Four years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a weightlifting room with the guys in any gym. Cardio was the only activity I did to maintain or lose weight. I was too embarrassed to try to lift weights alone because I felt like everyone was watching me, like the Michael Jackson song. I didn’t want to be corrected by random muscle heads because it seemed annoying and I really didn’t know what the real motive was, not that anyone was paying me any attention anyway. Moreover, I noticed that people don’t always clean the equipment after sweating all over it, which made me think of the gym as a bacteria collecting petri dish. I have OCD, please clean the equipment after use! I use wipes, towels, and gloves to avoid germs.
On a cold December morning, I was running with one of the ladies in the running group that I joined a year prior. Once we completed the course, I told her that my knee was killing me. She asked me if I strength trained and I said, “of course not, why do you ask?” She said, “you run a lot and you’re not doing anything to rebuild what’s breaking down”. She then proceeded to explain to me how strength training would help my knee problems. I told her that I was not familiar with gym equipment. She looked like she was in great shape so I asked her if she would be willing to teach me how to navigate around the gym space. She agreed. Ever since she showed me the way, I’ve been a beast! My confidence in the gym improved. I lift weights three or four times a week with friends or alone. I no longer care who’s watching! But I know they’re watching.
Below are my 5 reasons:
- Strength Training Improved My Performance
After a few months of strength training, I noticed that my race times were significantly improving. Although I gained muscle, which made the scale go up, women don’t like that, my race times were faster! My race time for a 5k at age 26 was about 26 minutes. At age 39, my new 5k race time was 22 minutes! In the racing world, this is a significant difference. For people who refer to 5k races as marathons, it means nothing. I placed in my age group for multiple races, whereas before, I wasn’t able to accomplish that goal. I felt stronger, lean, and fit. In fact, my body fat percentage was lower than what it was when I was in my mid-twenties. Don’t get into a fistfight with the scale, ladies and gentlemen. If you haven’t tried it, weigh yourself at different times throughout the day. You will see the fluctuation. Everyone has different theories on this, but my theory is to pay attention to your body fat percentage.
I also started following Livestrong to learn different strength training exercises and techniques that are specific to running. This site has become my Internet Bible for fitness. There is a wealth of free information. Visit the site at http://www.livestrong.com/.
In addition, there is so much information about strength training routines on Instagram and it’s free! My favorite pages to follow include, but are not limited to, Eakinwale, Teamwingate, Followthelita, Massy.arias, and Morellifit. They all provide a wealth of information about strength training, supplements, and food and nutrition. And again, no fee necessary!
We can’t predict how our bodies will begin to shape as we begin to build muscle. It’s almost like people who say they only want to lose weight in certain areas. Is that even possible? Muscle definition will show on certain parts of the body before it shows on other parts of the body. Sometimes genetics plays a role in how your body will look. Look at your parents! In my case, I noticed that I lost inches at first, not much weight. I was hoping and praying that I would build a nice round booty, but no such luck. Instead, my legs got bigger and my ass is still as flat as a pancake. But dammit, I will keep working on it! I absolutely refuse to wear padded underwear or get butt implants. I’m not judging you. My jeans were loose in the waist, but tight around the legs. Ladies, shopping will become extremely difficult when you become a muscle building machine! My trainer always says, “You’re a bodybuilder.” I look at him in disbelief, but I keep working on it.
- Helps Me To Maintain My Diet
Seeing results have encouraged me to continue to eat clean. There is no one size fits all approach to a diet. Nutrition is based on your desired goals. Your activity level, current weight, and your goal weight, amongst other factors, play an important role in your nutrition plan. I learned how much protein I needed, what time during the day I should eat carbs, when to eat my pre-workout meal, and when to refuel after the workout. Timing is everything. It really is a science. Many people have the misconception that it’s too expensive to eat healthy. There are several websites out there that provide a wealth of information about eating healthy on a budget.
- Knee Pain
My knee pain was not as persistent when I incorporated a solid strength training routine. In addition, physical therapy helped because I learned more strength training exercises that I was capable of performing at the gym or at home. I was rebuilding what I had torn down from running for several years.
- I Enjoy It!
In a previous article, I mentioned that you should find something that you enjoy doing. And you should when you initially begin your adventure. But once you take that first step, don’t be afraid to try something new that perhaps at first glance isn’t that appealing to you. I tried something that I hated and had absolutely no interest in, into something that I love. I work out with a personal trainer on some days, other days I go at it alone. I’m confident in what I am doing on the floor. I don’t ask for assistance and I will tell the guys to re-rack your weights and move! (In my Ludacris voice)
Although I still have work to do, I’ve made significant progress. I have an awesome support system in the gym and we all look forward to being there. Even if you don’t like to lift weights, think of it as rebuilding your body and injury prevention. As you age, you will feel and look stronger. Reader, do you strength train? Why or why not?