As warmer temps invite you outside for summer activities, you may think it’s a given that you’ll get more active and stay slimmer. But as you add cardio activities like biking, hiking, running or tennis, do you tend to slack off on strength training and figure it all evens out because you’re burning more calories?
Not so fast. Cardio alone isn’t enough for weight management or staying fit and healthy overall. Yet it’s so easy to let it slip, especially in the summer when you just want to get outside.
Stay on track this summer with the helpful tips in this Q&A.
Q. Why is it so important to include strength training (not just cardio) in a workout routine?
We actually like to refer to strength training as resistance training because it brings many benefits beyond just building strength. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve your mobility for sports, or simply move better throughout the day, incorporating resistance training into your exercise routine will give you benefits in addition to just doing “cardio”.
Understand that we're not talking about “bulking up”; resistance training is about keeping the muscles strong and toned, while adding lean muscle. And, as you may already know lean muscle burns more calories throughout the day than fat, another benefit of adding resistance training to your routine.
Regarding strength building, research has shown that resistance training, more so than just cardio, is one of the best ways to build lean muscle. Cardio can build some muscle, but resistance training is the most effective method. Resistance training also helps to support your joints – especially the shoulders, knees, and spine — by strengthening the muscles around those areas.
Q. Why is it so easy to neglect resistance training?
It’s the perception that it takes too much time. Many people think that this type of training needs to be done separately. The fact is you can get an incredibly great workout by incorporating strength training INTO your cardio routine.
Q. What are the best ways to integrate resistance training into a cardio regimen without adding a lot of time to my workout routine?
There are three ways to do cardio and resistance training in the same amount of time as a typical cardio workout. Some of these are just as easy to do outside as inside.
Full-body exercises/Compound Movements
Instead of doing just a squat or just a shoulder press incorporate the two into one efficient energy burning set. Take a set of dumbbells that you can shoulder press about 12-15 times. Stand straight with your feet about shoulder width apart. Bring the dumbbells to the shoulder press position (dumbbells level with your ears or higher) Begin to perform a squat keeping the weight on your heels. As you squat down extend your arms overhead. Your arms should be extended at the bottom of the squat. As you squat up the arms begin to bend back to the starting position. If you haven’t done this exercise before it might feel a bit awkward so try it with no weight.
Increase the number of repetitions/Decrease Rest time.
A couple ways to get the heart rate up during your resistance training is to do two or three times the number of repetitions you’d normally do in a single set — and/or perform multiple sets with shorter rest times between sets. This will cause your heart rate to be higher during that same period. One note is that if you are increasing your reps and/or decreasing your rest you may need to decrease the weight you use as well.
Alternate 30 second to two minutes sets of high, low, and moderate intensity cardio with resistance exercises. For example, start with a brisk walk, then do some lunges, then sprint, then do pushups, then jog or do jumping jacks, then do crunches…in this type of workout routine it’s less important the exact reps or rest. Rather, the key is to keep moving!
Q. What are the benefits a hiring a trainer?
People get personal trainers because they’re not sure what to do. If you try an exercise you saw on TV, injure your back and can’t work out for two weeks, that’s not gaining you anything. A trainer can observe and evaluate whether you’re at an appropriate level of conditioning for higher intensity, higher impact activities, and design a program specifically for you.
And if you’re getting bored with your routine you’re probably not working out as hard or as often as you would like, a trainer is a great way to add newness that gets you excited about working out again.
Not seeing the results you want? Not sure if you have good form? Just need new inspiration? Ask Fitness Together about a personal training consultation including an assessment of your health and fitness condition today. We’ll match you with the best trainer for you based on your goals, priorities and preferences, and we’ll even map out a Nutrition Together nutrition plan customized for you to help you maximize the benefit of your workout program. Just find a Fitness Together near you today and set an appointment.
Consult a doctor before beginning any new fitness program.