7 Common Mistakes Women Make While Working Out
Consistency is a bad thing
Walking into a gym is a pretty intimidating experience. Everywhere you look, there are hot and sweaty people who appear to be totally enthralled in their workout.
There are the super-buff people over at the free weights, grunting and groaning. There are perfectly petite women who have contorted their bodies into various pretzel shapes in the yoga class. And the constant barking of the fitness class instructor is barely audible over the steady beat of the super-charged music. Finally! There, on the treadmill! That is where you belong! You can walk briskly (and maybe some day, advance to a slow jog) beside those other slightly overweight gym patrons who appear to have the same abilities you do. Forget all that other nonsense, you have found your calling.
Sadly, you and those other overweight patrons will probably be occupying those same treadmills indefinitely if you don’t know the proper way to get a good cardio workout. Yes, you do deserve a pat on the back for increasing your pace and distance every day. However, even if you do progress to a pretty good clip, you aren’t doing your body much good. The key to a successful weight-loss-inducing cardio workout is bursts of high-intensity activity which burn more calories (and up to 36% more fat).
So here is what you do: go all out for a minute or two. Then, slow down for the same amount of time (this is called your recovery). Repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Gradually shorten your recovery time and taadaa…weight loss!
The free weights aren’t that scary
Many women avoid strength training. There are probably two reasons for this. One, those weights are scary looking. Two, turning into some super-buff bodybuilder just isn’t pretty. Or feminine. But have no fear! Women don’t bulk up as easily as men. And bonus…adding just a bit of lean muscle will help you burn more calories all the time (not just when you are working out).
They really might be pointing and laughing at you
The great majority of women at the gym probably fall into two categories. The first group avoids the unknown like the plague. They walk right past all those things with the intimidating pulleys and levers and things to push and pull. If they use the machine/free weight/balance ball wrong, everyone in the gym will know. And they will point and laugh. The second group of women has no fear at all. They walk right up to that intimidating thing and try to teach it a lesson. However, since they have no idea what they are doing, everyone does point and laugh because they are doing it wrong.
The third group of women is the minority. Those are the women who have taken advantage of the gym’s offer of a free session with a personal training to learn how to exercise safely and effectively. These are probably the only women in the gym who are seeing results and avoiding injuries because they aren’t making potentially dangerous mistakes or avoiding the exercise process entirely. Which group will you be in?
Yeah, it hurts. But do it anyways.
For those of us who are as flexible as a 2×4, stretching before and after a workout is painful. And for those of us who are always in a hurry, we don’t want to spend any more time in the gym than we absolutely have to. Therefore, stretching is an easy task to just skip over. But the warm-up before and stretching after are necessary to prevent injuries and help us get more out of our workout.
Add a little variety to life
Do you find yourself on the same elliptical machine for the same amount of time on the same day every week? If so, you body has likely started to anticipate what you have in store for it. As a result, your weight loss has come to grinding halt. To counter this weight loss plateau, modify your workout every few weeks. Change the type of exercise you do and/or the length of time you do it. Also, modify the amount of weight lifted or the number of reps.
You may think you are failing when actually you are succeeding
If stepping on the scale is the only way you are measuring success, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. When we first start exercising, we lose fat but build muscle…which weighs more than fat. Numbers on a scale don’t take body composition into consideration. And there is so much more to a healthy lifestyle than seeing pounds fall. Lower cholesterol level, lower blood pressure, more energy, less stress, better sleep and reduced risk of disease are all benefits of exercise and healthy living. Your scale also fails to report heart rate, measure the distance you can cover in a certain amount of time, record the amount of weight you can lift, or interpret how you feel about yourself.
Don’t going it alone
So many women feel like they are failing in their weight loss efforts and it seems they give up before they really even get started. Fear, lack of accountability, ignorance, and dissatisfaction with the process leaves them disappointed and discouraged.
So what is the one thing that can reverse all of the above mistakes and keep us from giving up? Having a knowledgeable, helpful support system. Consider hiring a personal trainer. Even if you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) rely on a personal trainer for the rest of your life, utilize a professional for a few months. Learn about effective weight loss exercises, how to use the equipment properly, and how to incorporate a healthy diet into your weight loss strategy.
Chelsea Hubred is a longtime health blogger with a robust portfolio of content online. She uses this site to purchase hCG injections and gather other weight loss tips.