I used to be the girl that thought if I picked up weights in the gym, I would gain too much weight and become bulky. For years I stuck to the treadmill and elliptical machines to lose weight and get my daily cardio in. Once I got engaged in 2013, it was time to start “sweating for the wedding” and, with the help of my fiancé, I began to familiarize myself with all of the other machines in our gym. I googled different techniques and began reading workout blogs online. Then I started to follow fitness themed Instagram accounts and searched for new things on Pinterest like “how to do kettlebell exercises” or “how to strengthen your core”.
For a few weeks after that I strictly did only weight lifting activities in the gym; really throwing myself into toning, strengthening and discovering all the different muscle groups to isolate. I started out slow, using 5 and 10 lb. weights and I never increased my weights too much, usually 5 lbs. at a time every 3-4 weeks. I was concentrating mostly on finishing a higher number of reps with lower weights to make sure I had the proper form and technique down so as not to injure myself. After about 8 weeks of this, I was feeling really good! I felt more confident using the machines, I felt each exercise was becoming easier and my body felt different.
I went out on my first run after 2 months of lifting and I was amazed. Everything felt tighter! There was less jiggle in my legs and my glutes; my steps felt stronger and I was even running faster! I felt more fluid and lighter on my feet. After that run, I was completely hooked. Now, my routine consists of running 3-4 days per week with 2-3 lift days (sometimes doing both in one day) and 1 rest day. Incorporating weight lifting to feel better while you run is just one of the many side effects I noticed. Below are a few reasons why I feel it is such a great idea to incorporate some weight training into your routine:
* – It helps you prevent injuries! Think about it; your muscles will be stronger; therefore they will be able to handle more strenuous exercises because they will get used to being worked. Strength training is not the same motion over and over like running, and it allows your body to awaken other areas while increasing the stability of your joints.
* – It allows you to mix up your routine. Have you ever felt like you have plateaued in running or weight loss? That’s because your body learns your routines and eventually, your efforts will be minimalized. Each time you run 6 miles, it will get a bit easier until eventually it requires very little effort. Lifting weights and strength training allows you to toss something new into the routine, wake up your muscles and keep you on your toes.
* – Muscle burns more calories than fat. It’s true, people! Replacing your fat with muscles, even little tiny baby muscles, will increase your daily caloric burn to help you achieve whatever goals you may have. Your body will feel tighter, more toned, and overall stronger.
Remember, it is also important to switch up your weight training routine also. I never did the same lifting exercises each day. 2 days a week I would focus on arms and abs while the other 2 days I would focus on legs. Just like running, you have to change your weight lifting regimen so your body does not get used to the same motions.
Finally, keep in mind I was also pairing this new strength routine with a healthy meal plan of lean meats, veggies, tons of water and limiting my sugar and carb intake. You will always see faster results if you adjust your diet while you are working out. I hope sharing some of my story and my experiences have helped and encouraged you to try out weight training as well. Do your research, learn the machines, ask lots of questions and start lifting!
- Janelle McLeod, @smile.run.repeat
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