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When Cardio Meets Strength Training

Free_Weights Strength training is an important part of any balanced exercise routine. Building and toning muscle helps you better control your weight (your metabolism increases as you build more muscle), build stronger bones, increase your overall endurance, reduce your risk of injury, be more efficient in your workouts, and even sleep better – not to mention the physical effects it can have on your body and the boosted self-confidence that goes along with it.

But even though I know strength training is good for me, I will still pick cardio over weights 99.9% of the time. This is mostly due to the simple fact that I’d much rather go for a run outside than travel to the gym.

My hatred for lifting began back in high school, when my cross country and track coaches would make us spend time in the smelly, football-player infested weight room, claiming that doing leg exercises would make us stronger runners. Being a 16-year-old who clearly knew just about everything, I proclaimed this a load of crap – my legs were already tired from running…why should I lift with them too??

Then I entered college, and realized maybe I wasn’t quite as smart as I had previously thought, and that just maybe my coaches were actually onto something when they claimed that regular lifting would make me a stronger, faster, more efficient runner. But although I gained a new appreciation for how strong it made me feel (and look!), I never really loved it. I found myself spending hours in the gym, trying to balance cardio with doing endless inane repetitions on a million different machines. It’s no surprise that I soon came to resent lifting just as much as I had before.

But then, The Core Was Born

Fortunately, my Mother swooped in to save me from a lifetime of lifting boredom. Shortly before winter break during my second year of grad school, she called me up to excitedly tell me about this new eBook on abs she was reading, and how it made her change the way she looked at strength training. No more static, isolated movements done on silly gym machines. Instead, she was taking up free weights, in a routine that combined cardio and weight training. And the best news yet: it only took 20 – 30 minutes!

The only catch? It was the hardest lifting routine she’d ever done (and that’s saying something – my Mother is my fitness inspiration!)

This quick, high intensity workout was actually put together by my Mom, and utilizes squats to not only get your heart pumping, but also to work out multiple muscle groups at one time. Because, although I’m no expert, I do know that our muscles don’t move in isolation. And that when you only do one-joint exercises at a time, you aren’t burning all that many calories, and could even put yourself at risk for injury – or muscle instability.

DSC_0438This is what I look like when I try to pretend that my grimace is actually a smile

On the other hand, this workout gets your heart rate up right from the start, and keeps it there through a series of dynamic movements that work every part of your core – your abs, back, butt, and hips. These  muscles are important for stability and posture – and a strong core can do wonders for your running.

Shape Up Summer Challenge

I try to incorporate this core workout into my exercise regimen as often as possible. But as I mentioned earlier, from time to time I still have a problem with letting lifting fall by the wayside. So, it’s time to re-commit myself to regular weight lifting.

I have hereby declared it to be “Shape Up Summer.The Challenge: to do The Core at least 2x per week for the next two months.

Want to join me? If so, visit the new Core Workout page I’ve created that lists the 7 different exercises, along with some wonderful pictures of yours truly modeling the moves. If you’re a cardio-addict like myself, you will not be disappointed with this workout. I promise that it’ll make you sweat. In fact, when I’m pressed for time, I sometimes do this as my only workout for the day.

I also promise that it’ll make you sore. To be honest, if you haven’t done this type of lifting before, it’s going to make you so sore for a couple days that you’re probably going to curse my name whenever you’re walking down stairs. Last week was my first time doing it in many months, and I will honestly admit that I hurt everywhere the following day – my stomach, my legs, my back. (Though this may have been partially due to the fact that I think I was a bit too overly ambitious with the weights.) I took the next day off completely (besides waddling around) and then forced myself to do it again two days later. That second workout was much more painful than the first. But — the good news is that the following day, my legs had been stretched out and I started feeling better. I’m now in my second week and while it still hurts, it’s starting to be more satisfying than excruciating.

I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m telling you this to (hopefully) convince you that this is simultaneously the best and worst weightlifting workout you’ll ever do. It’s quick, extremely efficient and will make you stronger by building lean muscle (and give you rock-hard abs just in time for swimsuit season!).

So…have I convinced you to try it yet?? Seriously, if you’re looking to mix up your current lifting routine, or need some motivation to pick up the weights and want to join my Shape Up Summer Challenge, let me know! If people are actually interested, I can come up with some sort of fabulous prize for those of you who stick with it for the full two months.

Ready to see the moves? If so, click here.

19 Responses to When Cardio Meets Strength Training

  1. Yes, please! I’ve been looking for a quick and (not so) easy way to add strength training to my workout routine. I like the looks of this core workout, though I will probably start with 5 pound weights. :) Thanks for posting this! I’ll let you know how I do.
    .-= Chrissy (The New Me)´s last blog ..the summer day, by mary oliver =-.

