Choose Strength & Keep Challenging Yourself!

When I first started lifting weights, my only goal was to build muscle. All I really cared about was having big biceps and a toned muscular body like the fitness models I saw in magazines. I spent many years training like a "bodybuilder". By that I mean I followed a 4-5 day a week bodypart split and trained mostly in the 8-12 rep range, usually doing routines I found in fitness magazines. I did get results from training that way-I slowly gained muscle and got stronger from year to year.

Needless to say, my training style has evolved over the past few years. I have learned a lot and have branched away from my bodybuilding ways. The main goal of my workouts is no longer JUST to build muscle. Because what's the point of looking good and not being able to do anything? I would rather be able to put my body to USE, because that's what it's for, right?

Part of the change in the way that I train now is largely due to my time doing CrossFit a couple of years ago. It helped me to see all that I was missing out on! Before CrossFit I had no clue what a power clean was or a kettlebell swing. I never did deadlifts or front squats.  If looking good is all you want to focus on, fine-especially if you are a competitor, because really all that matters in that case is how you look. But for me, doing CrossFit made me realize that I am NOT satisfied with just looking good. I realized that I want to be STRONG. I want to be powerful and fit and athletic. I want to challenge my body and be able to do things I never thought I could do... not just look good when I flex in the mirror(although I will admit, I do that often!).


Now what I do with my workouts is incorporate aspects of different types of training-gymnastics skills, powerlifting, bodyweight training, Olympic lifting, and bodybuilding. I keep my reps in the 5-8 range rather than the 12-15 that is typical for most women looking to "tone up". I have learned so many new things that I now incorporate into my training and because of that I have gotten stronger and gained muscle. Maybe I'll never be the strongest....maybe I'll never be the biggest...maybe I'll never be the most athletic, but I AM stronger and bigger and fitter than I used to be. And that's all that matters to me-being a better version of myself year after year.

I truly believe that  more women would benefit from focusing on strength versus "toning". To not be afraid of lifting heavy. To not make the focus of their workouts be just to burn a certain amount of calories or to see how much they can sweat.  Train to be STRONG. To me, that's so much better than punishing yourself for eating something "bad" or forcing yourself to do hours of cardio even though you hate it, just to reach a certain number on the scale. There IS a better way!


It's important to continually challenge yourself, to set goals and not give up until you reach them-and then, set new ones. That's what makes this journey so fun! I remember how handstands used to terrify me-I couldn't even get my feet up over my head without getting scared. It took LOTS of practice to finally be able to hold a freestanding handstand, and I am still working on it. I didn't wake up one day and just know how to do a muscle up or bang out double unders. No, it took me months and months of practice to get them. You can't just try something a few times and then give up. You'll never achieve anything that way! It takes consistency and persistence.  But it's really an amazing feeling when you find yourself getting better and stronger at something that at first seemed impossible.

The cool thing is that there is always something new to learn. There are always new ways to challenge yourself. I have been weight training for about 15 years now, and I'm still learning new things and improving on old ones.  It's what keeps me going! There has to be something besides just your looks to focus on or you will not enjoy this journey. AND you know what? You'll probably see some awesome physical results along the way without even making that your main priority... what could be better than that?

Comments

  1. awesome post, sweetie! i started out just training to have sculpted shoulders and abs, but now, as you know, my reasons for lifting has changed, too! the journey is much more fun when you focus on what you're able to do rather than what you look like. i like how you said there is always something new to learn. i feel the same way. like for me, there is always something for me to improve on and it is sooooo fun going to the gym week after week perfecting your squat/deadlift/etc. :) great post! love ya and thanks for sharing all of your tips. i always learn so much from you

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    1. Thanks! That's really what it's about-enjoying the process and becoming a better version of yourself! Physically and mentally!

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  2. I loved reading this. I have been working out for around 5 years (I am 16 years old. Weight lifting is my version of boy bands and makeup lol!) but only could afford a gym membership this December. Since then I have been able to up the weight I was using and have for sure become stronger, and hope to progress as the future goes on. I usually do 1-8 rep ranges for my power moves like squat, deadlifts, pushpress, ext and then some of my accessory work will be in bodybuilding ranges. I like to switch things up strategically and try new things!
    What does your weekly workout schedual look like now?

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    1. That is awesome! Sounds like you are definitely doing it the right way! Right now I train 4 days a week on an upper/lower split. Check out my training log tab to see how I'm currently training!

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  3. This is fantastic! It is crazy how much of a difference it makes when you change your mentality and start training to be STRONG - not to get skinny, not to be "hot," not out of shame or guilt or fear, just out of the joy of challenging yourself, bettering yourself, and using the body the good Lord gave you. After making that switch, I found a completely new level of delight in my workouts. The bonus was a shift in body composition, but more important than that is the newfound confidence and satisfaction in my training. And like you said, it takes TIME to see progress and become stronger, but when you give yourself that time, magic happens! I recently did two separate workouts that I hadn't done in months, just for kicks, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I have become much stronger and gained so much endurance in that time. Sometimes you only see it in hindsight!

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    1. Nice! Having that mentality really makes the biggest difference and makes it so much more enjoyable when you're not focused only on the physical!

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