The benefits to strength training are many; Maintaining muscle tissue, increased strength, improved bone health, controlled body fat, decreased risk of injury, well basically I could go on and on. But in this blog post I will try to emphasize my experience with starting doing more strength training and what I thought would happen versus what has actually happened instead.
Why did I avoid strength training for so many years?
Being a professional dancer all my life I never wanted to get bulk and look “big”. Dancers are supposed to be skinny, have long lean muscles and look toned. Many dancers starve themselves and I did too for many years creating a yo-yo-diet form of constantly changing between different diets and forms of training.
I went to the gym, and quit a lot actually, but only to hit the cardio machines and occasionally a few of the machines for thighs and calves. I know now, that this was the complete wrong way of strengthening my body and my body was trying to tell me that all along, through increased number of injuries.
When you avoid doing strength training to look bulk and only focus your time on cardio exercises you become “skinny-fat”. You drain yourself for muscles, tone and any energy in your body and when you do a lot of cardio you burn away your fat but also your muscles.
Injuries is the body’s way to tell you that something is hurting and wrong. It is therefore not something you should ever overlook. Always listen to your body and try to understand what it is telling you. After all your body is your motor. If it is not working properly you won’t go very far in any paths of life. So it is quicker to stop up for a second and check it, only to then continue and eventually run faster.
I never listened to my body before and I started getting injuries because I wasn’t aware of the right nutrition combined with the right strength training which resulted in inflammations, knee injury, back pain and bad digestion all in my mid 20’s.
Our bodies change after hitting 30 and our muscle tissue decreases a lot in strength and tension after this age, so it is crucial to build up your body before this age and continue the process during our lives.
In my case my diet had a huge effect on my body as it couldn’t heal itself properly. I ate mostly fat and carbs but in very small amounts and as a result my energy was low, my efficiency close to zero and I was suffering from the inside. After 4 weeks of changing my diet, eating mostly Protein combined with healthy fats and a little carbs my knee pain disappeared! Not 100 % but I would say a good 80 % improvement. The last 20% I had to improve through my training.
Training stands for an action that you do repeatedly on a consistent basis. There exist thousands of different ways to train anything in life. Your mind needs training, your communication, your coordination, your body, your relationships, well anything you want to improve and master needs training, and therefore a repetitive action again and again.
I started on a routine where I was solely using my bodyweight to increase my strength in my core and general coordination.
This is a great way to start up, as it doesn’t hurt your joints and it is not hard on your body causing injuries early on. The routine was mostly abs, squats and a few back exercises. To my surprise there was NO cardio exercises, only walking.
Here I was, having spent all my training on the treadmill, running and running not getting anywhere. I used to push myself a lot, and suddenly I was told that if I want to get results I should “only” do these strength exercises 3 times a week combined with daily walking. I was thinking to myself “This will never work” but I still trusted my coach and mentor and so I followed the instructions.
Which Type of Training Can I Do?
Walking is what we are created for and how we have always transported ourselves around. Nowadays we have become very comfortable in this sense. We have bikes, roller skaters, cars, busses, metro, tram and flights to bring us from A to B. We hardly walk anymore if we can avoid it. But walking is actually super healthy for our body and prevents joints becoming stiff and old.
We often sit down too much, so the first thing you can try to improve when wanting to strengthen your body is walking. It is recommended to walk about 10.000 step a day to feel the benefit of this type of exercise.
Is a great way to strengthen your body. When moving around you are for example creating rotations which is strengthening your core area, and going up and down in your legs which strengthens your thighs. You also often stand with your weight on 1 leg at a time which improves your over all balance tremendously. So Dancing is a great way to strengthen your body and overall coordination a lot.
Bodyweight exercises is the best way to strengthen your muscles. This is because you can work isolated on 1 muscle-group at a time, really focusing on gaining strength on a particular body part. You will need a good routine created from a professional coach to help you in your situation so you are not just guessing your way through the dark. A professional coach can tell you the amount of repetitions, which exercises you will need in your specific case and when to change exercises as well.
I started out with more general strength training, but is now doing exercises for much more specific parts of my body, that I want to improve.
Is amazing for weight loss, but not so great for muscle gain and strengthening your body. So while performing a 30-40 minutes cardio routine is incredible healthy for your heart and lungs, it should be done in fewer sessions during the week, if your goal is to strengthening your body. Perform a max of 2 times a week, and instead walk more and dance more as your everyday movement combined with bodyweight exercises.
Is Dancing a Good Way of Doing Cardio?
Dancing is an amazing way of doing a cardio workout. When you dance you almost don’t notice that you are actually working out. You get into the mood, the rhythm of the music and you have fun. When dancing, you are in the moment and the time stands still. Everything stops around you. It is the most amazing feeling in the world and all thoughts, pain and everyday worries disappear for a short while.
Dancing really is an amazing way of moving your body while building strength and getting your daily steps in too. That is why I love dancing so much and the passion I have for sharing my knowledge for dancing in general, is a keystone in my life.
I have created 6 weeks online Bachata Dance Course where I help beginners who don’t know how to dance at all, how to take their first steps and how to find confidence while dancing.
It is amazing to see people grow through something that you have created and it warms my heart to see this progress in peoples lives.
If you want to try it out Then click this link and it will bring you to my website where you can read more about our course, who we are and why we started this project in the first place.
Creating A Good Balance Is A Keystone:
Like anything in life, you need to find the right balance for you. If you feel that you need more strength in your body, my biggest advice would be to start out slowly. Don’t start out by going banana on the machines in the closest gym 7 times a week. Because like any initial motivation, it will fade away and before you know it – you will be back to square 1.
So instead, what I believe is the best idea, is to dig deep within. Ask yourself why you would like to have more strength in your body and then write it down. This will be your motivation going forward.
Secondly, I would suggest you to spread out your workouts between cardio/dancing, walking more, eating more healthy wholefood meals in general and doing bodyweight exercises that increases your muscle tissue.
I had a limiting believe, that doing strength training was only going to get me bulky and I was afraid to look to masculine on the dancefloor. Instead what I found, is that creating the right balance between dancing, body weight exercises, eating a nutritious diet mostly form wholefoods is the way to go. I truly can say i feel better, than I ever has felt before!
Doing these thing will make you feel energised within reasonable short time, and you will feel happier, more effective, less pain in your body and therefore thriving through life improving all areas of your life. There is nothing better than feeling great from the inside out – and that, trust me, is why strength training will always be 1000 % worth it.