should i lift heavier weights

Should I Lift Heavier Weights? [Podcast Episode #111]

If you've been following this podcast for any length of time, you've certainly heard about the benefits of lifting weights. 

Lifting weights will help you get stronger. It will help you shape your body. And, it will help you lose weight.

But, are there times when the dangers of lifting heavier weights outweigh the potential benefits? Should you focus on lifting weights right now, or is there a smarter, safer approach?

Make Your Body Work Podcast #111

Get each new episode delivered directly to you!

MYBW on iTunes
MYBW on Sticher

Should I Lift Heavier Weights?
[Full Text]

Should You Start Lifting Heavier Weights
Should I Cancel My Gym Membership?

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life.

Today, we're talking about weight lifting. I know that sounds like something that you see in the Olympics or that big muscle bound people do. But specifically, we're talking about women and lifting weights and what is safe and what is not safe, how to it correctly and then why many women and men as well get injured. And it all stemmed from Shelly's question.

Shelly wrote in and she said, "Dave, I was listening to your podcast number 24 about lifting weights to lose weight and I wondered if you could elaborate on how much weight you're talking about? I enjoy resistance training, but since giving birth last year have steered clear of lifting weights in favor of body weight type exercises. Can you go over the pros and cons of women lifting heavier weights?"

Shelly, thanks so much for the question because this ties into so many different things that I want to cover today and we're going to cover today, like I just talked about; particularly safety in the gym and what you can do to ensure that when you go to the gym, you're getting the best results possible but you're also doing it safely. I've got a great guest, and this is her specialty. I'm excited to dive in, really excited to introduce to you Dr. Sarah Duvall.

Meet Dr. Sarah Duvall

Dave: Hey, Sarah. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Sarah: Thanks for having me.

Dave: Before we started recording this, I was just telling you that my audience is going to love you. I was reading your bio again before I called you, and you just embody sort of who I think my typical audience is. Can you tell us a little bit about your life? What do you do, tell us about your family, what stage of life are you at right now?

Sarah: Well, that is such a great thing to hear and such a great welcome. Thank you. I'm a mom of two small children and I am also an adventure sports athlete. I just didn't want to give it up. The thought that the two are not mutually exclusive. My goal is to help women fully recover from having babies and still be able to pursue the athletic endeavors they want to pursue no matter what level that is.

Even if that's just playing at the park with their kids with reckless abandon. That is something I find the hardest thing for women is they feel like they now have all these limitations on themselves, like I want to lift my kid up to reach the high monkey bars or I want to run across the playground. And because of pelvic floor issues or something else, they feel like they can't do that anymore.

Dave: Tell us, what does it mean to be an adventure athlete? Because I've seen some pictures that look pretty adventurous, but can you tell us what does that actually mean?

Sarah: Well, I enjoy learning new sports and I enjoy sports that give me that high adrenaline factor, which I know might be a little strange, but I pole vaulted in college and just kind of always been that way. But I currently rock climb a lot, I've done a lot of kite boarding and wakeboarding and things like that. But I might be getting a little old for wakeboarding, those falls are pretty brutal.

Dave: Right now, I am looking at a picture of you on your website. For the listeners, I'll put a link to this in the show notes so you can take a look, if you go to you can take a look at all the links we talk about today.

But Sarah, I'm looking at this picture of you rock climbing, and you're climbing up a rock face and your body's pretty much perpendicular to the rock face and it looks terrifying. I'm afraid of heights, so I'm scared looking at it.

Sarah: Oh it's the best. Climbing you have to not let your hands sweat, so you have to suppress that autonomic fear response that happens. So it really adds another level of body control to the mix.

Dave: Oh my gosh, I kid you not, actually it's making my stomach queasy so I'm going to click away from that picture right now. I want to talk a little bit about your professional background. Can you talk about how did you get into health and wellness?

Sarah: Absolutely. I was 12 and started volunteering in the hospital. Volunteered on the cancer floor. I love helping people, I've always loved helping people. But I couldn't handle ... I couldn't handle the cancer patients. I needed something a little more positive in the fact that it just ... The deaths really affected me a lot. So there's some super, super amazing strong people that are working in the hospital systems that are helping people.

That led me to physical therapy, and I started volunteering with the PT in the hospital around the age of 14. I've just been sold ever since. It's kind of been one of those love affairs with a profession right from the beginning.

