As I was having my standard run (three times around my neighborhood) this afternoon, I felt something that was entirely new. Running felt so much easier. I was running faster and longer without the expected heaving of breath afterwards. It’s weird and unexpected because I haven’t changed my diet lately. In fact, it’s been pretty bad health-wise and portion control-wise. And it’s not the fact that I have built up endurance, since I haven’t ran in over a week and a half. So what’s the cause? Strength training!
I’ve had a revelation. Strength training has allowed me to run better, faster, and longer than I ever have before. Even better, running takes so much less effort now that I’ve incorporated strength training into my workouts. This is an entirely new experience for me. Usually, I’ve always been about cardio exercise only. Running and zumba have been my go-to workouts for years. But for the past few months I’ve been trying out strength training for what seems like the very first time, and it has made a load of difference.
Jillian Micaels 30 Day Shred and Blogilates have been my main two resources for strength training, which is perfect since I can do them at home. I just hate the feeling of lifting my 5 pounders at a gym with a bunch of built up men around me lifting some hard core numbers. The 30 Day Shred and Blogilates videos have been extremely effective in building strength and muscle. If you’d like to learn more about these workouts check out my Top 5 Favorite Workouts post.
However, there is a catch! For the past few months of strength training I completely eliminated cardio routines. I thought that strength training exercise alone would create the same effect. But I was wrong. Strength training is necessary for building muscle. After a few months of strength training I could see my legs and arms get more toned. However, (there’s that awful word again) to decrease in size and weight you need to incorporate cardio as well. Even though my legs and arms were more toned, my overall size and weight were still the same. Muscle and fat are two different groups. Although I was working my muscles for the first time, my fat did not decrease nearly as much as I wanted it to.
Then comes cardio! If you want to see the weight shed along with getting toned, you need to still keep up with your cardio exercises. After getting back into running for just two days (since my cardio hiatus) I already saw the difference in my legs. Not only have they become stronger and more toned from strength training, but now they have decreased in overall size.
We need to continue having high intensity cardio workouts to maintain or reach for our overall size and weight goals. In my opinion, nothing sheds the pounds like running. But also, nothing makes running easier than strength training!
Cardio AND Strength Training
Now more than ever, I’m understanding that cardio and strength training go hand in hand. On its own, cardio will reduce fat but you can still be without muscle toning aka a more tight and shapely looking body. And on its own, strength training will give you that build but only in coexistence with most of your existing fat. You need both. Strength training allows you to succeed in high intensity workouts, and cardio will help get rid of the fat overlaying your muscles.
I recommend that if you exercise five times a week (which I think is necessary if you want to lose a substantial bit of weight), two out of the five days should be strength training workouts, and the other three straight-up cardio. In order to be strong, fit, and achieve weight loss you need to work out both the fat and muscles in your body. Remember, you can be skinny but not strong. You can also be strong but still struggle with weight. The answer is both cardio and strength training to get the overall fitness level you desire. In just the past week I’ve noticed how much this killer combination can work wonders on your body.
Don’t Forget about Food
Just a little update on my life health-wise. I’ve been struggling a lot lately with eating healthy. Living at home and eating out often have not been good for my eating choices. For the past two weeks I’ve been eating really unhealthy foods in much bigger portions and it has taken a toll on my body. But, this past week I’ve decided to make a change and can already see a difference. It’s amazing how much the body responds to food and exercise, and how quickly it can reverse! It all depends on motivation. So I hope this post reignites some motivation to workout harder in both cardio and strength training, while remembering to eat healthy through it all. Stay fit my friends!