This past Friday, I posted Part I of my interview with Molly Galbraith. If you haven’t read it, I HIGHLY suggest you take a few minutes and do so by clicking HERE.
In Part I, Molly discussed competing in Figure vs. Powerlifting, and also talked about her struggles with her weight, food obsession, and autoimmune disease. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, Molly is back today to get down to the nitty gritty of her current training and nutrition, and to share her thoughts about women and strength training.
There was an overwhelmingly positive response to Part I, so thank you everyone for reading and thanks again to Molly for a great interview!
Conor Nordengren: Molly, talk a little bit about your diet and your training. Do you have any powerlifting meets coming up?
Molly Galbraith: My current nutrition program, like many others in the fitness industry right now, is a version of intermittent fasting. My business partners and I call it The Modified Warrior Diet. The reason being, one of our other partners took Ori Hofmekler’s nutrition plan in his book ,The Warrior Diet, and modified it for strength and physique athletes. The most basic version of the MWD is a 14-16 hour fast, followed by 4-6 hours of “under-feeding” and then 4-6 hours of “over-feeding/feasting.” I have been following this program for over 2 years now and I love it. Since starting a MWD, I have more energy, I have been able to lean out slightly while eating a pretty crappy diet (hey! Just being honest here! ;-D), my workouts have been great, I am not constantly thinking about food, it’s more convenient than eating every 2-3 hours, and there is a lot more forgiveness if you want to have some cheat food. I will include a sample training day menu:
9 am: wake up, 5 g BCAAs, 24 oz water, 2 krill oil, 1 multi vitamin, 1 probiotic, 2 GI restore
10 am: black tea with 1 TBSP raw, organic heavy cream
2pm: 6 oz. vanilla Greek Yogurt, ½ c. blueberries, 25 raw almonds, 1 multi-vitamin, 2 GI restore
4:30pm: 2 whole eggs, 2 whites, scrambled in 1 TSP pasture butter, ½ apple
5:15 (pre-workout): 5 g Alanine, 1 scoop Geronimo, 1 g Acetyl L-Carnitine
7:15: 5 grams Leucine and protein pancake
Protein Pancake: 1 whole egg, 3 whites, 80 grams unpasteurized and organic cottage cheese, 30 grams gluten-free oats, blended together and cooked in 2 TSP pasture butter
7:45-10: “Over-feeding/feasting:” (usually around 80-100 grams of protein, 40 carbs, 50-70 grams of fat) 2 krill oil, 1 Protandim, 1 Chasteberry Extract, 2 Adapten-All, 2 iron bis-glycinate
Example of over-feeding/feasting: (often have 16 oz fresh vegetable juice while making cooking)
10 oz chicken
5 oz sweet potato
1 cup broccoli
2 TBSP pasture butter
3 oz avocado
1.5 scoops protein powder mixed in 8 oz. whole, unpasteurized milk
11:00: 12 oz decaf green tea, 100 mg CoQ10, 100mg idebenone, 2 krill oil, 5000 IU Vitamin D (if I haven’t gotten any sun that day)
While the MWD is a great plan for leaning out, we have also had clients gain significant amounts of lean mass on this diet. We actually have a manual coming out in the next few months, so keep your eyes peeled. It will include a 70+ page manual with a comprehensive description of the diet, its benefits, how to execute it properly, plus a brief overview of training, supplements and cardio. It will also include Excel templates to help you figure out exactly how much you should be eating at each meal and “hacks” for people who need to modify the diet further to fit their lifestyle.
Regarding my current training, here is a little background: after my meet in 2009, I wanted to keep getting stronger but I noticed that I was plateauing and my strength was even decreasing in some areas. I knew if I wanted to keep getting stronger I would have to focus on my weaknesses, so I decided to go to Indianapolis to see Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman for an assessment. Since I had always focused a lot of time and energy on posterior chain work and upper back work, I figured I might have a couple of issues that needed addressing, but I thought that overall they would be pretty impressed. WRONG! Mike and Bill basically told me that I had no glutes, no hamstrings, no anterior core, no serratus anterior and no low traps. I also had tight hip flexors, poor ankle mobility and anteriorly rotated shoulders and hips. Wow. I was shocked. In my opinion, the only good news was that if I was that messed up and still pretty strong, then I would be ridiculously strong once I was “fixed.” So for the last 2 years Mike has been writing all of my programs for me. For the first 6-9 months I was doing very little heavy lifting and a lot of mobility work, core stability work, glute activation work, etc. Over the last 15-18 months I have been transitioned back to heavy lifting again while still putting a lot of emphasis on form. Since training with Mike I have hit rep PR’s in just about every lift, and I have hit all-time PR’s in front squat, back squat and RDL. I am confident that within the year I will smash my current PR’s in bench and deadlift as well. I considered doing a meet in April, but I haven’t made any decisions yet. But speaking of PR’s…
CN: Based on the way you’ve been killing it in the weight room, there’s no doubt you’ll hit new PR’s in the bench and deadlift this year! But yes, speaking of PR’s, what are your current PR’s in competition and in the gym?
MG: My best lifts in competition are: squat – 237, bench – 148, deadlift – 341. My best lifts in the gym are: squat – 245, bench – 150, deadlift – 315. I also have some rep PR’s that I am pretty proud of and they are as follows:
Front squat: 235 for 1, 170 for 18
Back Squat: 180 for 12
Mid-thigh Rack Pull: 405 for 5
Deadlift: 225 for 15, 155 for 54 (random competition I entered. I don’t normally do 50+ reps on DL ;-D)
RDL: 255 for 5
Good Morning: 160 for 6
Glute Ham Raise: + 45 lbs (holding a plate across my chest) for 10
CN: Those are excellent numbers, Molly! And I have to say, I am always impressed with your form. Okay, I know you and I are on the same page when it comes to women and strength training. Tell us why you think women should throw away their 5 lb. dumbbells and lift some appreciable weight.