Dave: That's amazing, so at 12 years old ... Was that on your own initiative that you started volunteering at the hospital or did you get a push from your parents? How did that come about?

Sarah: One of my friends was a candy striper, and you can't get a job when you're 12 so I thought it would be fun for me to do over the Summer. So I guess that was probably a parent push there.

Who Is Sarah Helping?

Dave: I love that. I'm trying to think of what I was doing at 12 and I guarantee it was not as productive as volunteering in a hospital. Sarah, then tell us about what is it that you do now?

Sarah: I have been moved around the country by my husband, which has given me a very interesting work outlet. I have three private practice physical therapy clinics. When we moved to Boston, I was like, "I am done opening new clinics."

So I rent space to see patients here, and I have started an online business, which is really cool because I've been able to reach the women in various parts of the world and the country that don't have access to great physical therapy, or maybe they have trouble getting out to PT appointments. When you have a small baby it can be so hard.

So I work in adjunct to in-person PT if they're just having trouble making appointments, or as their primary if they're in a part of the world where they can't find someone good. It's been really amazing to me to be able to help women everywhere, and to kind of fill a need ... Fill a void that I saw in the industry.

The Top 3 Postpartum Conditions

Dave: Can you tell us what you'd say are some of the top conditions that you see with postpartum women? What would be maybe the top three conditions that you're helping women recover from?

Sarah: Diastasis, pelvic floor, and back pain. So hands down, those are ... You get aching necks from breastfeeding and hunching forward and things like that, and mid-backs. But those are definitely the top three.

Dave: Okay, I know a lot of women ... Because it's come up in my show before, diastasis has come up before, but that's a term that even many women, many moms, aren't familiar with until all of a sudden they're going through something themselves physically and are told, "Hey, have you ever considered this?" Can you give us a description of diastasis?

Sarah: Absolutely. It's where the fascia in the middle ... Basically every woman has at least a little bit of diastasis while we're pregnant. When you're nine months pregnant and you're headed into the delivery area, you have some diastasis. It's our body's natural way of stretching and just allowing for that to happen.

What I found interesting, and what I've enjoyed studying from my practice is why some women seem to bounce back and their diastasis heals naturally, and other women it doesn't or it stretches too far or not enough. So what it is is it's a thinning in the middle.

When you think of that six pack muscle, you have these two big six packs on either side, and where they connect in the middle this is a fascial sheath that connects all of your abdominal muscles. So it's really cool. So your TAs, your internal obliques, your external obliques, all come in through this fascial sheath to connect there. Basically it helps your core fire correctly.

Dave: Why do you think ... Because you speak about this as if it's a really common thing, like you said every woman has it to some degree [crosstalk 00:08:16]-

Sarah: To be honest, I checked out all the men that walked into my facility as well, and I would definitely say probably a third of them have diastasis as well. Which [lended 00:08:28] me toward my thinking for treatment, I'm like, "Alright, if these men are having it, what are they doing? What's causing it in them? And then what's going wrong in these postpartum women?" I saw a lot of overlap there that lead back to just overall function of the body, and how it's functioning. So it's been a pretty cool journey of learning.

Dave: That is fascinating. I know from your perspective this seems like such a common thing, and you're probably talking about it on a daily basis. But for the average folk, it's not really a common term that people have heard before?

So I'll give you an example; the first time I heard about it, and this is coming from someone ... I've worked in the fitness industry for 17 years now. I wasn't familiar with diastasis until my sister had her first child. That's six or seven years ago. Why is it something that people aren't familiar with?

Sarah: Honestly I have no idea. I mean, we don't really talk about these things. It's like this little magical... The stalk brings the baby! Wait till we ... Can we talk about prolapse at some point? Because that's really what people have never heard of. There is such a level of prolapse that it's preventable, if people would just start talking about it more. So you're right, I really think it's the stalk brings the baby, I don't know. It's not super sexy to talk about, I guess.

What's Prolapse and What Causes It?

Dave: Well that's actually a good transition, because I did want to ask you about prolapse next. So can you describe, for those who don't know, what is prolapse? How does it affect women after pregnancy?

Sarah: Well, a very simple explanation ... You know how you get a hernia, right? Okay, so you get bulging out, basically fascial bulging or stretching. The same thing happens in your pelvic floor. So think about it as a hernia of your pelvic floor.

When we think about the things that cause hernias, the same thing cause it in the pelvic floor. Lack of correct muscle firing, too much pressure. Think about people who hold their breath when they exercise. I notice a lot of women ... Those car seats are heavy, okay? So the car seats are heavy, the strollers are heavy. They're having to lift things, they're dealing with a giant diaper bag.

