Audit Your Strength Training with Mark Breedon

strength training women's confidence health aesthetics-focused training progress achievements self-care strength gains progressive overload personalized programming red flags for trainers feedback personalized training quality over quantity tough love mentality

Emily Field (00:00:00) – Today I chat with my friend and strength coach Mark Breeden. Mark is an online strength coach for women who uses strength training to build their confidence in and out of the gym and make them feel like a badass lifter. Mark has made it his mission to change the focus on why people exercise, and that is threaded throughout all of his work. I love working with and referring people to Mark, because he gets people to move away from focusing on training for aesthetics or scale weight, and rather training for health, self-confidence and to become stronger. Welcome to episode 21 of the Macros Made Easy podcast. Welcome to Macros Made Easy, the podcast that takes the confusion out of tracking macros. I’m your host, Emily Field, a registered dietitian that specializes in a macros approach. In each episode, I help you learn how to eat in a way that supports your health, body composition, and athletic performance goals. We’ll cover the basics of macronutrients how to track for various goals, the role of macros in your health, and how to make sustainable changes to your habits.


Emily Field (00:00:55) – I’ve helped hundreds of people experience more food freedom and flexibility while navigating their nutrition. So whether you’ve tried macros and it just didn’t stick or you just heard the word macros yesterday, I can’t wait to help you too. Welcome, Mark. Thank you so much for being here. I’m thrilled to have you. Why don’t we just start with the audience? A bit of an intro about you and how you got started being a strength coach.


Mark Breedon (00:01:19) – Yeah, absolutely. And thanks for having me, Emily, I appreciate it. Looking forward to the conversation. How I got into being a strength coach I think I started where most people started, which is like very aesthetics focused for me. It was when I was 18, my high school girlfriend broke up with me, and I thought that going to the gym and having big biceps would resolve that issue. It didn’t, but I trained for purely aesthetics for probably five years or so, and it didn’t bring me the happiness I was looking for, even like with result change.


Mark Breedon (00:01:55) – Like I had put on muscle, had abs, the whole thing, and it didn’t give me the joy that I was expecting, right? I had a coach at the time who was like, well, let’s try, you know, powerlifting or, you know, strength focused training at the time and much better of an experience it was because now I’m not comparing myself to like what other people look like or like that I’m not jacked enough or shredded enough. Things like that that I became more about, like what my body could do as opposed to what it’s supposed to look like. Way more enjoyable of an experience, less comparison traps. Which was really nice because I find that when you’re purely aesthetics focused, you’re constantly comparing yourself to like other people who have better physiques than you. And I didn’t find that was the case with strength training.


Emily Field (00:02:38) – And the ideals change, right? Like what you are looking for always changes because society’s standards change.


Mark Breedon (00:02:45) – Oh for sure. Yeah. Like the look of you know, 2010 is not like the look of 2024.


Mark Breedon (00:02:51) – And like if you look, you know, we can look back at like the 90s where the ideal look for women at the time was like truly just 80 pounds, 4% body fat year. Like just like everyone’s like a coat hanger kind of look. Yeah. And like that’s not the look of now. And I’m sure 15 years from now that look will change. And I think as well as like even when your body changes, you end up comparing yourself just to different people. Yeah. Than you were before, which is also a big one where it’s like almost you’re kind of like always moving the goalpost a lot of bodybuilders complain about this where you’re like, you’re just you’re never quite jacked enough because you just moved to like somebody else. I didn’t have that with strength training. Strength training was all about like, oh, cool. Like I used to be able to deadlift two plates. Now I can deadlift three, now I can deadlift four. And it was about kind of the journey that I had.


Mark Breedon (00:03:36) – But like comparing myself to myself as opposed to comparing myself to other people. And when I decided to get into personal training myself, I noticed this as well with like a lot of people I was working with the people who were 100% aesthetics focused, very emotional journey, always kind of felt like they weren’t good enough, even when there were result changes. But the ones who were only focused on strength, they seem to enjoy training more. They appreciated like what their body could do as opposed to just what it looks like and like, how can we fix this? Or like, what can we do in the gym to solve this problem, you know, quote unquote. And so I’ve been doing that pretty much the majority of my training career. I’ve been training eight years now, about five and a half. Six of that is online now. And honestly, just like seems like the people who go the strength training route, at least as part of their training, and we can kind of talk about that as long as like they seem to enjoy it more, easier to be consistent.


Mark Breedon (00:04:32) – They appreciate the results that they’re getting. It just seems like a better time.


