Start Hitting the Weights Ladies!


Want to look good in a bikini? Then start hitting the weights ladies! Above is Stephanie Check competing in her very first NPC Bikini competition. Here she is roughly 105 lbs and trust me…she didn’t get there by doing a bunch of cardiovascular training. She was hitting the weights HARD and HEAVY throughout her entire prep and never did she get big or “bulky” muscles.

One of the most common exercise myths that I come across regularly is that women should avoid lifting “heavy” weights so they don’t get “bulky” muscles. In reality, it’s physiologically impossible for a woman to build large bulky muscles no matter how hard she hits the weights at the gym.

Of course there are certain weight lifting manners and techniques that are more conducive to “bulking up”; however, it all comes down to sex hormones. Men are able to put on bulky muscle mass for one reason only – the male sex hormone- testosterone. Testosterone promotes protein synthesis and increases red blood cell production, which has an anabolic effect on muscle mass and bone density. Women produce very little testosterone and primarily produce the female sex hormone, estrogen. Unfortunately, estrogen is responsible for many unwanted effects on the body such as higher body fat, increased cortisol levels, and fluid retention, as well as decreased muscle mass and bone density; however, by lifting weights women can combat all of these negative side effects that they experience from estrogen.

Weight lifting places stress on your skeletal muscle, tendons, ligaments and bones. Over time, your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones adapt to this stress to better handle it in the future. One way the body adapts to the stress caused by lifting weights is by reducing estrogen levels and increasing testosterone levels – this is true for both men and women. This does not mean that women will produce testosterone and build big muscles like a man. This simply means that women will experience a small reduction of estrogen and a small increase of testosterone, which results in an increase in: bone density, red blood cell production and metabolism, as well as a decrease in body fat and fluid retention.

Women who lift weights also have a reduced risk for developing heart disease and osteoporosis, which are the top two afflictions women suffer from in the United States today. Every woman can benefit from the health advantages received from regularly engaging in weight training. Just 45-60 minutes of weight training two days per week will greatly increase your physical fitness and decrease your risk for many diseases and disorders.

So to all the females out there who workout regularly…don’t be afraid to lift “heavy” weights for your ability! It’s not going to make you “bulky” and muscular! If it were that easy to get big and muscular I’d be an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder!

To Crossfit or Not to Crossfit?

Rich-cover-597x406“In training, you listen to your body. In competition, you tell your body to shut-up.” – Rich Froning Jr.

If you don’t already know, that’s Rich Froning Jr. pictured above who has been deemed the fittest man on earth for multiple years running. Rich Froning is a professional Crossfit competitor who has set the standards for Crossfit today. I get asked all the time about Crossfit… what I think about it? If I do Crossfit? If it’s appropriate for me? So I’m going to talk about Crossfit and my opinion of it, so you can understand it and form your own opinion.

Most people have heard of Crossfit or know someone who does Crossfit. If you know someone who does Crossfit, you know they take it very seriously. You soon realize that it’s a culture, a way of life where fitness enthusiasts come together to train as a group all with the same goal in mind- to push their bodies to the limit and get as fit as possible. So what does Crossfit entail and why has Crossfit exploded in popularity over the years? Can anyone do Crossfit? Take a look into the growing world of Crossfit and be the judge of whether it’s appropriate for you.

What Is Crossfit?

The term “Crossfit” gets thrown around a lot these days without most people realizing what Crossfit truly is. “Crossfit” is a branded/trademarked term used to imply a certain style and standard of cross-training. The workouts and training principles of Crossfit by design demand results quickly and are commonly used to condition everyone from military Special Forces to elite professional athletes. Crossfit  workouts combine strength training, cardiovascular training, plyo-metrics, olympic lifts, power movements, and gymnastics into a single workout (which is cross-training). These Crossfit workouts change daily and are referred to by crossfitters as the “WOD” or the “workout of the day.”