They go to pick it all up, and they don't breathe properly and they don't manage pressure in their core well. So if you think about the core as like this balloon that is protecting your spine; how you increase and manage where that pressure is going is really important for what happens to either the diastasis, and if you get bulging or a hernia within your diastasis or abdominal area, or your pelvic floor.

It's kind of all related, and the same poor movement patterns can make things go wrong. The issue is that when women give birth, it is increases our ... Basically vaginal space, and so it makes you more likely to have prolapse.

When you think about why do women who have given both have more prolapse than, say, the guy at the gym, it's because we already have wider pelvises to begin with and birth gives us a disadvantage for increasing that ... levator hiatus angle basically, is what it's called. But that's probably a little too far into anatomy.

Dave: A follow up question ... That's interesting. So it's not actually the birthing process that would cause a prolapse? But it would make a woman susceptible to sustaining a prolapse elsewhere?

Sarah: So it can be. There's lots of causes of prolapse. It can be, if you're straining to push out a baby and you strain a little too much, you can cause prolapse there. It can be overstretching of the fascia during delivery.

You can end up with muscle tears or avulsions. Nobody's going to want to give birth after ... You can end up with an avulsion of the muscles, so let's say your muscle doesn't stretch properly, and it ends up avulsing, so basically tearing off the bone. So if that happens, then that really increases your risk of sustaining the prolapse later.

But, you don't have to have that happen to end up getting prolapse. I've had many c-section patients end up with prolapse, because they put too much pressure down. So there's so many factors, there's so many risk factors that go into it. I've seen many women who have healed. There's lots of positive in that as well, it's not just ... It's not just all doom and gloom.

Dave: Good. We're going to get to some positives. Listeners, please don't push stop but keeping listening.

Sarah: I've made everybody terrified.

All About Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Dave: Sarah, one of the reasons when we first started talking ... Like I said, before this show I said, "You're going to be perfect for my audience." A lot of my listeners are actually passed the stage of having babies and their children are grown or teenagers. But women at that stage are still susceptible to pelvic floor injury, correct?

Sarah: Correct. One really cool thing is that sometimes pelvic floor leaking ... They don't start experiencing leaking until six or seven years later. So there's been this trend of maybe your pelvic floor didn't quite come back like it should after birth, but you didn't really do much about it. Then that comes back, it kind of adds up so to speak. One of those injuries where you just keep breaking something down to the point where it becomes dysfunctional. So a lot of women don't start leaking until later.

Dave: At that point then, I imagine that could be very mysterious because there isn't that direct or seemingly direct correlation between, "Okay, I gave birth and all of a sudden now my body is leaking and it wasn't for the last five, or six, or seven years." Do women typically make that connection themselves? How would they have any clue what's going on?

Sarah: Well it might not have to do with the birth, to be honest. There are plenty of women that have pelvic floor issues that end up with prolapse and leaks without ever giving birth. So it might or it might not. There's so many "mights" when it comes to rehab, not a lot of definitives.

So it just has to do with re-establishing that great function. You have this baby pushing up on your diaphragm, which pushes you into a shallow breathing pattern. Every woman who has been pregnant knows you can't get a deep breath when you're really pregnant. It's just not possible.

Your breathing, your diaphragm, works with your pelvic floor. It's this really cool system in the body, where they play off of each other. So when that diaphragm gets shut down, if you don't re-establish a great deep breathing pattern postpartum, that's what can add up and contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction.

Should I Lift Weights?

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative), gotcha. For women in that position, whatever the pelvic floor issue is, what is a means of treatment? We're going to get to Shelly's question here, because she's talking about lifting weights and I-

Sarah: Which is my favorite thing to talk about ever. Because so many people in the pelvic floor community are like, "Don't lift, don't lift, don't lift," and I'm like, "You need to lift, you need to lift heavy, you need to be strong."

Dave: Okay, perfect. You just ... you pre answered my question, I didn't even ask it. That was going to be my question, because she's talking about she listened to one of my previous podcasts, and for the listeners I'll put it in the show notes again, my podcast episode number 24 talking about lifting weights to lose weight.

She says, "How much weight are you talking about?" This is a question I get all the time, "Okay Dave, I've heard you talk about lifting weights, but really are you talking about lifting about big weights?" What's your response to that, Sarah?

