by Naomi Rabon
NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NW Fitness Team Trainer
Whatever your reason for embarking on your fitness journey, it all comes down to one thing: Muscle. The health and condition of your muscles matters most, which is why strength-training should be the main component of any workout program.
The quality of our muscles and the amount of muscle we carry greatly impacts our hormones, our metabolism, our mood. It also dictates our ability to move, among other things. Tight, dehydrated muscles cause stiffness, discomfort, limited range of motion and a greater risk of injury. Hydrated, flexible, healthy muscles allow for wider ranges of motion, and enable us to perform a variety of activities with ease and limited risk of injury.
SHOULD YOU CUT BACK ON CARDIO?
A common issue I see with new clients, one that prevents them from reaching their goals, is that their workout regime is comprised of too much cardio (kickboxing, running, spin classes, etc.) and not enough strength or resistance training. Here is an example of what I typically see:
• 30-60 minutes of running, elliptical, spin class or other cardio 3x a week
• Yoga 2x per week
• Crossfit, bootcamp, Body Pump or some type of total-body, cardio-heavy strength-training workout 2-3x per week
This example of a workout program, for the most part, is only going to get you so far before you plateau because this program is not based around building or maintaining the muscle. Sure, these classes are great workouts that could be very beneficial. But just as there are supplements for nutrition, these types of workouts, in my opinion, should be supplements to good, old-fashioned hard, heavy strength-training foundation, where you are training every muscle group a more traditional split every week. (Unless of course you are competing in CrossFit or Olympic lifting, but that is another topic).
Think of strength-training as the anchor of your program – your “bread and butter” so-to-speak. When I am planning my workouts each week, I plan out which days I am going to strength train each body part to make sure I give each muscle group some good, quality lifting time. Our muscles are somewhat needy and each muscle group needs special attention to flourish and thrive.
If you are doing things like CrossFit, kickboxing or total-body circuits as the foundation of your weekly workouts, you may not be giving each muscle group the time and attention it needs to see the changes you want to see in your physique.
If you are pressed for time and simply can’t get it all in, here are some tips I use in my own workouts to make sure I am staying on track.
• If I am running short on time, or have a busy week and can’t get all my workouts in, the first thing I will sacrifice is my cardio – not my strength training. At all costs, I will make sure I get every muscle group workout in over cardio.
• If I have to miss a strength-training workout, I will likely skip arms (biceps/triceps). Arms are a smaller muscle group and, as long as I work my chest and back, I know I will get a little biceps and triceps in there too.
• I do throw in full-body workouts about 1-2x per month, but only as either an extra workout or as a supplemental workout. I usually count these total-body workouts toward my cardio for the day. I’m not saying full body workouts aren’t beneficial, but to truly change your body composition, try splitting up your strength-training workouts as a staple part of your regular weekly workout program.
For more guidance on how to better structure your workouts, read Nicole’s post Structure Your Workout Split for You Goals.
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.