7 Benefits of Resistance Training

This article on the 7 benefits of heavy resistance training was written by the experts at the American Council on Exercise.  As an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, it helps to be able to pass along the science of weight training on my blog, especially when we have so much to cover in our one on one and group training sessions.

Here is the article:

For years only a finite number of dedicated fitness enthusiasts practiced a sure-fire method of achieving results from exercise: weightlifting with the heaviest loads possible. Most common gym routines are derived from the bodybuilding world and focus on moderate-to-high repetition ranges, usually eight to 15 reps, to increase the size of a muscle. Serious strength-training enthusiasts know that lifting heavy for five repetitions or less, while extremely challenging, is the quickest way to increase muscle strength.

There is a distinctive difference between training for muscle size—technically called hypertrophy—and training for strength and increasing a muscle’s ability to generate force. While lifting heavy can improve the force output of a muscle without significantly increasing its size, training for size can increase muscle volume without necessarily improving strength. Lifting with high repetitions can increase the sarcoplasmic hypertrophy of a muscle by increasing the amount of fluid in the sarcoplasm of muscle cells. However, using a heavy weight for fewer repetitions results in myofibrillar hypertrophy by increasing the thickness of individual muscle fibers. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy increases the size of a muscle, while myofibrillar hypertrophy results in thicker muscle fibers capable of generating higher levels of force.

If you are looking for a way to supercharge your clients’ workouts or help move past them past a plateau, consider using a weight heavy enough to limit them to five repetitions or less.* Here are seven benefits of how using heavy resistance can maximize the results from your fitness program.

  1. Training for muscle strength is different than training for muscle size. A six- to 10-week strength-focused mesocycle of heavy resistance and low reps followed by a six- to 10-week hypertrophy (bodybuilder) mesocycle of moderate weight for higher rep ranges can produce significant gains in both size and strength.
  2. Using heavy weights increases intramuscular coordination, the number of type II motor units and the amount of muscle fibers engaged within a specific muscle. Have you ever felt your muscles shaking while lifting heavy weights? This is because you are recruiting and activating the larger type II muscle fibers, which are only stimulated to work when a muscle is challenged with heavy resistance or working to fatigue.
  3. Using maximal loads for compound (multi-joint) movements like the deadlift, squat-to-shoulder press, bent-over row or chest press can improve intermuscular coordination, which is the ability of many muscles to work together to generate and control high levels of force through multiple joints.
  4. Lifting heavy weights elevates levels of anabolic hormones—specifically testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)—which are used to repair muscle fibers damaged during exercise. This helps the muscle fibers to become thicker and capable of generating higher levels of force.
  5. Lifting heavy weights increases production of the hormone IGF-1. This hormone is related to the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a neurotransmitter responsible for stimulating the growth of new neural pathways in the brain along with enhancing communication between existing pathways. In short, lifting heavy could make you smarter by enhancing cognitive function.
  6. Training with heavy weights helps you to improve your self-confidence. Knowing that you can lift heavy stuff gives you the confidence that you can handle common challenges, such as a putting a bag in the overhead bin on an airplane or carrying a heavy piece of furniture while reorganizing a room or helping a friend move.
  7. Strength training with heavy weights improves muscle definition. Muscle definition occurs as the result of muscles remaining in a state of semi-contraction and heavy strength training recruits the larger type II muscle fibers responsible for a muscle’s appearance.

*WARNING: Using heavier weights requires using machines or a spotter to maximize safety. In addition, when lifting with maximal loads, it’s important to include longer rest periods of at least two to three minutes to allow muscles to properly recover before going back to work.

All exercise provides general health benefits, but resistance training with heavy weights is one of the quickest ways to achieve the benefits identified above. Keep in mind that according to the general adaptation syndrome, the body adapts to an exercise stimulus after a period of 12 to 14 weeks. Once your client starts training with maximal weights, he or she will experience serious gains. After three or four months, however, you will need to change your client’s training routine to provide a new stimulus to his or her body.

Catherine again.  Did you notice in example #1 that higher reps with moderate weight causes hypertrophy?  That’s another way of saying that doing higher reps with moderate weight increases size.  When you train with me, I promise to adjust your weight and rep ranges to suit your goals.  It’s your training session, so you get to decide.  Of course, if you’re going to lift you must use proper form.  Come to class at the Dome or request an appointment with me by e-mailing:

Catherine@sugarfreedom.com  One on one training can be costly, but I can design a program that will allow you to train at your gym, or at home, with form checks from me.  I’m ready to help you get the benefits of lifting. (Check the class schedule if you are near Sonora, CA.)

Learn to Lift for Life.


