In my previous post, I debunked a few of the myths around women and weight lifting. As a follow up, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the benefits of strength training and share a few tips on how to get started.
It feels pretty badass to be able to lift a barbell over my head while squatting, flip a tire that is 2x my body weight, jump onto a box that is more than half my height and hold my own on the pull-up bar, to name a few.
It’s an awesome feeling to watch myself getting stronger. When I think about where I was 5 years, 1 year, even 6 months ago, I’m always amazed at how far I’ve come and what my body can do.
It puts me in “the zone.” While I’m doing a workout, I’m focused on counting my reps and nothing else. Unlike long distance running or any other form of steady state exercise, your mind doesn’t have time to wander. All other stress is temporarily forgotten because you’re 100% in the moment.
I love efficiency. We’re all busy and no one has time to spend hours on end in the gym. Well, when you combine lifting heavy weights with sprints, rowing, jump roping and burpees, you don’t need to.
I love the feeling of being so wiped out that you’re not sure if you can even make it to the shower. You just don’t get that from anything else, in my opinion.
By setting goals for myself, I never get bored. Whether it’s a new PR on a certain lift, mastering handstand push-ups or increasing my max rep pull-ups, there’s always a new challenge to work towards.
It’s not the worst thing in the world to have people stop you in the grocery store and ask, “Do you do Crossfit?” Yes, this happened to me today.
I love muscles. I think it’s a sign of hard work and dedication. How can you not respect girls who looks like this?
Despite my passion for Crossfit, I know it’s not the only form of effective strength training and I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s the end all be all. Everyone has different goals and preferences, and it’s important to find a type of exercise that makes you happy.
However, I am going to continue to encourage all of you to strength train. Why? You’ll gain muscle and lose fat, among many other things. You’ll also reduce your risk of injury by strengthening your bones and joints and doing full body movements that compliment each other. Your metabolism will thank you as well. At rest, muscle burns more calories than fat, so by increasing your lean muscle mass, you’re increasing your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of calories that you would burn if you were to lay down, without sleeping, for 24 hours. You’re also going to be more efficient when you workout and will not feel the need to spend at a time at the gym, sweating profusely but seeing minimal results.
To some, the thought of strength training may seem daunting because they don’t know where to begin. Well, everyone has to start somewhere. My first introduction to strength training was sitting on the weight machines and going through the prescribed circuit at my gym. I then started incorporating free weights and used magazines to learn other, more creative exercises. Finally, I was introduced to Crossfit.
So, here are a few tips I have for those new to the world of strength training:
Join a gym or create a space at home. If you are working out at home, purchase the correct equipment. I recommend Again Faster.
Know your body and be aware of any past injuries that you may have. However, don’t create an injury in your head and use it as an excuse for not doing certain exercises. Excuses will get you nowhere.
Start with the basics and learn proper form. Sign up for a few intro sessions with personal trainer, find out if your gym offers introductory kettlebell or TRX courses, take a fundamentals course at a Crossfit box or watch YouTube videos.
Start with the appropriate weight. When that becomes too easy, make it heavier. You should always feel challenged if you want to see progress. Just make sure that you’re not sacrificing your form for the heavier weight.
When creating workouts, think about your full body. Create “circuits” that include legs, arms and core, rather than devoting your entire workout to one muscle group.
Don’t repeat the same thing every time you work out. Even though there are going to be some exercises that you like more than others, you will only see results if you challenge yourself. If you feel like you’re plateauing, consider changing things up.
Just remember, it doesn’t matter where you’re starting in your fitness journey. What matters is that you set goals and make a plan to reach them. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but consistently putting in the work and continuing to challenge yourself will lead to results. Just keep going!
And now and I will leave you with my turkey slider recipe…
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 cup spinach, chopped
Garlic powder, pepper and rosemary to taste (sorry, I didn’t measure)
1-2 large sweet potatoes
Plain Greek yogurt
Chili pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 400. Slice sweet potatoes into spheres. Line cookie sheet with foil and place potato spheres onto foil. Spray with coconut oil/olive oil or fat of choice. Place in the oven and let bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip, and bake for another 10 minutes.
While the potatoes are baking, make the sliders. Combine turkey, spinach, onion and seasonings in a bowl. Heat a greased skillet over medium heat. Form small patties with your hands and place onto skillet. Once turkey is browned on the bottom, flip. Once burger is cooked all the way through, remove. Continue until you’ve used up the turkey mixture.
Place turkey patty on sweet potato sphere. Mix plain Greek yogurt with chili pepper flakes to create a “sauce.” Spread sauce onto burger and top with a second sweet potato sphere.
I paired mine with a small salad of spinach, grape tomatoes, avocado and olive tapenade.