Oh, hey. Are you one of those people that are paranoid about bulking up too much, and just stick to cardio for your workout? Or worry that since you don’t have a lot of time at the gym, the amount you’re there is better spent adding to your total mileage on the elliptical? Well, congratulations. You’re an idiot. Only idiots do nothing but cardio. Do you want to be an idiot? Is this a goal of yours? If so, I can recommend some great bands and movies for your enjoyment. However, if being an idiot was an accident you would like to correct, then let’s talk about some weights.
As we went over with high intensity interval training, or HIIT, steady speed cardio (aka anytime you spend an hour on the bike, treadmill, elliptical, or any other cardio machine and stay at a consistent heart rate and intensity) burns calories only during the time that you’re working out. Talk about lame. Doing HIIT will help your body burn calories all day, up to 24 hours after your workout. This is awesome, because you are getting benefits even when you aren’t working out, and benefits are the best.
But WEIGHTS, oh man, do they one-up HIIT, it’s like weights are Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls and HIIT is Beyonce. (For those of you who have not seen Dream Girls, WTF, and also, Beyonce is still gorgeous and awesome in that movie, but Jennifer Hudson just cannot be stopped, which is basically the premise of the movie.) Using weights and resistance will build muscle, which will make you the automatic go-to to help your friends move. The best! Also, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, all the time. Not just while you’re working out, not just the day you work out, but during the entire time that you have those muscles. Always. Burning. Calories.
There are a few ways to incorporate strength training into your workouts. It’s not something you need to do everyday, but it should be a crucial part of your workout week. Let’s use the rest of the space on this screen to talk about ways you can get these muscle things.
STRENGTH CIRCUITS: This is my favorite way to incorporate strength training, because it gets your heart rate up, so you’re burning fat and building muscle at the same time (it’s just so efficient, I can’t even). A lot of gyms will offer classes like “total body conditioning” or “boot camp” or “crossfit.” You should try these. You can also build your own circuits and just do them youself: here’s one.
STRAIGHT UP WEIGHTLIFTING: This is your classic dumbbells, barbells, “Tuesdays is chest and back” workout. Typically you do 3 sets of 20 reps of each exercise, focusing on different muscle groups as you go. I’ll do this on the 6th workout day of the week if I’ve already hit all my other workout needs and feel like there’s a muscle group that could use a little more love that week. Some people base their entire weeks around different muscle groups each day, but if you want to get your fat-burning in, you’ve gotta get some cardio in there. It’s all about balance, y’all.
YOGA: You may not see results quite as quickly as the others, but it’s another great way to build strength, AND to stretch out all those newly formed muscles you’ve got (something a lot of people overlook, which can lead to injury — we’ll talk more about that later). There are a lot of different types of yoga, but the main idea is that you’re using the resistance of your own body weight to hold certain poses for a period of time. The more advanced the positions get, the more lean muscle you build. Some of that shit gets hard. Bonus: it also helps with flexibility and balance (as someone who was born without a center of gravity, I find this essential).
As with any other lifestyle element, there are a lot of different ways to go; you’ve just gotta find what works best for you, both results-wise and enjoyment-wise (remember, the number one rule of working out is you can’t hate the exercise).
Do you have awesome ways to incorporate strength training into your workouts? Would you like to share them with the group? Oh look, I just happen to have a space for that right below this post.