Emily Field (00:04:35) – You oftentimes say this to my clients, you know, have you come and talk to our Italian group? And you always say that strength training is an underrated form of self-care. And that’s pretty much what you’ve just described here, is like you have a playground or an area where it’s totally okay for you to fail. And and actually it’s encouraged that you do. You’re approaching a skill that you’ve never done before, and you’re trying it out, and there’s really not other places in your life and in your world that you’re encouraged to fail and you’re encouraged to try something out and like, be bad at it and then slowly get better. And that is such a confidence boost. And that’s what you described in happening in your life is, you know, when you switched from a static space to strength based training, you really build that confidence from inside out. It’s really cool.


Mark Breedon (00:05:20) – Yeah, I think that’s super underrated. Like building that confidence also as well as that in strength training, it’s pretty obvious that you’re like getting better.


Mark Breedon (00:05:28) – Like there’s pretty objective measurements. Like you couldn’t do a pull up. Now you can do a pull up. You were rowing 10 pounds, now you’re rowing 40 pounds where it’s like the focus on just aesthetics is like, do I look better? Is like often a subjective, like maybe I do, maybe I don’t, or how can you tell body image issues, etc. whereas like, you know, if you can deadlift your bodyweight now and you couldn’t before, it’s pretty hard to convince yourself you’re not getting stronger, right? Like it’s kind of one of those nice things that like the weights keep track for you, which is a really beneficial thing. And it’s it’s less subjective, which in my opinion I think is good. I think like then you can tell if the program is working, you can tell that you’re getting better and you don’t need me to tell you, like, no, you’re doing great. It’s like, you know this. You can see the weights and improve on yourself. And I think that’s very unique because I think a lot of things aren’t like that in the world.


Mark Breedon (00:06:18) – Lots of things are like, are you more successful or are you better looking now than you were before? Is like often kind of subjective, whereas like strength training can be a lot easier to tell.


Emily Field (00:06:28) – So no, so true. I mean, even if you’re in your regular job, it’s like sometimes your boss or the, you know, like the goal posts or the measurement of success is totally changing depending on where you are in, in your career and all that. But you’re right in strength training, it’s pretty black and white, and that might be your one and only place where you get to feed that a little bit. And I love that. As most of my listeners know, strength training complements literally any goal that you might have for yourself. So really having a foundation of strength training in your week and layering on other activity on top of that can be a really great way to achieve. Honestly, anything aging peacefully, having a better metabolism, having healthier hormones, having more confidence. You know, there are obviously a wide range of reasons why people come to you, but that does beg the question, like, what are some of the big reasons why people hire a strength coach like you? Like, what are they really trying to accomplish?


Mark Breedon (00:07:22) – There’s a few reasons I really like what you touched upon were like, becoming stronger is never going to be a doubt.


Mark Breedon (00:07:26) – Like, no one’s ever like, oh, I got too strong and now I can’t do this thing. Yeah, like that doesn’t that doesn’t happen. There’s a few reasons people come to me. Sometimes it’s they just want to feel confident. And lifting a heavy weight does that for them. And it’s like being able to deadlift your bodyweight for the first time, or deadlift 200 pounds, or get your first pull up like that’s just like a confidence booster for them. Other times it’s quality of life things. There’s a person I’m working with right now who she’s in her 50s and lifting and like, yeah, she wants to be strong and lift more weight. But she also wants to be able to like go skiing with her grandkids and like, go on hikes and be able to be independent for as long as possible. And being strong definitely helps you become more independent, especially as like the years go on and not being strong enough can be the reason you stop being independent. So that’s definitely one of the things that people come to me for.


Mark Breedon (00:08:13) – And yeah, I think for a lot of people, they still care about how they look. They still would like to see body changes, but also I think they want to see value in themselves outside of just the aesthetics, where like, I’m not just a person who’s a size 4 or 200 pounds or whatever, like I’m a person who can do these amazing things and I’m able to lift this weight, or I’m able to do this thing with my body, and they want value in themselves outside of just appearance. And so for a lot of people, strength training is like, well, actually you’re not just a size four. Like, you can do all these really cool things now, and you’re so athletic and you can do things you never thought were possible, which I think is also a cool part of strength training because often people underestimate how strong they can become. And that’s kind of awesome, actually, because like, they get 3 to 6 months in and they’ve lifted more than they ever thought was possible.


Mark Breedon (00:09:05) – Like, that’s cool. Like that’s awesome. You just kind of prove yourself wrong in a very positive way. Yeah, I would say those are probably the biggest reasons. Yeah, yeah.


Emily Field (00:09:12) – That’s awesome. You’re really helping color people’s experience of their whole life or who they are. You’re basically saying, I’m not just this one appearance based version of myself. I’m all of these things. I’m coloring in more details and that’s really, really cool.


Mark Breedon (00:09:26) – Yeah.


Emily Field (00:09:26) – Very rewarding. So, you know, there’s a lot of people that are interested in strength training. They’re doing aspects of strength training in their week. They know that it’s important, but I do find that there’s just no shortage of people claiming to be strength coaches and putting out programming and templates and things like that, but it can be very obvious to maybe somebody like you and I who have strength training experience, what good programming looks like and what bad programming looks like. But for the average person, they really don’t know. So I’m curious if you can give me a couple of high level aspects of good programming.


