Have you been joining in on my Daily Strength Training Challenge this past week? How are you finding it?
One of the unfortunate things that happens when we start exercising again after taking a lengthy hiatus is that our bodies can be a little bit shocked by the sudden increase in exercise. And as we get older, this tends to happen even more so—I seriously cannot believe how differently my body reacts to changes in exercise and diet compared to even just a few years ago. It’s certainly an incentive to engage in healthier habits so I’m well and strong in my 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond!
If you’re like me and just getting back into strength training after taking a break from exercise, here are a few tips for how to ease back into strength training (and be kind to your body)…
Take it slow.
That’s why I created the Daily Strength Training Challenge: it’s just 15 reps of three different exercises each day. Nothing too crazy. Take it one step at a time, day by day, to avoid hurting yourself (and to make sure you actually keep at it!).
Try bodyweight exercises rather than lifting weights.
I adore lifting weights, but to be perfectly honest, my muscles are weak right now. My elbows and knees weren’t too happy when I lifted weights last week, which tells me they need to be strengthened a bit more before I start lifting even 8-lbs dumbbells. Enter bodyweight strength training! Crunches, push-ups, squats, etc. are all great ways to build stronger muscles.
Focus on form first.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Don’t let your knees go past your toes when you’re doing squats or lunges, for example—it’s about shifting your butt back, not pushing your knees forward. If you don’t know what you’re doing, get a personal trainer. You can do this fairly inexpensively by getting books by reputable fitness professionals, taking fitness classes at your local YMCA gym, or watching YouTube videos from reputable personal trainers, for example.
Don’t just assume you know how to perform an exercise properly, either! We can all always learn more, and different instructors will explain things in slightly different ways. Be open to hearing how to perform exercises correctly from a variety of fitness professionals and you’ll have a better chance of using correct form (and thus saving yourself a lot of pain and problems in the future).
Just because someone else can do 100 good-form push-ups in a row, doesn’t mean you need to. Just because you could do that a few years ago, doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up about not being able to do it now.
Stop comparing yourself to other people! There IS value in comparing ourselves to ourselves, because only we know what our bodies are capable of, but we also need to be very cognizant about what *self* we are comparing our present self to. Are you comparing your current abilities to what you could do 20 years ago when you were a teenager and a track star, before you had three children and started working a desk job? Maybe it’s a great goal to strive for what you could do at that point—but don’t expect you will suddenly be able to do that within just three days of exercising! Even if we don’t compare ourselves to other people, it’s really hard to realize that we aren’t as fit as we used to be. It’s hard to avoid comparing our present selves to our past selves. But BE PRESENT. Be kind to yourself. What you are doing today is awesome and fantastic. And who knows? A few years from now, you might blow your past self out of the water.