Hey Angels and Alphas,
I think the biggest roadblocks on the road to fitness success are the mistakes we’re making without even knowing that they are mistakes.
If you’re doing something and you *know* it’s not beneficial to your fitness journey (for example, cake), it’s up to you to correct that behavior and move on.
But what happens if you don’t even know you’re doing something wrong? How can we realize the mistakes we’re making on the way to fitness success if we don’t even know they’re mistakes?
That’s exactly what I’m here to talk about today – the 8 biggest mistakes women are making in the gym without realizing it.
If your fitness progress is currently at a halt, most likely, you’re doing one of these things without realizing it, and they are jeopardizing your ability to move forward toward your goal.
After you’re done reading this article, you’ll be able to identify these mistakes you’re making unconsciously, and you’ll have the knowledge you need to deal with them.
Let’s dive right in.
Fitness Mistake #1 – Avoiding Heavy Lifting
We’ve talked about the benefits of heavy lifting over lifting light weights a dozen times. If you haven’t realized it yet, the benefits of living heavy are numerous, and they are all amazing.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose weight or to develop a more athletic figure – heavy lifting is the way to go. Lifting heavy aids in fat loss, although most women generally think the opposite. They believe that they’re going to wake up one day and look like the Incredible Hulk. Far from it, sweethearts!
A big advantage of weight lifting is the ability to burn more calories during and after exercise. When your body is craving oxygen, your caloric expenditure bumps up, therefore causing an increase in metabolic rate. This leads to more fat burning, and coincidentally, fat loss.
Moreover, resistance training will help you develop a better foundation of muscle on your frame, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn just by sitting at home. It sounds like a great deal!
Don’t be afraid to grab the weights and add strength training as a part of your program. You’ll see enormous benefits regardless of your fitness goal. Other benefits include quality of sleep, more energy, a stronger immune system, and more!
Fitness Mistake #2 – Low-intensity Training
Most women in fitness gravitate toward low-intensity workouts, cardio-based workouts, or both. Some girls just focus on the number of sets and reps they do with a complete disregard for actual training intensity.
Doing 30 sets in a workout won’t make much of a difference if you’re too afraid to break a sweat.
Instead, you should focus on making the most out of your time in the gym. Your workouts don’t have to be long, even though you’re naturally more enduring than guys are. When you step out of the gym, you should feel like you’ve pushed yourself to the limit – low-intensity workouts will not do that for you.
Fitness Mistake #3 – Too Much Cardio!
You should keep your cardio to 3-4 days a week, and no more than half an hour every session. Keep in mind, strength training should be a part of your training regimen for you to get the most out of your cardio.
Doing too much cardio has a lot of adverse effects on the body. Burnouts, lack of appetite, plus the added risk of losing muscle. If your goal is to be lean and healthy, doing too much cardio will only set you back.
Research proves that doing too much cardio increases the amount of cortisol in your system. This makes your muscles stiffer and more tense, therefore slowing down your metabolic rate. Ultimately, this jeopardizes weight loss.
Fitness Mistake #4 – Too Much Ab Work
I see this every day. Both boys and girls are racking on crunch after crunch, hoping they’ll get their abs to show.
A lot of women in the gym go as far as putting immense pressure on their abs. This is because having a slim waist and visible abs is a really common goal. However, ab workouts will *not*, I repeat, *not* shred layers of fat laying on top of the abdominal muscles. You can’t reduce fat by banging on crunches for half an hour.
If a toned mid-section is what you’re aiming for, you should be incorporating hypertrophy core work (ab training with weights) along with a balanced diet so you can reduce your fat and actually make the muscles in your abdominals stronger. Eating real food, avoiding processed junk, and incorporating weights into your ab workouts are the only ways you can develop a strong, firm, lean mid-section.
Once you drop the fat down to the point where your abs are visible, you only need to work them out 2-3 times a week.
Fitness Mistake #5 – No warm-up/ No cool-down.
I know. If you’re living a hectic lifestyle, you’re often in a rush – even when you’re at the gym. Sometimes, we all want to get our workout done and head home, but this has adverse effects on our workout performance.
Rushing leads to quick workouts, which often provide inferior results when it comes to building muscle and losing weight. Not only that, but they can a recipe for injury.
Taking the time to implement a warm-up and cool-down routine goes a long way to improve the results you’ll get at the gym, even though it might not always seem like it.
Stretching is usually regarded as one of the most undervalued practices in fitness. Still, its benefits are incredible – improving joint mobility, muscle stability, blood flow, energy levels, and so much more. Perhaps the most significant advantage of stretching is the minimized risk of injury during workouts.
Stretching protocols are numerous, but I usually recommend women do a dynamic stretching routine before they workout and a static stretching routine after they finish.
Fitness Mistake #6 – Really Long Rest Periods
Following your rest periods length is a problem for both men and women. Especially in this world of social media, one quick Instagram cruise between sets can turn into 5 minutes of sitting around near an exercise machine. Same with talking to someone at the gym or just getting lost in a song that’s playing through your headphones.
Athletes beware of this, so they follow their rest periods closely. Every rest period has a specific purpose, especially when we’re talking about strength training and hypertrophy.
Rest times can go anywhere between 15 and 120 seconds. Women who focus on strength training should usually rest up to 3 or 6 minutes between heavy sets. This is a separate topic, and it’s really complicated, but basically, the more you’re emphasizing strength gains, the longer your rest periods should be. Whereas if you’re aiming for hypertrophy and fat loss, you should keep your rest periods low.
Fitness Mistake #7 – Not Hydrating Enough
No matter who you talk to and what your problem is, the solution always seems to be drinking more water.
This is especially true in fitness, but there’s a reason for that.
When you’re training and contracting your muscles, metabolic heat gets released in the body. The body then begins to sweat in order to maintain its average temperature.
Water is an essential part of the process of replenishing the amount of water you lose during training. If you don’t do that, you’re basically asking for trouble. Water is also vital for carrying nutrients around the body, aiding in your post- and pre-workout digestion.
Don’t ignore it and always bring a 1L+ bottle with you when you’re training, especially if you’re planning to break a sweat.
Fitness Mistake #8 – Doing the Same Workout Over and Over
While men typically change up their workouts whenever they please, most women tend to stick with the same training program for long periods of time.
While changing training programs often is definitely not the right way to go, you should give every program at least 3-4 weeks to show its effects on your physical and mental state.
I’m not a big fan of the whole “muscles get used to the workout” idea. To the intensity, sure, but to specific exercises? No way. That being said, repeating the same workout over and over again will actually stump your progress.
Remember, in fitness, rest is just as important as work. If you’re doing the same workout every day, you’re not giving your muscles any time to repair. You’re just continually stressing the same body parts, and you’re actually hindering their development.
While we can talk for days about what the optimum workout split is, just keep in mind that you need to give each body part *at least* 48 hours of rest before you train it again. This is the golden rule of training regime creation.
To wrap up…
You now know pretty much every mistake (that doesn’t look like a mistake) that you might face on your fitness journey.
Most of them are rooted in misconceptions that are always floating around in the fitness world, and understanding them gives you a new and fresh perspective on training as a whole.
Now that these misconceptions have been debunked and removed from your psyche, it’s time we get to work again – and do it the right way!