Getting ripped! Or where I get my strength training ideas

I started this blog partly to chronicle my running adventures for myself and anyone else who cares to read about them, but I also had a slightly more altruistic purpose. Running and triathlon blogs have been both motivating and instructive for me, and I hope someone can learn something from what I have to say as I continue to learn from other blogs.

Story time: When I moved to DC after college, I had done a couple of triathlons, but never more than one per year, and I definitely didn’t put together a “season” that led to a goal race. I pretty much picked one, trained for it, raced it, and that was it. By the time spring in DC rolled around, I wanted to pick another triathlon for the summer, but I was frustrated that I didn’t know where to swim. I knew DC had pools, but there is a difference between a community pool for splashing and a pool for swimming laps, and I didn’t know which was which. At the time, I was reading a triathlon blog by a fellow Duke alum living in DC and training for her first Ironman (that blog is no longer active or I’d link to it so you all could be inspired too!). She posted pictures of the pool she used, so in true creeper fashion, I scanned back through all her posts tagged with “swimming” until I finally found mention of the name of the pool – Wilson, in case you live in DC and are wondering. Also, DC pools are free for residents. Score. That was the most concrete time a blog helped me. I really miss that pool…

From: Source

Fast forward to present, as part of my plan for this Boston training cycle, I wanted to incorporate strength training two times per week to attempt to correct the imbalances that contributed to my injuries and to get stronger arms because I was tired of not being able to do “real” push-ups. I don’t belong to a gym (though my apartment complex has a gym with a few treadmills and machines) and had no interest in joining one.  I haven’t always met the two times per week goal, but that’s usually because I swam those days instead, and I’m being flexible with my training this time around. I did find a few different sources of strength workouts, and I want to share them with you!

First, I have built a small collection of home gym items, mostly from Marshalls or Target, but if you want to just do body-weight workouts and not buy anything,  you could find plenty of ideas online.

  • Yoga mat (I have two for some reason, and I use one inside and one when I want to work out on my balcony)
  • Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown DVD
  • Set of 10 lbs (each) dumbbells
  • Set of 3 lbs (each) dumbbells
  • Resistance band
  • Stability ball
  • Jump rope (not pictured – it’s a recent purchase and I realize now that I have nowhere to actually use it. My ceilings are not super high. Where do people jump rope besides a gym??)


I also have a foam roller, The Stick, and tennis ball for recovery – all highly recommended.


Hello my friends

So, the real point of this post – where do I get my workout ideas? The answer: usually from blogs and magazines. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • The Core from Lauren at HealthOnTheRun. Her post has helpful photos so you can make sure you’re doing the moves right. I really like this one.
  • PumpsandIron posts different strength workouts regularly, also with helpful photos. I did one of her workouts in a hotel gym because they had medicine balls (which I love but don’t own) and I knew she had recently posted a workout using one – it was great. Her workouts sometimes say, “do x for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then repeat.” If you don’t feel like looking at your watch that closely, you can download a free app onto your smart phone that will beat at the intervals. I think mine is called “HIIT Timer” or something like that.
  • Glamour’s One Month Slim Down Plan. This plan has 4 days of circuit workouts, each focused on a different set of muscles. I copied the workouts onto paper so I wouldn’t have to go to the website every time to follow along, but I’ve still found myself looking at it for the photos as reminders. You’re supposed to do each of these workouts each week or something to “slim down” but I just pick a workout and do it.
  • Magazine workout tear-out pages (from Glamour and Self because I happen to have free subscriptions to them from frequent flier miles or something). I have a love-hate relationship with these. On the one hand, they’re already printed (I loathe logging on to a computer to look at my workout for some reason – unless there are pictures! I love pictures to make sure I’m doing the moves correctly) and supposedly are compiled by real trainers, but on the other, sometimes they are sort of… silly. Not that I am an expert, but if the moves feel uncomfortable (I don’t mean too hard but just if they’re either impossible or feel like I’m stressing my knees or something) or if I can’t feel any of my muscles working hard, I will just put that workout down and never try it again. Since I only do strength workouts once or twice a week, these are an easy way to try something new every time, and it’s ok if I don’t love it.


There are just so many of them.

  • I really like my Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown DVD and I count it as a strength workout. (I have considered some of her other DVDs. Any recommendations?)
  • Random workouts that I see on websites or blogs that I frequent but don’t necessarily follow or read regularly, such as this Core Routine for Runners that I printed out from the Oiselle blog.
  • and of course, Pinterest has about a million workouts if you’re bored and want to find something new.

As you can see, there are TONS of options, especially if you go down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. I’ve managed to stay out of it mostly because of my preference for workouts on paper instead of getting out my computer. Having this much variety means I don’t often repeat workouts, but I have done the Core from HOTR and the Glamour circuit workouts a couple of times and recommend them for a workout that you will remember throughout the day when your arms are just a little sore.

Hopefully these ideas are helpful, and let me know if you have other sources for strength workouts or try one of these (whether you like it or not)!

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3 Responses to Getting ripped! Or where I get my strength training ideas

  1. Caroline says:

    Awesome post! I love Jillian Michaels DVDs…I’m not really a fan of Yoga Meltdown, but I have Ripped in 30* and really like that. It has 4 workouts, and it is supposed to be a month-long thing where each week you switch to the next (harder) workout. I don’t follow that but just do them when I’m not feeling particularly motivated because they are quick (25 minutes with warm-up and cool-down), but still challenging.

    *Note that I did not get ripped in 30

  2. Love your blog and want to invite you to our fun health and fitness blogging group.

  3. Pingback: 16 Weeks to Go, and a New Saddle! | longruntohappiness

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