Sarah: Well how big is your body? That's all relative. It can be a big weight. Let's talk, not in maybe amount of weight, but can we talk in amount of effort?

Dave: Yeah, yeah. Please.

Sarah: Women, I think they're afraid of lifting weights for a lot of reasons. But when we talk about the pelvic floor specifically, if it's done wrong it can create more pelvic floor dysfunction. So there is some warning in that. It needs to be done right.

But you know what? If you deadlift wrong, and you round your back, you're more likely to herniate a disc. So there's risk that comes up with pretty much everything in my mind, that just requires a little education from someone who know what they're doing and then you should be good to go.

With the pelvic floor, you want to focus on your breathing when you're lifting, and how you're loading your pelvic floor. Then the sky's the limit. I have people in my program, we're doing pull ups, and we're doing all kinds of crazy stuff. I have multiple women right now with prolapse running.

Running is one of those things that it's taken off the table for most women, because I feel like a lot of times when they go and see their PT, their PT is like, "Just stop that. That's the easiest thing." Instead of like, "Let's figure out how we can get you to do this. Let's figure out how we can get you strong enough so the activity you want to do is not maxing out your body."

How to Breathe During Exercise

Dave: I love that. So a couple of follow up questions. You mentioned about breathing; can you talk about breathing during exercise? What should it look like?

Sarah: Exhale on the hard part.

Dave: That's so simple.

Sara Let's just make it ... Obviously there's lateral rhythm movement, we can make it really complicated here, or we can make it really simple. Exhale on the hard part. But the problem is, if you take a very shallow breath, so if you inhale and your shoulders go up by your ears, you're not going to be able to get a good exhale from your pelvic floor. Which means you'll be more likely to bear down on the exhale.

Dave: So instead, can you kind of walk through ... Let's use an example of an exercise that most of us would be familiar with, say a squat. Can you talk about a squat from start to finish in relation to breathing?

Sarah: Absolutely. There are two ways I like to approach a squat. For someone who is brand new and had some pelvic floor issues, I'm going to have them exhale the whole way, down and up. So just give me a nice, big exhale, hold at the top, give me an inhale where they feel the inhale go down to their pelvic floor, push on their pelvic floor a little bit, and then exhale go down for their squat and come back up.

Once you're advanced, and you can handle a little bit of intra-abdominal pressure, because that inhale pushes down and creates pressure, and it's that natural pressure that provides your spinal stability. When somebody inhales, as they go down, then exhale as they come up.

I'm not a big fan of breath holding, because I know when you get into the power lifting circles you're talking about inhale, hold, go down, and exhale up. That can be a little bit dangerous for the pelvic floor.

Dave: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And just more complicated. I think back to my days when I used to be a face-to-face personal trainer, and it sounds silly but teaching breathing is often the most challenging part of exercising safely.

For some reason, people are so fixated on moving the weights properly, or looking at themselves in the mirror that the breath becomes secondary. Quite often, it actually becomes the opposite of what it should be.

Sarah: Correct. Yeah, and then those can be hard on the pelvic floor, for getting the pelvic floor to function correctly in someone who is very vulnerable for leaking or pelvic floor issues.

How to Avoid Pressure on Your Pelvic Floor While Lifting

Dave: I know it's slightly different, but anecdotally this conversation is really near and dear to me. When I was just starting to exercise like to lift weights ... This was, I don't know maybe 16 years ago, 17 years ago, I was fixated on becoming a big, muscular guy. Sarah, if you'd seen me when I was a teenager you'd know that was a pipe dream.

I remember the exact moment, I was at the gym and I was doing squats and no one had taught me how to do squats. For me, I was lifting what was a heavy weight. I felt something go wrong in my abdomen. I remember the exact minute; it was going deep into the squat and just like you mentioned, holding my breath, like a power lifter but I wasn't a trained power lifter-

Sarah: Yes, you felt the pressure increase. That's why they wear belts, so they basically don't explode.

Dave: For me, the end of the story was it actually was a hernia. I ended up having to have a hernia surgery from it, at such a young age. A 20 year old shouldn't be having a hernia surgery. It was such an eye-opener. That was the instance where I thought, "Okay, I need to actually learn about technique."

Sarah: You just got a first-hand look at what goes wrong in the body.

