When Cardio Meets Strength Training
|May 20, 2010||Posted by Lauren under Fitness, Strength Training|
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.
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.