Q: My weeks are extremely busy, and it’s tough enough to find time to exercise. Now I’m learning that I need to strength train in addition to my cardio. I don’t always have time to do this separately. Is there a way to mix cardio into my strength training routine to maximize my exercise time?
A: The easiest way to mix cardio and strength is to alternate the two disciplines in short segments. Perform two strength exercises and immediately get on your favorite cardio machine for three to five minutes. You can also shorten up the time spent between your strength exercises and move quickly to the next exercise to keep your heart rate elevate. This will provide a cardio challenge without having to find additional time to jump on cardio equipment. Keep track of your current rest between sets and slowly begin to decrease the rest time to 30 seconds.
Q: I lift five days per week consistently, but my strength gains have flat-lined. How do I continue to get stronger?
A: Despite not having much industry information to go on here, let’s see if I can provide some insight. First of all, there’s the possibility that you’re working out too much. Maybe your volume (the combination of sets and reps) is too high — a common problem for those looking to gain strength as quickly as possible. And how long has it been since you’ve taken some time off to allow your body to fully recuperate from the stress of exercise? Some much-needed rest may do the trick and, amazingly, people often come back even stronger.
I also wonder if you’re changing up your workouts enough. Many people get into a habit of using machines or free weights, but don’t incorporate other forms of exercise. Cables, tubing, bands, kettle bells, medicine balls and even bodyweight exercises can all increase strength, so you should try to vary your routine.
Lastly, you have to remember that strength doesn’t just increase exponentially on a continual basis. There is a threshold you’ll reach at some point, and you could be there already. If you feel like you need help with your current program, talk to a certified personal trainer.
Information provided by Anytime Fitness, 2815 Beaver Ave, Suite 206, Des Moines, 274-2100.