Doctorate Housewife

What my degree in IPE didn't teach me about baking, DIY, fitness, and life…

Strength Training for those that Hate Weights, i.e. Me

Strength training – it’s fair to say that I’m not a fan. In all the sports I’ve played and exercises I’ve tried, the strength training part has always ranked absolute bottom on the fun scale. Plus, I don’t want bulky muscles. I want to look long, lean, and svelte. Bring on the cardio I say… But I have a slight bone structure and a family history of osteoporosis and it’s kinda embarrassing not to be able to open jars. So, I knew it was time to tackle this.

In February I started reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It gave me just the tools I needed to get started. Duhigg (yes, that’s his real name) maps out the anatomy of a habit: cue, routine, reward. Basically every habit behaviour starts with a cue, something that triggers you to start the behaviour or routine. After which, you receive a reward. Understanding these things can help you break bad habits or engineer new healthy habits. One of the other things that The Power of Habit taught me is that habits expand. Intuitively this makes sense. If we find something rewarding, we’re likely to do more of it.

Armed with these ideas, I started thinking about how to engineer a strength training habit. I knew that it had to start small, be consistent, and have  a decent reward if it were going to take hold. I decided that I would do 10 bent-knee pushups (routine) every morning after I got dressed (cue), and then give myself a gold-star on my tick list (reward – I love gold stars and starting the day with something already ticked). Each week I would increase the number of pushups by one and once I got to 25 I would start converting them to full pushups.

It might sound a meager goal, but with time and consistency on my side I’m getting stronger. Plus, remember that part about habits expanding? Well, after doing the pushups that first day I looked around the room and realised I could take advantage of the machinery. I added 10 captain’s chair exercises to to the routine (5 with bent legs/ 5 straight). 2 weeks later, I started adding planks, 4 weeks later modified dips. Now I’m 13 weeks in and doing 21 bent-knee pushups, 11 straight leg captain’s chair exercises, 13 modified dips, and a full minute plank!! Just think of where I might be by the end of the year.

Check out how it’s evolved:

Monday Feb 13th
week 1 10 modified pushups, 10 captains chairs (bent knee)
Monday Feb 20th
week 2 11 M pushups 10 cc (8knee 2straight) (started 20sec planks on Friday)
Monday Feb 27th
week 3 12 M pushups, 10 cc (7k3s), 20 sec planks
Monday March 5th
week 4 13 M pushups, 10 cc (6k4s), 25 sec planks
Monday March 12th
week 5 14 M pushups, 10cc(5k5s), 30 sec planks *(started doing 10 dips on Tuesday) * plus did 5 Total Gym pull ups on highest setting
Monday March 19th (In USA)
week 6 15 M pushups, ?cc (not sure if there will be equipment), 35 sec planks, 11 dips
Monday March 26th
week 7 16 M pushups, 10cc(4k6s), 40 sec planks, 12 dips
Monday April 2 (Easter break + caught a cold)
week 8 17 M pushups, 10cc(3k7s), 45 sec planks, 13 dips
Monday April 9
repeat of Easter week
Monday April 16
week 10 18M pushups, 10cc(2k8s), 45 sec planks, 13 dips
Monday April 23
week 11 19M pushups, 10cc(1k9s), 50 sec planks, 13 dips
Monday April 30
week 12 20M pushups, 10cc, 55 sec planks, 13 dips
Monday May 7
week 13 21M pushups, 11cc, 1min planks!, 13 dips

The thing that all this really teaches me about habits is that habits are long-term investments. If I get stuck on a week or an exercise I just keep it at that level for another week until I get used to it. Why? Because there is tremendous power in small change applied consistently! What thing in your life do you want to change? What small healthy habit could you start to get you to that change?

(Btw – recent research suggests that exercises like jumping rope might be better for bone strength then weight lifting, but strength training still contributes and it definitely helps with the jar opening =p)


9 comments on “Strength Training for those that Hate Weights, i.e. Me

  1. Daniel
    May 11, 2012

    Go Jessi, go!

  2. Jenny
    May 11, 2012

    That’s an awesome premise for strength training. I’ve been doing the couch to 5k running plan which works very similarly and surprisingly is actually working. I’ll have to add this to my routine. Thanks!! : )

    • Jessi
      May 11, 2012

      Well done you! Keep it up =) Little changes make big differences!

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This entry was posted on May 11, 2012 by in Fitness, Healthy Living and tagged , , , .

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