So you've committed. You pound the streets. You hit the treadmill. You've got your running A-game on. You've made time for your running regime and you've stuck to it. High five! Most people do not even get out of the starting blocks - they manage it for a week and then low and behold it all seems like too much effort and they're back on the sofa loving a bit of Eastenders and wishing they could be fit.
You are getting fitter and you can run for longer. Maybe you're even entering some races here and there for a little extra motivation and to keep yourself focused. Maybe you look a little slimmer and you're feeling much better in yourself. The thing is, you're not physically seeing the results you expected. You ARE a smaller version of how you were before you started running and you fit in a smaller dress size. BUT you've still got some 'fluff' around the middle and the only reason you look more toned is because you're smaller, rather than because you've actually got more of the 'tone' that you wanted.
The thing is this is not limited to running. It is typical of any predominantly cardio-based program. Man (and woman) cannot survive on cardio alone! It is imperative to our fitness levels, to the care of our bodies and to how we look to add in some form of resistance training.
What is resistance training?
In real terms, it is using your muscles against a load. Now the load could be anything from weights or kettlebells to a small child or your own bodyweight. We lift the load from A to B - so imagine a press-up if you will. You are lifting the load of your bodyweight from the bottom of the rep to the top. Now that is resistance training.
Resistance training is the one thing that will give you the 'tone' that you were after in the first place. It also helps to prevent injury (especially important for runners), to decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis AND it boosts the metabolism. Now there is a winning sentence if ever I wrote one.
Basically the more muscle you have, the more you boost your metabolism. Let me just quickly smash one myth in the face. YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE ARNIE!!!!
It is physically impossible! People with that much muscle LIVE in the gym, they lift weights multiple times a day and eat enough protein to feed a small village. You do not need to worry about that!! At all. In the slightest. Secondly, if you notice that you're becoming a little more muscular than you would like then you change up the training right? You don't just wake up one morning and out popped a gigantic bicep and a neck like a builder. Change is gradual.... you have time to make decisions along the way lol!
What does resistance training look like?
It comes in many forms. Not all workouts are just cardio or just resistance.... many are a mixture. Try something like HIIT for example (High Intensity Interval Training) some of the moves are predominantly cardio but things like squat jumps, jump lunge, press-ups, high step ups etc also have more load involved. Other class concepts like Body Pump, LBT and 'toning' classes will also be resistance based.
As a fitness instructor who sees people train first hand, I cannot tell you how many people put too much emphasis on the cardio part of their workout. It's because we are programmed by the media and by fitness information given out decades ago. Cardio is also fun and it produces the sweat.... which we are programmed to think we need to see in order to see change.
Going for a run makes you feel free. It's a great stress reliever and a great way to clear your mind. Now if THOSE are the reasons that you run, then RUN! I am definitely not telling you to stop running. Cardio is GOOD! There is no point looking like a fitness model but coughing up a lung when you try to run from a charging bear!
However if the reason you are running is to lose weight and look more toned then it's time to rethink your strategy. YES leave the running in there - cardiovascular health is important and it's great to keep your stress levels in check. Let's just make sure we get the resistance training in there too.
How can I add resistance into my workout programs?
Here are some ideas:
****** Check out some classes with your local fitness instructor or at a gym e.g. Body Pump, LBT, any 'toning' type class. Classes great for complete newbies will probably involve bodyweight/resistance bands/ swiss balls. Something to tickle your fancy if you're a little more experienced will be weights classes.
***** Find a Personal Trainer who knows their shit. You will be surprised how many PT's I still see beasting someone with cardio just because they know the client will perceive it as a hard workout. Like I said, cardio is not a bad thing. But it's not going to change your body into the shape you have in your head. PTs will also give you one on one support to get your technique spot on. So if you have the coordination of a drunk donkey then have a couple of sessions with one to get your A-game on.
***** Find a home workout program that includes resistance. Most should!
***** Get on YouTube and find some free workout ideas! There are some great ones!
Any questions email me.... I love an idea for a new blog post! And we could even get a Facebook Live/webinar up so I can answer your questions online.
For more info on Anna's classes in Feltham & Teddington go to www.annamartinfitness.co.uk
For more info on Anna's home workout program '14 Day Fix' go to www.always-moving-forward.com
Anna is a qualified Personal Trainer, experienced Group Exercise instructor and a Master-Trainer for an international fitness brand. Owner of Vital Signz Dance. Creator of 14 Day Fix home workout program.