Diane Sanfilippo: By lifting a few times, something that happened to be maybe a little heavy, like that’s just not how it happens. So why don’t you guys talk about what is hypertrophy training.

Jen Sinkler: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: In terms of sets and reps; what does that look like at the gym. What happens; what are you doing at the gym.

Kourtney Thomas: Basically a whole bunch of stuff; the good stuff. So really, in kind of that fitness textbook, there’s that continuum that says somewhere you’ve got your heavy stuff that might be one to three reps of something; you’ve got your lighter stuff that’s going to be 15 and above; and somewhere in the middle there is really your sweet spot for where you’re going to spend a lot of your time to build the most muscle.

So, 6-12 reps on most things is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Again, we’ve been talking a lot about how there’s a lot less stress on the system and everything, and staying right in there is a really good sweet spot. So, that’s moderate; it tends to be moderate reps, moderate loading; so you’re not going super heavy with every set that you’re doing. That’s something that Jen learned the hard way in this program a little bit. You don’t want to be pushing your heaviest weights for every single exercise, because there also is a component of not full recovery in between; typically somewhere in between 3 and 6 sets per exercise. And then a minimum of 3 per body part. Again; if you want to build up your arms, you’re going to have 3 exercises for biceps, 3 for triceps; get into the shoulders. So you're going to be doing pretty many exercises depending on what kind of program you're on, how many kind of; like Jen was talking about earlier too; you're going to go into some cycles and progressive overload and stuff like that.

But overall, you're going to be working kind of moderate to high volume, and a pretty big emphasis, one of the biggest things about this kind of training really is that mind/muscle connection. I was kind of talking about really feeling your muscles, and what they’re doing and where they are. And really connecting with that. It’s a little bit woo; but body builders, since the 1800s, have been talking about the benefits of that, and how important it really is for this kind of training and for building muscle. There is some research that goes into it; obviously something that’s rather hard to measure; is this person thinking about feeling their pectoral muscles as they do a press. But that’s definitely something pretty important.

Again; you’re not just kicking your butt every time you go in the gym. A lot of times machines actually have a place. So you’re going to be doing a lot of variety, and somewhere in that middle range and middle effort, which allows you to do a lot of quality work and put on a lot of quality muscle.

Jen Sinkler: Oh my gosh. Diane, you know Jill Coleman.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, yeah. Jill Fed.

Jen Sinkler: Yeah, Jill Fed. This is what I’m learning; here’s what I’m learning all physique focused people have in common, is that where as you and I might; I mean actually you’ve been doing hypertrophy so I’m counting you out on this. You might be in on this sadistic circle that they’re in on. But whereas I might have come into this; the way I program fitness has always been more of a balanced approach. I’m trying to do a whole body.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughing}

Jen Sinkler: A whole body workout. I’m not trying to overtax any one muscle group. It’s the exact opposite of what these people do.

Kourtney Thomas: Oh yeah.

Jen Sinkler: So you’re like; my arms are going to fall off. They’re like, perfect more biceps curls.

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah, let’s do some more.

Jen Sinkler: Actually, let’s change the angle of the dumbbell.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughing}

Jen Sinkler: Yeah let’s do some out there. Ok, I didn’t even know there were so many types of biceps curls. And there’s a deep ache involved; it’s called the pump. And when I first experienced the pump, I was like; that feels; why does that hurt so much and why would I want that?

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: And then you grow; this is where, I think the hypertrophy training is what got me back into meditation, because you just go into that pain, and you know what, it’s not even pain, it’s just a sensation.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Jen Sinkler: In fact, it’s a pleasant sensation; it’s whatever you want it to be. But you better stick with it, because as long as you're thinking about that connection with your muscles; that mind-muscle connection, you’re going to grow those suckers to be so much bigger than they are.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: And it takes that! And I never have approached resistant training or strength training like this. Not really; I’ve always been task oriented, not feel oriented. So it was such a different experience to do this feel oriented program. And I think that’s why it felt so much like self care to me. Because you are focused on every movement.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. It does become meditative while you’re exerting yourself. And I think; there was something that you said that just kind of sparked me where, when you're so task oriented at the gym, in terms of how functional is this movement; that’s cool. I like it, you know.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Crossfit has that way of getting people to train and do functional fitness. Sorry, something weird just happened with my mike. That was; is this thing on?

