Some time ago I asked on Instagram if you’d all like to hear about my experiences with strength training. For almost two years, I’ve been doing strength training almost exclusively and my body has undergone an incredible transformation. I don’t know why I didn’t start earlier!

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Photos: © Franzi Schädel
 
I’d been doing cardio my whole life: I played tennis and went mountain biking since I was a kid, and then did a ton of sports when I was a teenager (80–100 km of cycling per day was not unheard of in the summer!). Later, I would hit the fitness studio to do cardio and only cardio – like most women.

Things changed when my husband was given a voucher for one free hour of personal training. The voucher sat around our house, unredeemed, for ages before I finally grabbed it to use it myself (with his permission, of course ;-).

Although I was exercising regularly at that time, I ended up leaving that session with a mix of despair and dissatisfaction – I really had no idea how painfully out of shape I was!

Two things became clear to me:

1: I desperately needed to start strength training.
2: I would never be able to train as hard on my own as I would with a personal trainer.

I had set a goal for myself – but at the same time, I knew that simply wanting it was not enough.

My weekly training program

For almost two years now, I’ve been training once a week with my trainer. Having fixed appointments has been super helpful, since it’s hard to find time to exercise when you have a busy schedule – many times I wouldn’t have even thought to exercise if I hadn’t already booked it! And especially now, with so much traveling, I’ve even considered canceling sessions – but I know that’s not what I need! ;-)

I should also mention that my strength training sessions are shorter in duration, yet much more efficient than the cardio I was doing previously.

In addition to bodyweight exercises – that is, strength training that utilizes one’s own weight – I also work with free weights, practice yoga, and do the occasional cardio session. Things change from week to week in my life, whether it’s my professional life or my exercise plan! That’s why having one appointment a week is so important to me and forms the core of my relationship with fitness. I should mention that I also do small exercises in my everyday life: a few squats while the coffee is boiling, push-ups in the kitchen while my oatmeal is cooking, or a few yoga asanas when I first wake up.

I know that personal training is too expensive for many people’s budgets, or may not be what they want to do. I’ve given myself the gift of having a personal trainer since I know I would never have achieved these successes on my own – and at some points in life I think it’s great to get professional help to achieve one’s goals. I have great respect for everyone who is motivated when it comes to sports and regularly trains hard on their own – I’m not motivated enough in this respect the way I am in other areas of my life!

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So what’s changed since I started strength training?

My body has changed so much: I’ve never been so fit and strong as I am right now! My body has a lot of definition, even though I’ve been doing sports my whole life. I’m much more comfortable than before and more efficient in my everyday life, which is particularly beneficial for me when it comes to work. But even simple everyday things are much easier than before: climbing stairs, carrying crates full of drinks and other heavy stuff, and so on.

My body fat percentage has gone down quite a bit (I have to have it measured again, but a lot of it has been replaced by muscle). At one point, after not weighing myself for a while, I stepped on the scale and saw I’d gained six kilos – as muscle, of course, weighs more than fat! My connective tissue has also become firmer and my cellulite has all but disappeared (wasn’t expecting that!). Keep in mind I don’t weigh myself regularly, I just focus on how my body is feeling and how my clothes fit.

The bottom line: don’t shy away from strength training! You won’t “bulk up” by accident (people who achieve those kinds of muscles train a lot.) ;-)

It’s worth it!

Yes, strength training is exhausting. It can be insanely strenuous. I always end up cursing during my training sessions and sometimes I can’t move for days due to sore muscles – I had the worst DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, after my first session with a personal trainer, but it hasn’t been so bad since then. And all of it has been worth it! I can only encourage you to give strength training a try – you’ll get results quickly, especially if you haven’t been training your muscles whatsoever.

I’m interested in how you exercise: do you do cardio or strength training? Or are you more into increasing your mobility and building strength through yoga? In the end, I think a good mix of strength training, endurance training, and stretching is the best way to maintain a fit and healthy body.

Let me know if you’d like to hear more about the topic!

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