MG: Oh wow…where do I begin? I guess I should first point out that I used to be one of those women. Yes, I have actually used the phrase, “But I don’t want to get bulky…I just want to tone.” I just cringe at the thought of it, but it’s true. I also want to point out, badgering women and telling them that what they believe (i.e. lifting more than 5 lbs will make them bulky) is “stupid/idiotic/ignorant” will only make them defensive and they will shut down and not listen to you. So make sure you approach it from a more positive and encouraging point on view. Instead of, “I can’t believe you think lifting weights will make you bulky. That’s so stupid!” Try saying, “I know you are kind of nervous that lifting more than 5 lbs will make you bulky, but you should really check out some of these women who are really strong:
They just have an awesome, athletic look and I think you could be really strong too if you wanted to be! Plus, think how bad-ass you would feel doing chin-ups!” That way you are simply introducing her to the idea, giving her examples that prove her wrong without making her defensive, and encouraging her and helping her believe that she, too, can be strong.
So why am I such a believer in lifting heavy things? Here are just a few reasons:
1) It’s just awesome, plain and simple.
2) It is one of the best and most efficient ways to get lean.
3) It’s an amazing confidence builder, especially for women.
4) It gets better results in less time than just doing cardio or lifting light dumbbells.
5) It teaches discipline, focus, determination, goal-setting, and persistence.
6) It not only gives you a strong body, but it encourages a strong mind as well.
7) It gives you curves in all the right places.
8) It helps build bone tissue and will help keep your bones healthy and strong as you age.
9) It also helps build muscle tissue that will increase your metabolism and keep it from declining as you age, allowing you to continue eating lots of yummy, clean food while staying lean.
10) It helps prevent injury and promotes good posture (when done correctly).
11) It’s makes you a great role model for young girls as it allows you to show them that being active and strong is cool, as opposed to being unhealthy and starving yourself for an unnaturally thin look.
12) It can be a great stress reliever! (Just don’t use it as your sole source of stress management. You can easily burn out that way).
CN: Right on! Unfortunately, the stigma that lifting heavy makes you big and bulky will probably never go away. How do you address this notion with your female clients who are hesitant to deadlift and squat heavier weights?
MG: To be honest, we don’t get much of that with our female clients and I believe it’s because when they start training with us or start taking our classes, they see our other fit, strong female clients fighting with each other over who gets to use the 90 lb KB, and they see how wonderful they look and it eases their concerns. The biggest issue arises when women have tried strength training in the past without addressing their nutrition. In this case, they begin weight training and adding some muscle, but if they don’t change their nutrition, they may not lose any fat. Therefore they are gaining muscle while the amount of fat they have stays the same…of course they are going to get bigger! They are adding something without losing anything else. What they don’t realize is that if they change their nutrition, they will add muscle and lose fat and over time, because muscle is denser than fat, their body will look drastically different, even if the scale doesn’t change that much. We have a client who only lost 8 lbs on the scale but she went from squeezing into a size 8 to comfortably fitting in a size 4 and she lost about 6 inches around her waist.
This is why we hammer nutrition and lifestyle changes with our clients. We explain that we only have them for 2-3 hours a week and that it’s what they do with the rest of their week that really matters! We encourage them to eat whole, unprocessed foods like: grass-fed beef, salmon, bison, whole eggs, broccoli, peppers, sweet potatoes, pasture butter, almonds, avocadoes and some fruit. We also encourage them to get enough sleep, take time to meditate daily if possible, get some sunshine when possible and supplement with vitamin D otherwise, get their digestion in order, and not kill themselves in the gym. We also work on all aspects of fitness including: soft tissue mobilization through foam rolling, mobility and stability in the correct parts of the body through our dynamic warm-up, muscle activation and proper movement patterns through our extended warm-up, strength and hypertrophy gains through our strength training, aerobic and anaerobic capacity through our conditioning, and flexibility and proper breathing during the breathing and stretching portion of our workouts. As you can see, we offer a very comprehensive program that is all about lifestyle change. I have never had a female client who trained with us and also changed their lifestyle who felt that lifting heavy things made them “bulky.” So use examples of current female clients as well as videos of women like me and the other women from Girls Gone Strong to quell their fears and then make sure they change their lifestyle so they get the results they are after. That will make a believer out of any woman!
CN: Wow, that’s some outstanding advice! Finally, and most importantly, when is the Girls Gone Strong crew going to make an appearance in the Boston area?
MG: Hahah! Obviously the most important question of all… . We are trying to plan our traveling schedule for this year as we have been blessed with invitations from many places including gyms, universities, frat houses (haha kidding!). But Boston is one place that is most definitely high on our list! We are all dying to visit places like Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning and Cressey Performance, just to name a few! I would venture to say we will get there sometime in 2012! The real question is…is Boston ready for us?!?
CN: Haha! Trust me, you would all be welcomed with open arms! Thank you so much for your time, Molly. It was an honor to interview you, and before you go, tell my readers where they can find out more about you and Girls Gone Strong.
MG: Thank you for having me! It’s an honor to be your first interview! I have several websites where readers can find out more about me. My personal website will be up and running in a few days:
You can also find me on:
Girls Gone Strong on Facebook (keep your eyes peeled for our website soon!): http://www.facebook.com/GirlsGoneStrong
That’s me (second from left) with Molly and some studly guys last summer in Indianapolis.