The WOD’s are typically based on completing (x) amount of exercises for (x) amount of repetitions for either (x) amount of rounds or in a certain time limit. This is usually done in one large circuit where the person rotates to the next exercise after completing the goal number of repetitions, but it is also sometimes done in a set order by completing (x) amount of repetitions per exercise before rotating (e.g. 20 back squats (4x) as quickly as possible, then 20 push-ups (4x) as quickly as possible, etc…). The WOD’s vary daily and use everything from your own body-weight, to barbells, dumbbells, sandbags, sleds, tires, and kettle bells which is one reason why Crossfit lends results so quickly- it constantly changes and there is constant muscle confusion. Here is a sample WOD to give you a better picture:



3 rounds as quickly as possible


(# signifies the amount of weight used- one for #women/one for #men)

20 x Burpees

10 x Barbell Thrusters #45/#95

20 x Box Jumps

25 x Sit-ups

25 x Kettle Bell Swings #15/#30

Another element that makes Crossfit such a successful exercise program and why it’s so attractive to people is the support system. Crossfit is a community and anytime you have a support system of people behind you with the same goals and passions in mind, your odds of reaching your goals increases tremendously. Imagine the difference in motivation and determination you would experience between working out alone at a gym and working out with a group of people who know your personal best and are pushing you to surpass it each and every single day. So it’s obvious that crossfit works and is designed to get you results fast, but this does not answer the question- Is it appropriate and safe for everyone to do?

To Crossfit or Not to Crossfit? That is the Question…

There’s some disagreement among the fitness community on whether or not Crossfit is appropriate for everyone…just ask a bodybuilder what he/she thinks of Crossfit…lol. On one side of the argument it’s said that “Crossfit” by nature is only appropriate for highly conditioned individuals. The opposed side argues that anyone can do Crossfit because the workouts can be scaled down to each individual’s abilities and needs…but the stigma of “Crossfit” does not lend to that. That would in my opinion just be considered cross-training.

As someone who has participated in “Crossfit” and as a veteran certified personal/group fitness trainer through one of the highest accredited exercise institutions in the country, I am a firm believer that traditional “Crossfit” is not appropriate for everyone. The principles, training techniques, and exercises used in Crossfit can and absolutely should be incorporated into everyone’s exercise program; however, only after it has deemed appropriate by an experienced certified fitness instructor.

It’s always best to consult with a certified fitness trainer before starting any new type of exercise program. My recommendation to anyone with chronic orthopedic issues, cardiopulmonary disease, or limited exercise experience would be to seek personal training before trying Crossfit. This will ensure that you develop and progress through your exercise program at an appropriate and safe speed, which cannot be monitored as closely in a “Crossfit” setting.





Do you want to know the big secret to losing weight? It’s pretty cut and dry for the most part. You have to burn more than you consume…calories that is. So naturally, if you want to lose weight you have to track how many calories you’re consuming every day and how many calories you’re burning every day. That’s right- no miracle drug out there yet, so for now you’ll have to do it the old fashion way- eat properly for your bodies needs. There is, however, an electronic tool that I personally use and recommend all my clients to use that makes it easier than ever to lose weight called MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal is an electronic food log/diary that has over 2,000,000 searchable food/beverage items in it’s database, including menu items from most major restaurants that disclose the nutrition facts of their dishes.  The best part is it’s a free smart phone app and is also very very user friendly. The first step is to setup a profile where it asks you a series of questions about your current condition, activity level, and weight goals to determine how many calories/day you need to stay under in order to have a deficit (or surplus if you’re trying to gain weight). Then you just have to make sure you log everything you eat and drink every day and it automatically deducts the calories from your daily allotted calories. As long as you stay under your allotted calories for the day you’ll lose weight! Yes- losing weight is as simple as that.

My favorite thing about it is it also has features that allow you to customize a meal plan for yourself by adjusting your macro ratios and calories. I’ll let you all in on a little secret…it’s what I use to do meal planning for my clients! I’ve had great results using MyFitnessPal and I highly recommend anyone looking for help with weight management to utilize it as well.

Check out the MyFitnessPal website for free tutorials on how to get started and navigate through all the features. It’s super easy and 100% effective! I’m been using it for years, so please feel free to contact me with any questions, or if you need help with meal planning.

Be sure to keep up with all my latest NO B.S. FITNESS blog articles on my website and Facebook pages. You can post any comments/questions on my business page wall or blog.