  2. Count me in girlie!!
    .-= Lindsay´s last blog ..Running On Empty =-.

  3. first of all! HOLY CRAP UR FIT! didnt even realize HOW fit! haha awesome <3

    secondly, im not sure why but my feeds are working again.. i guess thats just what happens.. kind of goes weird sometimes. feedburner can be a pain but at least now i know its just a glitch. otherwise that would have been sad lol.

    xoxo <3

  4. Ooh this is awesome! I have recently been doing weight training and love it. The highest free weights I have are only 5 lbs, but I could maybe use those for the core workouts?

    • You could definitely use the 5 pounders!! Although some of the moves will probably be a lot easier than others, you’ll still feel it since you do so many squats throughout the workout. And if you wanted to make it harder, you could maybe focus on holding each movement for longer, or doing extra squats or something.

  5. This sounds great! I get stuck in monotonous strength-training routines which makes it extra boring (I’m much more of a cardio girl, like you). Depending on when it starts, I’m in 😀 Cuz to say that I’ll be strength training right before/after I run the marathon in a lie lol
    .-= Danielle (Coffee Run)´s last blog ..Coffee err… Pants run =-.

    • Yeah, definitely DO NOT start doing this before your marathon. You don’t need the extra soreness. It’s coming up soon right…in June?? And maybe give yourself some time to recover afterward before you try it…like maybe a day or two 😉

  6. HEY Lauren!
    Your core workout looks enticing — I actually used to be a cardio-only girl, but am realizing what a HUGE difference lifting can make. As you say, it makes you feel (and look!) way different!

    Good on your Mom for putting together this workout. That must be totally encouraging, to have Mum as your fitness inspiration! :)
    Count me in for the challenge!


    .-= aletheia´s last blog ..“What did Brendan do with the Avocado?” + VEGA Giveaway!! =-.

  7. I just got a huge lecture about how I need to stop running so much and spend time in the weight room by a friend. Count me in for this one! I like that this is something I can do at home if I can’t make it to my gym during the day.
    .-= Alex @ IEatAsphalt´s last blog ..Extra cheese, please. =-.

  8. How cute are you with your smile at the end of every move? Haha, I loved the core workout page :) Count me in! …Although for obvious reasons I’ll have to start your challenge when I get back from China 😉 Strength training is so gosh darned important and like you, I always go for cardio first. It’s time that changed!

  9. I definitely need to start strength training more and have actually tried the 30 day shred after reading so many rave reviews. It is great but probably not as challenging as this one since the other seems to be skimping in a few areas and I use smaller weights. I also remember the high school xc days when I thought my coach was crazy for trying to get us to use our legs for weights after running miles on them. I definitely learned more about the benefits of strength training in college and saw some serious physical changes (triceps for the first time!) when I really stuck to it. I would love to try these to get back there, but not sure I can commit entirely for the challenge yet! Do you have an official start date for the challenge or is it already started?

    Love your face in these and I agree with Kelsey, wow, you are a fit one!
    .-= Claire´s last blog ..local mags. =-.

  10. Great post! I am trying to incorporate more strength & core activities into my exercising.
    .-= Ali @ Redhead Reports´s last blog ..Three Cups of Tea =-.

  11. First of all, kudos to the photographer for capturing such expressive faces! Second, while I think men should use higher weights with lower reps, women do better sticking with lower weights and higher reps. For the rowbacks particularly this is true. I am doing this again, 2-3x a week and really notice a difference in my posture and in my shoulder strength already. It makes me feel stronger on my long runs too. It’s a killer workout, but those 20-30 minutes does pay off huge if you stick with it. Great Post!!

    • Oh my goodness…how could I forget to mention my amazing photographer! Thanks for bringing that up — that person did an excellent job capturing each and every shot! 😉

      Secondly, these are great points! And I have to say, I’m only on the second week of doing this regularly and I definitely notice a difference. My legs are still more tired than usual, but I know if I stick with it things will get easier soon.

  12. Good for you girl! Sounds like you’ve found a routine that really works for you :) I wasn’t much into strength training either, until I started with Body Pump :) Now I teach it and love it and can’t get enough! Thanks for the sweet comments on Frank, his little mug makes me smile each and every day.
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..I Love SC & Vegan Coconut Cornbread Muffins =-.

  13. Oh I am so in! The Core challenge is just what I am looking for!! YAY!!!
    .-= Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly´s last blog ..Home Sweet Home =-.

  14. I’m so glad that you are posting about strength training. I’ve learned so much about the benefits of strength training from my friend Cait–http://mamamannsmayhem.blogspot.com/–thanks as always for these awesome posts :)))
    .-= Madeleine´s last blog ..Backyard Makeover & Housework =-.

  15. I love that you took the time to share the core workout with us! I will have to give it a try and let you know if I am joining!
    .-= kilax´s last blog ..Stepping up to Wellness 10K Walk =-.

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