In last week’s post I talked about my weekly workout routine, as well as I briefly touched on why I transitioned from cardio to weight training. This week, I figured it might be helpful to talk a little more in depth about what motivated this transition, and how I made the switch.
One of the main reasons I made the switch to weight training is because I wanted to see more of a visible change in my body. I had been doing the same steady state cardio for years, and my body had hit that “plateau” I talked about last week. This obviously could’ve had a little something to do with my 16 year old metabolism slowing down (a scary realization when you hit your early 20’s, am I right?!), but all I knew is that no matter how much cardio I did, or how many times a week I did it, it wasn’t giving me the results I wanted.
That’s not to say I was unhappy with the way I looked, my goals had just changed from my early high school days of wanting to be “skinny”, to wanting to look a little more defined and “toned” (so cliche, I know). After reading a few blog posts and articles on bodybuilding.com, I came to the realization that if I wanted to see a change, I needed to put on muscle, and being a slave to cardio was not going to do that for me.
It’s extremely difficult to tone and define your muscles while strictly doing cardio because steady state cardio does not build muscle. Cardio slowly burns fat, but it also burns a small amount of muscle at the same time, which is the exact opposite of what you want to do. Weight training on the other hand, builds muscle, which then allows your body to burn fat more quickly. The more muscle you have, the quicker and easier you burn fat.
The big advantage to weight training is the short bursts of energy it requires. These energy bursts spike your heart rate every time you’re performing an exercise, as opposed to doing cardio which typically keeps your heart rate at a steady rate for your entire workout. For example, if I do the elliptical for 45 minutes, my heart rate rarely goes above 150-160 bpm. However, if I’m weight training, my body is constantly going up and down between 140 bpm, and 190bpm, depending on what I’m doing. Weight training also spikes your metabolism which allows your body to continue to burn calories long after your workout is over (who doesn’t want to burn calories while sitting on their couch after their workout …). When you’re doing cardio, your body stops during calories the minute you step off the machine.
Does this mean I’ve given up cardio altogether? No, not entirely. However I don’t use cardio as my only form of workout anymore and I don’t do any steady state, I only do HIIT (another blog post for another day!). In high school, I would come to the gym each day and do 45-60 agonizing minutes on the elliptical, or I’d run 5 miles, etc. Now I strictly use cardio as a warm up. I do anywhere from 10-20 minutes a day and I only do it to get my heart rate going and my body warmed up before I jump into a weight training circuit/routine.
The first step in starting to weight train is finding a workout that’s right for you. In the beginning, I started with two arm days a week, and two leg days a week. 4 workouts a week, that’s it. Keep it simple if this is new to you! There are so many resources readily available online for you to find workouts, but I started with bodybuilding.com. This is a great resource for so many reasons. First of all, the athletes who write the workouts are trained professionals, and know exactly what they’re doing. Second of all, if you’re unsure of how to do an exercise, this website has TONS of pictures/videos explaining every exercise there ever was, in full detail. Lastly, this website is such a great place to start because you can decide what workouts you want based on your own personal goals. You can pick a workout based on body part, long term goal, current fitness level, etc. And even if you’re a seasoned workout vet, it’s a great place to find new workouts – I still use it all the time!
- Pants – size medium for reference! These are SO comfortable and soft, I highly recommend them!