How I work out (part I): strength training

05 februari 2016
My exams are finally over, time to go back to my routine. I usually work out five days a week. Sometimes less, sometimes more. It depends on how much time I have. During the exams, for example, it can be hard to stick to your usual workouts. I try to focus on staying active and not on doing my regular routine. I squeeze in small workouts (15 min) whenever I can, it’s the perfect study break. For me, anyway ;) It’s a way to destress, have some time for myself and absolutely not think about school. Studying for exams can also be very tiring. If I have time for a longer break, I go for a walk (1 hour +- 6,5km). It’s not as intensive as working out but you’re still being active.

My workout routine consists of strength training and cardio. I used to think that getting fit was all about cardio. The treadmill was my best friend. I ran almost every day 8-10km. Yes, my legs were thin and yes, I could run for more than an hour without being tired. But I wasn’t feeling or looking fit. After a couple of months, my calves started to feel sore and tight. I kept running and of course, the soreness turned into pain. After a lot of rest, I tried to run again but the pain wouldn’t go away. I decided to go to a podiatrist. She filmed my feet from behind while I was running on a treadmill. When she showed it to me, it was clear what went wrong: I ran like a moron! Okay, it wasn’t that bad but I was clearly doing something wrong. She explained to me that my heels are a little turned outwards and because I had really bad shoes that didn’t give my feet the support they needed, I experienced pain in my lower legs. The podiatrist gave me orthotics and I bought new shoes. (I will also write a post about the right workout clothes and shoes. This is so important!)

Running every day wasn’t an option anymore so I started looking for different ways to work out. I did a lot of research and found out about people like Kayla Itsines. This was about two years ago, before she became the huge fitness hype she is now. I completed her first Bikini Body Guide and tried the second one. Her workouts are hard. They contain a lot of plyometric exercises (quick, explosive movements to increase speed and power) which are simply too painful for my damaged calves. That’s how I got to the workouts I’m doing today. They’re based on Kayla’s Bikini Body Guides: two sets of four exercises, but I do my own exercises at my own pace. I do the first set twice and then the second set twice. Depending on how hard the exercises are, how much weight I use and how much energy I have, I do both sets again once or sometimes even twice. This may sound complicated but I will post my first workout next week and then you’ll see how easy it is. The routine of course, not the exercises ;) I do them at my own pace because I think it’s better to focus on doing the exercises right rather than doing them fast.

That’s how I train my abs and legs. Compared to those muscle groups, I have pretty weak arms. Therefore, I’m training them at the gym at the moment, biceps and triceps separately. To engage all of my upper body muscles, I also train my back and shoulders. Until I’m strong enough to train my arms using my own bodyweight, I’m stuck with the weight machines. My boyfriend is helping me because I don’t know a lot about those machines. I usually train outside or at home, using benches, chairs etc. as my workout equipment. I only go the gym when the weather is bad or when I have no other choice. A gym is often too crowded, filled with guys staring at girls (or the other way around) and you sometimes see things you really don’t want to see.

I try to train abs, legs and arms every week. For example: Mondays abs, Wednesday legs and Friday biceps and back or triceps and shoulders (I switch every week). I say ‘try’ because I sometimes have to skip one of them. Each workout takes 30-45 minutes including stretching. Stretching your muscles after your workout is very important (see part III: rehabilitation -> I’ll post about this soon). The days in between my strength training, it’s time for cardio (see part II: cardio -> also soon). I also do pilates once a week and I want to start yoga soon. I love trying new things! And yes, I also get bored easily. You will notice my workouts are full of variety. I have no idea how I was able to run almost every day for months on a boring treadmill…

I wrote this to give you an impression of how I work out. I'm not saying that everyone should train like this. You should train according to your bodytype and goals and you should feel comfortable.