My inspiration for writing this blog is that I recently found myself becoming quite frustrated seeing several women in the gym doing weights incorrectly. My frustration is not directed at these women. Not at all. It’s at the woeful lack of correct information provided by, and general apathy of the ‘personal trainers’. In my opinion, it’s just good practice to correct someone’s technique or suggest a different way of training…that’s if these people possess the knowledge to make these recommendations.
Right, here are three common mistakes that are easily corrected. Why correct them? Well you’ll get much more for your money, and I don’t just mean your gym fees! For the same time and effort you’re investing you’ll see far better results.
1. Too many repetitions.
Ever felt bored lifting a particular weight or doing a particular resistance exercise? Forget doing 20 or so repetitions and stopping because you think you should or you just can’t bear to do any more. You’re probably right to stop, these exercises are doing very little for your shape, tone or strength. Work to failure…that means that you stop because you physically cannot lift any more with the correct technique. This leads me on to the second mistake…
2. Weight/resistance is too light.
Select a weight that you find challenging. Do not shy away from heavier weights for fear of getting ‘big’ or becoming ‘masculine’. Believe me, this will not happen! It takes years to craft a large physique of pure muscle. Plus, being a woman I’m afraid to say you’ll have to invest even greater effort than guys if you want to achieve this; we possess much lower levels of the muscle-building hormone testosterone.
If you want to achieve a firmer feel to your body and develop a ‘toned’ appearance (tone here is actually called ‘definition’, another frightening masculine word. But I’ll come on to that in another blog) try selecting a weight that you can lift approximately 8 times but no more. Perform 3 sets of this exercise doing 8 repetitions, with a couple of minutes rest in between each set. You may achieve only 6 or 7 repetitions in the last couple of sets, that’s fine! As you progress and become stronger, you can increase the weight to achieve 6-8 repetitions.
3. Non-specific training goals.
Have you got a goal of what you want to achieve from your exercise programme? If you haven’t I expect going to the gym or finding time to exercise is a chore. Do you know exactly what you’re going to do when you get to the gym? Or do you find yourself picking exercises randomly because the machine is free, or you’re familiar with that one and know how to do it? Decide what you want to achieve by exercising and importantly ensure this is realistic. Have a programme for each session of exercise.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a personal trainer, just that perhaps on Monday and Wednesday you’ll spend half an hour doing cardio on both days, but on Monday’s you’ll do upper body resistance exercise and on Wednesday you’ll do lower body. We can come on to specifics such as getting rid of bingo wings, shaping up your thighs or toning up your stomach later.
Bottom line, don’t shy away from heavier weights. Done correctly, resistance training will greatly help you change you shape, improve joint stability and it’s actually quite a calorie-costly activity. Vigorous resistance training can incur a similar metabolic cost as cardio exercise, and your metabolic rate (calorie burning) will stay elevated for some time after your resistance training session.
Weight training is much more understood and practiced by women in the States, Australia and New Zealand and guess what? They look fantastic! Get on the band-waggon ladies and see the results!