Emily Field (00:09:57) – What should you be looking for in a good strength training program?


Mark Breedon (00:10:00) – In a good strength training program? Okay, so should we talk about like how do we make sure it’s a strength training program at all or do you want to start there.


Emily Field (00:10:08) – That’s a prerequisite for sure.


Mark Breedon (00:10:09) – Yeah, I’m with you where I’ve seen that, where they’re like, this is strength building. And I’m like, no, it’s not. And I think one of the often signs is that one, there is no rest periods is a red flag, in my opinion, that like strength training by design, will have rest periods between exercises. And if it’s just like a list that you go through, this is more like an aerobic conditioning program than like strengthen itself. Because like strength in its definition is you lift a weight, you rest a little bit, lift again because you have to lift it at higher intensity, that if there’s no rest periods in the program at all, that’s like a good sign that it’s just like not a strength training program.


Emily Field (00:10:46) – Yeah. So the details of that would be, you know, like you’re lifting, but then you’re doing, you know, jumping jacks or jumping lunges or something in between, or you’re just moving, like you said, through a list of multiple exercises with no rest.


Mark Breedon (00:10:58) – Okay. Yeah. Or like your rest period is, like you said, like doing jumping jacks or something else that that’s like your active rest. It’s like strength training has rest. Rest like doing nothing. You’re not fitting in other exercises in that scenario. Yeah. Also that the workouts are not random. And I think a lot of people who come from classes. This is like very common, where if your teacher did the same thing every week, you’d kind of feel like you were being ripped off. And so the expectation is to always have random workouts. Yeah. Strength training there is repetition and the workouts should be similar from week to week. And the reason for this being is that in strength training you are building a skill.


Mark Breedon (00:11:39) – Whether that skill is squatting or deadlifting or rowing or whatever it might be. And how you get better at that skill is by repetition, like it’s how we get good at public speaking or writing or really anything. So like if you do a workout one week and then next week, it’s all different things. You’re kind of just always starting at like class one, where you’re just constantly learning new things. But to get good at strength training and become stronger, you need to do similar exercises over and over again. So when I see someone’s program and they never repeat a workout or never repeat an exercise, that to me is a red flag that like this is more for something else. Whether it’s entertainment, whether it’s for conditioning, something along those lines. But the primary focus here is not to get stronger. So I would say those are two things that like people can look out of the gate if your program doesn’t have these things, I would be very, very skeptical that it’s not a strength program.


Emily Field (00:12:35) – It’s not a strength program.


Emily Field (00:12:36) – It’s something it’s working out. It might.


Mark Breedon (00:12:38) – Be fun.


Emily Field (00:12:39) – Yeah, that’s a really good point. What do you say to the people who are like, well, I love the randomness of classes, and I think strength training sounds boring because it would be doing the same thing over and over again week to week.


Mark Breedon (00:12:51) – So it’s not that it never changes is that it shouldn’t always change. So like when I train people, usually it’s like we’ll do training blocks of like 3 to 4 weeks, maybe five of like similar training. And then we’ll move on to something else with like different variations. I think if you’re a person who insists on random workouts or wants random workouts, I think, I hope this doesn’t sound judgy, but I think you need to decide what is the most important to you. If the most important thing for you is that it’s entertaining and that you like doing the random stuff over and over again, then fine. That’s totally okay. If your primary focus is I want to get stronger or I want to see like a result happen, then there are some things that we need to have in the program.


Mark Breedon (00:13:37) – It doesn’t mean that every workout has to be exactly the same, but if you don’t have any repetition, that’s going to really hold back how strong you could become, how much muscle you could build, and then you as the person again, like you can make this decision for yourself. Does the entertainment value of different workouts matter to you more, or does seeing yourself become stronger and build more muscle matter to you more?


Emily Field (00:14:01) – I mean, that’s a great answer. And I figured you would say something like that because it does come around with food as well. People, they seek new and novel in these two areas of their life, nutrition and training. But maybe you should be putting new and novel in something else, because boring works, and doing similar things week to week is what is going to deliver these results that you say you’re looking for. So maybe we put that entertainment or what you’re seeking from that stimulus, ever changing workouts or the new Crazy foods. We put that into some other area of your life.


Emily Field (00:14:29) – Not exactly sure what that could be, but we could explore that in a client relationship. Yeah. I was also just going to say, like when you talk about the repeating movements and the blocks of like 4 or 5 weeks, just as an example, this happens with my stuff too, like my training right now. Like I don’t love a sumo deadlift. So we do it. And there’s certain aspects of the deadlift that are important to me, but I’ll do the sumo deadlift for 4 or 5 weeks, and then we move on to doing like Romanian deadlifts, or we move on to doing single deadlift. So the movement and the hinge and then muscle development is what’s happening week to week. But I’m not necessarily doing a deadlift the same exact way forever and ever and ever and ever never changing. Yeah, yeah, that’s the example I guess I just wanted to make.


