For years, people mistakenly believed that weights were for men and cardio machines were for women. When I started lifting weights about eight years ago, female representation in iron sports and the weight room was rare. Recently, however, the presence of women in the iron game can hardly be overlooked.
One reason women historically stayed away from weights is because they were taught from a young age that the number on the scale should always go down. In addition, the standard of beauty in society just did not match the muscles.
This brings us to the common mistakes women make in the gym. Most of these have to do with misunderstandings and an underestimation of the effects strength training has on the human body.
: Avoiding Weight Training
The first thing most of the new customers tell me is that they don’t want to get too bulky, like it’s easy to get bulky! There are people who spend their entire lives chasing after the profits and the elusive pump only to live small forever. Lifting small pink dumbbells to gain strength is the same as jumping to improve your mile time. Will not work.
Let’s get this straight once and for all. The only way you’ll end up looking bulky is by constantly increasing your caloric intake and starting with a calorie surplus, or if you are on testosterone, the male muscle building hormone.
Strength training will:
- Improve your bone density
- Feel strong and confident
- Increase muscle density
- Allow people to move random heavy objects
Weight training won’t:
- Increase your risk of injury
- Feel bad about yourself
- Make you “look like a man”
- Transform into the Hulk
Mistake 2: doing too much cardio for the wrong reasons
The hope in doing a lot of cardio is that the cardio gods will magically help you strengthen yourself. Why do I put this in quotes? Because I am quoting millions of women who use this term without really understanding what it means. What you actually mean when you say “I want to work out” is that you want to add lean muscle and reduce body fat. Don’t be afraid to admit it! The elliptical stationary bike and StairMaster are great pieces of equipment that can burn off a ton of calories, but they don’t shape your body the way you imagine it would. Not only that, they also make it difficult for you to build muscles that keep your arms and buttocks looking shaped and firm.
Mistake 3: intensity of fear
Most women make the mistake of lifting too lightly for too many reps. This is better than watching cartoons and eating ice cream, but it isn’t the most productive use of your time.
Lifting moderate to heavy weights should be part of everyone’s exercise regimen for many reasons. Getting stronger and building bigger muscles is a necessary part of the process. It’s okay to grunt, scream, sweat, and have a messy bun when you’re at the gym. There is nothing stronger than having a heavy barbell.
Again, lifting heavy weights won’t make you look bulky. an excess of calories becomes.
Mistake 4: stopping too early
Women are bombarded with before and after pictures on the internet and in women’s magazines. These images can act as motivation – “Hey, if you can, I can” – but it can also lead to frustration. Comparison is the thief of joy. Live your own journey and accept the time frame of your own body. Not everyone makes progress at the same pace. Many of us are impatient and lose motivation when we don’t see quick, noticeable results and make the mistake of giving up or returning to our old habits. Building your ideal body takes time.
My mantra throughout my athletic career has always been: “Keep coming up.” Regardless of the outcome of a session or training block, no matter how you feel, you’ll be ready to get the job done. Consistency delivers results. This doesn’t mean you can never miss out on workouts or make mistakes in your diet. You just have to stick with it for the long term. Make the conscious choice to get better more often than by taking the path of least resistance. Don’t succumb to the lies your brain is telling you about what you can or can’t do.
Mistake 5: I think you have to exercise every day
The idea that you need to exercise seven times a week for the exercise to be effective is obviously flawed. Many are deterred from entering the gym because it feels like the results they are striving for require superhuman exertion. In scientific terms, this is called “paralysis by analysis” and refers to a situation where people are unable to make a decision due to over-analyzing data or over-thinking a problem. While some of us choose to make this a career and others choose to sacrifice other aspects of our lives in pursuit of our athletic goals, not all of us are wired the same.
The truth is, 2-3 strength training sessions a week will dramatically improve the way you look and feel over time. Focus on progress, not perfection. Break your decisions down into small steps. Prioritize your decision to hit the gym and put pressure on yourself to persevere. It is not easy to start new routines and develop new habits. The key is to make these habits impossible to ignore. For example, leave your sneakers by the door and your sportswear in the trunk of your car.