Train With Catherine: Homework

Here is the training and warmup from 1/11/18

Homework For Train With Catherine: 1/11/18

Prisoner Squat 10

Arm Crosses 10

Push Up 8

Duck Unders: 6 per side

Leg Swing 10/side

Spiderman Climb: 8/side

Repeat one time


Supported Split Squat: 8/side

Mountain Climber: (Slow and controlled with excellent form) 10/side

KB Swings: 20

Do 3 rounds

Glute Raise 10

McGill Sit Ups: 8/side

KB Swings: 20

Do 3 Rounds

Here is the training and homework for the week of 1/8/18

Bodyweight Warm-Up

Total Body Extensions: 10

Prisoner Squats: 10

Close Grip Push Ups: 8

Duck Unders: 6/side

Spiderman Climb: 8/side

Leg Swing: 10/side

Rest 30 seconds and repeat.

Resistance: Goblet Squat: 10 reps

Tricep Kickbacks: 10 reps

Three Rounds Total

Split Squat: 8/side

Pushup: 8

Three Rounds Total

Are You Willing To Train?


A Sugar Freedom Christmas

Here is my sugar and grain free menu for Christmas Eve, 2017.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 1 whole grapefruit

Lunch: 3 ounces of chicken breast, large romaine lettuce salad, 1 oz olive oil and 1T balsamic vinegar dressing

Dinner: 5 oz prime rib, roasted Brussels sprouts, Granny Smith Apple, Brie

Since I typically eat protein and vegetables to maintain my 70 pound weight loss, the fruit and cheese are special occasion foods that I truly look forward to.  The high quality of the roast I bought to prepare today makes this meal extra special too.

My family and guests have all kinds of goodies to enjoy, but the satisfaction of eating on plan, plus the goodness of the food I choose to eat will actually add to my enjoyment of this special evening.

Besides, there will be some gifts to open, lost of laughter, pictures to take, and memories to make.

I haven’t always made this choice at Christmas time.  Last year, I weighed ten pounds more than I do today.  By eliminating sugar, grains, and cardio, and by keeping my commitments to get to the gym and train, I went into the season leaner, and I have managed to maintain this year’s fat loss from Halloween, all the way through to today.  I have increased my one rep max on the squat and deadlift substantially, and I do think this focus on skill and ability in the gym, instead of calorie burning, has made a wonderful contribution to my success.

Starting on January 8th, 2017, I will be back at Dance at the Dome: 251 B. Baretta St, teaching my training methods for fat loss and overall well-being. I will also be teaching every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30AM.  If you want to learn to lift, and get all of the benefits of getting stronger and leaner, e-mail me:


Keeping Keto: A look at a typical day on Sugar Freedom.

Freedom Veggies.
I have been using a ketogenic, low carb nutrition strategy consistently since 2008.  Back then, the way I ate was literally considered to be dangerous.  According to the USDA guidelines, I was eating way too much saturated fat and way too few  whole grains to maintain good health.
The current popularity of the Whole 30 and Ketogenic diets have helped Sugar Freedom enter the mainstream when it comes to solutions for losing weight. In addition, nutrtion studies are demonstrating that sugar and the processed foods that contain sugar, flour, and polyunsaturated oils, are the true culprits when it comes to causing inflammation and weight gain in the people who eat them.
Still, I encounter many misconceptions about Sugar Freedom, and I have come to recognize the warning signs when my readers and friends start to play around with the eating plan.
The number one barrier to success with Sugar Freedom is an unwillingness to cook.
The second obstacle is an insistence on a great deal of variety.  If you are willing to cook freedom foods, and if you are willing to give up some of the excitement you get from super delicious foods, you can achieve a healthy weight permanently with Sugar Freedom. Bottom line: breakfast can get a little bit monotonous, and you may not be able to use convenience foods like the bars and shakes that other people are reaching for. I don’t eat them because they make me hungry, and that is a side effect I simply can’t afford.
If you can accept a simple home cooked nutrition plan, big time permanent fat loss can be the result. I have done it, and I personally know dozens of readers and clients who have done it.
Going forward, I want to push those numbers to hundreds and thousands, one transformation at a time.
So here are some screen shots from Fitday.com, a free nutrition tracking program I recommend, showing my meal plan for today, along with the macronutrient breakdown, and RDA percentages.
 Sugar Freedom is available by clicking here. ===>Get Sugar Freedom<===
Please e-mail me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com if you have any questions.

The Truth About Big Time- Long Term Weight Loss

I am a member of the .01 percent.  That means that I have achieved long term- big time weight loss. My top non-pregnancy weight was 185 pounds, and I have been maintaining my weight at within 5 pounds of 120 ever since 2009.

