Strength training and cardio, and/or?

As I’ve mentioned and blogged about before, I get a lot of questions (mostly from my IRL friends but from bloggy friends too) about workout motivation and the types of workouts I tend to gravitate towards. And I’m happy to say that I’ve seen some of you either kick-start your workouts or start fresh with a workout regime and I LOVE to hear that. I’m such a huge proponent of working out as not just something to do to lose weight or stay fit, but as a lifestyle commitment.ย  So obviously, anytime I hear about a success story – trying a new workout and loving it or even just getting into a workout routine at all – makes me so happy!

One thing I’ve noticed, especially with newbies or “born-again’s” (ha), is that they not only aren’t sure WHERE to start but WHAT to start with. Cardio? Weight training? Conditioning? Obviously there’s a “walk before you run” approach that should be taken when engaging in any sort of new workout regime (as in, not jumping in and doing too much too fast) – but it seems like a common misconception that most newbies think that cardio – and that’s it – will whip them into shape. And – not that it won’t, or that it’s “wrong” to stick to all cardio – but there are sooo many great benefits to strength training and conditioning work that you’d miss out on (I say all this after having quite the “empowering” Group Power class experience this morning – whoa nelly, did it kick my butt today!).

It got me thinking – maybe most beginners just don’t know how to create a workout regime that includes both cardio and strength training, or simply aren’t aware of where or how to start.ย  So – I figured I’d put together a couple of recommendations on where to start, rules of thumb, etc. from my own personal experience over the years. I’m obviously not a professional by any stretch – so don’t take these as infinite truths but just ideas or guidelines, if you will. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mix it up – By that I mean, try to find a balance between cardio work and weight training.ย  For example, if you hit the elliptical at your gym twice that week, add 1-2 weight training circuits to the mix. I’ve found that lots of fitness magazines are great for beginners looking for routines they can rip out and bring to the gym with them. That’s a great way to start.
  • Test-run a group weight training class – Another great way to get into weight training – especially if it intimidates you at first – is to try a group fitness class that focuses on weight training. You know I’m a huge proponent of BTS’ Group Power class. There are other classes that are similar to that, that many gyms carry, like Les Mills’ Body Pump, for example.ย  Or – other gyms that simply create their own weight training classes designed to be done in a group setting. Your instructor will be super helpful in showing you proper form and technique along the way. Once you get it down, you can either continue to take the class if you like that setting, or take what you’ve learned to the weight room at your gym.
  • Take your weight training to your living room – There are SO many women out there that don’t even bother trying to figure out how to weight train properly because the sheer thought of setting foot in the weight room at their gym is unfathomable (hello meat-heads!). Why not keep your cardio work to the outdoors or the gym where you have lots of options (classes, machines, etc.) and keep your weight training to the privacy of your own home. Again – huge fan of Cathe Friedrich’s at-home workout programs, ESPECIALLY STS which is just an incredible way to weight train over the course of 12 weeks. She does, however, have lots of other weight training DVDs that are older but still just as good. For beginners, Jillian Michaels’ is another great option. What I tend to like about DVDs at home is that they provide structure, you know exactly what you’re getting into and how and usually the music is pretty motivating.

Now – these are just a couple of initial ideas off the top of my head. I could DEFINITELY keep going but your eyes might glaze over. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’d LOVE your ideas and suggestions on what’s worked for you – or, if you’re newer to all this, what has held you back or why have you not considered weight training before?

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8 thoughts on “Strength training and cardio, and/or?

  1. I liked working out on machines with weights that worked specific muscle groups and used a good amount of weights as well as the stairstepper and other cardio machines. I used both each time I went. The reason I stopped and focused on pure cardio is because I wasn’t losing weight. I was less flabby but weighed the same–or heavier! I had definition in arms and legs, which was nice, but I wanted better abs and to be slimmer overall.I think many women are afraid they will bulk up or something–I know I was!

    • Yes – that’s a GREAT point that I totally meant to mention in my post. The fact that a lot of women are afraid to bulk up and to see the number on the scale rise despite their efforts to lose lbs. But what they might not realize is that by gaining muscle definition and tone, you’re improving your metabolic rate which is helping you burn more calories at work and at rest. So even if it might appear (scale-wise) that you are gaining weight, you’re actually not – you’re losing fat and gaining muscle which is crucial!

  2. Funny you wrote this as a friend of mine is struggling to stick with a workout. She did finally decide she loves Zumba and admitted that she thinks strength training would be beneficial – it’s something I’ve been preaching to her for ages now. I think the biggest issue is that she has no idea where to start. She had it in her head that she has to lose all the weight BEFORE lifting weights. I think there is so much mis-information out there and it’s only been in the last several years where you actually see articles urging women to do more lifting and not just be cardio machines.

  3. When I first started really getting serious about getting into shape after college, I ran every single day and didn’t lift any weights. I did do pilates twice a week, but it really only focused on my core so I didn’t gain as much strength as I could have. Now I definitely know that there must be a balance between cardio and strength. For me, DVD’s are a great way to get in strength training. For example today I did a Jillian Michael’s workout (No More Trouble Zones) and it helped me get in some moves I wouldn’t otherwise have known about.

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