When training for half marathons, it’s very easy for me to get caught up in the running and endurance and kind of ignore everything else. Last summer, I pretty much stopped going to the gym altogether, and would just run miles and miles outside. While this was great for my races, this was not so great for the rest of my body.
I thought running so much would give me this amazing, slim, runner’s body. But instead, I lost strength and muscle definition. I have found that my body likes variety. I look and feel better when I mix it up and incorporate running, lifting weights, and cross training in my workouts.
So I say this (specifically for the ladies)…lift those weights! There is a huge misconception for females that lifting weights will bulk you up and make you look like the Hulk. This is not true!
Women are simply not made to produce huge amounts of testosterone, therefore you will not look like a man just from lifting weights a couple of times a week. Weight training gets the heart pumping which burns calories, shreds fat, and increases the metabolism.
Pumping the iron can actually make you a better runner because when you burn more cals, you lose excess weight. Your body will be able to move better and faster without the weight bogging you down.
Being stronger and more toned is definitely one of my fitness goals. Too often I get stuck in an exercise rut because it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it. I love lifting weights, but often put it on the back burner. I need to remember that a good lifting session will help me physically and benefit all of my workouts.
I realize that hitting the weights can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to it, or if that section of the gym is crowded. Here are some of my tips for finding the confidence to jump off the elliptical and pick up some weights:
1. Have a game plan – begin your workout with an idea of what muscle groups you want to work, and which exercises you want to do. Having a plan will prevent you from standing around like a lost puppy.
2. Bring a buddy – working out is fun with a friend. A lifting partner makes it less intimidating. It also offers a bit of competition. Because who wants to be out lifted by their friend?
3. Participate in a Body Pump class – if your gym offers Body Pump, I highly recommend you try it. The class will help you get used to loading up a bar with plates, and get you used to lifts for every muscle group. The class is super intense and is definitely a heart pumping workout.
4. Be consistent – you will not be able to throw up huge barbells the first time you lift. But if you consistently lift weights, you will get stronger, and see your body change.
5. Practice makes perfect – the more you lift, the more confident you will feel. If there is a workout you would like to try, or a piece of equipment that you don’t recognize, ask someone for help. People at the gym like to talk. Get tips, advice, ask a trainer. Don’t be afraid to speak up and try new things.
I am still struggling to create myself a schedule that will include weight lifting, cross training, running, and rest days. But that’s the beauty of fitness! There are no rules against shaking up your workouts and finding new ways to push yourself. So, experiment. Find out what works best for you!