One Year of Consistent Strength Training

by - Monday, May 10, 2021

Over the 15 years that I've blogged about fitness, I've always struggled to find any sort of consistency in strength training. Running has been and probably always will be my favorite form of exercise.

Strength training has come and gone over the years -- oftentimes it shows up when I'm rehabbing an injury, sticks around for a while and then takes a back seat when I start training for a race. 

But since April 2020, I've discovered a new appreciation for strength training and actually kind of look forward to my weight lifting workouts now. 


It's a weird shift for me, going from running 4-5 times per week with one day of lifting if I was lucky, to running once or twice per week and consistently lifting 3-4 times. 

But I've found that I don't miss running that much. I think that virtual marathon back in the fall really burned me out. While I largely enjoyed training for it as a distraction from the pandemic, I was also very, very glad when it was done.

Having strength training as an alternate form of exercise to focus on has been a really welcome change of pace, and I've been really proud of some of the progress I've made in just a year. When I started lifting weights regularly last April, I had access to 3, 5 and 8 lb dumbbells at home. My husband was able to find a set of adjustable weights that went up to 20 lbs fairly early in the pandemic. I couldn't use those for much more than a few leg exercises at the time.

By June, I found myself desperately searching the Internet for a pair of 10 lb dumbbells. In just two months, the 8s had become too easy for many things. I felt like I struck gold when a Walmart that we happened to be driving past in Fredericksburg, VA said they had two 10 pounders in stock. 


By the fall I was comfortably using 10 pounds for every upper body move except shoulder and tricep stuff and that was mainly because I was dealing with my stupid frozen shoulder. For lower body, I was now using my husband's adjustable dumbbells alternating them between 15 and 20 pounds each depending on what exercise I was doing. 

And by February, I was ready to bump up to 12s for some upper body things and really needed the ability to jump to 25, 30, or more for lower body if I wanted to avoid a plateau. 

So we started shopping around for one of those super expensive sets of adjustable dumbbells. Bowflex was on a 4 month back order so that was a no go. I found a set of NordicTrack ones on Amazon, but they sold out before I convinced myself I really wanted to spend that kind of money.


I fumed to myself for a while about my hesitancy, and as soon as I saw they were back in stock, I pulled the trigger. And since then, I've been able to continue to slowly progress in the amount of heavy stuff I can pick up.

I'm glad I have these kinds of progress markers because from the outside, I don't think I look very different, and I feel like that's the stuff people are alway curious about. 

All this weight lifting has not given me a six pack, but I can tell my core is a ton stronger because I can hold a plank for so much longer. I haven't lost any weight, in fact, I've actually gained some during the pandemic -- probably from all those M&Ms I eat. 

Maybe if I squint at myself in the mirror, I can see a tiny bit more definition in my arms -- you know if the light is right and I stand just the right way. But this is not some remarkable physical transformation story. I don't have any before or after pictures to show you. 

This is just slowly and consistently working to get a little bit stronger. One year in, I can pick up much heavier stuff, many of my muscle imbalances have gone away and sometimes I even find running faster isn't quite as hard as it once was. 

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