When I first started working out, all I focused on was cardio. Burning calories, in hopes of melting off fat. Strength training got short shrift.
I wish I would've known then what I know now: The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.
(Every Friday, Health Notes gets personal. This week, Veronica shares what she has learned about health and fitness.)
When crunched for time, I would just focus on getting my cardio workout in. But had I invested in some strength training, my cardio workouts would've had bigger payoffs.
Read more about the payoffs here: Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier
The American College of Sports Medicine's recenly updated Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines recommend that adults perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days each week. The guidelines recommend 8-10 exercises on non-consecutive days, working major muscle groups using resistance that allows 8-12 repetitions of each exercise "resulting in volitional fatigue."
Here are some easy ways (courtesy of my friend and workout buddy April) to incorporate strength training into your workouts:
1. Walking lunges. These get my heart rate up and work out the thighs. Find out how to do them here: http://www.livestrong.com/video/1493-do-walking-lunges/
2. Get cardio and toning with this move: On the treadmill, crank up the incline to 15%. Set the speed to 2 or 2.5 mph. Turn around and walk backwards. Your thighs will feel the burn.
3. Here's another two-for-one strengthening and cardio workout: Grab 4 or 5 lb. weights and head to the treadmill. Set the incline to 10 to 15% and the speed at 2.5 mph. Do two to four sets of 10 reps each of various arm exercises -- bicep curls, lifting the weight straight up in front of you, lifting the weights overhead straight up from your shoulders and pressing the weights forward from your chest to straight out in front of you. Too much for you? Do the arm moves stationary instead of on the treadmill.
ALTERNATIVE: Stand on a Bosu ball while doing these arm exercises to work your core.
4. To work your triceps, grab 5 lb. weights, stand with your feet should-width apart and bend your knees. Keep your elbows at your sides. Curl the weights up to your shoulders and extend back so your arms are in line with your back, and repeat.
MIX IT UP: Try this exercise on standing on a Bosu.
5. Hit the weight machines. I like to vary my workouts by switching between free weights with weight machines.
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