summer of strength: challenge introduction (+ giveaway winners!)

Posted on May 9, 2011 in Fitness, Lifestyle

It is no secret that I have been a cardio queen for the past few months. While training for my half marathon, I spent a lot of my activity time focused on building up cardiovascular and mental endurance. That meant that my strength training time fizzled to almost nothing by the end of training. There is something decidedly empowering about crossing the finish line after 13.1 miles, but there is also something very exciting about feeling strong and powerful—two things that are missing from my mindset post-race.

So many people focus so much on cardio for weight loss and health, but strength training is just as (if not more) important! Wondering why building strength is so important? From Sparkpeople:

  • Improves your ability to do everyday activities: The stronger your muscles, the easier it is to get groceries out of the car, get a package off of the top cabinet shelf, push the lawnmower…..the list goes on and on!
  • Improves your balance and stability: The stronger and more resilient your muscles, the more balance is sturdier. This will help keep you safe in your daily activities and decreases the risk of falls or accidents.
  • Builds muscle strength: Adults lose between five and seven pounds of muscle every decade after age 20. Strength training will help prevent this muscle loss, and rebuild what you may have lost.
  • Decreases your risk of osteoporosis: Inactivity and aging can lead to a decrease in bone density, leading to brittleness. Studies have shown that consistent strength training can increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
  • Reduces blood pressure: Strength training can be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure by strengthening the heart, allowing it to beat more efficiently.
  • Increases calorie burn: Strength training increases the body’s metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories throughout the day. This aids significantly in long-term weight loss.

Summer seems like the perfect time to focus on strength. The weather makes running outside miserable, and I can only handle shorts bursts of cardio in our home gym.

Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for my “before” assessment and goals post. In the meantime, I encourage you to think about your own summer of strength challenge. Always wanted to be able to do a regular push-up? Want to be able to show off some defined guns? Regardless of your goals, everyone can benefit from a summertime focused on strength training.

For now, here are my challenge bylaws, put in place to keep myself safe, healthy and in a good mental space:

  1. Keep up with a baseline standard of cardio. I’m not going to go all extreme and stop all cardio, but I certainly don’t need to be burning 3,000 calories in one session. I’ll be aiming for a 30-45 minute cardio session, 3-4 times a week, burning 300-400 calories per session.
  2. Try a variety of strength exercises. I’ll be doing yoga, pilates, body-weight exercises, as well as weighted exercises. Plus anything else that seems like fun!
  3. Take diligent notes and measurements. The scale and I have an on-again/off-again relationship, but I love my measuring tape! This is one challenge where I think the numbers will be fun to keep track of. Stay tuned for more info on this in my “before” assessment. During the challenge, I’ll be keeping an accurate log of what works, what doesn’t and my progress.

What are your summer fitness goals?


Oh, and the three winners of the CamelBak giveaway are:

Congratulations, ladies! Send me an e-mail at backtoherroots@gmail.com and I’ll get CamelBak to ship your bottles out as soon as possible!

7 Comments

  1. Oh my..I want to do this with you! Yoga is on the top of my list of things to try this summer. P.S. if you would like another go at the half marathon….we are heading up to minnesota in august for #2. We could run together!!

    • Where in Minnesota? And I so want to get into yoga, I am just totally intimidated. :(

      • August 13th…It starts in Stillwater, MN and ends in Hudson, WI. I have more info on my blog and includes the route and elevation. I am dipping my toes in yoga this saturday. We live across from Tower Grove park here in STL and they offer a free class at the farmer’s market. Super excited!

  2. I love yoga! I did a prenatal yoga class when I was pregnant (duh, lol), and it was so awesome. I actually was a lot more active while pregnant than I am now (and I attribute my relatively easy and short labor to my activity level), and my summer goal is to get back to being physically active, even WITH a baby. This will mean lots of walks with the stroller, and doing various at-home workouts during nap time (instead of spending that time online! LOL).

    • I really want to get into yoga, but I’ve a hard time finding a studio I like or justifying the costs. But I found an on demand practice that I LOVE. Which is free. :) So that’s good!

  3. I like your summer of strength challenge. I think I have to join you, I can really feel my lack of strength now when I’m running. I’ll have to think about this…

    • If not making it a whole challenge, at least think about incorporating a small daily strength routine. 20 pushups, 20 crunches and 20 square a day will do wonders for running.

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