Jen Sinkler: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But; it’s like giant mike. But when we’re so stressed in our everyday life and all we do all day long is like super task oriented; like serious ah-ha moment right now Jen; that I have been doing this type of training now, consistently at least 2 months. I was doing a bit of it before I went on the European trip, as evidenced by my arm. I mean, I had the He-Man arms.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I'm telling you, that picture; I was like, who’s arm is that?

Jen Sinkler: Amazing.

Diane Sanfilippo: That is what I was doing. But because of the type of lifestyle that most of us have now where we are so stressed. Our adrenaline is so stressed, but we’re doing exercise that’s more task oriented; all day all we can think about is, “what are we trying to achieve and accomplish.” And instead, what I love about this type of training is; alright, this is the number of reps, this is the number of sets. I’m given an estimate of how I should feel before I decide that’s the last rep, you know. And it’s not really as task oriented in the way of, I’m expected to get anything done other than focus on just lifting the weight and feeling it, as you said, in the muscle. And I’m basically; I’m really present with that workout.

But I’m also not stressed about it in a certain way of how fast am I expected to do this; or how many of these do I need to get done in this much time. Or, you know, some of the additional pressures that come with training that is like Crossfit. Which, again, for some people that’s fine and you need it. And I love that people get off the couch, and they’re in a community, and they’re doing things they never thought they were capable of. But now, I have so many women who are writing into the show all the time; like, what do I do; I’m dealing with too much adrenal fatigue and I’m stressed all the time. I’m like; well I just show up, I lift the things, I put them back down, and then I leave.

And here’s the thing; it’s like, you felt it in that moment, and I’m trying to wash my hands after; I’m like oh my god, I can’t even wash my hands. {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: {laughing}

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But, I’m not dead the rest of the day.

Kourtney Thomas: No.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m not; you know, a mental zombie because I haven’t just crushed my adrenaline. I haven’t tried to leave everything I have. Like yeah, maybe in a certain week of my training it’s a little harder, and I’m actually kind of off this week. It’s like a de-load week for me, so I’m actually a little; I don’t know, kind of bored. {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: But it feels really different, and I think that’s something that, just like what you pointed out Jen about feeling it, and Kourtney you too; feeling it in your muscles and not feeling; just not feeling that adrenaline push.

9. What hypertrophy training looks like [57:59]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, Kourtney, you mentioned just from the practical side, just so people get an idea of what this looks like in terms of; you get in the gym. You’re going to be doing anywhere from 3 to 6 sets of, I don’t know, how many exercises in a day. Like 6 different exercises? 8 different exercises? Just as a ballpark so someone can kind of picture what this means.

Kourtney Thomas: So, there are plenty of different ways that you can do it. Using our program here as an example; you can go work with a body part split. There are several different ways to do that. I’ve done it with clients where it’s a full upper body push, upper body pull; lower body quad and hamstring dominant kind of thing. So you can separate things out. Otherwise people can do just arm day; arm and shoulder, whatever. So you’re going to piece it out a little bit, and then that’s kind of where you pull that; so say for example where you have an arm day. It’s my favorite day.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} Me too now.

Kourtney Thomas: How could it not be? So grouping that in, arms and shoulders; you’re going to have biceps, triceps, and shoulders consist of really 3 heads of the deltoid, right? So you’re going to, like Jen said, try to hit everything from several different angles. So you could have two to three biceps exercises; two to three triceps; probably a good 3 shoulder exercises. A lot of times I’ll structure it with something that is a bigger movement. For instance, if you’re going to do a lower body day; you’re still going to squat, you know. You’re still going to do a version of a deadlift; but then assistance exercises come into more play. That’s kind of hitting the angle thing. So yeah, I mean it could be; if you’re sort of just coming out with this kind of training, it might be 6-8 exercises in total for your workout. I have gotten up to; I don’t know, probably 10, 12, 14 exercises in a day. It sort of depends on where you’re at.

