In a world where everyone seems to be doing yoga or running a marathon, fitness has become the center of many peoples’ lives, the majority of which happen to be women. Regardless of their age, goals or socioeconomic status, every day women of all walks of life take matters in their own hands and decide it’s time to remodel their bodies and strengthen their health.
Unlike the gyms of yesterday that were dominated by sweaty, manly men with vein-popping biceps who looked like someone slapped them in the face every time a girl walked into their muscle building shrine, in the gyms of today we get to see plenty of women sporting extraordinary bodies with powerful, lean muscles. And we’re not talking about female competitive bodybuilders – we’re talking about regular, ordinary women who’ve committed to becoming stronger, healthier and more confident, and they’re doing a great job at it! Unfortunately, these hardcore gals still seem to be the minority within the fitness-oriented population of women, since most women in gyms around the country are still following some old-fashioned, obsolete approaches to fitness and won’t go anywhere near the weight room – and if they do, they will pick nothing heavier than a pair of pink, 5-pound dumbbells. Yes, a lot of women still believe that a few sessions of weight training will magically transform them into some kind of Lazar Angelov’s female clones.
Because of this, these women have a hard time achieving great results from their ultra-boring steady-state cardio routines that last forever but don’t produce any significant gains other than, well, feeling good about yourself because you’ve managed to drag your butt to the gym that day.
Let’s change this. Let’s destroy every last bit of these misconceptions and inspire every woman to walk into the weight room with confidence and an open mind for trying out new things, fail miserably the first few times and then build the strong, attention-grabbing body of her dreams.
These are the top three gym behaviors women should immediately get rid of in the hope of achieving that goal.
#1. Too much cardio
If cardio is the only thing you’re doing to improve your level of fitness, you’re doing it wrong. Cardio, especially its steady-state variant, is not a very efficient way to melt your excess fat and sculpt your body. Even if you’re doing HIIT cardio, it’s hardly enough to get you into top shape. Believe it or not (and you don’t have to take our word for it, plenty of scientific studies have confirmed this), strength training is the best way to lose a significant amount of weight and improve muscle definition at the same time, and don’t even get us started on its health benefits.
In addition, if you’re already lifting, doing too much cardio on the side can only burn off your muscles instead of accelerating your progress. But if you love cardio that much, at least try to mix it up a little. Don’t be fanatic about either steady pace of HIIT cardio – do them both and include different exercises in each session. And forget about the machines. Instead, try some ‘real life’ movements that work your body on the way it was designed to move, like performing burpees, outdoors running, hill climbing, etc. And keep in mind that cardio is great as long as it’s not at the center of your fitness program.
#2. Not lifting heavy enough
Now, put down those 5-pound dumbbells. We know it might feel like you’re getting a decent workout with them, but this is hardly the truth. In fact, most of the respect-deserving exercises you can do with such a light weight are postural or corrective exercises, which makes their usefulness a very limited one.
Let’s just say that if you’re able to chat with your friend during those last few reps, you’re wasting your time. A good rule of thumb is to choose a weight that will make you want to die on those last few. Then you can rest for a few moments before going for another brutal round. The reality is that since their bodies naturally produce lower amounts of testosterone and growth hormone, women find it very hard to build huge muscles even when they desperately want to, so please, let’s immediately bury that load of crap about girl getting bulky and masculine overnight by lifting weights alone. Break the mold and start lifting heavy and trust us, you’ll witness wonders in terms of both your health and appearance. It might be very hard and confusing at the beginning, but don’t let that scare you away. Ask for advice whenever you’re not sure how to execute a certain lift and give it your best shot – we promise that there’s nothing a little bit of practice can’t fix.
#3. Starving your body
We get it that you want to lose a ton of weight in the shortest time possible and your calorie-restricted diet has already grown on you. But you should know that extreme dieting doesn’t work very well with regular physical exercise, especially in the long run – in fact, it can be very counter-productive. Instead of feeding your body with nothing else but apples and grapefruit juice while continuously beating it up with lengthy sessions of cardio, construct a healthy diet plan that will provide you with all the energy and nutrition your body needs in order to function properly and your muscles need in order to grow. Health issues aside, if you want to lose excess fat, you need a great metabolic rate and malnutrition will only slow your metabolism down and prevent you from getting the most of your workouts. And by the way, what about your protein intake? It doesn’t matter if you choose eggs, seafood or soy beans as your main source of this vital macronutrient – just make sure you’re getting plenty of it.
A diet rich in protein is an absolute must for anyone who’s serious about his or her gym efforts for an almost endless list of reasons. Most notably, without increasing your protein intake you can’t expect to stimulate any significant muscle growth nor lose the desired amount of weight. When it comes to fitness and nutrition, protein is the king of the gym and that’s the end of it. If you’re not sure how much protein you need in your diet, a good rule of thumb is to opt for one gram of protein per one pound of bodyweight. Now eat your post-workout serving of chicken and feel free to visualize the precious amino acids entering your exhausted muscles to work their magic.
Undoubtedly, there are a lot of other places where most women go wrong in terms of their fitness training, but we believe these three are the most important ones when it comes to achieving optimal results. And if you’re a woman who’s guilty of one or more of them and whose gains have pretty much sucked so far, why not give these advices a try? All you need to do is to go easy on the cardio, pick up some heavy weights and make room for a bunch of protein-rich foods in your diet.
What have you got to lose?