My calves are still not up to par, so I've been doing a completely different kind of workout this week.
I warm up with a no-break version of low impact resistance band and body weight exercises (ball squats, crunches, calf raises). By the time I'm done, I'm soaked and well into my cardio training heart rate zone. Then I start working the iron.
Lifting weights is whole different kind of exercise experience. Cardio is about endurance. It's almost hypnotic in its rhythm. Your running feet tap tap tap on the road as you move along. The elliptical pedals turn turn turn. Before long, you can go for half an hour, sixty minutes, ninety. Your mind goes to a quiet place and everything seems to pulse with the easy in-out of your breath.
Female Powerlifter "daniela Sell" From Germany - video powered by Metacafe
Iron work is not about endurance. It's about intensity. Watch Daniela Sell preparing to bench bar-bending weight. Her concentration narrows until it is focused on a single simple object. Move this iron from here to there. From the rack to your chest and back. Until you can't move it another inch. Weight lifters sweat, groan, even shout as one repetition follows another. But repetition is really the wrong word.
When you hit your stride, running feels easy. Your steps feel light and you get the feeling that you could just keep running for as long as you wish. That's repetition.
Weight reps never feel easy. The whole object is to go till you fail, until you can't lift any more -- and then one rep more. When it feels easy, that's good news. You can add more weight. The physiology of weight lifting as I understand it is about breaking down and building up. Lifting until you can do no more does damage - micro-damage to the fibers that make up bundles of muscle tissue. In the following days, that tissue heals and is supplemented by additional fibers. Your body needs to be stronger to do the work, so it grows stronger. It's like watching yourself evolve and adapt to your environment.
The process requires two things. You have to rest to let that healing growth happen. And you have to make each workout, each routine, each rep harder than the last. This "progressive resistance" is what makes iron work so much different than road work. It's as if you started running up a hill that got steeper and steeper until you were finally running up a ladder until your legs wouldn't move anymore.
I like lifting weights. It's easy to track progress and measure improvement. I lifted more today than I did the last time. I like the feeling of going till you can't go any more - then doing another rep. And one rep more.
Aerobic exercise burns fat better than weight lifting. But weight lifting builds muscles, and muscles burn fat all the time. Those big quads and glutes that you build from doing squats and deadlifts are burning fat while you sleep. I haven't run a step in a week and a half, and yesterday at my weigh-in, I had finally broken below the 360 lb plateau I've been stuck on for almost a month. I'm not giving up running. I really want to run. But when I do, it's good to know that I'll be doing it with a body that is even better tuned to burn fat.
Till then, just let me do one rep more.
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