Hello! Happy Mother’s Day to all my F&F moms, and to my mom of course.
For today’s Sunday Sweat Talk post, I want to chat about strength training. As you guys know, at the start of the year I decided to switch things up and pursue lifting heavier. Four months in, I’m not only enjoying the changes I’ve made to my workouts, but the changes I’m seeing in my body, both physically and mentally.
For strength, I’m doing around two heavy lifting sessions a week, but squeezing a third one in has been tough with my teaching schedule. I teach muscle classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but these classes use lighter weights. We aren’t using three-pound weights or anything, but we just don’t really have the option to use anything heavier than 15 pounds in the group ex studio, and it’s also not that safe with a large class to do so anyways. So on my non teaching strength days, I shoot for one leg day and one upper body day.
Here’s a quick progress update:
- Deadlift: I met my bodyweight goal of 125 pounds with the trap bar last week (yay!), but I still want to reach this goal with the regular barbell deadlift too.
- Back squat: The heaviest I’ve gone is 115, but I still feel more comfortable in the 105-110 range right now.
- Bench press: I’m having trouble breaking out of the 65-70 pound range with the barbell.
- Pull-ups: Still working on them, but I’ve decreased my numbers on the assisted pull-up machine to only need about 30% of my bodyweight now.
- Pushups: I don’t necessarily have a number update to offer, but I’m happy with how much I’ve improved my form on my everyday regular pushups on the floor.
I’m working on other things too (cleans, rows, weighted walking lunges, weighted bridges, etc.), but those are the main things to report. I also feel one thousand times better and more comfortable with my form than I did when I started.
What about cardio?
On days I lift, I will sometimes do a cardio warmup (usually on the spin bike) that is no more than about 15 minutes. If I don’t do a cardio based warmup, then I will sometimes end my workout with a cardio finisher such as a quick blast on the row machine or burpees. Sometimes I will do 3-5 minutes of fast rowing in between supersets, but sometimes I don’t incorporate any cardio at all. It just depends on my mood. Throughout the week, the only other cardio workouts I do include kickboxing on Tuesday nights and either going for a run or taking a spin class another day, but not both. I haven’t touched an elliptical in months. I don’t miss it.
Things I’ve noticed:
I am seeing RESULTS, and I’m seeing these faster than I’ve ever seen results by just doing a cardio program. First of all, I have an ass! Well, kind of. I have always had a flat bum, but because of all the lower body work I’ve done, my glutes have gotten bigger. This is thrilling to me, and I love that my butt finally has *some* perk to it. I can also see more definition in my arms, shoulders, and back, and you know what? Sometimes I catch myself checking out my own arms in the mirror. I don’t care if that comes off as conceited, but I feel awesome about my upper body right now, so why shouldn’t I be pumped about it? I wish more people would relish in what they dig about their physical appearance.
The changes also go beyond just how I look, and I’m noticing things that I’m able to do now that I wasn’t able to do before. For example, when I was on my wellness retreat in Vermont taking a yoga class, I was able to hold crow pose for longer than I’ve ever been able to before. Yesterday I ran my first obstacle race, and you know what? I most certainly would not have been able to get up and over all those six to eight foot walls without improved upper body strength. I’ve also noticed changes mentally as well. I love weight lifting for the journey. I no longer feel like I have to “get through” 45 minutes of cardio. Instead, I genuinely WANT to be in the gym to see what my body is capable of that day. I’m okay taking more rest days than I used to be because when I am sore, I know that my body needs that recovery time to improve. I feel happier and more self-confident. Lifting heavier is helping me realize that a lot of the things I thought I “couldn’t” do were just self-imposed limitations, and this attitude is carrying over to other areas of my life as well. It’s very clear that training your body also trains your mind. Do it.
So what now?
Aside from continuing to work on my lifts, I am considering some changes to my teaching schedule in the near very future (eeeek I know) to make more time for strength training on my own. I also just purchased the Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training program from Girls Gone Strong because I am craving a little more direction with my program. To date, I’ve just been putting together my own workouts which is fine, but even trainers need a coach or trainer you know. This guide is extremely comprehensive, has a solid program that I can follow to progress, and I can’t wait to have a more prescribed approach to my sets, reps, and exercise selections. I’m planning to read through it tonight so I can get started with it this week. For cardio, now that the weather is nicer, I really want to do more outdoor cardio workouts, but I want to take these beyond just going for a run. I want to run the bleachers at Harvard Stadium, do some hill runs, and use outdoor spaces like basketball courts for cardio drills. I’m hoping Tim and/or my gym friends will want to join me for these types of outdoor workouts for some extra motivation.
