For decades people all over the United States have looked for the next “magic solution” to getting fit from home. The vast majority of the “solutions” that companies have created and sold involve some type of cardio machine. The NordicTrack first came out when I was a young kid, and it was the big thing for a long time. Every few years a new “next big thing” hits the market, with today’s being the Peloton. While the name brand and the piece of equipment may have changed since the 90’s when I grew up, one thing has not changed: Americans are more overweight, deconditioned, and unhealthy than ever before; and if at-home cardio machines were going to fix that problem they already would have – instead we are going in the opposite direction, and fast.
Most people have similar goals when it comes to health & fitness, which include:
- Be leaner (lose weight / have more muscle definition / fit into their clothes better)
- Build muscle, be stronger and more physically capable
- Have more energy and have their bodies feel better
- Be healthier (this can be quite subjective, but can include things like bloodwork markers, hormone balance, and possibly getting off certain medications – or avoiding starting them)
These are all wonderful goals, and my career is centered around helping people achieve them. I have been fortunate enough to help people lose 50+ pounds of body fat, build 20+ pounds of muscle, and even help people struggling with low bone density reduce or eliminate medications for osteopenia / osteoporosis. In all of these cases, including the weight loss, the formula is the same: at home focus on nutrition, and in your workouts focus on strength training. What was not emphasized? Cardio-esque workouts on a Peloton (or NordicTrack, or whatever). That’s not to say that those workouts have no value, but they are the least important piece of the puzzle for most people. Let’s take a quick look at three reasons to re-evaluate what you do for your workouts, and why your home spin bike is not the solution to your problems.
1) You should workout like you are trying to build muscle, even if your primary goal is to lose weight
This may seem counterintuitive to many people, but I firmly believe this to be the truth. If you were to ask just about any fitness professional what they do for their own workouts, you will get an essentially unanimous answer that they all strength train for at least SOME of it, and for many it is the vast majority of their workout regiment. More importantly, if you ask the same fitness professionals what they have their trainees do in order to achieve the goals laid out above, you will hear nearly universally that strength training is the main thing they work on in the gym. Strength training will, of course, help you get stronger (duh), but it also has huge impacts on things like bone density and hormone balance that help you become healthier and leaner too. If you have time & energy to do BOTH strength training and cardio on a regular basis then GREAT! More power to you. But if you are like most people and find it hard to squeeze your workouts into your tight schedule, then you’d better prioritize strength training.
2) No matter what you do for workouts, your results will always be a product of your consistency
This is one area that is a huge challenge for many people, especially the at-home cardio crowd. It gets SO BORING and you just stop doing it. I know it’s one of those “Captain Obvious” moments, but you’ll never get results from workouts you don’t do. It is laughable how many of cases there are of people buying the next great home-cardio equipment, using it for one or two months, then falling off the wagon and having the machine turn into a coat hanger. In fact, every real estate agent I know jokes that the Peloton is always the most dusty thing in every house – it simply doesn’t get used. So take a deep breath and relax, because if you have been telling yourself “I’ll start up on my bike again next week” then you’re in good company … most other people aren’t using theirs either. What you need is a workout that is fun and challenges you in different ways so that you are more excited to do it – and feeling like a hamster on a wheel just doesn’t cut it here. You want to strike a nice balance between enough variety to keep it fun and interesting, with enough consistency to also be familiar and in your skill set.
3) In all areas of life, investing a little time and energy to learn some skills will always pay big dividends in the long run – workouts included
Unless you want to eat TV dinners and Top Ramen for the rest of your life, at some point you need to learn some skills in the kitchen so that you can cook for yourself. If you want to have a career, it is important to learn valuable skills to help you get a good job or start your own business. If you want a strong, lean body then learning skills in the gym are the same thing. To do this, you need to invest a little bit of time and energy learning how to strength train. You don’t need to know as much as a fitness professional, not even close. However, just like you need to know a few basic dishes to cook for yourself, you also need to get comfortable performing a handful of strength training movements to challenge all the muscles of your body. Think about it like this: your Peloton is like Top Ramen – if you can boil water you can do it, e.g. there is no barrier to entry – but long term it is BORING … do you really want to eat Top Ramen for the rest of your life? Me neither. All it takes is investing a little time and energy up front with a skilled coach in order to develop the skills you need to have great strength training workouts for the rest of your life.
The next logical question is: so how do you start? We have two ways you can get the ball rolling.
For those of you in the Portland, OR area, we are offering an “Introduction to Strength Training” workshop on Saturday September 25th. This 90-min workshop will cover the basics of strength training, and we will be able to make recommendations on next steps for you after the workshop. The best part: the workshop only costs $10. Sign up with the link below.
If you are not in Portland, we have a great online option for you. Our Kettlebell Virtual On-Ramp course will take you from where ever you are (even if you have no prior experience) and have you lifting kettlebells confidently by the end of the course. You get 24 full classes, which we recommend doing 3x weekly for 8 weeks. The classes are all pre-recorded, so you can do them at your convenience. Use the link below to learn more.