Confession: While I'd happily run or spin five or six times a week, I'm much less diligent about strength training.
It’s not that I’m ignorant to the perks. When I’m consistently pumping iron, I look and feel great, and I know my bones and heart benefit from the habit too. (Need more reasons to lift heavy weights? We’ve got eight.) But for some reason, working up a sweat on the running trails or a bike always ends up feeling like a much more efficient route to the endorphin rush I crave after exercising. Plus, lifting weights is hard! So when my week starts to fill up, my strength workouts are the first thing to go.
But! I do make a point of getting into the weight room-or doing a strength-based workout-at least once a week. In fact, I get a little paranoid if I go any longer without squeezing in some squats or push-ups. I don't want run off all my muscle tone, after all. But is a once-a-week strength schedule even worth it?
“Any activity is better than none,” says Bedros Keuilian, a personal trainer and the president of Fit Body Boot Camp. Yay! “However…” Ugh. “… strength training one day a week alone isn’t going to yield the greatest results.”
Even when you combine a five-day-a-week running habit with one day a week of weights, the best you can hope for is "modest results in strength gain, muscle toning, and even an increase in bone density," says Keuilian. Again, better than nothing-but I'm probably not going to get super ripped, and I'm definitely not getting all the benefits I could if I were to step it up a bit.
So what's a cardio addict to do? Keuilian suggests spending just three to five minutes at a time on simple, no-space-required moves like bodyweight squats, tricep dips, and burpees. He recommends doing that several times a day, but even adding a single five-minute weight "session" post-runs adds up-if I do that after every run, that's another 25 to 30 minutes of muscle building I've snuck into a week.
My trick? Hitting up classes that combine cardio and strength, like Barry's Bootcamp or even bouldering. My biceps will be back in no time!