Jen Sinkler: It’s a secret.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs} And kind of like you said, too; you’ll have those weeks that are a little bit more down, or phases where you kind of back off a little bit. But yeah, I mean it could be a good place to start, probably somewhere around that 6-8 exercises for some kind of a split.

Diane Sanfilippo: And the way it’s going to look, too, is instead of folks might show up and do maybe they have a class that’s an hour, if they show up for a Crossfit class, but the workout itself is anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, tops. This is more of a time commitment.

Jen Sinkler: Oh yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You have to carve the time out. But you know what I love; is going back to that meditation point.

Jen Sinkler: Oh, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Honestly, my time at the gym; I might leave at 7:30 and I might get back at 9, or I leave at 7, get back at 9, around there. And I’m working out anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, just kind of depends on the day. But that is me time.

Jen Sinkler: Oh yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know; that’s kind of like getting the day started, whatever. I’ve got a couple of minutes, I could check some Instagram in between.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: No big deal. But it is a really different way of training that does require you to carve out some time, and I think that’s ok. And I think a lot of people need to dedicate that time to themselves and have that space of like this is what I’m going to focus on. And I’m sure; of course, Jen you’ve created programs like Lift Weights Faster, which are kind of the opposite. It’s like; you have a short amount of time and you want to get bang for your buck from that. But in this case, this is just such a different target in terms of what we’re doing with our body.

So, you mentioned a couple of types of exercises. Jen, I want to hear what, if you are working biceps, what are the different biceps curls? I don’t even know what are they; tell me all the kinds? {laughing}

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} Exactly. She’s got me doing a lot more hammer curls; but then inclines. So hammer curls, by the way, which make your biceps fatter. This is not just; yeah, exactly.

Kourtney Thomas: And it works on little teeny muscles under the biceps that makes it pop. So it builds up underneath your big biceps muscle here; it’s over here so it makes it pop when you do that.

Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t have a tank top; I was going to take mine out.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} More hammer curls; palms down facing biceps.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh. Interesting.

Jen Sinkler: Yeah, right. Incline bench biceps. So Kourtney, that’s where you’re stretch your arms all the way out, right?

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah, so your biceps is all the way unstretched. So that’s sometimes; and I’m going to pick on me a little bit here, because a lot of times they have these super heavy rates, and these crazy rates.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, short changing makes me crazy.

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah, and there’s a place to do some of that purposefully.

Diane Sanfilippo: Most of that is not.

Kourtney Thomas: But more most of the time you really want to go full range; that’s another thing I didn’t mention quite yet. But a lot of what you want to do when you're focusing on hypertrophy training is full range of stuff. So the incline curl Jen was talking about was like; you’re letting your arm just hang down there. And you’ve got to start from the bottom. And it is difficult. {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: You guys, I have a confession.

Kourtney Thomas: Uh-oh.

Jen Sinkler: I know. So, I was watching; when we were in the process of editing the incline biceps curl demo video; and I saw that I short changed the reps.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: I’m realizing that I need to work on my range of motion with exercise. And I didn’t realize. So we filmed; Diane, we filmed the program, all the demonstration videos, in Minneapolis, and then we ended up training later that night, after one of the training days, and I really saw the way Kourtney executed this program, and I hadn’t witnessed someone with that level of mind-muscle connection, just in the zone like that. And I was like; oh. It was such an ah-ha moment.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Like; I see how to wield this.

10. The Bigness Project [1:04:12]

Diane Sanfilippo: So, why don’t you guys tell me a little bit more about the actual project that you’ve been working on and the program that you’re creating; that you’ve created. That you’re giving people through this project. Well, it’s not free, but.

Jen Sinkler: Well, a whole lot of it is.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Jen Sinkler: So, I am in my next iteration of business, really looking to expand the number of voices and the diversity of information, the fitness information that I provide. So I’m stepping back into an editorial/publisher role in some upcoming projects. And that’s what Unapologetically Powerful was, with JVB writing that one. That’s what Lightening and Thunder was with Tim and Angie Moyer writing that; and that’s what Kourtney did with hypertrophy training. So I’m tapping experts who are on their game in these domains rather than; it’s information that I want to provide, but I don’t want to pretend that I know everything in every domain. I want to learn it, and I want the people I’m connected with online to get to learn it, too. So that’s where Kourtney came in.

