The marriage of running and strength training can sometimes be as challenging as a raising-kids, who's-turn-is-it-to-empty-dishwasher marriage. I struggled for years to find a balance between our beloved cardiovascular activity and building (or at least maintaining) muscle, everything from running 30 minutes before hitting the weight room at a neighborhood gym for 20 minutes (too boring and mentally challenging for my brain) to a circuit of body-weight resistance (think squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.) in my basement.
But I think I've finally found what works for me: I do a boot camp class every Wednesday and Friday morning at a nearby studio. I had been boot-camping once a week since January, but I recently stepped it up to 2x and I'm finally seeing some results. I'm not running in just a crop top and skirt anytime soon--but I will now be showcasing slight shoulder definition in a sleeveless dress at my brother's wedding next month.
Boot camp has made me a believer that we all need to find the strength training option that works for us in terms of enjoyment, time commitment, finances, and knowledge. For many moms, the best option is something that can be done at home. In case your creative juices regarding strength moves are as stagnant as mine, here are a bunch of use-at-home options to make you stronger and fitter. (And just in time to add to your holiday wish list!)
Dumbbells: Nothing says "versatile" like a range of dumbbells. Different muscles are capable of foisting different weights, e.g. you can heft more doing bicep curls than you can punch out with tricep extensions or overhead raises. But unless you want to be continually stubbing your toes, who wants to have a bevy of weights lying around? Instead opt for a pair of dumbbells like these that equal 25 pounds, adjustable in 2.5-pound increments, in a single, compact tray.
Kettlebells: Swinging these contraptions--like a cannonball with a handle--makes me feel badass. Holding them while doing squats or lunges increases the intensity of those exercises, and there are a host of kettlebell moves you can do to pump you up. (YouTube has loads of instructional videos, like this short one. Bonus: Instructor has Aussie accent!) Ones to consider: This rack of three kettlebells or this adjustable one.
Weighted Vest: While we can't condone running wearing a weighted vest, it can be a versatile addition to lower-leg exercises, like calf raises, squats, and lunges, as well as wearing while walking on a treadmill or using an elliptical. This NordicTrack one comes with adjustable weights, up to 20 pounds total, that slide in and out of pouches.
Suspension Training: If you're got slightly more workout space and a desire for something a bit different, consider suspension training, either with Rip60 or TRX. For full-body moves, you attach this strap-and-handle system over the top of a door and close it, or for a dedicated workout, suspend from ceiling mount. In warmer climates or come spring, this is can be looped around a swing set, tree branch, or deck post. When not in use, these products can be stuffed into a sack and even taken on the road when you visit in-laws.
Workout DVDs: In the early morning hours, sometimes my brain isn't firing on all cylinders, so I love the simplicity of following a workout DVD. Sure, my body--and moves--look nothing like the chica on the screen, but I do my best to follow along. A few to consider: 10 Minute Solution Ultimate Boot Camp, Personal Training with Jackie: 30 Day Fast Start, and Jari Love's Revved to the Max.
Tell us: What gets you--and your muscles--revved up?