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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The importance of strength training variety

During our December descent into gluttony, the one thing we never wavered on was exercise.  I'll admit, the workouts weren't quite as intense because at that point I think we were more worried about ticking the box than killing ourselves with intensity every time.  We still kept up strength training twice a week and I was glad for it because my muscles themselves never got that "mushy" atrophied feeling I get when we don't do it on vacation.

Last week, we did a free weight strength session on Sunday and come Wednesday, we thought it was time to break out the Total Trainer again.  For those who don't know what it looks like, it's similar to that Chuck Norris/Christie Brinkley contraption.

Because we kept up on our strength, I didn't anticipate there being any over the top soreness but I knew I'd be sore since it'd been about a month since we did the trainer.  Holy God!!!  I could barely move the next day!  I'm talking my arms, shoulders, back, abs, legs...all of it!  I asked the Mr if he was as sore and he said a little but his soreness usually hits two days after the offending exercise.  So the day after when I was still hobbling like an 85 year old, I asked if he was sore yet and he said no.  I ranted about how unfair it was and he said something about dropping his resistance down to six when he usually does seven.  That rat bastard knocked his resistance down one notch and left mine the same!!

I said "WHAT!?!?!  You knocked your resistance down then you set mine at six like always!?!?"
He laid there for a second (we were stretching after our workout session for the day) and then busted out laughing and said "I guess I did!  Oops!  Sorry!"
So I poked him in all the spots he was sore the day before while he tried to fight me off.

So yeah, I was not only getting used to the way the Total Trainer works those particular muscles but I was yanking probably an extra 20 lbs of bloat and fat on it.  On the upside, he was giving out about the same time I was and now I know he was pulling less and other times I did all of my normal reps so I beat him!  Pffft!!

But seriously, it's very important to vary what kind of strength exercises you do because if you do only free weights, your muscles will adapt not just to the weight but even when you up the amount, it still won't work them to their full potential.  Switching things up allows you to work your muscles from all different angles and actually makes you so much stronger.

Here are some of the different strength routines/ items we use to help keep our muscles guessing:

Total Trainer  (affiliate link) 
Dumbbells (affiliate link) (I use anywhere from 15-20's right now but we have them ranging from 5-40)
Ultimate Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners (affiliate link) (We don't have kettlebells but use dumbbells)
Raise Some Bell: The Ultimate Kettlebell Workout  (affiliate link) 
Leslie Sansone: Walk It Off in 30 Days  (affiliate link)  (The firm workout especially with heavier weights is no joke!)
Kettlebell Kombos with Paul Katami DVD (affiliate link) 
Ripcords Resistance Exercise Bands (affiliate link) 
ChaLEAN Extreme (affiliate link) 

We can do our own free weight sessions but I'll be honest, I do better when I'm being instructed to do my strength stuff because I tend to give a little less when left to my own devices.  Hopefully my perseverance in this area will one day allow me to charge admission to my "gun show."

Do you vary your strength program?

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  1. Oops. Sorry about that. I set mine a notch lower and then mindlessly set yours to the same. Nothing intentional but it is pretty funny reading it now.

  2. Not much variety for me. ST is something that I always slack on anyway so I usually figure anything is better than nothing. This is one area I really plan to work on this year. I also do better when I'm being told what to do rather than being left to my own devices.

    1. Yeah, it's like I CAN do my own routine but I push harder when being told what to do and for how long. Those DVD's are my God send on that front. That focus on strength training helps burn more calories at rest and aids in the cardio so it's good all around!

  3. I love strength training, but I definitely need someone else to tell me what to do. When a former classmate of mine announced she had her personal training certification and was available to develop online plans, I ordered one from her. She sends me different exercises to do in a Google doc. Very easy to manage, and at least I can just go to the gym and do it. And since she can see how much I'm lifting, it keeps me from using the 1 lb. weights. :-)

    1. That's great! Definitely a good way to keep variety and accountability!

  4. I do vary mine between free weights, body weight (doing sitting leg raises in a chair absolutely KILL my legs--and that's just the weight of my legs!), and row/pulleys. One of these days, I'm going to be to do the military press machine with decent weight and perfect form. That machine has been my nemesis since high school!

    1. Good on ya girl! Military presses kick my bootay every time!

  5. Which of the 3 kettlebell dvds above would you recommend if I were only to buy one? I've been wanting to try a new workout. I'm a beginner but bore easily...TIA

    1. Hmm, I'd say the Paul Katami Ultimate Kettlebell for Beginners. I would start with lighter weights for sure and work up. It has 2 workouts but we do them both as one for one big burn. It goes by quick but kicks your rump!


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