IF YOU’RE NOT DOING ANY STRENGTH BUILDING, but only running, cycling, swimming, or walking for aerobic fitness, how do you get into this kind of training? ‘One’ approach, that Earned Runs suggests, is to start with ‘One’ exercise. If diligent in performing it, the progress experienced may provide incentive to add one more, and then another, and another.
The key is to select an exercise that initially you perform relatively poorly, then repeat it regularly, daily perhaps, such that progress is recognized and the benefits appreciated. That’s when the motivation to add a second strength exercise might kick in.
It’s been my experience to join a fitness center, receive an evaluation from a trainer and then start on a new routine that may include 8+ separate exercises. During one of these sessions, 4 (Group A-D) workouts were prescribed by Trainer Y to mix up over 2 weeks. There were 40 different exercises in total, including upper and lower body exercises, using body weight, resistance tubing, machines, and multiple other pieces of equipment. They were challenging and complex, and worked multiple muscle groups and balance all at once.
I had mastered 2 workouts (an upper and lower body set) from a previous expert, Trainer X, before this time, each composed of 15 moves. There were 30 different relatively simple exercises using bodyweight and a Swiss ball.
Then we moved, joined a new gym, and met Trainer Y. There was no overlap between what Trainer X and Trainer Y prescribed.
By the time it came to learn Trainer Y’s Group D routine, I was not motivated to try further. Cycling between so many exercises did not allow me to feel I had mastered any one, and thus could not feel stronger. Plus, I did not want to add more mental work to the physical effort.
After that point, by trial and error, I found that the best way for me to mix up strength training with Trainer X’s base program was to find new workout method sets rather than new exercises that utilized a mixture of different methods. I added a dumbbell-weight upper/lower/core set that builds strength, and a kettlebell set that also builds total body strength and balance.
And slowly mastered each of Trainer Y’s totally wonderful exercises, one at a time, such that a list of 12 could be combined into one routine.
Physiologically it’s more beneficial to perform a mixture of exercises utilizing different methods, but I find I persevere with training initially using same-method routines. Mostly the same, anyway; bodyweight exercises nearly always are included in a routine’s warm-up. The list can be abbreviated when time is short or I’m travelling and gym equipment is limited, which encourages perseverance. Any exercise that is worked on one leg or requires a split stance improves balance.
SHAPE.com magazine posted an article by Lauren Mazzo, “Why the Reverse Lunge is One of the Best Exercises to Target Your Butt and Thighs” that might be the perfect ‘One’ strength exercise to attempt. It’s just ‘one’ move that doesn’t require equipment, at least initially, and not much room space.
Mazzo says, “Though it's a foundational functional movement, the backward motion of the reverse lunge exercise makes this more of a coordination challenge than a strictly strength-training exercise”. She also comments on research that indicates this exercise is kinder to troubled knees. Variations can make this move more challenging and beneficial.
The author reminds readers that the reverse lunge is actually a variation of the more basic forward lunge, and she urges mastery of it and the walking lunge before attempting the reverse move. Adding a barbell or medicine ball, or dumbbell or kettlebell weights increases the difficulty and strength building potential.
If strength building is a goal, but starting has been an issue, read Mazzo’s article to find motivation. ‘One’ exercise is better than none.
In the 1991 movie, “City Slickers”, the hard-living, trail boss cowboy Curly, played by Jack Palance, asks Billy Crystal’s, New Yorker, dude-ranch-vacationer character Mitch Robbins if he knows the secret of life. Curly holds up one index finger, saying, “This.” Of course, Mitch asks, “Your finger?” Curly replies, “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s***”. “But what is the ‘one thing’?” Mitch inquires. To which Curly replies, “That’s what you have to find out.”
When it comes to exercise, life isn’t that dramatic! Or funny. However, Curly’s advice might be helpful combined with Lauren Mazzo’s, to help find the one exercise that inspires strength training.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Note: the movie was filmed in several locations including the state of New Mexico, according to a Wikipedia entry Thus an image of towering strength in that state was chosen for the post, Shiprock.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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