Mark Breedon (00:15:11) – Yeah. And you can make those changes for sure. Like it’s not like, okay, I picked conventional deadlift. Well this is my deadlift now forever.


Mark Breedon (00:15:17) – Yeah. Like you know it’s and and it’s good to have variation within the same movement pattern still helps. So I might have a block of training where someone’s doing kind of like you said, a sumo deadlift. But then like four weeks later we’re going to switch to like a conventional deadlift with like maybe a pause in it or a Romanian deadlift or something along those lines. So similar, but not the same. That helps to keep it interesting as well. I think that’s also like because most people can’t do the exact same workout literally forever, and also your body will adapt to that same workout, which is why we have to have some variation because we want repetition, but we can’t have only repetition. Like that’s kind of because eventually your body gets used to that rep, range gets used to that variation, and then the results that you see from that one workout start to become less and less. And this is also why, like sometimes people ask me, you know, I’ll make them a program. And they’re like, well, can I just reuse the program? Yeah.


Mark Breedon (00:16:13) – And the answer is kind of like, you probably can, but. As you use it more and more. The results that you get from that program are going to be less and less. So it’s kind of a trade off. And this is like, it would be awesome if I could just like make here’s the perfect three month program that you can use forever would be amazing, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work like that.


Emily Field (00:16:34) – Yeah, I mean that piggyback onto the new and novel stuff. It’s like you are getting variation and you just might have to wait just a couple of weeks in order for you to have something new show up in your programming. And it’s not the same exact workout every single time, like you said. So we’ve kind of covered what constitutes a strength training. Is it actually a strength training program with those two big items that you mentioned? What are some other things you might look for in good programming?


Mark Breedon (00:17:01) – In good programming. So I want them to track weights for sure. I want them to like that.


Mark Breedon (00:17:07) – It’s not just random. Every time they go in that like, you know, you’re increasing the weights over time, or at least making it more difficult if you’re changing the phase of training. I want there to be reasons why you’re changing that phase where and if you’re working with a coach and they should be able to answer like why you’re doing this exercise that exercises should have purpose for you specifically, like, why are we throwing this exercise in as opposed to another one? They should be open to answering those questions as well, where I’ve heard scenarios where sometimes they’ll make the program. And then when you try and ask, they don’t answer or give. Kind of like a generic answer. Like if you’re curious about something like they should be there to answer questions, especially if you’re like paying them on a monthly basis or like whatever it might be. I think the sign of good programming to simplify it the most is are you improving over time, where if you’ve done six months of training and there’s no increase in results, like you haven’t gotten stronger, like nothing’s changed, that’s a good sign that your program is at least not good enough.


Mark Breedon (00:18:10) – And that doesn’t mean like every week is like a new personal best. But if you’ve waited three, six months and there’s no change, then like something in the program is not right. Something needs to change, especially if you’ve been consistent with the program and you’re making all the right steps and you haven’t missed too many workouts, you can miss something that’s fine. But if you haven’t missed a lot and there’s no difference, something has to change there. You’re missing something.


Emily Field (00:18:34) – Yeah, really good points. Is there like a number of weeks that would count as a good program or is that pretty variable in your mind?


Mark Breedon (00:18:41) – I think it depends on how ambitious the goal is or like what your expectation is like. If you’re a person who is just lifting for the first time and they want to deadlift 200 pounds, something along those lines, that’s going to be different than someone who, you know, wants to add 10 pounds to their deadlift. Also, how long you’ve been training for is a good thing to notice as well.


Mark Breedon (00:19:02) – I think like this isn’t talked about enough where new lifters gained strength really fast. It’s really fun actually. It’s a great time where you can just actually just increase the weights almost every week, like you’re notice you’re getting stronger. There’s like a huge benefit to that as you get into your training years. And I believe you’re probably at this level. I’m probably at this level where we have to train super hard for even just like the smallest of results, like I’m trying to bring my overhead press from 200 to 225, and I’m going to guess it’s going to take a year and a half, two years. But if I was working with someone who just started lifting and they wanted to increase their overhead press by 25 pounds, we might get that done. Month two, month three. Like it’s just like it’s a totally different game. I think if you’re signing up for a strength training program, I think at a minimum it should be three months long because that’s good enough.


Emily Field (00:19:58) – I agree with you. I think three months would be very significant to see change, but not so long.


Emily Field (00:20:03) – You can’t change directions if you want to.