So she wrote this 14-week program, this 14-week hypertrophy or muscle growth program called the Bigness Project. And I haven’t actually told Kourtney this, but we’re having such a fun response, and people are like; Oh my gosh! They’re connecting and already deciding; all these different lifting partners are deciding to do this together. So I had started promising Kourtney that we’re going to go lift with people around the country.

Kourtney Thomas: Oh.

Jen Sinkler: And the Bigness Project is going to be this ongoing thing.

Kourtney Thomas: In. So in.

Jen Sinkler: Right? Right?

Kourtney Thomas: Yeah.

Jen Sinkler: I picture these all as long-distance lifting buddies, so that’s what we’re going to do.

Diane Sanfilippo: You really need to make sure that your outfits are on point then.

Jen Sinkler: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: When you show up at someone’s gym.

Jen Sinkler: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: In the middle of equinox with the shorts and the fanny pack and the leg warmers and the headband.

Jen Sinkler: Oh my god, yes.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, we need to see this all over social media. But anyway.

Jen Sinkler: You’re so right, and I hadn’t even thought about the outfits, surprisingly.

Diane Sanfilippo: I don’t even know you anymore.

Jen Sinkler: I know, I know. I’m ashamed of myself right now. Thank you. Thank you for being my safety net in this moment. She’s so disappointed in me; look at her face.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} So, Kourtney, why don’t you tell us a bit about the program.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Jen’s like; oh yeah, that.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs} So, well Jen mentioned it’s 14 weeks long. That kind of speaks to a little bit of what you were talking about earlier; kind of one of the bigger things about it is it’s something to commit to, that you’re definitely going to want to set aside time for. It is that kind of; in the beginning it might be closer to 45 minutes, depending on where you’re doing it, how much gym flow you have. But in the end, you might end up spending that hour and a half of your weight lifting meditation time. We did do a kind of; it’s like my version of very traditional muscle building program. Kind of taking from all the things that work the best, and definitely for anyone, I will say that. We tested it with a lot of women, and had a lot of success there. But could certain be for anyone. Muscles are for anyone; male and female. For people; we talked about that earlier.

So you’ll be lifting 4 days a week in the beginning for the first 7 weeks; 5 days a week in the last 7 weeks; so again, commitment. Schedule commitment. But lots of fun; I like to embrace broing out in the gym, and Jen always says in the most gender neutral way; I like to say I’m a broette. {laughs} I love it; like you said, let’s do some curls and check my phone and take a selfie and do the next set. So it’s a lot of that. It’s fun. I mean, I got into it because it was fun. I surprised myself in the beginning, too. I really was scared of moving away from total body workouts; moving away from as much running as I was doing. But I fell in love with it; got really addicted, learned more and more about it. Got myself a coach who was into it, and kind of just kept delving into it. The more I talked about it, that’s when Jen and I had the conversation. It just was so fun that I started putting it out there, and we decided that other people might think this was fun, too. So it’s hard work, again you have to be deliberate with the way you’re doing this. But it’s a good program. It’s a fun time.

And again, as we kind of talked about; I fully believe in it as the way to definitely kind of go down that road of shaping and molding yourself in a way that you have imagined. That’s all very personal to each of us, but it’s building more muscles is a good way to do that.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. I think what you said about it being 14 weeks; people are always looking for a quick fix, and when they don’t see results in a week, or two, or three, or even a month or even two months. Sometimes you will see something, but the changes that you want take a long time. Giving people something that is longer does set up that expectation of; this is going to take some time. Because your body isn’t how it is now as a result of one minute of effort. And it’s not going to change in a week or even a month. It’s going to take time. But it will happen.