Dave: Exactly. So then it makes me so conscious. When I'm in the gym, even today, I'm watching people and I don't want to be that guy who goes up to people and says, "Hey, did you know you're doing this wrong?" But I watch and it's horrifying to see how many people aren't thinking about these things. I watch them and just think, "You're going to go through an injury and that's going to be your wake up call."

Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes. And the problem is sometimes once you get the fascia stretched out, it's really hard to get it to go back.

For the prolapse ... Maybe some women come out of labor with a little bit of prolapse. That's completely normal. So they have a grade half or a grade one or something. Then they go and exercise and they do too much too soon. Then that pushes it out to like a grade two or grade three. We can get more education out there.

I know your audience is a little bit later, but if they can start talking to the women in their lives like, "Hey, you're pregnant. Okay. Make sure you get great core and pelvic floor restoration before you jump into that HIIT class, or that baby boot camp," or whatever. So we just need to start looking out for our friends.

Thoughts on Group Fitness Training

Dave: It's interesting that you mentioned those two classes in particular. A HIIT class and baby boot camp. What's your opinion of group fitness training?

Sarah: Oh, goodness. That's a loaded question, isn't it?

Dave: Yeah it is.

Sarah: I think there are pros and cons to absolutely everything. I think that with rehab for postpartum women, I think it can be really hard to do well in a group setting for those initial visits or two. For when they really need to learn how to connect with their pelvic floor and they need a quiet, private space.

But, a great group exercise instructor that is well versed in the pelvic floor and core and what needs to happen is absolutely better than nothing, if the person only wants to go to a group fitness class. I think there's winning to all of it.

Dave: It's just tough coming out of ... I used to be a group fitness instructor, and I know that if you have a class of 30 or 40 people, it's impossible to watch everyone and look for all those little nuances of safe exercise. So I think you gave a great suggestion; maybe even having a couple of one-on-one sessions with a personal trainer or a PT or someone that can help you know your own body before you go into group exercise?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. I mean that would be ... I wish that all women would have to have ... Just even keep it simple. Here are three 30 minute back to fitness, or back after baby, sessions that you need to do and then you can jump back into all of our group fitness classes. This is just what you need to know to keep your body safe and reconnect your pelvic floor and reconnect your core and kind of see ... More of an assessment to see where your body's at. I think that would save so many women so much heartache.

How Much Effort Are You Putting In?

Dave: I totally agree. I want to go back to Shelly's question. She is asking about lifting heavy weights, and I know you're very accurate when you say, well it's all subjective, what's a heavy weight? You said let's talk about amount of effort. Can you talk a little bit about that? How can someone "rate their effort" to know if they're lifting heavy enough or too heavy?

Sarah: Everything that ... You max out, right? I would say 100% effort is you can't lift the weight. Honestly I think exerting 100% effort with a pelvic floor issue is fine, you just have to learn how to do it safely. It's a building process.

Someone with prolapse or leaking or even diastasis might have to start, and they might just start slower and easier and they might have five more steps in the middle than someone who doesn't have some of those issues. Some of it is genetic; we can't help everything and we can blame a few things on our genes. They just might need more steps.

Let's say somebody wants to lift heavy weights. They want to be able to go in the gym, they want to rack up the squats, and they want to do lunges with heavy weights, and they want to bench press or whatever. They would need to start easy, start light, figure out what's going on in their core.

Like you talked about, where you end up with a hernia. They need to figure out how to breathe for every exercise. They need to feel what their pelvic floor is doing for every exercise. I help a lot of women figure out what their pelvic floor is doing. Let's get in touch with this area of your body, and let's figure out what it's doing.

For a lot of these women, especially my prolapsed ladies, they have to figure it out for every single exercise. Because they have to re-train. Those of us that have dealt with prolapse, they have a more likely chance that they've been bearing down in life when things get hard, as their go-to pressure, and you were definitely bearing down to end up with that hernia. It's a go-to. When we push out on our abdominal wall, it's easy strength. It's like cheating.

So basically you have to just re-learn how to not push out and push down when you go to lift something heavy. Once you re-train that, then you train in different movement patterns like lunges and squats and everything else. Then you make it heavy. I find that the stronger I can get people, the more positive and quickly their pelvic floor recovers.

Heavier Weights vs. More Reps

Dave: Okay, interesting. I want to ask a follow up question, because initially you started talking about heavy being associated with your maximum capacity and reaching failure. But I'm thinking about a woman going to the gym, and say she decided to do 10 repetitions and so she picks up a weight and again we're going to use squats as an example, and she uses a weight that's heavy enough that at her 10th rep she's done. She's reached her failure point.

