Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Muscle Density....the #1 reason to never stop training

For the past 2 + years my bodyweight has gone up and down, and up, and down....not by "alot" according to most peoples standards, but to me any weight gain is a sign of failure, defeat, and embarrassment....kind of. I say "kind of" because I never defined myself by the number on the scale, especially when I weighed over 250lbs. So why now? Well, I've been in the public view specifically because of my successful weightloss....yep, that's why!

I suspect I had started to develop what Mark indentified as "Body Dysmorphia" Body Dysmorphia is usually related to anorexics that see a fat person when they look in the mirror but in actuality they are, sometimes, skin and bones. It can also be common in the bodybuilding community when these athletes can never seem to be satisfied with the size of their musculature, instead always seeing themselves as small and flat. Personally, my own "body dysmorphia" was created because I no longer weighed 128-132lbs, when I look in the mirror I could only see what I wasn't.

I wasn't 10 pounds lighter. I wasn't what I used to be. I couldn't claim 120lb weightloss, and that had become part of what defined me the previous few years. Not only did I feel like I looked to have failed, but I also felt as if everything I said in terms of diet or training advice was no longer valid.....but still I kept on training.

I never missed my kettlebell workouts. KB's was, and is, my #1 training priority. I never missed my yoga practice, as painful as it was, from the heat and extra bodyweight, to the self torture of having to look at myself in the mirror for over an hour, so dissatisfied with how I "looked".....and my practice suffered, not because I was 10lbs heavier but because of the judgements I put on myself. I still found myself outside walking, or on the treadmill (free membership to Equinox, lol). And I learned how to "Spin" in a desperate attempt to burn some extra calories and lose some weight.....but I kept on showing up to train.

Somehow I knew if I kept moving that bell, my body would follow....and it hasn't disappointed....

Having some muscle density, and being so skinny and lean that you can see the little tiny muscle looking things under your skin are worlds apart.

Here is how my husband, Master RKC Instructor, Mark Reifkind defines "Muscle Density"

"So what's the difference from a newbie trainee and a person that's been suiting up and showing up on a regular training schedule for not weeks or months but years? It's called muscle density and you can tell it immediately when you see it.

It's what happens to human tissue when it's exposed to repeated overload with resistance and what most of us think of when we think of "muscle definition".

Muscle you can see when someone's at rest. When they are not 'flexing'. Tone, definition and separation from all the adjacent muscles.

It's muscle that doesn't disappear if you miss a workout or two.

It's one thing to get 'lean'. If one strips all the fat off the body by extreme dieting you will see all kinds of things. The proper name of muscle is "striated muscle" meaning you will see lines and 'definition' when not obscured by fat. BUT, that is not the same as hypertrophied muscle. Or what most recognized as "muscle".

The longer muscle is exposed to the stress of training, the pressure of the weight, the focus of the mind and intense contraction after intense contraction, the more dense it becomes
.Like a diamond that forms under millions of years of pressure. You cannot buy this kind of muscle sophistication, you have to earn it.

Muscle density is what separates the beginner from the veteran. It's what real muscle looks like."

In my opinion the shape of our bodies is more, or at least, as important as the size of our bodies. Sure, functional movement and cardio fitness is important, but don't we all want to look good? When we feel like we look good, we feel good. And when we feel good, we feel good!

Keep showing up. Keep building that muscle, and keep building that strength. If you don't see it or feel it today trust that it's has to be. If you're doing the work, your body will follow.

PS One of my favorite "movie memories" is when Arnold Schwarnegger played Conan and he was a slave chained to a human powered mill (the "wheel of pain"), did he get some muscle or what? Do you think he was trying? (I know it was just a movie, lol, but chain your ass up to one of those things, day after day, after day.) Do you think you might put on a bit of muscle? Of course you have to have food to build the muscle, but you get my point.....
PPS First two pictures were taken from my Flip video at Fawn's KB class in St Paul a few weeks ago, while she leads us all during the joint moblity warm up...I totally dig her! And she's so gracious to let me co-lead her class....Thanks Fawn!


Dawn said...

SO the mental kick in the butt I needed to read! Hope you don't mind if I quote you:
"If you're doing the work, your body will follow.". I think I'll be repeating that to myself for a long time!

Tori said...

Great post! It just goes to show that consistency pays off! Your arms look awesome!

Amber said...

I love this post. Oh! And I got my HKC last weekend in Atlanta, I'm already training up for the RKC using some of your suggestions, and of course, inspiration from posts like these!

Lisa said...

Love the muscle definition! Just ordered your DVD. Sorry i couldn't make it to Fawns class you were at. But I will definitely get down to St Paul soon for one of her classes.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Doing the work is the hard part, no one can buy it, as Mark says, you earn it.

Your body will reward you, it already has. That's why you can do what you do. You just have to get your head out of the way!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Here are two more brilliant phrases from Mark:

"Consistency trumps intensity"

"Intensity is born from consistency"'s another good one...

"If I can't outlift you, then I will outlast you"

I love my arms, and recently I've started to CHOSE to see some of my other parts as "kinda cute" too!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Woo Hoo, HKC! I teach my "Learn to Swing" classes practically by the HKC manuel, and it works like a charm.

So, now you know how to teach the Swing, and this DVD will help you program it for beginners, and build up your own high volume swings to unbelievable levels!

Oh, and when you kick ass at your RKC, you can mention my name, lol!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Had a blast with Fawns class, but we ended up scheduling for that Sat. instead.

With kettlebells, so little goes such a long way...keep it up!

Chris said...

Thank you so much! And thank you for your support and encouragement! I can't wait to get my DVD!
Holly C

Tracy Reifkind said...


I've got a couple of killer snatch workouts to post later today. One I did on Tuesday, and today I'll do another variation....well, that's the plan anyway!

One of the exciting things about this DVD is I'll be able to post more workouts without having to spend so much time explaining the method....which means I'll post more workouts! It takes alot of energy to explain!

fawn said...

Excellent message Tracy! Thank you for posting it, and thank you for the explanation of body dysmorphia. THANK YOU for leading my class last month!

Gabby Eborall said...

Tracy what a great post! Thank you for always putting yourself out there for us. I love where you are right now, glowing with contentment and still moving forward.