We set up LDN Muscle in order to present decent, honest, unbiased and genuinely helpful information within an industry built on misinformation and BS. For men this is embodied by the impossibly large, veiny, ‘drying out by the minute’, ‘natural’ athletes who are subjected to no drug tests- peddling crap supplements and pushing (and exceeding) 100kg body weight. For women it is becoming ever similar, with more drug-use, more photo-shop, and still the notion of endless cardio and super-low calories and carbs rearing its ugly head.
As noted, LDNM is about sustainability, not pushing people into extreme volumes of training and cardio, promoting exclusive diets that cause massive binges and a poor relationship with food, and then claiming said person is lazy because they failed to make progress. We promote sustainability and flexibility as this is better for your physical and mental health, long-term progression and allows for an effective balance to be achieved within your own life!
However, I am not a girl, so I’ll introduce you to some experienced female gym-goers who will help reiterate why sustainability- and not a quick fix or fad diet figure headed by a celebrity- is key. These lovely #LDNMLadies are going to detail their biggest initial mistakes, and current best piece(s) of advice in regards to training and nutrition, which will make helpful and interesting reading for new and experienced #GirlsWhoLift and their male counterparts.
Full Name: Fozia Naseem
Twitter Account: @FozCornwall
Short Term Goal:
To look good in suits, dresses & bikinis.
Long Term Goal:
To be fit & healthy and to look great no matter what my age – resulting in a long and healthy life, so that I can enjoy my family, for as long as possible.
LDNM Guides Utilised:
Not eating adequately for my aims – either in order to grow or lean down. Not having the knowledge to know how to achieve my goals.
Overtraining and neglecting cardio. My form/tempo was questionable.
Best Piece of Advice:
Eat properly. By this I mean, fuel those workouts. Record what you eat, honestly. Then play with those macros to suit your goals & the uniqueness of your body. Be consistent & open your mind to different eating habits- especially if you’ve eaten badly or too little in the past.
Record your workouts and track your progress. Go old school with a notepad and pen. The joy of seeing how much stronger & better you are, when you look back a few weeks, is a huge motivation. Enjoy your workouts, by pushing yourself and surprising yourself. Get some decent music that gets your heart racing even before that first rep on that first warm up set! Don’t be afraid to experiment & see how others do things. Surround yourself with positive people who share your passion for fitness- no matter what shape or size. Passion is passion- and it is contagious! Most of all, my best piece of training advice? Have fun and enjoy the ever evolving ride. And remember, you can do it- because you’re not alone.
Name: Hannah Pratt
Short Term Goals
1. To feel more energised and focused
2. To feel stronger and more confident
Long Term Goals:
1. To significantly increase strength and build muscle for a strong & athletic looking figure.
2. To improve overall health and fitness levels
LDNM Guides Utilised:
Not eating enough, skipping meals and thinking feeling tired and sluggish had nothing to do with that.
Light weights at very high volume (20-30 reps!) and ignoring compound moves out of fear and lack of education on how to perform them.
Best Pieces of Advice:
Count macros according to goals, try new things and experiment with cooking. Above all, EAT CARBS, they’re not bad for you.
Lift heavy, perform compound movements regularly and focus on form. Don’t do too much cardio, there are more effective and more enjoyable methods of weight loss.
Full Name: Molly Munday
Twitter Account: @mollymunday
Short Term Goal(s):
For me personally my short term goals are firstly; to maintain and stay on track with my progression, with working in the public sector and doing a lot of shift work it can be all too easy to fall off the track when you don’t have a set schedule that allows you to train regularly. Secondly for me it’s to not only gain confidence but have FUN in my training, it’s all good training 5/6 days a week but I find if I’m not enjoying what I’m doing it becomes a chore and my motivation plummets easily.
Long Term Goal(s):
Ideally my long term goal is to significantly increase my upper body strength as this has always been a weak spot for me along with building muscle overall to obtain a more athletic figure. Along with my athletic figure goal, entering a Bikini Fitness competition would be something I would love to do just as a point to myself and something I could aim towards in the running up to the New Year.