Body Weight vs. Body Composition

Cropped head shot

Justin Check, NSCA-CPT, FNC

Check Total Health, LLC


One of the most frustrating concepts to grasp for many people (usually more so for woman than men) is the difference between body weight and body composition and how each differently influence your overall physique. I’ve looked great at 200 lbs. and I’ve looked great at 220 lbs. How can that be? It’s simple- body composition will ALWAYS determine how good your physique looks, not body weight. It all comes down to the type of physique that you want and how long you’re willing to work and wait to get it. One thing will always be certain though…the lower your body fat percentage is the better you’ll look, which is not necessarily true about your body weight.

Time and time again I’ve witnessed the frustrations of friends and clients who’ve put in plenty of hard work at the gym, but didn’t see quick nor big drops in the number on the scale. This is very normal and in fact the right way to lose excess weight (fat) if that’s in fact your goal. Reason being that your body is only capable of metabolizing so much fat for energy in a weeks time (1-3 pounds on average), so when you see or hear of somebody losing large amounts of weight in a weeks time you can almost be certain that a lot of it is from retained fluids (water weight) and possibly some muscle mass if they aren’t eating properly. So if you’re more worried about how good you look in a bathing suit, then I would suggest you stop stepping on the scale every day and start worrying more about your body composition as oppose to your body weight.

Your body composition is simply the ratio of your muscle to fat (body fat %). It doesn’t matter if you’re 5′ 5″ and 105 lbs. or if your 5′ 5″ and 125 lbs. The bottom line is if your body fat percentage is low then you’re going to look lean and healthy. Who do you think looks better in a bikini- a 5′ 5″, 105 lb. woman at 25% body fat or a 5′ 5″, 125 lb. woman at 13% body fat? The 125 lb. woman has about 10 pounds less of fat on her and is certainly going to look better and healthier. Main reason being is that muscle is much more dense and heavier than fat (about 5x heavier in fact), so 10 pounds of muscle is much much smaller than 10 pounds of fat and it works the same when it’s on your body!

So unless you’re trying to become a competitive body builder or make weight for a sport you’re in, stop worrying so much about your weight and start trusting the process. It takes time, but if you focus more on your body composition rather than your body weight you’ll not only see more of your true results, but keep your sanity as well! If you’re curious on how to test your body composition, please feel free to contact me for a free 9 point caliper body fat test which is the second most accurate method to testing body composition. Under-water hydro-static weighing is the most accurate method, but is very costly and is usually only done by major athletic  training facilities and human performance clinics.

Be sure to check out the NO B.S. FITNESS blog regularly on  my website or on my Facebook pages for free information and advice on fitness topics that are practiced and preached by experienced fitness professionals!






Meal Planning

showpicHave you ever heard that getting in shape is 90% diet? Well it is! Don’t get me wrong…exercise is crucial to getting fit and looking good with your shirt off; however, I can tell you from my personal and professional experience that at the end of the day what you eat will absolutely make the most difference in your physique.

It’s difficult for someone to know what to eat, how much eat, and when to eat it, especially with all the fad dieting tricks and plethora of unhealthy food items available to us today. You can spend hours and hours in the gym and erase all of your hard work in just a few bites! Don’t waste your efforts by not following a meal plan! It’s a must for seeing results and reaching your fitness goals.

I make meal planning easy, sustainable, and very feasible. No fish and asparagus diets here…my meal planning is custom tailored to your taste preferences, eating habits/schedule, body type, fitness goals, and keeps the USDA’s recommendations in mind with plenty of variety and balance. The best part is meal planning can be done completely via phone and email.

Meal planning is a process that requires weekly reviewing and revisions when necessary. I give 100% nutrition coaching throughout the process with weekly check-ins to make sure we’re staying on track. My meal planning packets include a body composition analysis, macronutrient needs/breakdown for the entire day and every single meal, plenty of macro options/alternatives for every meal with your appropriate portions, cooking/prepping instructions, and weekly guidelines to follow. This is the real deal meal planning!

Please feel free to contact me, Justin Check at (239) 209-7878 or for more information or to request a meal planning packet to get started! It’s real simple…if you want to get in great shape, get on a meal plan and follow it!