A quick clarifier: Cheating on your exercise does not mean not doing any exercise. Sorry 🙂
The more I started to explore the world of bodybuilding and physique competitions and the more I sought out fitness role models in that area, the more I heard about how weightlifting was “it” and cardio was kinda bad, or perhaps just for amateurs. In fact, many would say that cardio is not even necessary to achieve the ideal physique and that one could just lift weights faster to get that desired heart rate and cardiovascular pump.
Personally, I think that’s a pretty clever idea…if you like lifting weights.
The problem or limitation with this bodybuilding mentality is that it seems to be very focused on one activity to the exclusion of all others. But then, many athletic pursuits are. Much like we’ve come to define ourselves by our diets (paleo, vegan, pescatarian, locavore, flexitarian) we’ve also starting defining ourselves by our preferred sport – runner, roadie, bodybuilder, crossfitter, gymrat, yogi, zumba-freak (okay, not sure about that last one).
The point is, we tend to align ourselves with certain athletic personas, which is fabulous in terms of finding like-minded folks, but it’s counterproductive when we limit ourselves from other pursuits because we are hardcore and committed to that one camp. Because really, it is just exercise after all.
In full disclosure, I’m saying this as someone who finds it very easy to slip into a fitness camp and raise my little groupie flag tall and proud. And while it’s comforting and psychologically natural to want to belong to a positively perceived “in-group”, it tends to be detrimental to one’s overall fitness progression.
As I work through my fitness training certification, I’m learning more about the perils of repetitive motion, especially when it comes to muscle imbalances and potential for injury. Last year when I packed in my weight lifting persona and took up running 5 days a week, I quickly found that my knees weren’t game with my mental choice to switch all-or-nothing camps. Now I realize that the massive jump to the repetitive motion of running caused too much stress on my knee joints without any consideration to core stabilization and addressing tight, overactive muscles that was throwing off my form. Hence, my really cranky knees emerged fast and furious.
So what’s my point with all this?
I would have been much better off to drop the all-or-nothing self-identified sport purist attitude and become a dabbler instead. So rather than my workout schedule looking like this:
Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
Run Run x-train Run Run Run Off
(Look familiar??? I know some of you have training schedules like this!!)
It should have looked more like this:
Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun
Run Lift Yoga Run or bike Lift Circuit Training Off/yoga
Now granted, if you’re training for a sporting event, there’s reason to keep your training focused more to one sport, but it should NEVER be just that one sport (yes, I’m talking to you runners!). Addressing core stabilization, proper joint strength/mobility and overall balance training are so important to staying lean and strong, so try doing a little yoga or Pilates once or twice a week. Speed and agility training in short circuit bursts is fantastic for burning subcutaneous fat (that’s fancy terminology for cellulite), so try a boot camp or doing a HIIT and Run if you’re pressed for time or gym space.
The takeaway here is to think holistically about your fitness. Get out of the mindset of being one particular kind of athlete and train in different ways using different forms of motion. Overall, as long as you’ve got one foot in the strength camp and one foot in the cardiovascular camp, you’re going to be much better off in the long run.
Live long and dabble.