And you know what I love about strength training, is just what happens to your metabolism. This is something that Robb Wolf wrote a long time ago; who wrote the Paleo Solution, which I know a lot of our listeners have read and they know who he is. But he said something at one of his seminars, it just kind of always stuck with me. He’s like, your metabolism isn’t this obscure random thing in your armpit; it’s your muscle mass. How much muscle you have will dictate; and of course we know, some of those people who are naturally very thin and can eat a ton. And that’s like a genetic outlier; that’s really different. But for most of us, and this is how the equation tends to work when people are trying to figure out; what’s my BMR? How much should I be eating each day? The more muscle you have, more calories you're burning at rest, and the more you can eat.

And look; if there’s going to be a way to train that’s going to allow me to eat more; that’s what I’m going to do! Because my greatest thrill in life is just eating. {laughs} I’m just putting it out there. That building muscle to me is; if you like to eat, running is really, you’re going to be in a dead end sport because you have to keep running {laughs}. But if you can build some muscle, and you get your metabolism to a place where you don’t have to play this micromanaging calories game, because your body becomes a furnace for the fuel, and it’s a whole different approach.

I think it’s something that people need to hear and need to, you know, consider as; look. This stuff is kind of like old school reinvented, as you said, Kourtney. These are time tested ways of training, and you can look at these 70-plus year old dudes mostly, at the gym, who have been weight training for forever. And they’re upright, their shoulders are back, they’re not hunched over. They’re still there, they’re still moving. They’re not decrepit and falling apart. And there’s a reason. This stuff really works, and strength training really works. It strengthens our bones, it improves our posture, it improves our confidence, and I think that’s something; just feeling really good about ourselves as women who look however we want to look I think it’s really important.

And Jen, to your point too about that. If you’re female and you want to grow those muscles; forget what anybody else says about how you should look. You should look however you want to look.

Jen Sinkler: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: Just like you said. And yeah. I love it. I think it’s awesome. I need to see; where are the after pictures and the unitards?

Kourtney Thomas: It’s a process.

Diane Sanfilippo: If there’s one thing Jen Sinkler is known for, besides fitness, it’s definitely fashion.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: I should be ashamed of myself for these after pictures.

Kourtney Thomas: What?

Jen Sinkler: Leopard print really took over. I don’t know.

Kourtney Thomas: Oh, they’re fabulous.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs} It was fun. That’s the way this program made me feel, I don’t know.

Kourtney Thomas: And that’s something that I kind of didn’t touch on enough, I feel like. You’re going to get all these great health benefits. You’re going to grow muscles. You're going to start to look the way you want to look; or choose to look, that’s a big thing for me. But the mindset and the mental benefits of what happens over the course of that time cannot be understated. So many of my personal clients; of the women who went through this program for us. The bigness on the side of everything outside the gym was huge. The effects of how they felt in the gym transferred outside more than anything that many of them had ever done before. And we had people coming from power lifting backgrounds, from beginning backgrounds, from more cardio, from spinning, or whatever. And I mean it was everything from in the workplace to relationships to whatever it was. I felt better about myself then I ever had before, because I’m in the gym training like this. The testimonials were like the klempt the whole time.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Women are becoming enabled and empowered through training programs.

Kourtney Thomas: Oh god, yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: You can’t help but have it spill out into the rest of your life.

Jen Sinkler: It goes way beyond the physical.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s an amazing point. And so many times, things that I post that I have had trouble explaining where this comes from or how or why I am so somehow self empowered to speak and act the way I do and just not care, and I think a lot of that comes from having been an athlete for much of my life where I’m just like, I’m here to get this thing done, and even still today training and training the way I do and just being proud of myself for not just the training, but just showing up every day for it, you know. The 5 days a week or however many days I’m doing it. I did it; I got in, I did the thing I was supposed to do; I did the thing I said I was going to do. My muscles feel better, and I feel better. And to the point about food, I make better food choices because I know I’m fueling my body and it does. You can’t help but have it affect everything in your life.

Jen Sinkler: I couldn’t agree more. And honestly, I feel like this whole episode is sort of a love letter to lifting weights. And I want to put this out there; I don’t care how people want to lift weights. I don’t’ care if they buy this program; obviously I want them to buy this program because I think it’s amazing, and I think they’d have a really good time on it.

