Strength Training – It’s Not about Bulking Up

Strength. It’s such a loaded word, but for today, we’re talking physical strength. For many people, strength training is a scary thing. It brings forth memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger pre-Governator.

Strength training, as every injured athlete has probably learned from their PT, is critical to staying healthy and injury free. It can help ward off the aches and pains of aging by keeping your muscle mass up, and better handle life’s curve balls (ask anyone who’s recently slipped on ice and ended up with a tweak in their back). It’s also an important part of weight loss, that is often overlooked because traditional weight training does not burn as many calories as cardio.

The thing about strength training is that it’s not about getting bulky or even using weights. There are so many fabulous ways to add strength training, specifically in the core, that can help you whether you’re training for a marathon, or just want to open that jar of pickles.

Yoga. Yoga is one of the best ways to not only build strength, but also improve balance. Using your own body weight means its easy to do anywhere, and there are tons of different styles to try. I love Bikram, because the heat adds a new challenge, vinyasa or flow yoga because it’s not as static as some other types of yoga, and of course, PiYo.
Bootcamp & Body Weight Training. Bootcamp style classes and workouts have been such a big part of fitness in the last several years. The great thing about them, and other body weight training programs, is that all you need is you. Again, you can do them anywhere, and they work your entire body, often including cardio, so in 30 or 45 minutes, you’ve worked your whole body. I love Focus T25 but there are tons of other options, including the hottest new workout Insanity: Max 30.
Traditional Weight Lifting. Hitting the weight room with free weights, if you’ve been trained to do so, is always a good option. You can focus on specific areas of your body, and can often add it on after another workout, and 10-15 minutes to your total workout.
Total Body Training. Probably the best option if you’re short on time, or if you are trying to lose weight, is total body training or conditioning. Often a combo of body weight, resistance bands, TRX and free weights, along with circuits or intervals that add cardio to torch calories while you’re building muscle. When I lived in Philly, I was a Unite Fitness junkie. In a new city, and with a new role, I’ve opted against joining a gym (although I am PUMPED about SoulCycle opening up less than a mile away) and am beyond excited about BeachBody’s newest program the 21 Day Fix Extreme which will be released on February 2nd. It’s a high-intensity workout that focuses on total body conditioning using weights and reps to get you strong, fast.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve struggled with sticking with strength training regularly. I’ll get really into it for a few weeks or even months, and then something inevitably pushes it to the back burner. As I work to get faster and train for my 2nd marathon this fall, I know strength work will be a vital part of my training. I’ve been doing PiYo, T25, and adding daily core (abs, back, hips, glutes) to my running schedule, and am excited to add the 21 Day Fix Extreme to the mix.

Do you strength train?
What’s your go-to?
Favorite strength move?

6 thoughts on “Strength Training – It’s Not about Bulking Up

  1. Jenereesa @ ScootaDoot

    I love strength training – probably more than I love other types of exercise. I love working with dumbbells, kettlebells, bar bells – gimme!

  2. golddh

    It’s amazing how much strength training helps in every way. I’ve become such a better – and healthier – runner since I’ve started strength training.

  3. Not to mention, keeping flexibility in your joints. 🙂 Many people don’t realize that you have to eat a VERY SPECIFIC diet (in other words, you couldn’t possibly eat this way on accident) to BULK. It’s a LOT of food, a LOT of volume, and more low-intensity cardio.

    I used to be a bodybuilder. Since I turned to endurance, I have done very little strength training, in terms of weights. I do Yoga and hit up the TRX from time to time, but that’s about it. I miss the intensity of lower reps, higher weight, but I don’t miss having chicken and broccoli for every meal, lol.

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