If you were to ask me in high school (or even as a freshman in college) what I do for a workout, I would simply answer with, “I run”.
If were to also ask me if I weight train, I would have undoubtedly responded with a confused look and an, “Eww no. I want to be lean”.
Looking back at my fitness journey, I can honestly say that I regret not lifting weights in high school during cross-country season or incorporating more strength training into my two-a-days for basketball. Having been an avid runner for over 10 years now, I wish I could tell my younger self to not be afraid of weights. The stigma that women who lift will somehow transform into a testosterone-induced body builder resembling that of a Russian weight competitor is far from the truth. Sure, if you are hitting high weight, low rep and consuming double what your body needs in calories, you will bulk.
On the other side of the spectrum, even if you wanted to bulk up (which is possible), it’s simply not in a women’s DNA to “accidentally” look like a shredded body builder.Our hormones are vastly different from men, and the way our muscles build and shape up is a much slower process.
I hear so many women say that they don’t want to lift weights because they want to be able to run faster or that weights will change their bodies for the worst. There are so many benefits to strength training that will not only help to define your body (giving you a leaner look), but the muscle you gain will help you during cardio.
Reasons Why You Should Lift:
- You will burn extra calories
- Hitting a weight loss plateau is one of the worst things that can happen when you are trying to diet down. Incorporating weights into your training is a simple way to burn extra fat. The Mayo Clinic even says that muscle burns more calories during the day than fat and you will also continue to burn more even after your workout!
- Injury Prevention
- This is the best cross training method to help prevent injuries that many runners face. Incorporating strength training will help to improve many weaknesses in our body’s joints, muscles and connective tissues by giving us more bone density (which naturally declines as women age). In addition, adding hip and core strength exercises prevent many injuries like runner’s knee, which can be caused by dysfunctions of the hip .
- Better flexibility and increased strength
- Building muscle is synonymous with building strength. Increased energy levels will help translate into better runs and increased stamina. You will also have a better range of motion and your balance will improve. This can also help improve your posture!
- Leaner physique
- Booty gains
- Pretty sure that speaks for itself…
- Booty gains
How Do I Start?
There are tons of ways to start incorporating strength training into your workouts, but the most important thing to remember is to find what works best for YOU. Not everyone is the same and our bodies are all different. What works for me might not work for you and vis-versa.
My best advice is to start simple and keep a positive mindset. It might not be easy at first but remember that everyone starts somewhere. Your body will slowly adapt to the training and you don’t need to follow a strict routine like that of a body builder. Free weights are just as beneficial as machines and even if you don’t have weights, you can practice strength training at home before or after your run.
Be sure to focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups and once you become more comfortable with your workout, you can mix it up.
Beginners: select weights that you can lift for about 4-6 reps, and stop each set either 1-2 reps before you reach muscle failure or if your form breaks down. Rest for 2-3 minutes between sets.
Some simple exercises for runners:
- planks (both sides)
- hip thrusts (bridge)
- push ups
- dumbbell press
Perform the sets until you’ve reached roughly 80% of you max effort and keep low-weight, high-rep in mind if you are looking to stay “lean”. Remember to listen to your body when you are first starting out and do not overwork yourself! Pay attention to your body and remember that you will only get better with time.