LDNM Guides Utilised:
There’s been a few! But one of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started was over training. Not enough rest days really played a part in me not progressing for a good couple of months and when I did train I was continuously hitting a brick wall where I was overworking my body. Secondly, I always aspired and fixated on my body looking like other women’s bodies I found attractive, accepting my body was a huge barrier I had to break. Also due to lack of education never using free weights always using machines! This was a massive fault in my training as on some exercises I was never getting the full range of motion that I needed.
A huge mistake I made that A LOT of us women/girls will do is think that eating less/smaller portions will help us lose weight and fast. For me I skipped breakfast, which would lead to me binging on a massive (not to mention high carb) lunch then rarely eating dinner. Not only that I would think that because I was having small portions or just not having many calories that day It would then be acceptable to have cheat meals/takeaways far too often.
Best Piece(s) of Advice:
For me starting the LDNM guides taught me so much regarding nutrition. From suggesting and explaining supplements to take, to food prepping and counting macros all of this helped me to realise how important your diet is in order to obtain the figure that I desired and to be healthy inside and out. Food prep is probably the best piece of advice I’ve been given, it’s so simple but so important! Like I’ve already mentioned working on the go like many do it’s so easy to binge on supermarket junk, but food prepping helped me realise that I could achieve 1) meals that I enjoyed eating and 2) meals that would fit my macros and stop me from being hungry 30 minutes later.
Just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. It took my far too long to realise this! Finding something that worked for me and that I enjoyed/found fun took my workouts to a whole new level. I found myself constantly progressing and hitting new PB’s when I was enjoying what I was doing especially once I got over my fear of free weights. I found that doing exercise I enjoyed made me look forward to my next session and helped keep me motivated and pushed me to keep changing my goals.
Name: Anonymous (by request).
Short Term Goals:
To really build my upper body strength in a big way and gain a much better technique at gymnastic moves.
Long Term Goals:
To compete in some sort of team games and to be strong enough and have enough stamina to be a valuable team member.
LDNM Guides Used:
Having started lifting in only Jan 2014 I found the wealth of info I was bombarded with totally overwhelming. I saw pictures of bikini models and thought yes! That’s for me! So after doing the bikini guide I decided on a “coach” I found on the internet. HUGE MISTAKE number one. You don’t know who you’re dealing with, they just take your money monthly for very little in return!! They can’t critique your form or see you if your struggling. I flipped back into the depths of on eating disorder I had spent years overcoming. Let me tell you, bikini fitness is not something most of the population can do. It’s obsessive, life consuming and in the latter stages very unhealthy. The girls who do it have absolute and utter dedication which is very impressive but for me I was more concerned with being healthy mentally and physically over competing.
Carbs are not the enemy!!!!! This has taken a long time for me to understand. Low carb diets give you very quick results but mostly because you are dehydrating yourself. You lose water = weight loss. Your body needs a minimum 100g carbs a day JUST for your brain to function. You then need to add in the carbs you will burn in your workout! Also carbs = energy = stronger workouts!!! It’s all about timing and type of carbs. After cutting them out totally for around 12 weeks I was mentally and physically EXHASUTED. I was training 3 times a day as I was told was necessary then when I finally broke was told I wasn’t working hard enough. It was all lack of carbs helping me to train. So girls get them in if you want to be at your best.
Best Pieces of Advice:
If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing at the gym and your obsessing over food you need to take a step back. I became a ball of anxiety. If I couldn’t get to the gym id cut my food intake. If I ate something “bad” I would get anxious. It was ridiculous!! I took 2 weeks completely out when I realised I couldn’t live that way anymore. I had lost weight, gained very little muscle and felt an utter failure. After getting rid of the “coach” I found a world of functional fitness. A skill such a weightlifting or gymnastics then a proper hardcore workout involving rowing or running, burpees, Box jumps and pull ups just to name a few. I was finally enjoying exercise again! In this world people were all shapes and sizes but no one cared! Everyone was getting involved. The best part? To fuel such exercise I had to eat!! None of this 1400cal. I had to eat 2000cal and way above to ensure I could workout hard! Have I gained masses of weight? No. Am I stronger than ever? Yes!! I’ve been able to increase my deadlift and squat by over 20kg each in just over 12 weeks.
