I know many of you are like me: You love to workout, (or maybe you want to love to workout,) but this just isn’t your season for it. You might have fond memories, as I do, of days gone by when workouts could take a big chunk of your day, or maybe your days even revolved around your workouts…and that was completely ok. In fact, you were proud of it.
I know my life has sure changed with kids and work and the season that I am in. I used to teach group fitness all week long. And after running cross-country in college, I loved to compete in races (including a few marathons ). I even spent one year on a local TV show exercising on beaches of Hawaii! (so weird, and I had almost forgotten about until it came up in a conversation recently.) (the show was not exactly the biggest hit. haha.)
But now? I’m just trying to squeeze in the minimal requirement to keep reasonably fit and mentally stable. I don’t even let myself daydream of the good old days when I chose from a long list of gym classes, or made plans with friends for long Saturday runs. (followed by long showers and long lunches, and…see, don’t let me go there –) Oh I hope to be back to that one day, but for now? It just ain’t happening. (and of course I love the season I am in for completely different reasons, so no complaints!)
So these days — I pack in what I can, and honestly it’s not a lot. When I do workout, I put almost all of my focus on cardio, because I know it is good for my heart, and the best way to burn fat and keep fit. This week, for example, I tallied up a total of three workouts, and they were nothing to brag about: Two thirty-minute runs. One 40-minute workout on the elliptical machine.
But with a background in sports medicine and fitness, I am very aware of how important it is to include some resistance work in my fitness routine. There are so many benefits to doing strength work, so I have learned to discipline myself to add them to my workouts as well. I keep it very simple, but two to three times a week I spend about ten minutes using hand weights and bands to work my muscles. I know that is not a lot, but I’ve found that you really can pack a lot of muscle work into a short time when you need to!
In case a few of you need some convincing, (or even just a good reminder) I am here to share:
THREE REALLY GOOD REASONS to add some muscle work to your fitness routine!
Here we go —
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1. Muscle burns fat.
We all know that exercising burns calories. Then the body continues to burn calories for a time after your workout (they call this the “afterburn”). Eventually your body goes back to your “resting metabolic rate”. However, when your workout includes strength training, the work your muscles do to repair and rebuild after the workout lasts longer and burns more calories. Then the muscles you build burn more calories at rest than fat does, so I like to think of every muscle in your body as little fat-burning machines.
note: Some people exaggerate this idea of muscles burning fat, and want to believe that adding resistance training to their workouts will mean they can eat hundreds of extra calories…Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. The extra muscles will help with your metabolism, but they’re still not a magic button. (I still haven’t found one of those, sorry!)
From this article in WebMDL
Strength training becomes especially important as we get older, when our metabolisms tend to slow down. One way to stop this is to add some strength training to your workout at least a couple of times a week. The largest muscles (and therefore the largest calorie burners) are in the thighs, abdomen, chest, and arms.
2. Having more muscle actually feels great.
Its true: You never regret a workout, right? And even if we cry and whine our way through some resistance work, most of us enjoy some mildly sore muscles the next day. They really do “hurt so good”. As you get stronger, you also gain self confidence. You feel capable. You can do things and that feels good (Just watch me flex my biceps as I open that tight jar in front of my boys!) As we age, I especially think it is important to be able to lift things without throwing out our back, or constantly needing help for small tasks. I hope to be a Grandma that can hold her own one day!
3. Muscle is beautiful!
This one hasn’t always been easy for me. I have a naturally muscular build, and for a long time I resented it. Now that I am in my mid-forties I am appreciating more and more the muscle I have. I like that muscles can stay firm when everything else tends to get loose and flabby!
I know a lot of women avoid weights because they think lifting weights will cause them to get bulky. The best way to avoid this is simply to use lighter weights and do more repetitions. This allows you to get toned, but not bulky. You can do light weights literally as part of your cardio routine and work the muscles until you feel a nice burn. (A look at my super quick upper body workout, here.)
As with everything I talk about when it comes to diet and exercise, the key to incorporating weights into your workout is to be consistent. Adding weights every day for a week or two and then quitting will not get you very far. However adding weights two or three days a week, every week all year-long will absolutely get you somewhere! So consider what is realistic for you, and commit to it for the long haul. You won’t regret it!
Share in comments what you like to do to work your muscles, ask any follow-up questions, or share what your typical workouts are (or what they used to be! :))
Also, I’d love it if you would use the social media buttons below to share this post so that your friends can read it as well! Mahalo!
Aloha and see you soon!