I’ll let you guys know how it all goes!
What’s going on in your fitness world right now? I want to hear about progress on goals, any programs you are working on, or anything else on your mind. Is anyone else doing The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training? Does anyone have any fun outdoor stadium, hill, or court workouts to share? Fellow trainers, do you have your own trainer or coach? What part of your body are you digging right now?
For more Sunday Sweat Talk topics:
- My Hangover Workout
- January Joiners
- Helping or Harassing
- One Month of Heavier Lifting
- The Problem With Online Fitness Challenges
- Grip Strength and Ankle Update
- MMA Fighter Fit Certification
- Strength Training Plateaus
- Why I Love My Gym Friends
- Exercising While Sick
- Next Fitness Star: Power Sculpt Series
- Deload Weeks
- Unstable Surface Training
Your strength training inspires me. After I race my half, I’m going to start taking strength training more seriously. I hadn’t heard of The Modern Woman’s Guide to Strength Training until you mentioned it, but I want to look into it more. My favorite part of my body right now are my shoulders. Thanks for sharing this.
You’re welcome! Good luck with the half. 🙂
Obviously I love this whole post! Congrats on your awesome numbers! I think I’m going to take this week off from exercise to give my foot some time to heal (it’s still hurting unfortunately). I think I will start with the MWGST plan after that…what level are you thinking of starting at? I’m definitely interested in joining you for outdoor cardio…I’m going to be incorporating some more cardio back in because I have some fat loss goals! Can’t wait to do this together!
YESSS so happy you want to do some outdoor cardio with me. We’ll have to figure out what we want to do, after your foot gets better of course!
I totally agree with the physical AND mental benefits to strength training! After years of pure cardio I started lifting weights about 2 years ago including heavier lifting a few months ago. I look forward to my lifting workouts and think it’s so cool seeing how far I’ve come strength-wise (from struggling with 3-5# dumbbells to rarely using anything less than 10#). I’m so happy I decided to finally incorporate strength training and love that you push other women to do so as well!
I love this comment!! Keep on rocking your strength workouts!
I wish I could do more strength training, but marathon training gets in the way a bit. But I totally agree on how important it is for overall wellness and feeling like a bad ass! Keep up the good work!
It’s definitely hard to train for multiple things at the same time, Sarah. I’ve been considering training for a longer distance race than just a 5k, but not sure when I would add it in to my schedule between strength training and teaching classes already!
You look awesome! I started getting more into lifting earlier this year (with the help of nHerShoe’s shred) and I’m noticing similar changes! I love that I can do tough yoga moves with ease now and feel great! And you’re right the 30-45 minute workout flies by! I’m definitely looking for more direction going forward so I’m going to check out that Girls Gone Strong link!
Thanks Caroline! I’ve heard great things about the nHerShoe’s shred program, my friend recommended that to me as well. Let me know if you end up doing the Girls Gone Strong program!
Great post- I would love to start lifting heavier, but as we’ve discussed, it’s hard doing it on your own! I love feeling strong and I think I leave the gym more beat after a strength session with no cardio than lots of cardio. It’s definitely hard to lift heavy in class (nor do I think it’s the place to do it), but my Monday morning muscle class is usually only 4-6 people so it’s easier for me to do it there- and I love it!
I love weight lifting for all of the reasons you listed. Buns & Guns !!!
That sounds like an awesome name for a group exercise class!
Yaay, I love this post of course!! I love hearing about all of the positive changes you’ve experienced — both mentally and physically. I think it’s awesome that you’ve made so much progress on your own, and even more awesome that you’re starting the GGS program! Let me know how you like it. Also.. I’d love to run some stadiums with ya!
What a great post! It gives me so much more confidence in the fact that I have also started lifting heavier. We are about the same weight/body type (just judging by pictures) and I hope to see similar improvements in my self as well (I’m TIRED of relying on the scale for progress…bad habit!) I was with my family over Easter/Passover talking about our exercise routines and my one cousin made the comment “oh i never lift anything heavier than 8 lbs” in response to my training and of course it started to make me doubt my thought process, but this gave me the reassurance I needed. Thank you!