Cardio Queen or Goddess Weightlifter? Why Not Both!
Versatility in your physical exercise will award you with several health benefits. Start adding weight to your barbell by following these tips.
For most of us the main objective of working out is losing weight and/or getting a fit body. Many tend to pursue cardio over weightlifting because they think it consumes more calories and will burn fat faster. But you need to know that when you lift weights, you are building muscle mass, creating more muscle tissue and this process burns more calories, even when you’re at rest, than cardiovascular exercises. And it isn’t just about losing weight; weightlifting can also protect you from injuries (your bones become stronger) and improve your stability, mobility and balance. Regular strength training can even boost brain cognition and self-esteem.
However, this doesn’t mean that from now on you are only going to do strength training. Cardio also has tons of benefits, besides working on your endurance it can lead you to a longer and healthier life.
CrossFit lets us enjoy the benefits of doing both, sometimes together and sometimes not. For weightlifting, we need to be sure we are performing lifts with good form. If you are kind of new in CrossFit or you don’t feel very comfortable training with weights, take a look at these basic steps for ensuring efficient lifts from the beginning.
How to start lifting and overcome your fears
Lifting weights can be intimidating. With all those barbells, plates, kettlebells and dumbbells, where do you start? And what if you get hurt (because you’re clumsy like me)!
Don’t worry, we have put together these basic steps to get you comfortable with barbell movements and, more importantly, free of injuries:
- Work on your form before adding weight. Take the time to nail the basics of the technique and work on your mobility. There are several online resources to learn about weightlifting. Search on YouTube for technique videos and listen to podcasts for motivation and self-development. An awesome book that I personally recommend is “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training” from Mark Rippetoe (much of the following advice is from Mark).
- If you start with the barbell on the rack, set the J-hooks’ height at about the level of your armpits. You might think this is too low, but it’s better to be a little low taking the bar out of the rack than to have to tiptoe back into the rack with a heavy weight.
- Use a correct hook grip. Trap your thumb between the bar and as many fingers as you can. It might be a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, but you will get used to it, I promise. This kind of grip is much stronger and prevents the bar from rolling out of your hands. Also, to help your grip, it’s a good idea to put some chalk on your hands, it dries out the skin and it’ll be less likely to fold and develop calluses.
- Perfect your starting position. Whether you are setting up for a snatch or unracking the bar for a squat, if you don’t start well, it won’t end well.
- For safety, always step back out of the rack. Never put the bar back in the rack by stepping backwards. If you do so, you won’t be able to see the J-hooks that hold the barbell in the rack.
- To rack the bar safely and easily, walk forward until it touches the vertical parts of the rack. Find the uprights, not the hooks. You can’t miss the uprights, and if you touch them, you’ll be over the hooks. If you try to set the bar directly down on the hooks, you can and will eventually miss it on one side.
- Keep your core and the muscles you are going to use tight before taking the bar out of the rack. It’s much more effective to tighten the muscles and then take the weight than doing it with relaxed muscles and then try to tighten everything up underneath the weight.
- Don’t forget to breath. Weightlifters recommend to follow the Valsa maneuver for better performance. It’s simple, take a big breath before lifting and hold it until near the end of your movement.
- Use the proper gear. Weightlifting Belts and knee sleeves /elbow wraps are always useful. They compress and stabilize your spine and joints. Don’t forget to learn how to use the gear correctly.
- Listen to your coach! A good coach has technique and experience. Your coach will be spotting your movements and giving you remarks on your progress and how to correct mistakes. This will not only get your lifts to the next level but also boost your confidence.
We should value both, strength and conditioning, but the conditioning tends to come more easily to the average person. You should step into the gym and be confident that you can attack a workout to the best of your ability regardless of what kind of training is involved. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by lifting weights, especially if you are new to it! Remember that everything is a process. You don’t have to already be super strong or fit to start lifting. Learn from trusted sources, start slow, master the movements before throwing on weight, and see where it takes you. You’ll probably be slightly confused at the beginning by trying to remember all the details of a proper posture and going through the motions. That’s part of the challenge and facing the challenge is how we get better. There is no progress without struggle.
Giuliana is a professional writer at TheBarbellBeauties.com. She works in social development and empowering women is one of her ultimate goals. She is passionate about health, fitness and traveling. She loves CrossFit because of the variety of the workouts and the community, but also does yoga and runs with her dog, Nazca.
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