Changing Your Mind To Build Muscle And Strength

The women I coach almost never see the it coming. They think they’ll change their bodies by following the program I give them, and they’re right. But that only happens after they change their minds.

How important are your core attitudes around food and lifting? It’s this simple: If you doubt yourself, you will not build muscle and strength (or lose weight or whatever). If you question whether you can really eat more for muscle without gaining weight, you will never eat enough. If you fear hurting yourself and thus stick with lighter weights, you will never build muscle.

It’s all about trust, as my client Lori discovered.

Meet Lori

Lori is a 49-year-old client who started training with me last spring to build muscle, do three unassisted pull ups, and bench 100 pounds within one year. (See us on Instagram when we met in person recently!)


More confidence with deadlifts pays off for Lori

When Lori came to me, I could see she that had a strong, capable body and had no doubt she could reach these goals. But I could also see that she was performing far below her potential. She hadn’t been able to progress with weights and couldn’t seem to reach her goals. She wanted help with both nutrition and training, but she didn’t quite expect the mindset changes she would be making.

Blasting Nutrition Roadblocks

Lori admitted without hesitation that she struggled with eating more for muscle. Like many other women, she feared gaining weight.

It’s not a totally unfounded fear.

If you’re accustomed to eating below your maintenance calorie intake, your body may very well store any extra calories as fat – at first. That’s why you need to gradually increase calories and train your metabolism to use fuel more efficiently.

Needless to say, this process takes patience and trust. If your metabolism is inefficient, you won’t be able to dive into a calorie surplus without gaining fat. And you’ll need to have the right training intensity to ensure you’re working hard for those extra calories (which also takes time).

So while Lori’s metabolism adapted to increasing her food intake, we worked on her mindset. I encouraged her to make small habit changes using lean protein, and she stepped up to the challenge. Then, after a few months, a predictable thing happened: Lori’s appetite increased. Yes!

Once this happened, Lori felt even more justified in fueling her muscles. Not every day is perfect, but her mindset has changed – she knows she’s capable of eating more without gaining fat. She’s also seen how it benefited her training. She’s killing it on all fronts now, but it could not have happened without her mindset revolution.

I have to say, the biggest change so far has been with my mindset. It can be scary to push away from the old patterns and embrace something new, but so worth it!” ~ Lori

Breaking Through Training Hesitancy

When Lori started training with me, I could see she had a strong, capable body. But she wasn’t pushing hard enough in her training to see gains. She was stuck at only 20-pound dumbbells for squats and about double that for deadlifts. Her bench sat below 60 pounds and her barbell hip thrust was downright wimpy.

I told Lori what I wanted to see and again, she stepped up. Not that she loaded up the bar the very next day, no. She kept adding weight to the bar in a methodical way instead of using the same resistance for too long. She had some fears around going too heavy with deadlifts, and that can be a very healthy fear. But I critiqued her form and was confident she could go heavier.

Lori client

Lori rocking the Harley

Once Lori understood her potential and started adding weight to the bar, she began to build muscle and strength. Seven months into her program, she’s at two unassisted pull ups (yow!) and her bench is just under 100 pounds – so close to her goal! Her deadlift is well over 100 pounds and she’s determined to pull her body weight. Damn straight, Lori!

Lori has broken through her mental barriers, but this didn’t happen overnight. It took time for her attitudes about food to change. She needed to work up to trusting her body with both training and food.

If you’re inspired by seeing another woman break through to a more successful mindset, allow the process to unfold – trust.

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This article originally appeared on

2 thoughts on “Changing Your Mind To Build Muscle And Strength

  1. Word. People literally could not function without muscle. Most people, male and female, have much more than the realize. They don’t know it. They don’t believe it. Or both. Understanding what the body is capable of, AND getting good with it, is a wonderful thing.

    Hats off to Lori!


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