Mark Breedon (00:20:05) – Yeah, I think like for people who are new to strength training or they’re just trying out a new coach, I think three months is a good amount of time where you can figure out, like, okay, this person knows what they’re talking about, or if they don’t know what they’re talking about, like after three months, you’re like, but you haven’t committed to so much time where for? Well, this was just like a waste of six months to a year or three months is like you can kind of figure out if they know what they’re doing.


Mark Breedon (00:20:27) – . Yeah.


Emily Field (00:20:27) – Glad to know that there’s a bit of pen to paper on how long is appropriate. And you’re right, it really does depend on the training history, your training age, how long you’ve been string training, but also like what your major goal is because how long do you think it will take you to increase 25 pounds on your overhead press?


Mark Breedon (00:20:45) – Geez, I’m hoping a year and a half. Wow.


Mark Breedon (00:20:49) – Might be two years. Might be two and a half because I’ve been training for a while now. And so as you become more experienced and sometimes I think intermediate lifters will. See this as a mistake, where they’re so used to the beginner results that when they don’t get them, they think there’s like a problem when they’re just in like the new phase of training that like, listen, you’ve been training for five years now. You’re not a beginner anymore. Nothing is wrong. But the results you’re going to see are going to be less significant than they were at the beginning. At my level, I probably say like it could take anywhere from like a year and a half to two and a half for that 25 pound jump.


Emily Field (00:21:24) – Yeah, that seems realistic, but it’s probably shocking to some people to hear, especially if they’re new lifters. They know that they can go up ten, 20, 30 pounds, like in a big movement, like a squat or a deadlift. When they’re young in their training years, it will go very, very quickly.


Emily Field (00:21:38) – But it’s not a reason to stop hearkening back to what we said earlier in the episode, which is like, we’re doing this for life and this is an opportunity for us to just like put little tiny pins of accomplishment kind of along the way because you’re going to be strength training for life, and I’m going to be strength training for life. But if we put little tiny goalposts inside that, because we don’t have aesthetic or strength training, we’re not going to strength train because we’re only looking at the aesthetic benefits that we get from it. We’re doing it for many other reasons and how it compliments our life.


Mark Breedon (00:22:07) – Yeah, I totally agree. And then by the time you get to that level, strength training is pretty much a habit at that point. It’s part of your life where it’s when you’re new, you kind of need that validation that it’s worth going, like, why am I going to spend 3 or 4 days a week for 30 minutes to an hour doing this thing if nothing changes, right? So you kind of need that validation.


Mark Breedon (00:22:26) – But once you’re three or 4 or 5 years in, it kind of just like a thing you do. So if the changes aren’t as quick as they were before, it’s usually fine, because this is like a habit. It makes you feel good. You appreciate it for what it is like. It makes you better as a person. Like you don’t necessarily need to see, you know, 5 pound jumps in your squat every single week to still appreciate training for what it is.


Mark Breedon (00:22:51) – .


Emily Field (00:22:51) – So you’ve been alluding to you know in good programming you’re doing similar movements week to week. You’re tracking your weights. You see changes over time and a word that we oftentimes use is progressive overload. What you’re referring to is doing a bit more over time. And that is really the definition of great strength training programming. If you don’t have progressive overload, if you’re lifting the same exact weights every single time, nothing’s going to change. But can you elaborate on progressive overload a little bit?


Mark Breedon (00:23:18) – Yeah. So I think you defined it in a great way, which is like, you know, things have to become harder over time.


Mark Breedon (00:23:24) – What this could be is more weight on the bar. This could be harder variation. You were squatting with a dumbbell, like maybe like a goblet squat, or now you’re squatting with a barbell or choosing like a harder variation, like a squat or Bulgarian split squat, you know, increasing the time under tension, increasing the reps like something has to make it more difficult than what you’ve done in the past. If you stay at the same level of difficulty, eventually your body just gets used to that difficulty level, and then it’s kind of the signal. It’s like, well, we actually have given you enough muscle and strength for this. So like, we have no need to keep adding more. The progressive overload is the signal to the body. That’s like, actually we’re doing things even more difficult than we were doing before. So we have to give you even more strength, even more muscle, so that you can keep seeing results that you want to see. And so this is like kind of why programs that you repeat over time don’t work because they stay at the same level of difficulty.


Mark Breedon (00:24:24) – And if you don’t change your programs in some way, that you’re just going to kind of stay the same as you always were. And this is why, like a lot of programs online, very cookie cutter, very like do the same things over and over again with no changes. Find to start off with for sure. But as you get stronger and as you build more muscle, you’re going to need something a little more specific. You’re going to need some changes, you’re going to need to make it harder and actually have progressive overload. And I think if you don’t have that as part of the program, you’ll get some results at first, but it’ll plateau and then you’re going to need it to keep going.


