Progressing Through Strength Training

Lizette Pompa is a yoga teacher and strength coach with lots of experience helping people getting started with strength training.  Kathryn and Lizette dive into all facets of beginning to train and progressing along – as well as how to make the work encouraging and sustainable.  They round out the discussion by exploring Pull-Up training specifically and key strategies to keep in mind.

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About Lizette Pompa

Lizette Pompa is a Yoga Teacher and Fitness Coach. She has been teaching since 2010. In 2019 she launched her app to share her love for both strength training and yoga.  Her goal is to empower women to build stronger bodies through weights, yoga, and movement. With her strength programs, she wants to create a space where women feel comfortable to start lifting weights, do yoga and be themselves.


Podcast Summary

Often people begin strength training and feel overwhelmed (or defeated!) at the outset. They might underestimate themselves or the training skills required and thus conclude the programming is out of reach for them. There are many factors for this and even more strategies to build a program that is specific to the goals + needs of the person.

Lizette Pompa joins Kathryn on the podcast to offer several solid and concrete tips to begin a strength training program and confidently progress that training forward. Lizette is a Yoga Teacher and Strength Coach working to help people feel comfortable to start lifting weights, do yoga and be themselves.

This interview provides a helpful reminder that setting a clear goal and sticking to it – with solid coaching and encouragement – will help you get stronger! Kathryn and Lizette demonstrate this more specifically by looking at Pull-Up training. There are many component parts to build and train with that movement, which are often overlooked. Pull-up Training offers a very tangible example of what most people experience when starting out with strength training and what they need in order to progress.

Where Do I Begin?

Lizette and Kathryn talk about how often they hear this very question. Many people begin without very clear goals or set objectives that are misaligned with their training. The goals are specific, but the training is overly generalized. Lizette shares why it can be helpful and important to have someone working with you and your unique starting point. This is in large part because people might begin yet not know how to progress from there.

Timestamp 8:47: “When you’re starting to learn new movement patterns, you just need to take your time in the beginning. But don’t be afraid to then move forward with what you’re doing. I always recommend: if you’re going to start, start with someone that can guide you so that you can move a little bit faster at the beginning and exactly how to progress.”

Another big piece is building confidence in addition to the literal physical strength required. Lizette explains how people who train to failure right at the outset end up training how to fail rather than practicing how to do something challenging – as well as feel confident doing it! From there you can begin to scale up the program and work towards greater difficulty.

Timestamp: 14:27: I always ask beginners: Do you want to do this for the rest of your life or at least as many years as possible? Don’t be in a hurry at the beginning and don’t try to start straight with the most complicated or the full expression of the movement. You have to start scaling in a way that feels possible.

Every Step Counts

Lizette laughingly reflects on how people often scoff at incline push-ups or other incremental steps to training yet feel like they never progress in their strength goals. She underscores the value of those steps; and she reveals how often people underestimate their importance. On the other end of the spectrum, people can stay on one progression and never move forward from there. For those folks, moving on can feel like starting all over again. But, as Lizette points out, you’re also training how to move forward:

Timestamp 18:40: It might be difficult at the beginning when you start and then you feel comfortable in a place and you’re like, “OK, I’m fine here. I have control and it works for me”. And you don’t want to move forward because you already feel comfortable in the spot.

But once you start pushing yourself, you also get that good feeling of being challenged again. You just need to try it a few times until it feels like, “oh, you know, I feel good because it was hard”. And feeling that after a few times becomes a part of your training, too. You’re looking for that new challenge”.

Programming for Success

Just like a coach or a teacher can push you forward, a strength program is essential to help guide your movement and the steps you need to take. Lizette shares some key hacks to building out a well-rounded strength program – considering 6 movement patterns (pushing, pulling, squats, lunges, hinges, and core work). Both Kathryn and Lizette highlight how a program can keep you focused on your goals and help you see the progress you’re making.

This is especially important because a lot of strength training, as Lizette mentions early on in the podcast, is about picking a goal and sticking to the work it takes to get there: “when you want to focus on a skill, it is very important for you to dedicate time for building that skill, because otherwise if you just keep moving in so many different styles of movement, it’s difficult to progress…”

All the Parts of a Pull-Up Program

The interview concludes with a fulsome discussion on pull-up strength training. There is a lot packed into this conversation!

Both Kathryn and Lizette provide a wealth of strategies for where to begin with that specific goal. Lizette identifies key movements to help you get started like dead hangs, grip strength, scapular strength, amongst other movements.

As with any strength goal, she reminds listeners it’s important to break down the end goal into its component parts. And while it may seem insignificant, the small pieces (like hand and grip strength) are usually the most important to train.

This is tough work! That’s another big takeaway from this interview. Lizette stresses the importance of “training the skills where you have the energy” and building in rest breaks. Whether you write that into your program or have the support of a coach to remind you, it’s essential to take rest breaks.

Timestamp 45:20: If you really start to attune to how your body feels, it will guide you to how much rest you need because it’s very connected to the nervous system. You put so much effort there that you need this rest to come back and try it again.

Kathryn is going to be launching a Pull-Up Club in the fall. You can sign up here to receive emails and notifications when it’s announced.

The program will take this conversation even further and be an awesome way to demonstrate all the ways you can build your upper body strength (and how you can build realistic strength programs overall).

Pull-Up Progressions are transferable to other contexts. And like Lizette says, it’s common to get started and feel a little aimless. This interview (as well as the upcoming Pull-Up club) gives tangible, supportive ways to start and keep going on your strength journey.

Lizette’s Links


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Woman in triangle pose on a yoga mat