Weight lifting for people who prefer cardio

I remember my first time getting laser hair removal. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the pain level, and Google results weren’t exactly comforting. But I was determined to get the most out of my Groupon. I sat in the reclined chair and the attentive technician handed me a stress ball. “This might help,” she said while applying numbing cream to my skin. The gesture was nice, but she was wrong. Stress balls don’t do shit when you feel like you’re getting electrocuted in very sensitive parts of your body. Five more sessions of this? Fuuuuck.

But I didn’t give up on my quest for hairlessness. I found another Groupon for a different laser hair removal spa and gave it a try. BLESSED BE! The gods hath sent this contraption from heaven! It was a completely different experience–virtually pain-free. No stress ball, no bolts of lightning shooting up my hoo-ha. And best of all, the results were AWESOME. I was one step closer to becoming a Sphynx. I recommended this spa to all my friends and naturally, one of the biggest selling points was the lack of pain.

My gal pals ate it up, with the exception of one. “If it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t work,” she said. But clearly this wasn’t the case, as I had gotten GREAT results–and without the pain! So…where am I going with this and what the hell does laser hair removal have to do with working out? The reason I mention this anecdote is because I think a lot of us fall into that same line of thinking when it comes to training. If we’re not gasping, sweating profusely or practically at death’s door by the end of it, we feel like we didn’t do enough.

But just how true is it? To see results, do we really need put ourselves through tortuous exercise? Do we need to grit our teeth and squeeze a proverbial stress ball to get us through a workout that’s “worth it”?

Just like my laser experience, the answer is no. And in fact, doing back-to-back workouts of the killer variety is a good way to burn out and/or lead to injury.

Let’s take strength training for example. This is a slower paced workout which allows for recovery between sets. Resting between sets allows you to lift heavier, but in some ways it can feel like you’re not working that hard if your basis of comparison is Crossfit or a bootcamp type workout. But when you focus on strength, you’re actually making very significant changes to your body despite the slower pace.

I tend to hear the complaint that the workout didn’t feel intense enough from people who prefer to do cardio or endurance exercises. The good news is that if you’re a runner or endurance athlete who knows they need to crosstrain, but doesn’t particularly like the standard way of strength training, there is a method for you. I won’t try to convince you to try a slower, strength-focused workout (at least this time around :P). Instead, here’s a way you can lift and still feel like you got your ass kicked…if you’re into that of course.

The idea is basically that you want to lift weights fast. Because of that, you use light to moderate weights. Rest if you need to, but keep it as short as you can stand.

I actually put some of these routines on my Instagram, which you can see here and here.

I’ve put together a few more routines here. The great thing about these workouts is that they’re quick, require minimal equipment, and you can do them in a gym or at home. Although you won’t be building the same level of strength or muscle as you would with a program that’s specifically geared towards those results, you are still building a baseline level of strength and stability. And when programmed correctly (meaning you aren’t doing it 5 days a week and not letting yourself recover), these workouts can even improve your cardio. You will be more well-rounded than if you were just doing strict cardio/endurance exercises.

So without further ado…the workouts!

Full body circuit:

Do 15 reps of each exercise then move on to the next with as little rest as possible. Do the circuit 5 times. Record your time and try to beat it the next time you do the circuit. Exercises can be done with light to moderate weight.

  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Rows
  • Lunges
  • Curls

Upper body:

Each group of exercises will be done for 3 sets of 12 reps. Do them as supersets, meaning you will do the first exercise for 12 reps, then immediately do the next exercise. Rest as needed, then repeat till you have done 3 sets. Then move on to the next group of exercises. Try to move quickly through the exercises to keep your heart rate up. Use light to moderate weight.

 

  • DB chest press
  • Bent-over row

 

  • DB shoulder press
  • Pull-downs (can use band if at home)

 

  • Curls
  • Bench dips
  • Burpees (no push-up)

Lower body:

Each group of exercises will be done for 3 sets of 12 reps. Do them as supersets, meaning you will do the first exercise for 12 reps, then immediately do the next exercise. Rest as needed, then repeat till you have done 3 sets. Then move on to the next group of exercises. Try to move quickly through the exercises to keep your heart rate up. Use light to moderate weight.

 

  • Squats
  • Romanian deadlift (dumbells or barbell)

 

  • Lunges (12 reps each leg)
  • Mountain climbers (12 reps each leg)

 

  • KB swing (can use DB)
  • Jump squats

 

So there ya go…faster paced, sweaty lifting work outs…and no stress ball needed!

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2 Comments

  1. John Fooley

    This is a great post. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Allie Q (Post author)

      No problem!

      Reply

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