The strength training hurdle

I am currently participating in a one-year program intended to improve eating habits and build physical activity as a preventative for Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. I started the program at 284 pounds in mid-March and am now currently at 244 pounds. Each day, I remain aware of what I'm eating and try to get in at least of 30 minutes of medium to high intensity cardio-vascular activity. So far, this is not a problem since I enjoy walking, hiking, biking, etc.

The problem is that I'm also supposed to be adding strength training in tandem with the cardio-vascular activity, and here I have very definitely come up short. In fact, its possible my somewhat rapid weight loss could partially be due to muscle loss in addition to the loss of fat. However, whereas the cardio-vascular activities are fun, strength training feels like nothing more than a mechanical chore and I have no mental motivation to really start.

FWIW, at 53, I don't think I've ever had a "well-defined" muscle structure, and while I'm not looking to be the next Charles Atlas, I would like for once in my life to have something akin to muscle tone. But saying it and doing are two very different things.

Any suggestions for getting past this mental block?


  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    Can you make the cardio a reward for doing some resistance training first?

    While in the back of your mind you realize this is very beneficial for many reasons.

    I'd look for some programs that are very functional - perhaps that aspect of it will make it more interesting.

    What in your mind does the strength training need to consist of?
    Perhaps you have a mindset that is too narrow a focus and therefore boring before you start.
  • littlegreenparrot1
    littlegreenparrot1 Posts: 694 Member
    Does your gym do classes that might fit the bill by doing a bit of both? Kettlebells, body pump, even something that just uses bodyweight to start with.
    Attending the class gives the discipline of having to do it, it can be fun if you find one you like, and you kind of get carried along with the momentum of the class.

    I will happily run for hours along the trails but strength training bores me witless, one or two classes a week help. It might not be quite as good, but it is considerably better than the nothing I would do otherwise!
  • SnifterPug
    SnifterPug Posts: 746 Member
    I used to hate resistance training, too. Found it really boring and un-motivating. Then I hired a PT who introduced me to kettlebells. They ignited a love of the gym and I am now really into weight lifting. Even the slow, grinding stuff that I used to hate so much. Once you start getting results it is a huge incentive, and there are so many different things you could do. If you have the budget for it I'd consider hiring a PT to introduce you to a few different things. And even if you don't enjoy it much, having paid the PT should keep you turning up long enough to see some results, which may just light a spark. Good luck.
  • steveko89
    steveko89 Posts: 2,215 Member
    It took me some time to figure out how I liked to strength train before I really got into it. I half heartedly did stuff like p90x and p90x3 (dumbbells only) for years until I started barbell training and was smitten. Within the context of barbell training it also took me a while to get to where I would enjoy certain training splits and a variety of accessories.
  • deputy_randolph
    deputy_randolph Posts: 940 Member
    Same as took me time to figure out how I like to lift. I started with your basic, random machines, no program approach. Well, that WAS a chore.

    I worked with a trainer at the gym who used to participate in competitive powerlifting. Yep, that's what I liked. I like big, heavy movements for less reps.
  • Onedaywriter
    Onedaywriter Posts: 324 Member
    Lots of body weight movements are strength training and can be easily combined with what you are already doing.
    Walk for a few minutes, then do 5 pushups, walk another few minutes and do 10 air squats another few and lunges etc. I walk or run to a park that has a swing set where I do some pull-ups etc. This may keep the boredom down
    I do CrossFit type workouts fairly regularly and I’m never bored with it. Maybe give that a try.
  • steveko89
    steveko89 Posts: 2,215 Member
    kmbrooks15 wrote: »
    Another vote here for the personal trainer! I know it's a financial sacrifice (it is for me, but so worth it!), but the benefits are amazing.

