When I first made the commitment to start exercising many moons ago, the only thing I did were cardiovascular workouts. I took every step, spinning and kickboxing class that was offered in the evenings after work. I loved how I felt afterwards—the sweat, the exhaustion, the feeling of doing something other than sitting at a desk. Eventually, I ventured over to doing some strength work. I began with doing a circuit on the different machines for each muscle group. After that, I started using dumbbells. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no plan, no goal and no hint that I should be charting my progress. You could say I was a confused fish in the weight lifting pond.
Now things are completely different. I have swapped my addiction to cardio for my deep love of strength training. But, it has become more than just bicep curls, chest presses and tricep dips. Many of my dumbbells have been swapped out for kettlebells, barbells and good, old-fashioned bodyweight. I have discovered that training this way has given me more strength than I ever had and has transformed my body more than I ever thought possible.
It is now to the point where all I want to do is just push, lift and pull heavy things no matter what. I do not even care what it is, how big it is or how much it weighs. If I see it, I want to lift it, swing it or carry it. This became apparent to me when I first delved into kettlebell training. Nothing says strong and powerful quite like swinging a cast-iron ball. And the heavier it was, the more powerful I felt. Then a few weeks ago my gym purchased tires for their new outdoor boot camp class. I decided to do the second part of class outside on the gym’s front lawn. We flipped tires, used sledgehammers, threw heavy medicine balls as far as we could, dragged and pulled kettlebells, and a variety of other she-woman exercises. What a feeling of empowerment we all got from doing this. I think we all had an epiphany that day—this was a workout that was completely different than what we had done, and we loved how it made us feel.
If you have not had an opportunity to flip a tire or swing a kettlebell, I highly recommend it. It is amazing how much strength you truly have, but do not realize—not to mention that doing these types of exercises requires you to use your muscles in a completely different way. Our hamstrings and abs were killing us for days after our first day of flipping tires. Our upper bodies got a bit of a beating after using the sledgehammer. All of these exercises pushed us into a completely different zone unlike anything else. We certainly felt it in the days that followed—but in a good way!
My advice to every woman is to find your new strong whether it is flipping tires, wielding a sledgehammer, swinging a kettlebell or just lifting something heavier than you normally would. You will be amazed how much strength you have—both physically and mentally. And in case you think you are going to lose out on your “cardio” work, try swinging a heavy kettlebell for 45 seconds or throwing a 10 pound medicine ball (or heavier) across a field for a minute straight and see how high your heart rate goes. I assure you that you will get more than you expect. This is another benefit of working out this way—you will get the benefit of both cardiovascular and strength work all in one. Talk about time-efficiency for busy moms.
The next time the opportunity presents itself to lift, push, pull or carry something heavy, take it! Reach down and find that inner Wonder Woman you have inside yourself that has been too scared or intimidated to rear her head. Find your power, your focus, your determination—and your new strong!