Attention ladies! It's time to fill you gym-going gals in on a few things. I have been a regular in gyms around the country for well over four years now, and I've seen so many errors made over and over again, and bit my tongue until it was practically bleeding.
Well, it's time to get a few things off my chest and hopefully help some of you out in the process. I'm about to reveal the most common mistakes I see women make time and time again in the gym. Take a look and see if any of these blunders look familiar.
10. Doing The Same Workout Every Single Day
If you haven't been working out for very long, or you've never had the good fortune of speaking with a knowledgeable trainer, you might not realize that when you break down a muscle it needs time to rest and repair itself.
If you work it every day it will never have the chance to recover, and therefore it will never get any stronger or any more "toned." It's important to give each muscle group a rest of at least 48 hours between workouts. I would go even further and recommend not training each muscle group more than once per week.
You may think this sounds crazy, I once did, but if you work a muscle group intensely and thoroughly, you'll see wonderful results giving it a full week of recovery time. Trust me. It works.
Don't be afraid to let those muscles chill out. Rest is just as important as the work. An example of a good 4-day split would look something like this:
- Monday: Chest/Biceps
- Tuesday: Legs
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Shoulders/Triceps
- Friday: Back
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest
9. Fear Of The Dumbbell
Being a competitive bodybuilder, this one really irks me. It seems so many women still hold the old common misconception that they will get too big if they lift weights. Ladies, trust me, you will never turn into the Incredible Hulk simply by picking up a dumbbell. Nor will you be able to make any significant changes in your body by merely doing hours of cardio.
Sure, you can burn some body fat, but what's left under the fat layer once it's burned off? You'll discover, not much. You'll still feel too fat and flabby.
It's weight training that gives a woman sexy arms, tight glutes, shapely calves, a flat stomach and an overall appealing shape. Not to mention, the more muscle mass you carry, the more calories you burn even when you're at rest. Muscle tissue is ravenous! You'll be able to get away with consuming quite a few more calories if you get diligent with the weights.
You'll even improve your bone density and help to fight off osteoporosis! Go for it, ladies. You'll be delighted with the results.
8. Not Drinking
Okay, this one doesn't just apply to the ladies. As a matter of fact, I rarely see anyone in the gym consuming as much water as they should. If you watch a competitive bodybuilder in the gym, you'll probably notice they'll often be carrying a gallon jug along with them. You will certainly see that if you happen to see me working out.
Time after time people have come up to me, amazed at the amount of water I'm consuming. They find it thoroughly amusing, actually. Why's water consumption so important? It flushes toxins. It helps to keep joints healthy. It prevents dizziness and fainting. It keeps metabolism higher. It reduces fatigue. Need I go on?
7. Cardio, Cardio, Cardio
It was once said to me by a trainer who shall go nameless that you cannot do too much cardio. This must've been one of the dumbest things ever uttered in a gym. Of course you can do too much cardio! I've done too much cardio.
I once spent three hours in a row doing cardio because I was under the impression that I couldn't do too much cardio. Did I have an amazing body? Not even close. Not only was I out of shape, I also managed to make myself quite ill.
Still think you need to do excessive cardio to stay fit? Think about this: too much cardio increases cortisol in the body. This results in the tearing down of muscle tissue. The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolic rate. Keep it sane, ladies. I personally like to keep my cardio to 3-to-4 days a week, 30-to-40 minutes at a time. Everyone's body is different, of course, so you'll need to do a little investigating to find out how much cardio is right for you.
6. Bad Form On Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Downs
There are many errors in form I see made by both men and women in the gym, but I've seen numerous women making the same mistake on one particular exercise: the wide-grip lat pull-down. They key word in this exercise is "lat," as in latissimus dorsi. This is one of the large muscle groups of the back.
A lat pull-down is meant to work the back. However, I will often times see women pulling the bar down using only their arms and pulling it down way too low, to about stomach level.
The correct form on this exercise is to grasp the bar with the hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and pull the bar just above the chest, letting the body lean back slightly as you pull down.
As you do the exercise, try not to grab the bar too tightly. Imagine the exertion is only coming from the back rather than the hands. This will help keep the work out of the biceps. If you plan on bumping the weight up quite a bit, I'd suggest investing in a good pair of lifting straps.
5. Trying To Shrink The Waist With Abdominal Abuse
How many times have you walked into your gym and seen a woman, who you've seen most every day you're there, diligently doing crunches, hanging leg lifts, side bends (ugh, I'll get to that one later), ball crunches, oblique twists and any other abdominal exercise known to man? Yes, you'll even see a few guys doing this too.
So many people still believe they can shrink their waists by excessively training their abs. For those of you who haven't heard, it's not possible to reduce the fat layer on top of the abdominals by working the abs. You may create the illusion of a tighter stomach because the underlying muscle will give shape to the fat layer on top, but you can't reduce the fat itself by crunching.
In order to reduce the fat layer on top of the abdominals you must follow a healthy diet and do your cardio. Training your abs 2-to-3 times per week maximum will ensure you'll have something sexy to look at once the fat has been reduced.
4. Trying Not To Sweat
This one doesn't need much commentary from me. To all you glamour gals, it's a gym. Sweating is healthy. Don't worry about your eye make-up. Why are you even wearing any? You're there to workout, not to find a date, right? Oh, I'm wrong? My mistake.
3. Wearing Too Much Perfume!
The same woman who didn't want to sweat might be the same woman here. I tell you, there's nothing quite like being on a treadmill, huffing and puffing, and getting a waft of highly potent chemical roses in your face when that certain lady walks by.
It's just plain rude to drown yourself in scent and go anywhere in public, but especially to go to the gym where people are breathing heavily. Some people are even sensitive to perfumes and other chemicals. They can have adverse reactions to the scent and become quite ill. Be considerate. Leave the roses at home.
2. Not Consuming Post-Workout Protein
Again, this is a mistake made by men and women alike. If you've just had a good workout and broken down your muscle tissue, how do you expect the muscle to begin the repair process? Most gyms even offer protein shakes, but it's easy enough to make your own.
I suggest using whey protein isolate and adding L-glutamine. Personally, I take in 40 grams of whey protein isolate, 50 grams of carbs and 5 grams of L-glutamine. I also take 3 essential fatty acid capsules for healthy fats. Again, everyone is different, so you'll need to do a little investigating to figure out the right amount of protein, carbs, fats and glutamine you should be taking in post-workout.
And now the moment you've all been waiting for. Drum roll please ...
1. Doing Side Bends!
Yes, that's right, ladies. I see you gals doing side bends to the left and to the right of me, over and over again. All I can say is STOP IT! By performing this stupid exercise you're doing exactly the opposite of what you're hoping to achieve. You're thickening your waist. I'll repeat that. You're THICKENING your waist.
If you'd like to refer to number five on this list, you will see that you cannot remove fat by working the muscle under the fat. But I find side bends to be even more evil than excessive crunches because it makes you appear wider from the front. As a bodybuilder I have been instructed to never do this exercise, ever! It would diminish any hope of creating a nice V-taper.
Even if you're not a bodybuilder, why would you want to thicken your waist? I don't think that's the look you're all trying for. Throw the side bends out the window. Never do this exercise again as long as you live!
OK, if for some reason a physical therapist instructs you to do it because you're coming back from some bizarre injury, go ahead. Otherwise, forget it. Side bends are evil. Remember that!
Now go forth and train with variety, confidence, drink your water, be sane, practice good form, sweat like crazy, throw away that cheap perfume, get your protein in and use good common sense! You'll enjoy your workouts more and see some positive results!