I became a Certified Personal Trainer in 2012, and I completed my Fitness Nutrition Certification from the American Council on Exercise in 2015, in order to deliver my solution to overweight and obesity on a professional level.

There have been many triumphs in my career, including being named certified Turbulence Trainer of the Year in 2013.  Hundreds of my clients and Sugar Freedom readers have achieved permanent fat loss with my programs, and many of them have gone on to become fitness professional themselves.

I still hope to start a movement in nutrition and fitness that acknowledges the power of simple eating and weight lifting for women.  I know from personal and professional experience that the most effective physical transformation programs can be simplified down to these elements: Nutrition, training, and recovery.  More specifically, the nutrition consists of the appropriate amounts of protein, fat, and vegetables. The training consists of the appropriate amounts of weight lifting, flexibility, and balance practice, done with the best possible form.

Supplements, shakes, pills, and odd equipment are simply not required.  What is required is the acceptance of the fact that powerful effort is needed to overcome overweight and obesity.  Some of the most entertaining and novel forms of exercise, which attract eager participants, may literally burn muscle and increase appetite in formerly obese individuals like me and many of my clients.

Simplicity and discipline are required in the kitchen, and excellent form with wise progression are required in the gym.  Many of the women I know look for fun and friendship in their fitness practice. If the classes they take get results I am happy for them, and a little bit envious to tell the truth.  As a working actor, dancer, and choreographer however, the condition of my body is an essential component of my ability to work.  I must lift weights with the best form I can achieve, practice dance technique with precision and dedication, and eat simple nutritious food in order to be able to work.

As I prepare my training and nutrition programs for 2018, I am re-dedicating myself to Ketogenic nutrition, weight lifting, and dance technique.  If you wish to train with me in 2018, now is the time to e-mail me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com with a description of your goals.

For now, I am off to the gym, and I will be creating a series of photos and videos that demonstrate my training techniques.

This is my truth when it comes to losing more than 60 pounds and keeping it off:

Eliminate sugar, grains, and processed oils from your food plan.

Lift weights with excellent form, and rest as soon as this level of form is lost.

Practice legitimate dance technique for grace, line, and to preserve femininity.

It really is this simple.  The question is, are you willing to trade variety in your food and fun in your fitness for the for the body you need to fulfill your potential?

All the Best,

Catherine Best Gordon.

The Essential Lifts for Health, Energy, and Recomposition

As I was preparing the  training plan for a client today, I decided to list the essential lifts for health, energy, and recomposition in order of importance.

I reserve the right to change this order, but these are the lifts I want all of my clients and Sugar Freedom readers to learn.

I will simply list them today, but in the future I will go into the power of these lifts in detail.

  1. The Squat
  2. The Push-Up
  3. The Deadlift
  4. The Row
  5. The Plank
  6. The McGill Sit Up
  7. The Bicep Curl
  8. The Calf Raise
  9. The Tricep Extension
  10. The Lunge

There you have it: these are my top ten.  I’m printing these out and heading to my training session, and I can’t wait to explore each one with you.

If you need a training plan, e-mail me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com

Let’s train.

Keto Thanksgiving

Here is the Keto Thanksgiving turkey recipe I will be using this year.  I bought my turkey today, 5 days ahead of time, so that it can thaw in the refrigerator, with plenty of time left over for the dry brining recipe in the photo at the bottom of this post.

The menu is turkey, cauliflower stuffing, roasted Brussels sprouts, and my Chocolate avocado mousse.

I will be posting the other recipes later, but I wanted to get this up so that my Sugar Freedom fans can go get their turkeys this week end.

Note: I will be using organic chicken broth instead of hard cider in the recipe posted below.

Here’s to keeping it Keto for a happy holiday.


Keto Thanksgiving starts with turkey.
The recipe from the New York Times.

I Flunked Cardio

I flunked cardio.  Back when I was  kid in P.E. I had a recurring real life nightmare.  Every day when we got to class, we all had to run a mile.  Every day I would come in dead last.  The worst part was that I was doing everything I could think of to keep up.

I pushed my self as hard as I could.  I carried a stopwatch to see if I could improve my time even if I stayed in last place.  I tried to pace myself at the beginning of the run to see if I could last longer before resorting to the humiliation of walking.  To this day, I am still burned up about the fact that none of my P.E. teachers ever had any advice for how I could get better at running than, “Keep going,” and , “Push harder.”