Emily Field (00:24:58) – Yeah, I think a lot of times people get nervous about the term progressive overload because they assume that it means just lifting heavier over time. So it’s really great that you touch on that. Progressive overload shows up in many different ways. So more reps, more sets, more time under tension, slowing down the rep, which is time under tension.


Emily Field (00:25:18) – You know, I mean, doing push ups from your toes instead of your knees, like you’re recruiting different muscles. A great program and a great trainer or coach will be creative in the way that they insert progressive overload across time. And it will not always be the same type of progressive overload all the time. It’s not just lifting heavier because there will be a cap on how long that will last, and how long you can keep going on.


Mark Breedon (00:25:38) – Yeah, exactly. The best example I like to use for this is like, let’s say you’re working on bench pressing and you start with the bar on a week one and then you add 5 pounds every week. It’s like, well, you would be nationally ranked as a bench presser by like the end of the year. If you could truly just keep adding weight over and over again. And also at some point there’s like different types. A fatigue of the body, where if you always choose adding more weight, you kind of build up a certain kind of fatigue and then your body almost gets like burnt out in a way, and then it needs that variety.


Mark Breedon (00:26:11) – It’s like we can’t just do, you know, five sets of five, adding more weight like we have to do sometimes sets of eight sets of ten sets of 12. These are, you know, triples sometimes. And that keeps everything fresh kind of removes that fatigue burnout that can happen and continue to kind of see the results that you want to see. And that’s why I like the programs that I make. We’re going to even if we choose the same exercises, we might choose different rep ranges or amount of sets or amount of volume, like, all of these things are going to change because that’s how we continue to become stronger over time.


Emily Field (00:26:42) – Yeah, really good points. So you know, we’ve talked a lot about what constitutes great programming. So I think people can kind of assume what constitute not great programming. But I’m wondering if you have any like top red flags about trainers or programs that might want to get people thinking about maybe making a switch?


Mark Breedon (00:26:58) – Yeah. So I think the big red flag and this like annoys me, especially when people are like paying monthly or like for a certain amount is when the trainer is not open to feedback or there’s like no way to respond to them, like they kind of give you a program and then you don’t really hear from them ever again, especially if they’re talking about their programming is personalized.


Mark Breedon (00:27:19) – Certain things will come up with training, like even if you have the perfect program out of the gate, sometimes it’s like, hey, this machine’s always used. Can we switch to something else? Like there’s there is reasons to modify, even if it’s a great program to start. I think that to me is a pretty big red flag, especially because if you’re hiring a personal trainer, this is a person where it should be a partnership. Like you should be working together, not just like, here’s a program, go have fun. So that to me is a big red flag. I think always focusing on how much you sweat or how sore you are is also a red flag, where strength training does not have to be burning the most calories in a workout. In many cases, it’s not. In many cases, you’re just not focused on that. You’re focused on becoming stronger quality over quantity. And if someone’s training is always like, how many exercises can we put in an hour? Or like how many exercises? You know, someone sent me a program and there were like 14 exercises for four sets.


Mark Breedon (00:28:18) – I was like, that’s just it. Just to give a reference, I will program anywhere from 4 to 7, seven being on the higher end depending on the workout, not including warm ups and stuff like that. So when someone I hear 14, I’m like, I’m like, someone’s weeks.


Mark Breedon (00:28:35) – Can be.


Mark Breedon (00:28:35) – Like 14, like that’s. But that was kind of the expectation that they had. So I think that’s a big red flag when there’s a ton of exercises. And also they’re all really high reps. I think that’s like also a big one.


Emily Field (00:28:49) – Make people exhausted, have a 2.5 hour workout and just dead tired. It’s supposed to complement your life, not totally destroy your day.


Mark Breedon (00:28:57) – And it’s supposed to have a purpose. Like when I see someone who has 14 sets for, you know, sets of 20, 30, 40. To me, I’m just hearing someone who’s trying to make you tired and like, that’s not the same thing. There are great programs that will make you stronger, that are four exercises, three sets each.


Mark Breedon (00:29:15) – There are programs that like you want a quality over quantity experience. And I think in the fitness world we have kind of this tough love, no excuses mentality that can often exist. And because we have that, a lot of the programs that exist online are kind of like, how tough can this be? How hard can we push you to the brink? And if you’re a new lifter, you really just need to like, be consistent with a good program and work hard. But we’re not trying to crush you every single workout like it’s just unnecessary and you’ll get those results anyways. So I often find like people need to relax and the fitness world, okay, that’s the like that’s like my problem is that like it’s going to be fine guys. People can get stronger training 3 to 4 days a week for 30 minutes to an hour. It doesn’t need to be. We’re going to crush your soul every workout and then, like you’ll barely be able to walk for most lifters is just like an unnecessary level of difficulty.


Mark Breedon (00:30:09) – Like, do you.


