I Hate Strength Training: But These 2 Tricks Are Allowing Me To Still Do It

May 17, 2022

I frequently speak about running here at PD. I simply love it. Running challenges me, grounds me and forces me to be in the present. And I feel similarly about yoga. So it tracks that I don’t struggle to find motivation to run or get on my yoga mat. Because it makes me feel better.

But I have a confession to make: I absolutely hate strength training.

Strength training hurts. To me, it seems counterintuitive to all the work I do on my yoga mat. I work so hard on my mat to remove muscle tension and tightness. Why would I want to to get them all torn up and stressed again from strength training?

To build muscle. I know, I know.

Which is why I have indeed spent some time strength training in the past. Remember when folks would actually buy workout DVD’s? Well, I did that for a bit. I tried several of Jillian Michaels circuit training workouts. I’ve done Sydney Cummings’ and Chloe Ting’s workouts on YouTube. Despite switching it up and exploring different workouts, the habit never sticks. Pretty sure the longest I’ve stayed committed to strength training was like, six months. And then I’m done with it.

But I’m trying a new two-step approach to incorporating strength training into my fitness routine.

First, I’m working to reframe how I think about strength training.

Think of it as self-induced cognitive behavioral therapy! Our thoughts are powerful and can impact our mood significantly. If we approach an activity that we dislike with negativity, such as “I just can’t wait for this to be over, I hate this, this is a waste of my time,” etc., we are at risk of spiraling. We certainly aren’t going to magically become happier. So I’m trying to lean in to my strength training sessions and challenge these thoughts. For example, instead of “I hate this and can’t wait for it to be over,” I’m thinking, “Wow, this is really challenging but I am going to be so proud of myself when I am finished.” The goal is to replace the negative thought with a positive—or at the least an objective—thought.

To review, reframing negative thoughts requires identifying the negative thought pattern you wish to replace, challenging it, and replacing it with a positive or objective thought.

Second, I’m participating in a group workout class with a friend.

Yoga class? I’ve probably been to hundreds. But a strength training class? This was new for me. And I’m not sure I would have had the guts or motivation to go if it weren’t for a friend. Which is pretty ridiculous, because if I lived my life that way I would never get anything done or experience anything new. But I digress.

My friend and I share many common interests (we actually met in a forest while out with our dogs!) and we learned that we both really enjoy exercise, especially yoga. However, where I like to run she likes to strength train. I mentioned that “I should really do that more,” and before I knew it, she had me convinced to join her.

The first class was… a lot.

But I was amazed at how much more motivated I felt while surrounded by people of all ages, genders, sizes and colors. There were certainly very fit individuals there, but many people chose to do modifications throughout the workout. The space was safe; we were simply encouraged to keep giving it our best. The music was loud and upbeat and when you looked around the room, many people were smiling to themselves.

Then about ten hours later, I realized that my butt was so sore that I couldn’t walk right. And then the next day, my muscles were so tight and torn that I didn’t have the strength to run, which frustrated me. But I challenged that feeling, too. Instead of beating myself up for not running that day, I listened to my body. I took long walks and did yoga. I reminded myself that if I kept this up, I wouldn’t ever be this sore again.

And that was three weeks ago. It continues to get better. Attending group classes holds me accountable in ways that I never felt accountable when I worked out using home DVDs or YouTube. I don’t look forward to it, by any means, but it helps to know that I am going to see my friend and be a part of something bigger than myself.

Further, it occurred to me that the incorporation of strength training is only going to improve my running capabilities. So yes, running is still my love. But I’m viewing the addition of strength training to my fitness routine as I first viewed the addition of restorative yoga to my wellness routine. It can be kind of trying for us vinyasa-crazed folks, but it’s all about balance.

Also by Coker: I Finally Found Carbon-Neutral Vegan Running Shoes 

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Photo: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash

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