strength Archives - Britt Fit


By | Coaching, Fitness | No Comments

Last week, I attended a USA Weightlifting coaching clinic. I learned proper techniques for weightlifting movements such as squats, deadlifts, cleans, jerks, and snatches. I also learned a lot about effective coaching in the sport of weightlifting. But, most of all, I learned that I still have a lot to learn about this sport–both as a coach and as an athlete.

Why weightlifting? When I was a freshman at UCLA, I was a walk-on with the women’s varsity swim team. These ladies are not kidding around! They train 20+ hours every week–not just in swimming, but also in yoga, weightlifting, running, and other “dryland” workouts. That was where I was first introduced to the barbell, and I loved it! But, I decided not to continue swimming after my first season, and so my weightlifting career was on pause. A couple of years later, this time as a triathlete, I came back to my old friend Mr. Barbell, and was instantly reminded of the extreme soreness that he inflicts after long absences. We hung out a few times, and I felt extra strong again, but then I graduated from college and bid farewell to my friend once again.

This fall, I started to miss those good old times, and decided to buy a used barbell on Craigslist. I figured that if I wanted to start lifting again, I’d better learn to do it correctly. Plus, I enjoy broadening my general knowledge for my personal coaching and training.

Who is weightlifting for? I am so glad that you asked! Weightlifting is not just for bodybuilders and CrossFitters. You don’t have to enter weightlifting competitions or go on the Paleo diet to enjoy the benefits of weightlifting. It is actually an excellent strength, power activity for everyone–triathletes, runners, swimmers, cyclists, numerous other athletes, and those seeking general fitness. You can add weightlifting into your training schedule and expect to see improved performance because it utilizes muscle groups and movements that are key components of pretty much every other sport. Another carry-over of weightlifting into other sports is improved technique and injury prevention via strengthening weak or under-used muscles and improvement of balance, stability and coordination.

But, isn’t weightlifting dangerous? It can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Please don’t just show up at your gym, pick up a barbell, and start lifting because you once saw a weightlifting competition on TV. Ideally, you should learn proper technique and skills from a certified weightlifting coach. A qualified coach can assess your readiness to lift and take you through each movement step-by-step at an appropriate pace.

In one of my favorite parts of the coaching course, our instructor showed us a scientific research-based table documenting sport-related injury rates.  Interestingly, weightlifting carried lower injury risk than other sports within the study (Hamill 1994).

Sports Injury Rates (Hamill 1994)
Sport Injuries (per 100 hours)
Soccer (school age) 6.20
UK Rugby 1.92
USA Basketball 0.03
UK Cross Country 0.37
Squash 0.10
US Football 0.10
Badminton 0.05
USA Gymnastics 0.044
USA Powerlifting 0.0027
USA Volleyball 0.0013
USA Tennis 0.001
Weight Training 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
Weightlifting 0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

What is the difference between Weightlifting and CrossFit? Great question! While I do not mingle with many weightlifters or CrossFitters, I believe that both sports have their unique benefits and drawbacks in terms of fitness goals, environment, etc.

Whether you choose to lift weights, do CrossFit, join a bootcamp class, run, bike, swim, or take up yoga, I hope that you find an activity where you can challenge yourself, have fun, stay fit, and be safe!

Iron Legs

By | Coaching, Fitness, Triathlon | No Comments

Nearly 5 years ago, my parents and I embarked on a journey across the world- to New Zealand.  It was an unforgettable time…

For two weeks, we drove the entire length of the north and south islands, explored, tasted, and admired the landscape, foods, and local culture.  We stayed in many-a hotel, and were in the car for 10+ hours most days.  The lack of routine exercise was a huge challenge for me, after having spent nearly every day since age 13 training for swimming, running, and/or triathlon!  So, I decided that every morning before breakfast I would complete a very short, very intense, exercise routine without even leaving the hotel room.  While the number of sets and repetitions varied from day to day, and some exercises came and went, the following leg set has been a staple of mine ever since.  I am a firm believer that it played a huge role in allowing me to maintain leg strength and muscular endurance with zero running, and heaps of sitting, throughout my 2-week excursion.  It has also been my go-to for leg injury prevention ever since!

This short routine, performed correctly and consistently, will target your core, improve your balance, and strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and adductors–all desirable functions for runners, cyclists, and triathletes hoping to avoid injury and improve performance!!

Britt’s “Iron Leg” Routine (1-3 sets of 5-15 of each exercise per leg)

1-leg squats
1-leg power hops (aka. “tuck jumps”)
1-leg calf raises

Words of Caution

1-leg squats can cause more harm then good if not done correctly!  Please do not attempt more than you can complete with proper form.  Perform squats in a slow, controlled, balanced, motion.  Use a mirror to check that your alignment is correct (hip not sticking out to the side; hip, knee & foot in-line).  Also be sure to emphasize “sitting back” vs. leaning forward.  Knee should not move forward beyond front toe position during squat.

1-leg power hops should only be attempted by athletes with healthy knees and plenty of double-leg jumping/hopping practice. Be sure to land each hop on the ball of your foot and not on your heel.  Additionally, 1-leg calf raises should only be performed to the extent that calf strength is sufficient to support bodyweight during the exercise.  Otherwise, the calf and/or achilles tendon may be over-stressed.  Listen to your body–don’t over-do it!

Finally, proper run/gym shoes are allowed (and even recommended)!


  • Use a chair for the 1-leg squats, or use 2-legs
  • Mini hops before (or instead of) power hops
  • Perform each exercise in isolation vs. in succession
  • Use 2-legs for everything

Swiss Ball Core Routine

By | Coaching, Fitness | No Comments

I like simple strength workouts.  I often do as many exercises as possible using just one piece of equipment, and then repeat them all over again.  It’s fun, challenging, and always evolving.

This Swiss Ball Core Routine takes just 8-12 minutes. You can finish it while your penne are becoming al dente.

Today’s piece of equipment: Swiss Ball (aka. Stability Ball)

1. Walk down into plank
2. Pushup (legs on ball)
3. Pike (feet on ball)
4. 1-leg scrunch (1-foot on ball)
5. Side twists (feet on ball)
6. Side & Center scrunches (feet on ball)
7. 1-leg abductions (1-foot on ball)

8. Elbow plank on ball
9. Forward-backward ball roll
10. Side-side ball roll
11. Circle ball roll (clockwise, then ccw)
12. Knee raise

3 sets of 4-8 reps each, with 1-minute rest between sets.

Why do this?

‘Cuz it’s fun, and, to improve your…

-Shoulder Stability (Swim)
-Chest Strength (Swim)
-General Core Stability (Swim, Bike, Run)
-Hip Flexor & Abductor Strength (Swim, Bike, Run)