Emily Field (00:30:10) – Think that’s borne out of, like, just what’s catchy or flashy online? You know, we want to see people just completely breaking their back over this stuff and that somehow, like, what is the reason why that gets so much attention? Or people think they have to go there with their fitness in order to see results?


Mark Breedon (00:30:28) – I think it’s better entertainment. I think it’s way more interesting to watch someone, like push themselves to the brink than to, like, see someone do three sets of ten on the back squat and then like, take two minute rest periods in between and then like, maybe they don’t go 100% or they go like 80 or 90 and like that. It’s just like less entertaining as opposed to seeing someone crush themselves every workout, like just sells more Gatorade. And then I think that’s where it comes from, where a lot of this stuff that we’re talking about.


Mark Breedon (00:30:59) – Works, but.


Mark Breedon (00:31:00) – It’s kind of boring and like is not something that will interest people on like an entertainment level.


Mark Breedon (00:31:07) – It’s a way better lifting experience because especially if you’re new and every workout just destroys you. And I’ve worked with people who are like this where they’re like, I just gave up on fitness because every time I went in, I just felt awful afterwards. And they just, like, pushed me as hard as I could. A lot of totally new lifters. I will almost make the program too easy because I would rather them get like a self-confidence and they’re like, oh yeah, I got I, I did this workout and it was fine. Like, no big deal. Next workout, you know, felt good. And then increase the difficulty because again, like as a new lifter, if you want to get stronger, if you’re just not consistent with a good program. Yeah. Just go like if you can consistently go three times a week on like a good program, then like you’re going to see those results anyways. You don’t need to go on to make the.


Emily Field (00:31:52) – Barrier to entry a lot lower in.


Emily Field (00:31:54) – What you’re doing there is smart, you know, like if the barrier is too sore, I’m not confident moving around at these weights. Like I’m never going to come back for a month to. So, you know, month one might be a little bit easier.


Mark Breedon (00:32:07) – Absolutely. I think a lot of fitness people, because they love fitness. They want other people to live fitness, when in reality most of the people that we work with are moms, with young kids. They have a business, they have like a job, like whatever it might be like, like their whole life is not fitness and it’s not going to be all fitness. That doesn’t mean none of it should be fitness. But like when we work with people, this is not just a person who is going to devote 100% of their life to, you know, training six days a week for two hours. Like, I don’t know about you, but like, I work with a lot of people in like 30s and 40s and 50s, they have other things going.


Mark Breedon (00:32:42) – Like if I told them, hey, you got to train six days a week for two hours, they’re just going to look like, what are you what are you talking about? Like, I don’t have this kind of time. Like, it’s not.


Emily Field (00:32:50) – Nor do I want to.


Mark Breedon (00:32:52) – Or do you want I mean, I don’t I don’t trade six days a week for two hours. That’s sounds awful. And like my job is training. You know, I would never expect anybody else to do that.


Emily Field (00:32:59) – Okay. So we’ve talked about a few of these red flags. You know, a lot of what you’re saying is like, too much stuff in a workout is probably one major red flag. I think you’ve shared, too, that if the person that is putting out the programming is not doing their own programming, that can also be a red flag. Are they somebody that really practices what they preach, or are they achieving results independently, doing something completely different and trying to sell you something else? I would call that kind of a yellow or red flag too.


Mark Breedon (00:33:24) – If they’ve.


Mark Breedon (00:33:25) – Never had a coach. To me, that’s like a red flag for sure, because it’s kind of like, oh, well, you need this thing, but like, I’m too good for this thing is weird to me. And sometimes the response to this is like, well, I’m so knowledgeable that I don’t need a coach. It’s like there are literally Olympic athletes who have coaches. Yeah. And like top level powerlifters and bodybuilders who have coaches. Why are you better than those people? And to me, I think it’s one of those things where you sell the service, but you don’t actually like believe it. Like it’s just your way of making money. If you’ve, like, never been a client before, I think, like, do you always need to be a client? No. But if you’ve never been one, that to me is like, you should also buy the thing that you think is worth buying..


Emily Field (00:34:11) – That’s absolutely I found this to be true in CrossFit. Like it’s kind of a funny joke where you’ll go to class at CrossFit, but the coaches don’t do the class workout.


Emily Field (00:34:20) – So what message does that send to your clientele that like well it’s for you and not for me. Cross was supposed to be for everybody. That was like how it was started and it’s supposed to be functional. And it when my coaches do the workout, it means so much more to me than if they were to do their own thing or to like, skip out on it because the messaging is really subliminal and loud. Yeah, I definitely agree.


Mark Breedon (00:34:43) – Like, well, if you’re doing something else, like, why aren’t we doing that thing? Like, why are you giving us like and there might be a reason for it, but like it’s definitely worth asking. That’s a good red flag.


Mark Breedon (00:34:52) – .