That weight can be very different for a different woman who comes into the gym and says, "I'm going to do 20 repetitions," and at 20 repetitions she still hits failure so she's at her maximum capacity as well. Do you see what I mean? Those two different scenarios are completely different weight-wise. So you can talk a little bit about maybe your preference or the benefits to one versus the other?

Sarah: You mean using higher reps or weight?

Dave: Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Sarah: I think it all comes down to what the person enjoys. I've got some women who will go to the gym and I asked them to do sets of 20 or 20 reps and multiple sets of it, they would kill me. They want to do two to three sets of six to eight and they're done.

I think there could possibly be more protection with the higher number of reps, because the weight is lighter. But then if you're reaching failure you're reaching failure, and if you cheat you're cheating. So those people that are more likely to bear down when things get hard are going to bear down whether or not they're at rep number 16 or rep number eight.

Dave: I agree with you. I see two different pros and cons as well. I think with the heavier weight, there is a higher risk of a very quick acute injury because there's just less room for mistake, basically. If you make a mistake lifting heavy weight, you're going to get injured.

On the opposite side, lifting with a lower weight but higher reps the trap there is that people can get ... Lose their cautiousness. I've done this, again, you're lifting a "light weight" and you feel very comfortable with it, but all of a sudden the reps start adding up and all of a sudden your form starts to slip. There's equal opportunity for an injury in that situation as well.

Sarah: Yes, we can cheat and get hurt in anything. I even help people learn how to load the dishwasher correctly. Talk about repetitive injury. And that's really light weight. Do it enough and you're going to hurt your body.

Dave: It's true. We don't even think about those daily activities. I love how you brought up about the car seat, because when we're talking about core issues, core stability, I don't think most women or most people would think, "Really? I need to think about how I'm breathing when I put the car seat in and out?"

Sarah: We don't think about being able to deadlift. I'm a big proponent of deadlifting, because moms have to pick up heavy things, whether they think they need to be able to lift or not, they need to be able to deadlift. It should be a given for all moms; "Here's how to hip hinge, you need to learn this motion to save your back."

Dave: I love that you said that, because I guarantee a high percentage of women who are listening to this podcast don't even know what a deadlift is. It's not a common exercise that most people just go into the gym and do, but you're right it's one of the most functional exercises there is."

Sarah: It's one of the first ones that I teach in the pelvic floor program, because when you tuck your bottom under ... If you think about bending over to pick something up, if you tuck your bottom under you're hurting your disc in your back, but you're also hurting your pelvic floor.

If you stick your bottom out, not excessively, but just enough to keep your spine straight when you're bending over, you're keeping your spine safe and you're keeping your pelvic floor safe. So I think it's a very vital movement pattern to learn from the beginning.

Dave: Agreed. But also, deadlifting is one of those ones that can be a little bit dangerous. So for anyone that's listening, if you YouTube ... I'll put a link in the show notes again, if you go to, I'll put a great video that sort of dissects, breaks down how to deadlift properly. Maybe get someone to help you through the first time, because it is one of those potentially dangerous ones if you're not doing it properly.

Sarah: It is, yes. I absolutely encourage all the women in my online program to video tape themselves, do it in front of a mirror. Because you think your body is someplace that it's not.

Make Your Body Work Take Away

Dave: Especially for trained women, so a woman who is strong and has been going to the gym, some of these more technical exercises such as a deadlift, they can be overcome using other muscles to kind of muscle your way through it, even though the muscles that actually should be doing the work are being put in harm’s way. So that's great advice. For any of the listeners, if you want to maybe connect with Sarah or myself and talk through some of that, I'll put contact information in the show notes as well.

Sarah, we like to wrap up the show with what's called a Make Your Body Work Take Away, and that's just one piece of really practical advice, sort of a starting place for someone like Shelly who is saying, "I'm a little bit afraid about going to heavy weights," or, "I'm a little bit afraid of resistance training." Where do you recommend a woman like that begin?

Sarah: That's a good question. Self-education, you've got to learn how to do the exercise. When we learn how to do things, we break them down and then we're no longer afraid of them. I would say great education on what you're supposed to be working during the exercise, where your body is supposed to be during the exercise, where you're supposed to be feeling it.