    If one is at all interested in a personal trainer I would encourage that money spent to be viewed as an investment in one's health and/or growth and not simply an inconvenient expense.
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,210 Member
    SKazanow67 wrote: »
    The problem is that I'm also supposed to be adding strength training

    Perhaps consider a shift in mindset from viewing it as a something you're "supposed to be doing" to thinking only of the benefits you want - looking better, stronger for daily life, improved insulin sensitivity, etc.

    A few "tricks" that may help build the habit:
    - Start with only one set per body part per workout the first month, so it's over in a few minutes. For example, 1 set using a moderate weight for: squats, pushup, rows and shoulder presses (plus a warm-up set). Once it's a habit, increase the sets + weight.
    - Listen to music, or a podcast or audiobook
    - Plan a reward after each workout (a show, a meal, etc)
  • DD265
    DD265 Posts: 651 Member
    I'm another personal trainer fan.

    Hated running. PT taught me how to run effectively. I love running.
    Never really successfully lifted. PT taught me Olympic lifting. I love the technicality of lifting.

    I think being taught to do something correctly, with the right base (core strength, t-spine mobility etc) in place makes a huge difference in whether you enjoy something or not.
  • Deviette
    Deviette Posts: 979 Member
    You could consider taking up a sport or class where you will naturally do strength training integrated in the training. I also dislike dedicated strength training however I don't think of dragging someone down the mat as strength training (for example) but the way my muscles hurt this morning would suggest otherwise. In the context of my sport it's fun and relevant, but stepping back and looking at it, I can see exactly which muscle groups those exercises are building. I could be lifting weights in the gym that work those same muscles, but honestly, doing squats with someone in a kata garuma lift is much more fun than doing it with a bar and weights.
  • SKazanow67
    SKazanow67 Posts: 2 Member
    edited August 2021
    Thank you for the suggestions everyone. I wish I could even consider a personal trainer but financially, even small additions to our monthly budget are out of reach at the moment. I do wish health savings plans would allow expenses for preventive medicine, like gym memberships/personal trainer expenses, but as of yet, the only acceptable expenses are for responsive care. That said, I can truly understand how doing something wrong can easily lead to avoiding doing it again. Having that kind of guidance would be invaluable; plus it would give me the accountability I currently lack.

    In the meantime, I have asked my son to keep reminding me to do the strength training. So far, my lack of motivation is still winning that fight but I appreciate his efforts.

    What kills me about this is that for just about everything else, I have no problem putting in the work. When I needed to show improvement over the course of a semester of a life fitness class, I put in the time 3xs a week to work through the school gym's fitness rotation. I finished that class being able run a mile without stopping for the first time in my life; was able to do pullups for the first time since I was in elementary school; and built to doing series of pushups vs 1 or 2 before getting worn out. But then I had a classmate who did the routine alongside of me and the incentive to get a good grade. When its just me with no reward/punishment dynamic though... <sigh>

    Maybe what I need for now is to find someone to work out with me...that at least would give me some degree of accountability and some incentive. Because waiting for myself to just start has been a non-starter.

  • juliafromrf
    juliafromrf Posts: 106 Member
    If there is any way you can afford it, you could invest in a pair of dumbbells (5kg, for example) and do Youtube workouts with them. I would especially recommend Caroline Girvan's programs: She combines strength training with cardio, her workouts are super rich in variety and at the beginning of every video she explains how to perfom the exercises correctly. Except for the dumbbells and a mat, you don't need any equipment whatsoever (I even train barefoot) and the program is completely free. This would be her beginner program:

    Since you said that you are motivated if someone else joins you, maybe you could ask a friend to do the program with you?
  • I2k4
    I2k4 Posts: 179 Member
    Nice to read a reference to Charles Atlas, answer to getting sand kicked by beach bullies:

    Some of the Atlas rhetoric is over the top but "dynamic tension" has its merits. Beyond, I'd agree with advice to get some professional coaching in resistance training modalities you like to do and can afford. (I had lifelong benefit of four years of college weight training courses and in retirement have settled on dumbbells, resistance bands and bodyweight.)