I’ve made many, many mistakes.
In the twelve years I have been doing this “fitness” thing, trust me, at some point or another I was doing it wrong.
Because I have made just about every mistake in the book, I want to help others avoid them.
I’m hoping to save you precious time and energy and get you started on the right path sooner so you can make more and better progress faster.
Here are five mistakes I see women make in the gym, and how to fix them.
1. Not lifting heavy enough.
This is hands down the number one mistake I see women make. They underestimate their own strength or let heavier weights intimidate them. If you can make it though three sets of 10-12 reps without struggling and almost compromising form or getting out of breath, your weights are too light. Think about it, you’re picking up kids, baby carriers, diaper bags, etc. Hell, I know women who carry purses heavier than eight pounds. Stop selling yourself short or worrying about getting “bulky” (not unless you inject testosterone!) and pick up some challenging weights.
2. Over doing cardio.
I myself was once a “cardio bunny.” I felt like if I wasn’t dripping sweat after a workout, it wasn’t doing anything. Now of course I know better. Cardio has its place in any weight loss or endurance training program but it should not be your entire program. Cardio only makes you better at cardio. It doesn’t make your muscles grow (ever wonder why you don’t look any more toned from running?) and doesn’t make you stronger or more flexible. Keep cardio to 1-2 days a week for maintenance, and 3-4 for weight loss. Do only as much as you need to (or want to) and don’t feel like it has to be done every day.
3. Worrying about who is looking.
Ladies, stop being so self-conscious. I can’t tell you how many women have told me they don’t want to go near the weights because there are a bunch of guys or they are worried people will think they look silly or don’t belong there. Number one, no one is probably even paying attention to what you’re doing and number two if they are, to hell with them. Other people’s judgments are about them and have nothing to do with you. I wish women would stop letting their fears about how other people will react or perceive them keep them from doing what they want. Ignore everyone else and just do what makes you feel good and is good for you. Let. That. Shit. Go.
4. Too much socializing.
Let me preface this by saying I think having friends to work out with or training with a group has huge benefits and I am a big fan of it. However, if there is more talking than moving that’s a problem. My group training clients talk and laugh while they get shit done. And when it is time to perform a heavy lift or they need to get focused, they shut up. If you can’t talk while you do reps or you’re going super light on intensity so you can keep carrying on a conversation, maybe you should take that friend to the park for a walk and hit the gym to lift on your own time. Friends are great workout buddies but be sure they are not getting in the way of the actual workout.
5. Sticking with the same routine.
The body is amazingly adaptive. After you’ve done a certain routine, exercise or workout so many times, it is no longer challenging. If you’ve been doing the same tired circuit of exercises for months and your body is no longer changing, it is time to switch it up. You don’t even have to get super fancy either; just changing the tempo, intensity, number of sets or reps or amount of weight can make the same exercises challenging in a totally different way. Too often I see women get comfortable with a routine and never change it up then wonder why they don’t make progress. Never be afraid to try something new, it’s how we grow and if you’re not growing, what’s the point?
If you, like me, have fallen victim to some of these common mistakes, there is no sense feeling bad about it. We all start somewhere. As long as you’re learning and applying that knowledge, you’ll improve.