I used to be a cardio bunny. You know what I mean – high ponytail bouncing up and down on the elliptical, treadmill or stairmaster. Hoppity hop. Day after day. Going and going and going.
But no more! I have freed myself from the hamster wheel that so many women accept as their lifelong doom. I know too many ladies who do cardio (and only cardio) because they think they have to – that weights are for boys and cardio is for girls.
I started getting disillusioned with cardio after doing 5 hours a week for years and noticing that I still had a pretty weak upper body and was lacking the strength I thought would have come from all that exercise.
I had endurance, but I wasn’t getting the bennies of all that time and energy investment. I also found myself dreading going to the gym because I truly hated running, and after years of forcing myself to run come rain or shine, I developed knee pain, adrenal issues and other not-so-nice health issues that made me rethink this monogamous relationship with cardio.
A year ago, I rebelled. In the January of 2015, I decided that I would do a little experiment (cue crazy scientist cackling).
I would stop steady state cardio, replace it with weightlifting and CrossFit, and see what happened. This was scary, people! My whole life I had done every type of cardio you can imagine, and now I was venturing into the great unknown. Dun dun duuuuun!
For those of you who haven’t taken part in the joy of CrossFit, it usually takes this format:
- 15 min Warm-up and mobility (movements and active stretches and prepare the body for the movements we’ll be doing later in the class – i.e. air squats to prep for thrusters or back squats)
- 20 min Skill and strength (weightlifting focusing on one movement – i.e. back squat, deadlift, snatch, etc.)
- 10-20 min WOD (workout of the day, an always changing series of functional movements done at high intensity – i.e. a series of pull-ups, weighted lunges, push press, and rowing)
When I don’t do CrossFit, I do weightlifting at my gym. The only time I touch a cardio machine is to do a 5 minute warmup. Then it’s off to the squat rack! I do squats, deadlifts, hip thrusters, overhead press, bench press and other heavy lifts.
And the million dollar question all the ladies are asking is: But do you look like a man?
No, I Don’t Look Like A Man
Women are scared to lift because there’s a fear that if we go above 5 pound weights, our arms will swell up, our veins will pop and we’ll start growing a beard. Not going to happen.
Side note: My husband thought it would be hilarious to post a picture of me sporting some man arms and chest hair, but I don’t time to mess around with Photoshop. Oh well!
I was surprised how much my strength (and endurance) have increased over the past year and a half without hypertrophy. In fact, the toning that women are trying to get by running, doing pilates and barre workouts is actually what you get when you lift!
My arms are the same size, but now they’re strong and I have some definition in my triceps. Thank you Ms. Barbell!
The most important thing is that I’m having fun. I work out less, feel better, am stronger, healthier and happier, and I’m doing it in a way that feels good. Toodles cardio!
Are you stuck doing cardio every day even though you hate it? Are you up for giving weightlifting or CrossFit a try?