I am obsessed with women. Let me rephrase that. As a trainer to mostly women I concern myself with women's health and physiques. Is that better? And all too often I encounter women committing the same fitness mistakes over and over. Then they wonder why they aren't getting results. A lot of the information they receive is outdated and generally accepted to still be the reigning truth. These are the top five fitness mistakes I believe women, in general, make.
Doing too much cardio.
A girlfriend (Lisa-Marie of BodyRock) and I were recently at a gym and were shocked to be the only females in there. We went downstairs to the cardio room and it was filled with all the missing females taking up every last treadmill. Now, cardio has it's place but I think most women are doing it wrong by overestimating it's beneficial effects, over-relying on machines and not changing it up enough.
Firstly, if you are only
doing cardio for your fitness regime, you're doing it wrong. You NEED strength training. The benefits of strength training are immense and I could list all of them here, but instead I'll just say lifting heavy weights will better shape your body and help you lose weight. If you have more concerns than just appearance (I hope you do!) I personally think the feeling of empowerment from being strong is the number one reason women should lift. But even amongst women who are already addicted to lifting, I find they, too, are doing too much cardio. If you are trying to build some muscle, or even "tone" (I hate using that word), doing too much cardio will burn off your muscles.
Secondly, if you must do cardio, step away from the machines. Skip rope, do burpees, run in "real life", just move as your body intended. The spin bike and the rower are great, but the elliptical is the worst. The treadmill is pretty crappy, too.
Lastly, mix up your cardio. Don't always do long, steady pace cardio however, don't always just do HIIT training. Mix it up. And don't always do the same type of cardio, say running. Run one day, bike another and skip rope the next time. For workouts that incorporate weight training AND cardio and offer enough variety that your body will always be guessing, check out Sweatflix℠
-- over 80 hours of BodyRock workouts, when and where you want them!
Not lifting heavy enough.
Step away from the 5 pounders. There's few "serious" exercises you can do with 5 pounds (most of them are postural or corrective exercises). Whichever exercise you are doing and whichever rep range you are following, you want to be maxing out on the last few reps, maybe not even making it. At the very least, I hope you are making an ugly face on those last few. If you're smiling, or talking, you're doing it wrong.
Lift heavy, and aim to lift even heavier.
All girls talk about is getting "too bulky". I'm sick to death about talking about this but I know I must. For most women, it's very hard to build muscle and it certainly doesn't happen by accident or overnight. Also, you could be training like a bodybuilder but if you ain't eating like one, you won't build muscle. So keep that in mind.
It's important to cycle and periodise your training and diet. Typically, women have one eternal training goal -- burning fat and losing weight. Hence the hours of cardio and endless dieting. Not only is that hell on Earth, it's also counter-productive. Don't approach fat loss for more than, say, three or four months. If you haven't reached your goal in that time, back off for a bit (I'm not saying give up and eat cheetos) and focus on something else, like getting stronger. Give your body a break and it will love you for it.
Unhealthy "healthy" eating.
Whenever I get a new client, I have them write down everything they would typically eat in a day. All too often, it goes something like this:
a granola bar
a yogurt and an apple
humus and crackers
Now, all these things are generally considered to be healthy (though I have my issues with a couple of things), but this is not a healthy day of eating by anyone's standards. First of all, it's far too little food for anyone other than a mouse. Undereating, and malnutrition, is just as bad for body composition and health as overeating. It slows your metabolism down. And where is the protein? Show me the protein?!?! Which brings me to my next point.
Not getting enough protein.
It's not too hard to get men to eat more protein, but it's a hell of an effort to convince most women. Why, I'm not too sure. There's a lot of differing options out there when it comes to how much protein we should get, but most serious fitness people seem to agree on the benefits of a high protein diet. If you're an active woman the general consensus is to get at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (or ideal bodyweight if you've got a few to lose). I personally am trying to get about 1.5. It's not easy to do, but it can be done with wise choices.
Any questions? Ask.