Kourtney Thomas: But they should buy all of the programs that you have.

Jen Sinkler: No, no, no, no, that’s not my point. No, that’s not my point. My point is, this is a love letter to lifting, so whatever your avenue is, just go explore it. If you’re interested in hypertrophy training; go get what we have for free. We’ve been posting hypertrophy workouts; body weight only, a whole body one.

Diane Sanfilippo: We’ll link to them through the show notes.

Jen Sinkler: Just go give it a sample, see what you like. But start playing with what kind of exercise makes you feel good, no matter what that is. It may run the gamut, but.

Kourtney Thomas: You should love it; whatever you’re choosing to do. Whatever type of program or not program or class or whatever, you should love it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great place for us to wrap up, because I have loved the training that I’ve done over the years; all different kinds of training. And then when I don’t love it anymore, and I’m not showing up anymore, and really doing it, then it’s time to try something new. And I think this is a type of training that a lot of women and a lot of our listeners could really benefit from. It’s straightforward. You’re going to watch a demo video and be like; ok. You know, it’s not crazy movements that you’re like; that’s too confusing and I don’t think I can do that. And you're going to see exactly how to do it. And it’s very empowering; because you can do it. You can show up and lift the weights and put them back down at all different levels, too.

I’ve been training, and weight training, and doing all kinds of athletic endeavors for; I don’t know, my entire life. More than 30 years.

Jen Sinkler: And your pull-ups.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I don’t know what to say about that.

Jen Sinkler: That thing is a beauty. You’ve been doing this a long time.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, I’ve been training a long time. And I think this is a type of training that is very proven, and a lot of us can benefit from it, especially now, because we’re too stressed for a lot of things we’ve been trying to do. They just don’t really seem to be working for us anymore; and also we’re not loving them. We’re not having as much fun with them, so I’m excited. I’m excited to see what people dig in and are doing and are posting about from the Bigness Project.

So where can people go to find more? I guess they’re going to come to our episode show notes and get all kinds of fun demos, and get all kinds of stuff.

Jen Sinkler: Yes, yes, you can come to,, or you can go to, and go right to the more information about this specific program. If you want the starter articles and all the freebies, come to my website first.

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome, love it. We’ll link to everything for you guys, right to the show notes, because we’ve got lots of fun stuff to share with you. And that’s it ladies. Thank you so much for joining me.

Jen Sinkler: Thank you.

Kourtney Thomas: Thank you.

Diane Sanfilippo: It was super fun.

Jen Sinkler: I know. Really, this went so long because I want to talk to you all night, and have a slumber party. Can we just stay on?

Kourtney Thomas: That sounds good.

Diane Sanfilippo: Can I ask you a question about fingernails really quick; sorry Kourtney.

Kourtney Thomas: {laughs}

Jen Sinkler: Oh my god, yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I didn’t close out the show yet, so I’m just telling you now.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Before I do that, can you explain the dagger shaped fingernails to me?

Jen Sinkler: That’s a mood thing for me right now. That is what; that is who I am right now.

Diane Sanfilippo: What mood inspires that?

Jen Sinkler: Well I’ve got this 80 power babe.

Diane Sanfilippo: The itchy mood; because it seems like an itchy mood.

Jen Sinkler: No; oh, but it is, it’s nice to scratch yourself. No, this is my inner Joan. This is my inner Joan.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok.

Jen Sinkler: The counterpart to Jen. But she’s a lot more vicious. Now the length; the current length is ill advised for typing and work of all kinds. But aside from that, they’re great for scratching backs; your own and others. And they send off that, don’t mess with me vibe.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, alright, fair enough. I didn’t think with a hook grip it seemed like a good idea. I’m a square and short nail kind of gal. But I’m liking it, and I am a manicure. Listen; gel or don’t bother. That’s all I have to say.

Jen Sinkler: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Anyway, that’s it for this week. You can find me, Diane, at And you can find my Balanced Bites podcast co-host, Liz Wolfe, at, and join our email lists for free goodies and updates you don’t find anywhere else on our websites or on the podcast. While you’re on the internet, please leave us a review on iTunes. We’ll see you next week.

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