I have finally realised it isn’t all about having a 6 pack. I know that this is the ultimate goal for pretty much everyone and I’m not saying I wouldn’t like one! But we all focus on what we haven’t got. We should focus on gaining strength and having a healthy body! In my quest of abs I forgot to stop and look at the fact I had gained quads, calfs and even good looking biceps and triceps!! So girls remember strength mentally and physically is more important that a 6 pack which you can only show off every now and again anyway! I’d much rather be able to squat my own body weight and a half! The rest will come with time.
So I guess all I would say is just enjoy whatever exercise you are doing. Eat well! Be sensible and don’t just believe what you are told. Look around at all the information. Yes the gym is important and everyone wants to look and feel good but a huge part of that is REST, good food in proper amounts and treating yourself sometimes. Spend time with your friends and family. Don’t let it take over your life. Everyone has to start somewhere, thank goodness LDNMuscle (@LB_LDNM especially) and the #LDNMLadies were there for me! Please don’t make the same heart breaking mistakes I did!!!
Full Name: Sophie Tucker
Twitter Account: @sophietucker6
Long Term Goal(s): I am gradually building confidence as my body changes shape and I would love to get a fitness sponsorship within the next few years alongside inspiring others who are wanting to lose weight and tone up.
Short Term Goal(s): My legs are currently my weakest aspect of my body and I am slowly working to increase the size of my quads and calves, I have hit my target weight of sub 60kg and I would love to tighten up a little more and work towards more of an athletic physique.
LDNM Guides Utilised: Bikini Guide
I used to think by not eating breakfast I would be able to eat more throughout the day, however as soon as I changed my habits, starting hitting my macros and eating more often my body shape changed dramatically. When I started training I cut out my carbs dramatically and it meant that my energy levels were really low, affecting my training- Low GI Carbs are your friends, don’t cut them out!
I wasn’t a fan of training before I came across the Bikini Guide, I used to believe that 10 minutes of steady cardio on the running machine, cross trainer or bike was enough to do no more than 3 times a week, I was too afraid to do weights as I felt as though I would get too big and bulky and start to look masculine.
Best Piece(s) of Advice:
Try and hit your macros, skipping meals doesn’t mean you can eat a bar of chocolate, try and have a cheat meal once a fortnight, this has helped me to work harder towards my goals. Remember its 80% diet and 20% gym, so if your diet is in check you’ll soon notice changes to your body, your love for training will come when your body adapts and changes- be patient! There’s no such thing as a ‘skinny pill’ it’s about self-control and commitment to your diet.
With my training I will always give 100%, whether it’s a thirty minute session or a two hour session, I have recently purchased a heart rate monitor and I’m starting to burn up to 1000 calories each session from weights alone, this is from a combination of low weights and high reps and heavy weights and low reps, I am challenging myself by smashing PB’s monthly and I get such a buzz from training, it motivates me to push myself even harder each session. If you are competitive, try and train with someone you know is fitter than you, they will help to push you to your limits, I’ve been training with some boys who are much stronger than me and I constantly try to push myself as much as possible.
If you would like to share your mistakes and advice, and feel it would be valuable for others to learn from, please email [email protected] with the Subject Title as ‘LDNMLadies’.
All these women have come from different backgrounds and are in different stages of their lives, but all have experienced similar issues when it comes to training and nutrition- highly likely to have been caused by the current industry and body-image pressures placed upon women, and consistent misinformation from the media.
- Our message is not to starve yourself and eat only ‘clean foods’, indirectly causing binge behaviour, but to enjoy your food (and drink), incorporate flexible dieting and see the bigger picture: i.e. go out for cocktails or a meal without worrying about calories or carbs because you reduced them in earlier meals (or simply enjoying the occasion as a treat!).
- With regards to training you should incorporate the sports and activities you have a passion for, potentially alongside weights and some, but not endless, cardio. Happy progress is sustainable progress, and we feel resistance training offers more scope for continual progressive overload in comparison to circuits and cardio.
- With regards to body-image and self-comparison to celebrities and top ‘fitness’ competitors; stop that, and be realistic! We all have different body shapes so we cannot compare ourselves to just anyone. Progress takes place at different rates for different people. Celebrities have a lot more time on their hands then the average working person- often employing a full time personal trainer and chef, whereas top show competitors in untested competitions are also not good comparisons given that a large percentage could be enhanced.
Please push your friends and family towards this article to save them from making the same mistakes most beginners and intermediate trainers make, and being misled by the industry marketing and falsities.