Running, swimming, and biking are all great forms of aerobic exercise. But what about anaerobic exercise? How do you incorporate strength training into your workout regimen or marathon training? As much as we love going out for a long run, strength training is such a critical part of our routines and has helped us become better runners! From body weight exercises to Olympic lifts, we have tried it all! But what is best for someone may not be appropriate for another person.
Let’s take it back to the basics: here are my 5 Simple Rules for Strength Training
1. Strength training is for everyone. It is so important for your exercise routine because increasing your lean muscle mass helps increase your metabolism a.k.a turning you into a “metabolic machine.” In addition, lifting weights gives you increased bone strength, better posture, and decreased back pain. The same workout routine of a bodybuilder, however, is not appropriate for everyone; it is specifically formulated with heavy weights and long duration. Make sure your workout is appropriate for you and your goals!
2. Challenge Yourself. Toning and building muscle are the same thing, it’s just the degree to which you stress your muscles. Lots of people want toned muscles, but fear becoming bulky. Rest assured, this is not the case! While men have a greater hormone availability and lean muscle mass, everyone’s muscles can only do one of two things: either get bigger or get smaller. When you lift weights that challenge your muscles, you actually create small tears in the muscle fiber. This is why you may feel sore the next day! Your muscles repair themselves, allowing them to grow stronger and a little bit bigger.
3. Rest for 48 hours in between. You know that soreness you feel the day after lifting? Lifting weights breaks down muscle fibers then they rebuild themselves a little bit stronger. Not everyone needs to have a “shoulder/leg/back day” but it’s important to let your body rest between strength training sessions of the same muscle group. If you are lifting back to back days, then start by dividing your workouts into upper and lower body days followed by rest.
4. Abs are the same as every other muscle group. Meaning that the same way your legs become sore and need rest after a day of squats and leg press, your abdominal muscles are no different. Choose quality ab exercises instead of performing “all of the crunches.” Just like your other muscle groups, make sure they get a break before completing another abdominal workout. Remember that increasing the total lean muscle mass in your body- not just abdominal muscles- will help you burn more calories throughout the day, shed the layer of fat over your muscles, and achieve the look you want- “toned.”
5. Form is important! This is probably the most important rule of all because you don’t want to end up hurting yourself. Properly executing exercises will help to avoid injury and ensure you get the most out of your workout. When you’re getting to the end of a set, don’t sacrifice your form just to finish out the repetitions. Many people worry about starting a strength training routine because they are unsure of how to lift free weights or use the machines at their gym. Start by doing a little research or join a friend for their workout!
Bottom line: whether your goal is to lose weight, become stronger, or add muscle mass, strength training needs to be a part of your exercise routine.