Cardio is great for your heart and lungs, builds endurance, and burns major calories to reduce overall body fat, but it doesn't do much to sculpt your muscles or prevent injury. That's where strength training and flexibility training come into play, but how do you get started? A FitSugar reader asked this question on Facebook.Dear Fit,
I have been running consistently since the new year (I actually am following through with a resolution!). I run about three times a week. I'm hoping to incorporate some weight training/resistance/yoga. I know you run and practice yoga. How do you break it down during the week?
— Looking to Tone Up
This is a great question as I'm sure many people want to get stronger, more sculpted muscles, but aren't sure how. To hear what I suggest
First of all, nice work on keeping up with the running since January! Now that you're ready to start incorporating some strengthening and stretching moves into your routine, my best advice is to start off nice and easy. Eventually you should work up to two to three sessions per week, but adding in one session at first is a good way to start. Don't overdo it in the beginning and try to do 50 push-ups on your first day. Your muscles need time to adjust to the new demands you're placing on them, so start off with easy moves and fewer reps to avoid injury and post-workout pain known as DOMS. Being super sore makes many folks stop strength training.
Right now I do cardio about three to four times a week, and after each sweat session, I do strength training and stretching. It breaks down to 30 to 40 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength training, and 15 minutes of stretching. I also take two yoga classes per week, usually on days that I don't do cardio. Some people prefer breaking up their cardio and strengthening sessions, so they alternate days. You can break it down in whatever way works for you.
There are several ways you can tone your muscles: with machines, dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, exercise balls, or your own body weight. If you belong to a gym, have one of the employees show you how to safely use the equipment. Or if you're not into hitting the weight room, see if there's a strength training class offered at your gym. You might find it easier to have someone talk you through a toning routine. Plus it's a great way to learn new and effective moves. Last but not least, you can learn some moves from a fitness DVD. Good luck and happy training.