I've been talking a lot about nutrition and weight loss lately. As we build our healthy lifestyles, we are often looking to shed some unwanted fat and create the physique we know we are capable of.
My job as a health coach is to help you find the path that gets you to that goal and, for the most part, tweaking your diet is the way to get there.
But, of course(!), our workouts are a big part of our healthy lifestyle, too! So let's take a mo to go over some of the myths and truths about strength training so you can weed whack your way through todays hot fitness trends and find the workouts that will work for you!
Regardless of your goals, I have a lot of answers for you. So here are the most common questions I get and my tips on getting Savage with your workouts!
How often should I do strength training vs. cardio?
I generally recommend 3-4 strength training workouts a week and 2-3 20+ minutes of cardio workouts. I know that time is not something we have a lot of as we get older so I am a BIG fan of multitasking with my workouts. For example - keep your resting periods short during your strength workout and throw in 3 minutes of high intensity intervals every 5-10 minutes in your strength workouts and BOOM you've just done strength and cardio!
Similarly, BOTH types of workouts can be broken up and sprinkled throughout your days and weeks. If you are a stay at home mom, you are always on the go and moving around, so get the kids outside and race with the stroller or on their scooters while you run to the end of the block. Get in 5 minutes of elevated heart rate a few times in a day and you've nailed it. Or grab some weights and workout while they go to town on some playdough!
If you work or don't have kids, you can get a lot done by waking up even 1/2 an hour earlier, getting active at lunch, or taking evening walks or classes. I know you're busy but I see a lot of busy people make it work so figure out your priorities and let's make it happen!
Even if your goal is weight loss, do not discount strength training. Cardio will burn calories, but it will also stress out your body and get those hormones up in arms. Your strength workouts are a great way to get that tone and muscles mass built and it gets you active and burns calories, too, especially if you do it right! (Scroll to the bottom to download my favorite cardio strength workout!)
How should I time my workouts to rest my muscles appropriately?
This is where I really start to narrow down my messaging to KISS - Keep It Simple, Savages! From Instagram influencers, YouTube channels, and Social Media ads to network marketing companies and specialized boutique fitness studios all claiming that they are your one stop fitness solution, it's no wonder that we're all confused! Just like with your nutrition - trust your instincts and stay consistent.
Unless you are in a rigorous training program or working on building muscle and strength for competition, I can pretty confidently say that you, my dear reader, do not need to rest your muscles as much as you think after your workouts.
Here is where you listen to your body. Super sore? Take some extra time off and do some cardio or go for a walk instead of a strength workout - if you feel like it! So unless you are a gym rat and looking to get nerdy about your workouts and the usage of your body (which is great if you are!) don't worry about leg day or arm day or how many times a week to focus on each type of movement. Just workout as often as you can!
You won't be damaging your body if you do decide to strength train. If you are a distance runner or someone who spends a long time on cardio machines, this is where I will tell you to take breaks from those things, but for strength training - have at it as often as you'd like!
Should I be using heavy weights and low reps or light weights and high reps?
Again, I'll refer back to KISS. Trust your judgement and push yourself.
For strength building:
try to find a weight for your exercises that gets you feeling the burn between 10 and 20 reps. By the end of the exercise, you should be feeling like you would have trouble doing more reps.
If you get to 20 and you feel like you could do a bunch more, try increasing the weight!
If you can't even get to 10 reps (or 8 if it's a body weight exercise), decrease the weight or find a way to take some of the weight out of your body either by utilizing a TRX, changing the angle you're working at or even holding onto a heavy table or back of a heavy chair for support.
Now this is not to say that classes like Barre3 or even some of my workouts with light weights and lots of reps are no bueno! Those are great for endurance building and using strength movements to get the heart rate up - the more muscles we move when we work, the more calories we're burning! Shout out again for multitasking!
I really just like [insert name of a specific brand of class here] workouts? How often can I take that class?
I LOVE when clients love getting to certain classes. And no matter what that class is and how I feel about that workout type, it all comes down to this: There is no wrong way to be active. BUT there may be some need for cross training if you're sticking to a single style.
Cycling, running, and traditional weight lifting exercises mostly move in one plane of motion (forward and backward) and don't utilize the full range of motion of the joints involved. If that is all you do (think: Soul Cycle, Orange Theory, Cross Fit, Body Pump, etc.) you are in for creating a big divide between your strength in some areas and your lack of use of your body's natural movement patterns and, thus, the muscles that support healthy movement.
This can lead to overuse injury and tightening up of places that can really start to throw your body out of whack. Get to the classes you love, but make sure that at least 1/4 of your workouts get your joints moving in all directions - rotate those ball and socket joints and maximize your range of motion. Adding in Yoga, Pilates, Zumba or personal training with someone who specializes in functional strength training will do wonders for your output.
Whats the best way to get in cardio if I'm not a runner and I don't like machines?
Just get out and move! Walking is an amazing form of cardio and if you can run, but you just don't like to, try to start challenging yourself to run for even 30 seconds at a time. Run a short block and walk however long you'd like, then run again. You'll start building and you'll start an inner dialogue with yourself and you may even realize that you like this time you have with yourself and your body.
This is how I really built a loving a trusting relationship with myself. I was definitely not a runner until I had kids. I started just by walking and running and it became a sort of meditation for me. And maybe you stick with walking, and that's great, too! But I encourage you to get out and try to grab a few jogging intervals and see how you feel
What are the best weight machines at the gym to use?
None. Don't use those! The best equipment at a gym for you to use for your strength workouts are free weights, a bosu, a hanging bar, a TRX, resistance bands, the ropes if you know how to use them, and YOURSELF! Okay, cable machines can be great if you have some coaching on those, too!
There is no need to sit at a machine and isolate certain muscles. It's not how we move through life and the muscles you'll be building won't do much for your strength. Also, #truthbomb, you probably aren't using them correctly so they'll really do more harm than good.
So what are the takeaways here?
Stick with these tips and I guarantee you'll find a fitness routine that will get your body where you're looking to go! Hit me up if you have questions or need ideas! I'm always happy to give a free consult ;)
Do what you love to do. Move in the ways you love and that work for you.
Stay consistent. Don't let overthinking cause you to freeze up. Get active as often as you can and you WILL see the results you're looking for.
Mix it up and move in the ways your body was designed to move! Rotate those ball and socket joints, make sure you utilize full range of motion in your exercises, challenge your balance and play with the tempo of the movements (super quick and super slow are great ways to mix it up).
Find someone you trust to help guide you and give you the confidence to know that you are doing what you should be doing to reach your goals. Being confused and trying to figure it all out is a huge waste of energy.
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