1. Being trained by, or training with, your boyfriend
Often times when at the gym, I see couples coming in to train together. The usual scenario that plays out involves the guy showing his girl the various exercises he does, which she is just meant to work into her own routine. The problem with this is that girls walking into the gym for the first time simply don’t need to spend 60 to 90 minutes blasting away on [insert body part] day. Due to the sheer boredom of the workout the girl either sits and watches or goes to spend some time on the elliptical. Women’s bodies are no different from men’s in many aspects of fitness, but if she new to the gym, her time could be better much spent working on training splits and multi joint exercises. Granted, this does not apply to every couple coming to the gym; there are equally many successful couples that train together.
2. Not being followed by a trainer
A qualified trainer will be able to create a program tailored to a girl’s needs (and this is much better than following a boyfriend’s workout). By that, I don’t mean doing what the media shows as “toning” exercises. You know what I’m talking about— the 20 different ways to work your abductors, triceps, glutes and abs, all the while using pink dumbbells that range from 12.5lbs to a measly 5lbs. There is nothing wrong with training said body parts, but a more structured program incorporating the whole body with sufficient resistance will do a better job. Having a trainer develop a program for you will save you time and energy, in addition to improving your confidence. Hopefully your trainer will have you using heavy enough weights that the dumbbell color is no longer pink. Read more on what heavy resistance training can do for you. View my past article I wrote Bulky Women & Heavy Weights.
3. Doing 90 minutes of cardio every day
I am convinced that this dogma of steady state cardio in your fat burning zone will never die out. Of course, steady state cardio works for some people depending where they are at in their training life (usually pre contest prep). For the moment, I am talking to the moms who just want to look and feel better, the young teen looking to build confidence, and to all the girl out theres that just want to be sexy and fit. From what I’ve read (I’m an 80′s baby), there was a time when gyms were filled with rows and rows of cardio machines, with people spending anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes moving at a pace slower than the Pope mobile. Yes, doing cardio on the elliptical or treadmill will burn calories (energy). However, doing the same thing every day for weeks will force your body to learn to do it using less energy. The human body is built for adaptation, after all. Do we put as much effort and concentration on walking as a toddler does? No, we get good at it and use less energy to complete the task. What was once a challenge becomes trivial.
4. Not doing upper body work
The most common thing I hear when I mention upper body work is one of two things: “I don’t want to get big, manly shoulders” or “I don’t want to have huge arms.” I get it— a woman with broad shoulders and more definition than the average Joe is not always flattering, to some people. Nevertheless, to have that well-balanced hourglass figure, a girl must incorporate upper body training days. The hourglass shape is all about the illusion coming from the shoulders, waist, and hips. Plus what could possibly be sexier and more empowering than a girl performing more full range push-ups and pull ups than most guys in the gym? Think of your high school/CEGEP physical exam, with most girls doing push-ups on their knees while you’re on your toes. Of course, upper body training has more importance in everyday life than aesthetics and passing a physical exam; It helps you lift objects up to the top shelf, carry heavy boxes, move furniture, etc. Upper body strength is a good thing.
5. Focusing everyday on abs and glutes
Going back to what I said about cardio, doing the same thing day in and day out is not the preferred route to take. Yes, at first you may see change and progress, but things will eventually go downhill. I already know what you are going to say— “But Chris, if I come in everyday and work on it, it has to get better!” Though that reasoning applies in other parts of life (the more you work, the more you get paid), the human body is smarter than we think it is. We are designed to adapt and become more efficient at doing repetitive tasks while using less energy. Here is a quote from Mel Siff (2003) talking about ab exercise and losing belly fat:
“We have learned that it is highly unlikely that any amount of ab exercise with or without machines will trim you down and take off the fat (unless, of course, you believe so strongly in the exercise that the placebo effect helps you along!). On the contrary, ab exercise will probably increase the muscle bulk around your waist and increase girth (at least among the general public, rather than among advanced trainees who need much greater resistance to produce hypertrophy – noting that our ‘training threshold’ changes as we progress).”
Further examples and explanations are available on p. 189 of Facts and Fallacies of Fitness.
For those seeking more information on what heavy lifting can do for you, be sure to check out the ladies over at Girls Gone Strong and see how they too are helping change the face of women’s training.
1. Being trained by, or training with, your boyfriend Often times when at the gym, I see couples coming in to train together. The usual scenario that plays out involves the guy showing his girl the various exercises he does, which she is just meant to work into her own routine. The problem with this…