December 28, 2010

Stay Away from the Pink Dumbbells!

A colleague forwarded me the following link to a video of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Workout. Ordinarily I would just get a laugh at the horrendous form being used and dismiss it as simply another clueless trainer in a largely unregulated industry. However, Gwyeth’s trainer, a woman named Tracy Anderson, goes on to make perhaps the most asinine statement ever uttered by a so-called fitness professional. “We use three pound weights and only three pound weights,” Tracy exclaims. “No woman should ever lift more than three pound weights!”


I spend the better part of my life preaching to women about the importance of hitting the weights hard and dispelling the myth that they will get “bulky” from doing so, and some “celebrity” trainer–a person that Gwyneth Paltrow calls the “exercise genius of all time!”–tells them they’re going to turn into a she-male if they lift anything heavier than a a pink dumbbell. Please!!!

With all due respect, Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t even look like she works out. Sure, she’s thin. But chalk that up to genetics and diet. Body-wise, she has no noticeable muscle tone (not surprising given that she doesn’t lift anything heavier than three pounds!), and not much shape, either. That despite claiming to train two hours a day, six days a week! I’d say that’s a pretty poor return on investment. Look at the two photos posted here. Compare Gwyneth’s physique to a fitness or figure competitor and you tell me who has a better body.

Ladies, don’t be fooled. The only way to develop a fit, strong body is to challenge your muscles beyond their present capacity. This is called the overload principle, and it’s a central tenet of exercise. If you don’t progressively overload your muscles, they won’t develop and you won’t have muscle tone! Moreover, adding a few pounds of muscle to your body won’t make you look big or bulky. Rather, it will give you pleasing shape and definition. It will prevent areas from sagging with age. It will make you strong and give you better posture. And it will help to keep you lean (read: less body fat). Bottom line: Ditch the pink dumbbells and don’t be afraid to lift real weights!

Stay Fit!



  1. Makes you wonder if Gwyneth picks up her own children. They weight more than 3 pounds, I imagine. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    That is such a silly statement to make. I can’t believe this trainer is so popular!

    Comment by Lori — December 28, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

  2. Great point about the kids, Lori. I bet her handbag weighs more than three pounds, and she undoubtedly totes that around all day ๐Ÿ™‚


    Comment by Brad — December 28, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  3. It’s a shame more women don’t realize that lifting weights is a way to empower themselves. You DON’T empower yourself lifting 3-lb DBs! But when you keep getting stronger (especially as you get older), you start feeling really proud of yourself. It’s so cool being able to handle things yourself, rather than depend on others! Stick with the 3 lbs and you’re definitely going to be asking for help.

    Comment by Kathleen — January 5, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

  4. So true, Kathleen. That’s what makes the comments by this trainer so deplorable–it sets back women’s fitness by decades…


    Comment by Brad Schoenfeld — January 5, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  5. Hard to comprehend how a regular mom could spare 2 hours a day, 6 days a week! I’m just beginning the body-conditioning phase from your book “Sculpting…”, and what a blessing it is to not overdo exercise like I usually do, and to have time and energy to put into my family. Thanks so much for that! ๐Ÿ™‚

    (3 lb dumbbells, 12 hrs. a week, endless repetitions…I’d rather eat my shoes.)

    Comment by Gisela — January 25, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  6. Absolutely, Gisela. The sad part is that she would actually get *better* results by cutting frequency and duration if she simply increased intensity and effort!


    Comment by Brad — January 25, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  7. I think it’s a matter of opinions.. I’d never want a body like the second picture you’ve posted. That, to me, is a man with a woman’s face. You like it, good, but don’t assume that every woman wants to look like that. For some of us, Gwineth’s shape is so much better!

    Comment by Elisa — June 27, 2011 @ 8:22 am

  8. I respect your opinion Elisa, however this ‘is’ a website dealing with the topic of fitness and training. Clearly the woman’s physique in the second picture demonstrates superior conditioning and dedication to training than what is represented in Gwynethโ€™s photo.

    I agree that beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. Twigs and spheres, both found in nature, may be aesthetically appealing in their proper context. … but this just isn’t it.

    Comment by Charles — November 7, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.