That probably explains why I get so upset when I hear group exercise leaders shouting the same words at their students today.  The truth is that many training professionals now know better than to ask people to just keep going.  Rest pause, interval training, and tempo training are now accepted techniques for improving stamina and speed, but when it comes to weight loss, many trainers and group exercise leaders are still using steady state discomfort level cardio because it burns more calories during the session than weight lifting or rest based training.

The trouble with this kind of exercise is that it can burn muscle and increase appetite in susceptible individuals like me.  Many of my clients agree that their weight struggles worsened when they tried to do more treadmill, elliptical, or aerobic dance workouts.  Here is my challenge to you: if you have truly committed to a cardio based program for one full year without getting the results you want, contact me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com and I will send you a sample 2 week training program with what I call the “Big Five.”  These are the essential lifts for women who are starting weight training.

If you want a personalized six week program, the cost is just $50.  Simply put “Personalized Program,” in the subject line, and we swill set up a consultation by phone, Skype, or Face Time.

If cardio isn’t working for you, it’s time to learn something new in the world of training for personal development.

I Flunked Cardio.

Again: e-mail me at catherine@sugarfreedom.com

Small Group Personal Training In Sonora, CA

It’s been five years since I received my ACE personal training certification, and my philosophy on how and why I train my clients has continued to evolve.  More and more I realize that we train to enhance what we do over how we appear.  The G-Fit system that I have developed for health and fitness contains these three elements: Good Form, Good Food, and Good Attitude.

I tell my students to focus more on the quality of their from as they train, than the amount of calories they burn.  As a dancer and choreographer, I have noticed a difference in the effects of movements that call for the best form you can give.  Good form requires just as much effort as endurance training, but a focus on form allows and encourages you to rest when your body says, “Stop!”  After a brief rest, you can take up the movement again with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Good food

 is a matter of finding the foods that nourish and satisfy you.  As a certified fitness nutrition specialist, I can point my clients to many resources for understanding nutrition, cooking, and macro-nutrient ratios, but the bottom line is that what you eat has to work for your lifestyle.  Some of my clients thrive on keeping their menus as simple as possible, and some want more variety through new recipes and experimentation.  There is no wrong way, as long as you find your way.

Good attitude means being kind to yourself and others.  It also means that we leave perfectionism behind while seeking to do our best in the present moment.  I want you to enjoy the fitness journey every day, and not put off fun, happiness, and creativity until someday in the future when you reach yo

ur fitness goals.

Together we can become stronger, get better balance, and become more flexible, not just physically, but emotionally too.

Join me at Dance at the Dome at 5:30PM Mondays, 6:30AM and 8AM Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9AM Wednesdays, or contact me for one-on one coaching and training. 209-743-2539

The Little Black Dress Challenge Is Back!

Starting Tuesday, October 10th, and continuing though Tuesday, November 21st, the Little Black Dress Challenge is back.

Catherine’s clients have achieved wonderful transformations in her previous 6 weeks challenges, and now it’s your turn.

Here are the three elements of success that you will get from the challenge:

#1. Nutrition.  Food is %80 of the formula for success when you want to get lean and shapely.  The program we will be using is Sugar Freedom: available at ====>Sugarfreedom.com<====  

#2. Training.  Food is the key to weight loss, and resistance training is the key to fat loss and figure transformation.  My biggest regret when it comes to my quest to overcome obesity is the fact that I didn’t start lifting weights right away.  After the birth of my son, when I weighed 185 pounds at only 5:1″ tall, I tried to lose weight by counting calories and doing cardio.  The result was that I lost muscle instead of fat.  I have loose skin on my arms and legs from that time that has never re-tightened completely.  If you have more than 30 pounds to lose I especially want to urge you to begin resistance training as soon as you begin your fat loss nutrition program.

This is the proven way to avoid the “Weight Loss Trap,” which is the depressing fact that so many dieters gain the weight back plus more because they have reduced their lean body mass with dieting and traditional cardio. Then, when they go off of their calorie restricted diet, the weight comes right back on.

#3.  Support.  I wasn’t able to transform my body by myself.  I had to be a part of a group of supportive team-mates who were focused on their health goals as well.  Many women are not willing to take the time to focus on their personal health goals, but when they are part of a community that shares their aspirations, they stick to their goals in order to help the group.  This is a very powerful tool for achievement in any area of your life.

There are two ways to join the Little Black Dress Challenge.  If you will be participating on line, e-mail me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com for all of the details.

If you live near Sonora, CA, come to my class: Catherine’s Broadway Bootcamp at KASA Dance at the Dome: 251B. Baretta St. next to the historic Sonora Dome.

Don’t miss your chance to get amazing results and develop life-long skills for health, youth, and dare I say it? beauty.