You guys. Would you call yourself a Cardio Queen? Like, cardio all day everyday, gotta get it in?
I used to be that girl. I drove to the gym to walk and/or run on the dreadmill. Or furiously spin on the elliptical. For a good hour or so, or a certain number of calories burned. And then, that was it. That was my workout program. I was furiously working up a sweat and burning calories, but outside the gym, to be honest, I wasn’t seeing much change on my physical appearance. Maybe a slight decrease in weight, but nothing really that I could *see* in the mirror, and that slight decrease on the scale didn’t really seem worth the effort I was putting forth in the gym.
I felt intimidated as shit to try visiting the “other side” of the gym….where all the weights were housed. Did I dare leave my comfort zone of the treadmill and elliptical?
I did eventually dare :). And I’m so freaking happy I did. I found a love affair in the weight room (obviously, lol, or I wouldn’t be here writing a blog alllll about strength training), but I also found a few things I wasn’t expecting. And I think you might want to know about my findings in case you are stuck in Cardio Queen status like I was.
- I found out that allllll the cardio I was doing was just kinda making me hungrier. I was burning calories (probably like 400-700 per session based on the day) BUT that activity was making me HUNGRY over time, and I was just eating those calories back, which derp….makes sense, because my weight didn’t change much. Spinning my wheels, so to speak.
- I was NOT looking any different in the mirror, in fact, I think I was looking FLABBIER. Welp, upon learning more about exercise, nutrition, and how each plays their role in body and hormone regulation, I learned that I was just constantly elevating cortisol ALL THE TIME. Elevated cortisol isn’t bad BUT constantly elevated cortisol is sorta like a fat loss blocker. I was basically stopping my body from the ability to burn fat.
- I was burning calories to burn calories. The work I was doing in the gym stopped after I left the gym.
And so, here’s what happened when I traded in 2-3 cardio sessions each week for strength training……
- My appetite began to level out. Look, I’m a hungry person naturally, but I noticed that I wasn’t having the SWINGS of hunger like I used to. Part of this was because I was able to see that food wasn’t an enemy, and that by lifting I NEEDED to eat healthy sized meals to actually get the job done in the weight room.
- My appearance DID absolutely change. I began to see muscles. I dropped a size or two without much of a scale change. I would say I’m a more compact version of myself. Not soft. Definition in my muscles for sure. And….when I walk past a mirror now, I flex. A TON.
- My body began working for me OUTSIDE the gym. After strength training session, my body was in repair and recovery mode, meaning….I was burning additional calories 24 hours AFTER I was done in the gym.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Cardio is important, and I’m not hating on it. I’m really just hating on the idea that JUST cardio is the way to go. We DO need cardio, we just need it strategically, NOT all day EVERY day. You know?
So, the way I see it, if you are a Cardio Queen like I was, you have two options right now:
- Keep doing what you are doing. If you like it, keep going! If you feel like you are spinning your wheels, it might be time to get off this ride.
- Trade 2-3 cardio days for strength training days. Get to the OTHER side of the gym and do some work! If you aren’t sure how to slay the strength training beast, and you need a wing(wo)man, let me know, and I’ll get you squared away on a strength training program that works FOR YOU and YOUR GOALS.
And can I just say this…. strength training was THE THING that helped me realize that I am a friggin’ capable individual, and made me confident in the fact that I can do the hard stuff in life – move the furniture, carry the kids, get alllll 80 grocery bags in the house in one stinkin’ trip, and feel (at 34 years old) stronger and more agile than I did as a 17-year-old punk athlete.
I want that capable and strong feeling for YOU!