This post might take a while to read, but there’s a treat waiting for you at the very end 😉
First of all, I’m going to say this plainly because it’s the only way I know how. I’ve never had as many people support a post as I did on Monday. It was awesome. Lately, I’ve been blogging because it makes me feel productive and I only do it if I feel that the Lord has put something on my heart to share. Obviously, my prayer is that this blog can help you connect with Him in another way and I never want what I have to say to hinder that. This week has been pretty amazing, so thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you get something out of it! If I, in any way, can be an instrument for Jesus then that makes me joyful. Really joyful. But even more, if He’s glorified, that makes me SUPER joyful.
That being said, the Belief Before Proof post was still receiving a good amount of traffic this (Wednesday) morning, so I have delayed this post until Thursday. If the Lord is being glorified in one post I don’t want to stop it with this one. The only reason I do workout posts on Wednesday is for the alliteration, which is just a cheesy PR quirk anyway. Sorry to disappoint if you just love the alliteration.
Now on to business…
It’s the new year, and if your resolution is fitness focused, then you’re going to want to hear this!
The most important part about becoming physically fit, is setting your goal. So do you have your goal in mind? If so, great! Then what type of goal is it?
I’ve said several times before that working out is two-fold. If your goal is to become overall healthy and fit, there is nothing better than balancing your workout schedule between strength training and cardio training. Girls, y’all need the weight training, and guys, the cardio is not going to ruin your muscle gains.
Now I’m going to explain why all that is so. The human body is made up of all types of different muscles. Muscles burn fat, so the more muscle you have, the more fat you are capable of burning. (Some people think that muscle turns to fat and fat turns to muscle, but no. The only relationship they have is that muscle burns fat. They are completely different types of tissue). The best way to condition your muscles is to focus on gaining strength and lengthening endurance. It’s the level and ratio of work that goes into developing those two components that effects muscle atrophy (aka growth). But both exercises still build muscle and they are both completely necessary!
So, in keeping with the beginning of the new year, I give you part 1 of Strength and Endurance!
The purpose of these two posts are to give you just a little bit of extra information to help you put together a better game plan for your workout or fitness resolution. The truth is fad diets and exercises are just that: fads. They don’t last long, whether they work or not. They aren’t sustainable. If you want to make a permanent change, then you need the right information so that you know how to work out and how to achieve your goal. So today, I’m talking about strength, and next week will be about endurance.
Although strength usually makes us think about dumbbells, barbells, and weight machines, strength actually applies to more than just getting big muscles. In fact, it comes in handy more often than when you’re lifting something. Strength is also used when we need to produce power, and power is important when it comes to sprinting, HIIT workouts, and any type of athletics. When we work on our strength, that’s when we get that definition in our muscles too.
So how do you improve strength?
Guys, you obviously know more about this typically than girls do. This also might seem slightly repetitive from what I’ve written before, but weight training is essential.
One of the best ways to build up strength is gradually (obviously). When you’re starting out, choose a weight that is comfortable, but challenging and start out with a lower amount of repetitions and sets (usually 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps). Yes, it’s low, but you have to build a good foundation in the beginning or you will hurt yourself. In the past, I’ve said lower reps means muscle growth. But with this low of weight it simply won’t happen. At least not enough to make girls look like football players.
Once that weight becomes easy at those amount of reps and sets, then increase your sets and reps some more (i.e. going from 10 to 15 reps or 3 to 4 sets). Then when that becomes too easy, increase the weight. See? So easy!
Just to help you be able to picture this a little easier, here’s what I’ve worked on over the past two years. When I first began training in 2012, my weighted workouts included body weight (doing wall sits, body weight squats and so on), and some cable machines. If I was adding any weight, it was low; usually 8 pound weights– haha!– for my arm workouts, and maybe 10 for leg workouts.
Now I’ve worked up to weighted workouts that use dumbbells, machines, and barbells. The weights I use for my arms (currently) are 15-20 for each arm depending on the workout, 25 pounds on each leg for lunges, about 40-60 pounds for my back or laterals, and around 110-120 for squats and leg press. And ladies— this is quite low because my muscles are naturally bulky and I don’t want to build too much. However, I will still continue to increase my weight load. (Side note: I recently backed off because I’m working on training for a half marathon… saving that for another post!)
Sticking to your schedule is the best thing you can do. And one of the best mentalities to maintain is this: the workout that you have ahead of you is not going to be your last workout.You’ll have another one tomorrow. So don’t exhaust yourself so much that you can’t work out the next day. Work hard, but listen to your body and don’t hurt yourself! It’s a gradual process and you want to make it to the end.
So when your working on increasing your strength, think of the process like this:
1. Choose a comfortable but challenging weight (can be body weight or added weights) and do a moderate amount of reps.
2. One to two weeks after (or until those reps become easy) increase your amount of reps by a few or until it makes to tired.
3. Once you’ve achieved that many reps at the weight you started out on, then increase your weight by a little bit.
Now this process can be applied to more than weight training. If yoga is your thing, then turn reps into amount of seconds you hold your pose, and make the poses more challenging. It’s so simple, but so important.
So there’s just a little bit of info on how to tackle your strength goals. It’s a process for sure, and it takes time. It’s taken me 2 years to get up to where I am. But here’s the thing: the time is going to pass regardless of what you do. So do you want achieve your goal by the end of the year? Or make the same resolution next year? It’s only an hour out of your day, so get up a do it!
P.S. For those of you wanting to add a little worship into your workout without sacrificing a good tempo, but you don’t know where to look, then follow me! I’m on Spotify and have created a playlist for my own workouts. Some of you might enjoy it, others may not. But feel free to listen along with me! Here is the link to my workout playlist!
Love y’all and happy sweating!