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{Why I ditched cardio and started
lifting weights instead}

Aneta Dang / Exercise  / {Why I ditched cardio and started lifting weights instead}

{Why I ditched cardio and started
lifting weights instead}

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Lifting weights and cardio are good for the heart. But is cardio helping you reach your fitness goals?

Runners are one the fittest people on the planet. Their aerobic ability to run for sometimes upward of 8+ hrs a day is truly amazing.

Prior to lifting weights I had plans to run a half marathon just so I could tattoo 21.2 on my foot. (That’s the km equivalent to 13 miles for my american friends.)

Granted running was extremely boring.

Thus the marathon never happened nor did the tattoo ever make it on my foot.

Nonetheless many say that it’s relaxing, their alone time, the time they get to focus and reflect…but I’d much rather lay in a hammock on a beach!

Even the treadmill is used more for the dog in the winter time than for myself.

When I originally started on my fat journey back in June of 2017 I did zero exercise. All the weight I lost, 40 lbs in total, came from changing my diet alone.

After 6 months of not doing anything except walking the dog it felt like the right time to move my body again.

This is where Zone 2 training started.

What is Zone 2 training?

Zone 2 training is used to build on your aerobic cardiovascular fitness.

Altogether it works great when you’re fat adapted as your tissues burn fat faster, recovery is minimal and endurance is enhanced all while not feeling like death is at your doorstep.

To clarify, utilizing your body efficiently at the beginning will develop cardiovascular strength which will make your progression to more strenuous exercise (ie. lifting weights) easier in the long run.

Needless to say zone 2 training should be looked at as a life-long marathon and not a sprint.

The idea of running at top speed right out of the gate is demonstrated by the rabbit and the hare. We all know what happened to the rabbit right?

Your top speed won’t be able to sustain you for the long haul unless you tap into your reserves. But in order for you to have reserves in the first place you have to start from scratch.

One can conclude that this is the beauty of zone 2 training.

“A good aerobic base isn’t important only for endurance athletes. The system that controls the body’s stress response is functionally linked to the anaerobic system. In other words, if you depend too much on your anaerobic system, you’ll be more stressed, and therefore more likely to overtrain or become injured.”

Dr.Phil Moffetone

How do I get into zone 2 training?

Typically keeping your heart rate under the aerobic threshold (which is the low level of intensity which keeps you breathing lightly and able to sustain for longer periods of time versus shorts bursts of power).

That is to say your aerobic threshold is usually reached at 65% of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate this by simply subtracting your age from 180 (the 180 formula was formulated by Dr. Phil Maffetone).

Should you have any interest you can read all about that in his book “The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low stress, No-pain way to Exceptional Fitness“.

Remember to also apply the following based on Dr.Maffetone’s formula:

  • If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
  • Any previous injuries, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
  • If you have been training consistently (at least four times per week) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180 – age) the same.
  • If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

Based on this formula my zone 2 is set at 148. (This is where I need to keep my heart rate in order to stay in Zone 2).

My Zone 2 training lasted roughly 6-7 months. The spin bike and the rower were used as my top choices roughly ranging from a minimum of 30 min to sometimes 90 minutes.

Progression to lifting weights

Once I felt comfortable and also bored of the spin bike it was time to make a jump into more serious training.

In short my background and my training with anatomy and physiology has allowed for research into benefits of one training over another.

Furthermore, let me be the first one to tell you there’s a lot to consider.

Important to realize when you begin lifting weights are your personal goals.

Mine are to increase my strength and build muscle mass. No more dreams of marathon running.

As can be seen, in order to achieve any type of success you have to take a good close look at what your goals are.

Everyone has different goals but if your goal is to build muscle mass and get strong then don’t be afraid to lift heavy!

Women especially need to train their bodies and shift their mindset from thinking they will end up looking like a dude.

Where to start?

First, start with buying a jump rope. You can read all about the reasons why jump rope is crucial in my blog post here.

Second, get some weights or a gym membership with a squat rack.

Trust me, the squat will become your best friend. Also make sure you have a barbell and bumper plates. I have these and use them 3x/week.

Coupled with lifting heavy your rest time will be just as important. Make sure you schedule in your rest days adequately and make good use of them.

While I take my training days serious I make sure my rest days aren’t all about laying on the couch and binge watching Netflix.

5x5 progression weight training 1st month
First month weight progression.

Ways to keep motivated

Equally important is maintenance of your rhythm when it comes to any training. Set realistic daily and even weekly goals for yourself.

For instance, waking up at 5 am every morning 4-5x/ week is not a realistic expectation for myself. However, adding a simple 30-40 min workout schedule 3x/week is.

Again decide on your goals and set a schedule that works with your every day routine.

Perchance you’re up at 5 every morning and have joined the elite 5am club, good for you! I’d rather sleep.

However, if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and your job doesn’t allow you to train till 7pm or later, then work around that.

Not to mention the hardest part is starting and getting into a rhythm with a sustainable day to day practice. Once you’re in it, you’re in.

By the same token I have mentioned and talked about making things a priority in your life. If you create the time you will have the time. If not, then you will make every excuse to avoid it.

Consequently the choice is yours but if you’re reading this I would assume you’re curious so stop making excuses and find the bloody time!

Start slow

Usually weight training needs to start slow and build from the ground up.

Beginners should always ease into training with lighter weights and increase weight according to their abilities.

Starting light will allow you to practice proper form and build from there.

With this is mind setting your stance or your grip with your weights at the start will allow you to increase your weight and therefore train for longer with better results.

Given that your form is the most critical part to any weight bearing exercise take the time to learn your motions the right way.

For this reason you will prevent injuries in your training and therefore you will be able to train for longer. The longer you train, the better your results.

Not only will you be able to train over a longer period of time, but you will be able to lift heavier each training session.

Ideally you should be able to increase your weight by 2 lbs each time you train. By adding weight to the bar you are building on increasing strength and with strength comes increase muscle mass.

Obviously you will hit a plateau in weight eventually, but it will take some time before that happens. As I mentioned earlier, set realistic expectations for yourself.

There is no magic pill when it comes to training. Like everything worth attaining, it will take time. So start slow and keep going.

High Carb, Low Fat, HIIT classes (circa.2014)
vs.
Low Carb, High Fat, no classes (circa.2018)

Overall Benefits to date…

My journey started almost 2 years ago. From 180 lbs down to 140 lbs and still holding, it has taken time for me to get to this point.

Losing weight and inches isn’t the only benefit that I have gained from lifting heavy weights.

We all have our stories and mine took time. Time to get healthy and regain my life.

All things considered this adventure has opened many doors for me. I have rekindled my love for my job as a hands on therapist and helping others see the benefits of training the right way.

Every day I am growing and getting more confident in lifting heavy weights and it just feels so damn good to feel good in your own skin.

Decades of body dysmorphia have finally come to an end. That in itself is what keeps me going.


meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective) word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be

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Aneta Dang

Aneta Dang RMT ART, Calgary AB

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