This is How I Lift
Some friends and blog readers have asked me what my lifting routine is like these days (particularly now that I am fitting it in with my half marathon training schedule). If you missed my post about the balance of lifting and distance running you can see it by clicking here. As I mentioned in my previous post, I used to run… a LOT! But I still considered myself “skinny fat”. I thought I could outrun a bad diet and I thought if I just ran enough I would get the results I wanted. I didn’t know how wrong I was until I made some serious lifestyle changes.
When I made 2 major changes I saw the biggest results. This is what I did:
1. I started “eating clean” which included cutting out processed sugar from my everyday diet. This doesn’t mean you have to cut sugar completely out of your life to see results. I am just a sugar addict and I either eat it (in mass quantities) or I don’t. So it was easier for me to say goodbye completely than try and moderate it. I still eat special treats from time to time, but I use unprocessed sweeteners such as raw honey from the farmer’s market or dates. Like this amazing ice cream cake for my anniversary dessert. Yum!
2. I started lifting weights (like really lifting… not just going through the motions) without fear of “bulking” like a man…. because, I’m a woman. I also stopped running myself into the ground with cardio.
See, this is me (with my kiddos) after lifting with moderate cardio and a clean diet (pre half marathon training). No bulk… just lean muscle.
But recently I had a friend who asked me to run a half marathon with her. So I am in the midst of training for that while still lifting weights because I get my best results from lifting. I love the way I feel when I lift and how I fit in my clothes so I’m sticking with what works for me.
However, I couldn’t keep up the strenuous lifting routine I have AND add on top of that my half marathon training. It just wouldn’t be realistic. I have too much on my plate (like everyone else in the world) to try and juggle it all. So I modified a 1/2 training plan and cut down my lifting to make sure I got in a good routine yet didn’t take forever at the gym each day. In fact, many days I can modify and lift at home with my free weights and an exercise ball.
Here I am now… Today as I write this I am exactly half way through my 1/2 marathon training and I’m feeling great. Strong and lean… so I feel like I am keeping a good balance.
You can see my entire 1/2 marathon training schedule on my previous post by clicking here.
But this post will delve into what a typical week looks like as well as some tips on lifting so that you really get the most bang for your buck.
Here is a “quick lifting” schedule for those who want to lift AND run. I usually do something very similar to this and add in extra lifts on days I have extra time.
Some Tips for Lifting Well:
1. Eat before you lift: I don’t know about you but if I try and workout before breakfast I’m useless. I recommend eating at least 1.5 hours before your workout if not 2-3 hours (if you are going to be doing any high intensity cardio… you don’t want to throw up the meal you just ate). I recommend eating some slow-digesting carbs (my favorites are steel cut oats, or buckwheat groats) along with a lean protein (I like to eat eggs for breakfast before a workout with spinach and salsa, or some chicken). You also want to eat some veggies (like spinach in your eggs), or some sugar snap peas, or broccoli as a good source of fibrous carbs.
2. Always warm up: If you start out cold you are more prone to injuring yourself. Also, your muscles wont be ready and you wont be able to lift as much. I like to either walk on an incline, or jog for 5 minutes before I lift. I also like to do some dynamic stretching before I lift. DON’T do those long hold stretches where you count to 30. They can cause your muscles to weaken and lead to an injury. Instead, do a warm up walk or run followed by some dynamic stretches (active movements of muscle that stretch your muscles but are not held in the end position). Save static stretching for after your workout. Another great way to warm up is to do your first lifting movement with lighter weights. For example: If you are going to start with bench pressing and will be doing 3 sets with 25 lb dumbells. Do some warm up presses with 10-15 lb weights first.
3. Focus on form: If you don’t have correct form you are not only cheating yourself but you are likely to injure yourself in the process. I myself have hurt my back when deadlifting because I didn’t watch my form. I was lifting lighter weights and wasn’t focusing on what I was doing because it was “easy”. If you don’t know what the correct form is, go to bodybuilding.com. They have a great video archive with TONS of lifts and how to do them properly. Or if you are my friend and spot me at the gym, just ask me. I would be happy to help. 😉 Do each lift quickly but under control, going a little slower on the way back down.
4. Lift to “failure” or near failure: If you want to lift without ‘just going through the motions’ lift to failure or near failure. The last rep should be so heavy that you can’t do another one (failure) or you could barely do another (near failure). If you feel like you could lift 2 or 3 or 5 or more reps your weights are not heavy enough and you should move up in weight. Doing 30 reps in one set will not get you “toned”, it will just waste your time. Right now I lift around 10-12 reps per set (depending on the week). This changes depending on my goals, but right now I’m trying to keep strength while running as well. This rep range is working well for me. If you are a beginner to lifting you may want to start your first week lifting to “near failure” and ease yourself into the routine, lifting to failure the following week.
5. Stretch when you are done: I can’t tell you how many people have told me they lose flexability when lifting. But many of those people are not taking the time to stretch properly. I was guilty of this at one time as well. However, now I take the time to stretch after every workout and I am more flexible than my non lifting days. Stretching will not only help you to stay flexible but it will tell your body it’s time to recover. Stretching well at he end of a workout will also help prevent injuries. This is the time to do static stretches(the ones I said you shouldn’t start with). Hold each stretch. Make sure you really stretch, pull, and move with a purpose. You will feel much better the next day if you do. Here is a post I have talking a little more about the two types of stretches (dynamic and static) if you would like more info on them.
6. Eat a good post meal within 30 minutes after you workout: The optimal time to eat after a workout is in the 30 minute window right afterwards. If you have just given your all to lifting, your body needs protein and carbs in order to recover. You wont build much muscle (and may even lose some) if you don’t eat enough quality food after your workout. This is about the only time you will see me drinking a shake (usually whey protein mixed with water 1/3 banana, and a few strawberries) or I will grab some premade protein brownies. But I prefer a meal if I have prepped it ahead of time. I love to eat a couple turkey meatballs in a salad, and some fruit or sweet potato fries on the side. Make sure you get a good amount of protein right after your workout (I eat about 35-40 grams: for example 5-6 ounces of chicken breast). This is also the perfect time to eat those high glycemic carbs (I eat about 30-40 grams: about one serving size). They will help sweep that protein up to build that hard earned muscle. I also like to eat veggies with every meal when I can.
So there you have it. That’s my typical lifting routine while training for distance running, as well as some tips for those of you who may be new to lifting (or just some good reminders for those of us who have been lifting a while).
Did you miss part I of this post? Check it out here (“Running Distance and Lifting Too”).
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