That way, when you go into the exercise if you're not feeling it in the right place there should be a little red flag; I call them dashboard lights. If you're listening your dashboard lights that something kind of pops up that says, "Okay check engine now," or, "Here's a little warning," if you can listen and pay attention to that, then go and get extra help before something becomes a major issue.

Dave: You know, we were talking earlier about group exercise. I don't mean to slam group exercise; I actually quite like it, I think there's a time and place. But your check engine light, I love that analogy. I could imagine check engine lights being overlooked in a group fitness atmosphere.

Sarah: There's a [inaudible 00:31:44] commercial right now that cracks me up every time I see it, because it's this mom she gets in the car, she looks back, there's multiple kids in the back seat. She gives this big sigh, and the check engine light comes on. She reaches in the back seat in her kid's backpack and pulls out this sticker and sticks it on the check engine light.

I just feel like that's what so many moms do. They're going to these group fitness classes, they're like, "I've gotta lose the weight, I don't have time, I'm too busy, I'm too stressed." Kids, they just take it out of you. They take it out of you. So you don't have a lot of reserves left to take care of yourself. Even just emotionally. They're like, "Oh you should take care of yourself," and you're like, "But I'm just tired. I want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix."

I totally get that. So if we can just encourage women to keep checking in with themselves and pay attention to those check engine lights, instead of putting themselves on the back burner for their family. I think that's just such an important thing to get across.

How to Connect with Sarah

Dave: I totally agree. Sarah, thanks again for being on the show. I just feel like you came with such a positive message. We started out with a little bit of doom and gloom, but I think there is hope in the message to come away from this is, there is a way to restore your body.

There is a way to lift safely. There is a way to do the activities that you want to do without getting injured. If someone who is listening wants to connect with you or learn more about your expertise and what you do, where can they connect with you?

Sarah: Absolutely, thanks. I have a website called, and you can also find me on Facebook, Dr. Sarah Duvall. I just really enjoy women with pelvic floor and diastasis issues, and getting their bodies functioning correctly.

Most importantly, I enjoy empowering women. I want to teach them how to move, I want to teach them how to be autonomous with their health and their body, and understand how to fix things themselves so they're no longer reliant on the system basically for giving them opinions on things. I just really enjoy making women ... Empowering them when it comes to their bodies.

The Pelvic Floor Challenge

Dave: You have a pelvic floor challenge, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Sarah: I do. I have a free pelvic floor challenge, which has three key exercises. One is easy, it has the squat as the first exercise. So we'll go over my coaching for the squat, where we're talking about how to sit down into it, how to breathe, all those good things. Then it's got two more that are a little bit more challenging; one is from the middle of my pelvic floor program, and then one is from the last week of my pelvic floor program.

So it kind of gives women a little bit of a taste of what's in the program. I've had a lot of women who walk away from the challenge, from just those three exercises, and they're like, "Wow, my pelvic floor is already starting to feel better." So it's pretty cool. It's really fun and it's free, so everybody should just give it a try.

Dave: Awesome. I encourage the listeners, give it a try. Like Sarah said, it's free and maybe you'll know all this stuff and you'll think, "Okay, I'm in great shape." But maybe you'll learn something, and it's worth giving it a shot. Give it a shot. I'll put a link in the show notes. Again, go to Sarah, like I said, thanks again for being here today. It was awesome, awesome learning from you. I really appreciate you offering up these resources to the listeners.

Sarah: Oh absolutely. Thanks so much for having me. This was really fun.

Dave: Thanks again Sarah for joining us today, and for just sharing so much wisdom about lifting weights and most importantly about being safe while we do it. Thanks to all of you listeners for tuning in today; hopefully you came away with like I always say, that one golden nugget.

What was the one thing that you took away from today's episode? If you're not sure, I encourage you to go to the show notes; again, it's You're going to find a bunch of links from today's episode, you're going to find a link to the podcast that started this whole episode talking about lifting weights to lose weight.

You're also going to find a link to Sarah's website, one to her pelvic floor challenge, as well as to a few other of her subsequent programs that can help you make sure that your abdominal strength is in a place ... And your abdominal control is in a place where you can be lifting weights safely.

Be sure to check all that out. Of course, I'm going to be back next week with another great guest, another great question that we're going to be talking about. I hope to see you here, and if you have any questions for the Make Your Body Work podcast, you know where to find me. You can reach me any time at

Stress Isn't Going Anywhere - How Do I Deal With It?
Why Does My Stomach Get So Bloated During The Day?
How Can I Change My Genetics

Thanks for joining me today!