Emily Field (00:34:53) – Well this has been great I feel like I learned a lot and it was really great to review what people should be looking for in their programming. And I know you do an amazing job. I would love for you to share a little bit about your work. So if people are interested in working with you, I know they would be in really great hands.


Mark Breedon (00:35:09) – Yeah, thanks for having me. Like I’ve known you for years now. So like, I know you do great work as well. For anyone else listening, you can find me. Instagram is at Training Strong Women. I also have a podcast where I talk about these things more in detail, especially for beginner lifters, like if you’re just starting out or if you have been lifting, but it’s not working the way you want it to. That’s where I would recommend finding my stuff. It’s called the Badass Lifter Podcast and then Instagram ad training strong Women TikTok, if it doesn’t get banned, is that training strong women? Yeah, and I would say, like, if anyone’s looking for help, just they want to become stronger. They want to focus on not just appearance, and they want to focus on like what their body can do as opposed to what it’s supposed to look like. That’s kind of the focus of my page, and I really advocate for that. So yeah, thanks for having me.


Emily Field (00:35:54) – Thanks so much, Mark. I hope you have a great rest of your day. Thank you so much for. Are listening to the Macros Made Easy podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, take a screenshot of the one you’re listening to right now to share it on your Instagram Stories, and tag me at Emily Fields so that more people can find this podcast and learn how to use a macros approach in a stress free way. If you love the podcast, head over to.


Emily Field (00:36:16) – iTunes and leave me a rating and a review. Remember, you can always find more free health and nutrition content on Instagram and on my website at Emily Thanks for listening and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

Have you ever wondered how strength training can transform more than just your body? 

In this episode, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mark Breeden, an Online Personal Trainer who believes in building his clients’ confidence both in and out of the gym through strength training. 

Together, Mark and I explored the evolution of fitness goals from purely aesthetic to strength-centered. We discussed how focusing on strength can not only improve physical health but also boost confidence. Mark shared his expertise on the critical role of progressive overload and the necessity for tailored strength programs. Above all, we concurred that strength training should be a sustainable and enjoyable part of life. Tune into our conversation to hear more about:

mark’s evolution from aesthetics to strength

Mark’s journey into strength coaching began with a common industry focus on aesthetics. However, he soon realized the profound impact that strength-focused training had on his clients’ confidence and overall well-being. He shared with me the pivotal moment when he decided to move away from the comparison-driven world of aesthetics to celebrate personal progress and achievements in strength.

building more than muscle: the benefits of strength training

During our chat, Mark and I delved into the myriad benefits of strength training. It’s not just about building muscle; it’s about building confidence. We discussed how strength training serves as an objective measure of progress and an underrated form of self-care. It provides a space for individuals to challenge themselves and grow, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

why hire a strength coach?

People turn to strength coaches like Mark for various reasons. Some seek confidence, others want to improve their quality of life, and many wish to see value in themselves beyond their appearance. Mark emphasized the importance of repetition, consistency, and variation in programming to prevent adaptation and continue seeing results.

the hallmarks of effective strength training programming

Good strength training programming isn’t random; it’s structured. It includes rest periods, tracks weights, and understands the purpose behind each exercise. Mark stressed the need for ongoing progress and improvement over time, ensuring that each workout brings you one step closer to your goals.

progressive overload: the key to continued success

Mark and I also touched on the concept of progressive overload, which is crucial for any strength training program. It’s not just about lifting heavier weights; it’s about increasing the challenge over time through various methods like more reps, sets, or time under tension. This approach signals the body to adapt by building more muscle and strength.

the right duration for a strength training program

We agreed that a minimum of three months is a good duration for a strength training program, especially for those new to the practice or trying out a new coach. This period allows enough time to see change and assess the effectiveness of the program without committing too much time upfront.

realistic expectations for strength gains

Mark shared his personal goal of increasing his overhead press by 25 pounds, a feat that might take up to two years due to his advanced level of training. This highlights the reality that strength gains slow down as you become more experienced, but it’s not a reason to give up. Instead, it’s an opportunity to set small, achievable goals along your lifelong strength training journey.

red flags in strength training programs

Lastly, we discussed what to watch out for when choosing a trainer or program. Red flags include a lack of communication or feedback, an overemphasis on exhaustion or soreness, and programs that cram too many exercises into a single session. Quality should always trump quantity, and a great program will complement your life, not overwhelm it.

Strength training is transformative. It’s not just about the physical gains but also about the confidence and sense of accomplishment that come with it. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, the journey is personal, rewarding, and worth every rep. Remember, it’s not about competing with others; it’s about becoming the strongest version of yourself.

I hope this episode helps give you a deeper understanding of the power of strength training and how it can positively impact your life. If you’re interested in hearing more from Mark and me, be sure to tune into the Macros Made Easy podcast for the full conversation. Until next time, keep lifting and living strong!


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