Swapping My Cardio-Heavy Workouts with Strength Training Helped Me Feel More Confident Than Ever Before

·2 min read

I never thought I would be deadlifting 135 pounds. Or going all out on an Assault bike against twenty-somethings. Before I started working out with my trainer two summers ago, I was focused solely on cardio, doing Peloton classes and going for runs. Strength training just wasn't in my wheelhouse. So the first time I used resistance bands in a workout with her, I felt like I was going to die.

Taryn Conway lifting weights
Taryn Conway lifting weights

Courtesy of Taryn Conway

Since then, I've gone from doing a bodyweight plank to doing one with a 25-pound weight plate on my back to 35 pounds, then 45 pounds, and now 75 pounds. The main goal with lifting heavy weights is that it never gets easy — since you raise the challenge as you keep getting stronger — but it sure is empowering.

I'm now at a fitness level where I can do tough exercises without feeling like I need to leave the home gym in my garage and recover in my air-conditioned house. And when I do take a Peloton class, like a 30-minute pop class with Ally Love or Cody Rigsby, it's even easier to get through it — sometimes, I even hit new PRs. (Related: The Best Peloton Instructor to Match Your Workout Style)

Taryn Conway
Taryn Conway

Courtesy of Taryn Conway

Once COVID hit, I continued to train three days a week. I was lucky enough to live right by the beach in California, where I could workout outdoors with a mask and gloves, six feet away from everyone else. While working from home during the pandemic, I told my work team: "Why stare at one another on Zoom? If we're not looking at slides, I'm going to walk during our calls."

My strength isn't the only thing that's changed since I've added weight training and HIIT to my fitness routine, either. I had dealt with acne my entire life. But now that I work out consistently and pay attention to nutrition, my skin is so clear that I stopped wearing foundation and makeup — even as a marketing executive at a luxury aesthetics brand. On top of that, I feel like my lung capacity has improved, and my legs have gotten more muscular. It's not something I ever would have cared about before, but its a visible record of my strength that I've come to appreciate.