While I’ve always known how important strength training is, I now see how I went about incorporating it into my workouts kind of wrong…at least in terms of my goals. I was definitely someone who loved (and sometimes still do) sweaty workouts that leave me 100% breathless (i.e. cardio). But that is changing…
Recently, I’ve been thinking about my long term health goals, and I recognize that strength training definitely needs to take a top spot in my plan. In all honesty, after visiting California to see my grandparents, it hit me that my future would likely include a lot of muscle/joint pain if I don’t get serious about my physical health. My grandmother, mom, and aunts all have some kind of pain, and while they’re strong women overall, they definitely didn’t focus on their fitness over the years, especially not strength training. Something I can learn from and change for myself.
A couple of notes first:
- I’m almost one year postpartum. I restarted my workouts around week 6 (maybe 8…can’t remember!) with basic total body strength workouts, cycling classes, and lots of walking and general movement (I don’t sit much during the day).
- I don’t weigh myself regularly. I did for a while after having Mila and up until a few months ago, but I find the scale deceptive. I may jump on every now and then, but I’m not measuring my progress with it at all.
- I use Peloton to program my workouts, but you can use whatever you want. If you love running, make that your cardio workout. If you want a free way to include strength training in your routine, go check out BodyFit by Amy on YouTube. She’s amazing! My point is you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. I 100% subscribe to the belief that fitness and health should be simple and affordable.
- You may find that strength training burns less calories than cardio, and while that may seem to be true from a purely calories burned in the moment perspective, you have to look at what’s happening from a higher level. Check out this article for more information.
- It took years of hard work to let go of the belief for me that thin is best. I’ll share more another time, but I’m at a point where strength, mobility, and flexibility are absolutely key. If you don’t have those things, life is going to get difficult at some point whether you’re thin or not, so I’m trying my hardest to build a routine that gives me those three things in abundance.
In terms of my current routine, here’s the breakdown of what a typical week looks like for me…
MONDAY: 20 min upper body workout (sometimes arms and shoulders, sometimes chest and back) + 10 min HIIT workout
TUESDAY: 20 min lower body workout + 10 min core workout
WEDNESDAY: 30 minute cycling class (usually something more challenging like HITT + Hills, a climb ride, or a tabata ride) + 5 minute post-ride stretch
FRIDAY: 30-45 minute total body workout + 5-10 minutes of total body stretching
SATURDAY: 30 minute cycling class (usually something more fun than intense)
The biggest change with this routine versus what I did in the past is that I split up the upper and lower body workouts and then cap off with total body. I used to do two total body workouts every week, but this allows for more focused strength, and I’m loving the way it makes me feel.
Changes I’ve Seen So Far
I’ve been at this routine since the end of July, and I’m starting to see changes now.
Firstly, my overall strength is increasing. I know this because I’m able to use heavier weights for certain moves that I couldn’t before. Also, my core strength has like tripled. This in no way means I have a six-pack (definitely don’t!), but I can now do core moves that had to be modified before. I can also take a 10 minute class and complete it without any breaks. #smallwins And finally, I am seeing more muscle definition now in my legs and arms, which is so cool. The other day, Vishnu said, “Your triceps look good, Par.” Best compliment ever!
Another change I’ve experienced that’s kind of new to me is that I’m hungrier than ever now. Will talk about my nutrition in a minute, but I’m having to be extra mindful because when that hunger strikes, I’m still eating healthy, but it’s all over the place.
This is where I really have a lot of work to do. I eat healthy foods, I make healthy foods, I buy healthy foods, but I eat them in bigger quantities. Sometimes it’s justified I think, but most of the time it’s probably not.
I don’t follow a particular diet (dislike the word itself in that context), but there are a few habits I’m building in to help me be better in this area.
- Drink 120 ounces of water a day
- Eat protein forward meals
- Meal plan (dinner for everyone but every meal for me)
- Salads for lunch at least 4-5 times a week
- Practice the pause before eating (am I really hungry or am I bored?)
- Plating everything (especially for snacks)
Do you strength training regularly? What’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen?