“Strength training” or “Something that isn’t running”

Aside from running and going for walks, my typical routine has, for several years, included strength training a few times a week. This has not only been beneficial to my overall fitness (seriously, EVERYONE should incorporate some type of strength training into their exercise routine) but also been a great counterbalance to the days when I run. My specific goals for each activity are different, my approach is different, and, of course, each offers different types of challenges (in the moment, these challenges are not often appreciated by my mind and body). Incorporating different types of exercise into your life is also great for breaking up the monotony of doing one thing, the tendency for you to just go through the motions. When your routine, whatever it may be, feels stale, it can be much harder to be motivated to do it. This is how I feel at least. And I’m sure science and people much more knowledgeable than me can tell you that you’ll stop progressing if you stick to the exact same gym routine for too long.

Let’s not overcomplicate things, either. As I’m defining it, “strength training” doesn’t just mean “Go to gym. Pick up heavy bar. Put down heavy bar. Leave gym. Inhale 8000 grams of protein.” Yes, it can mean using weight plates and barbells. But it can also mean using resistance bands, kettlebells, weight machines, dumbbells, ropes, and cables. You don’t even need a gym or, for that matter, any additional equipment. You can use your own body weight and some open space at home or in your hotel room. Again, don’t overcomplicate things. And don’t look at strength training as the realm of hulking giants who grunt and amble around a dark, uninviting gym.

By the way, if you’re looking to learn more about strength training, I enthusiastically endorse you to do so. I’m not going to offer specific advice, but I’ll say that I’ve gotten some good tips from websites like Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Muscle and Fitness, and T-Nation (this one can be a bit aggressive and blunt, but I recommend it nonetheless). I want to be as inclusive as possible here, so I’m not saying “Men’s ______” websites are the only ones with strength training advice. Indeed, places like Women’s Health, POPSUGAR (courtesy of my wife), and Self are great resources, too (and if my capitalization of EVERYONE in the first paragraph didn’t get the point across, women should incorporate strength training). Also, if you poke around, you can find tips for women on Muscle and Fitness and T-Nation. One last thing I should point out is that you should always remember that proper diet is a crucial component to being healthy. This applies to those who exercise 5 times a week and to those who exercise 0 days a week. Each of these websites includes assorted information about nutrition, fact/fiction about food and diet, “dieting myths,” healthy recipes, etc. As Confucius or Ben Franklin or Maya Angelou or someone once said, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”

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