Personal trainers like me spend all day watching people work out, and we see people day in and day out motivated, and ready, some very consistent but not getting any results. The one thing most have in common is there are making some big mistakes…read on and find out if any of these are holding you back from reaching your goals.
MISTAKE 1: Cardio
Spending extended periods of time on cardio machines tops the list because we see it particularly with women. Doing steady state cardio on machines like the elliptical or the bike is just wasting your time, especially if your “cardio session” includes texting, talking on the phone or reading a book. There are times when steady state cardio can be a good part of your training routine, but it will not do much for you unless you incorporate weight training and interval training in your routine.
Increase your workout intensity, but lower your duration. Try something fun and new (kickboxing, bootcamp class, sprints, or play a new sport like soccer) and continue to switch things up to keep your body guessing.
Instead of 45min+ steady state (cardio at a steady pace) elliptical workout try 20mins of interval training such as the following routine:
Pick the one of the following stair master, jump rope or treadmill:
1. 2 min warm up at a light pace
2. 1 min moderate pace
3. 30 secs as hard as you possible can (sprints, high knee skipping or literally running on the steps of the stair master)
4. Repeat #2 and 3 six times
5. Finish with another 2 mins at a light pace for a cool down
You should feel “done”! Do this routine only a few times a week.
MISTAKE #2: Weight Training
a) Not doing any weight training: This is probably the biggest mistake you can make if you want your body composition to change. Weight training, make your body tight and firm, builds lean muscle which makes you appear smaller as muscle takes up less space than fat in your body. And don’t worry ladies you will not “bulk” up and look like Popeye, the only women that do are those that take some growth enhancing supplements. It is very difficult for women to build muscle!
b) High reps light weights: No this does not make up “burn” calories more. You should not strive to create a cardio effect while weight lifting. If your weights are feeling like you're lifting a little can of tomato paste and you could win the Guinness record of the biggest amount of reps or you would be able to throw your weights on the other side of the street, you're doing it wrong! All you are doing with that type of training is training your muscles so perform more and more reps in the future – but you won’t see any results.
MISTAKE #3: Timing – Cardio before weight training
Doing your cardio session before weights will tire you out and you will not have sufficient energy to do an intense weight training workout. Always plan to do your weight training first, or do your cardio sessions on a non weight training day.
MISTAKE #4 Order of your exercises
Always train your biggest muscles first! We see it all the time, people walking into the gym and starting their workout with bicep or triceps. Focus on training your big muscles like back, chest and legs using compound exercises first (lat pulldown, chest press, squats), before smaller muscle groups like biceps, triceps, shoulders, or using isolated exercises like leg extension, bicep curls, tricep press etc)
MISTAKE #5 Not having a plan
So many people do it. They walk into a gym without a clue what they are doing that day or with some clip out from a magazine or a friend’s workout. It doesn’t work like that! You must have a plan, for the week, for the month and how you will change things up going forward. You can pair certain exercises together for example if you are just starting out you can plan to do 3 sessions a week, upper body day, lower body day and a full body day (plus let’s say 2 cardio interval training sessions).
You must keep track of your weights and reps preformed and change them weekly. For example if you did bicep curls with 8lbs dumbbells for 15 reps this week, aim to use 10lbs the following week even if you do only 8reps. The next week use 10lbs again and aim for 9 reps, and every week like that until you get to 15 reps then increase the weight again. Basically increase weight or reps each week.
Stay tuned next week we will send you a great beginner workout program you can use!
MISTAKE #6 - Working the “machine circuit”
A few gyms now have it. It’s a bunch of machines in a row or a circle type set up and we see people going from one machine to another. All the trainers chuckle at this one. Try and get away from the machines, while they come in handy time to time, nothing beats reshaping your body than using free weights. We know it’s intimidating at first, the “boy” section, but go with a friend or ask a trainer to help you. Most trainers will be happy to help you.
MISTAKE #7 Bad form
This one can truly make it or break it for you. Not using the machines or the weight properly can not only result in injury, it can truly be a time waster. With every single rep you should engage the correct muscle and have precise tempo count. This is why you often see trainers touch a client, it helps activate the correct muscle. For example when you are using the lateral pull down machine, you should be pulling with your back (your lats), not feeling like your arms got a workout. You should also not be racing through your reps, there is a specific count on the way up and on the way down for each exercise (and this changes as you progress, and for different goals).
Books, magazines, and video exercise programs are great, but most people have very poor joint awareness, coordination and do not know their own body. Working with a knowledge trainer is one of the best investments you can make. We are adamant about form, both in our group classes and when working with clients one on one. If it’s not feasible for you to hire a personal trainer, try a group class like our Body Beautiful Bootcamps for Women, and make sure you do your research as most fitness classes are taught by “fitness instructors” who are more about the cardio and coordination and do know necessary have the training of a certified personal trainer who must understand who must learn the complete anatomy of the body.
To learn about our personal training programs click here
MISTAKE #8 Doing the same old workout over and over again
When you do the same workout over and over again, the body has no reason to change. To see results you MUST change things up. We see people with a workout they found or someone gave them and they literally do it for not only months but sometimes for years! Just like consistently changing your weights and reps you must change your workouts. Not only the exercises but the structure. This is what personal trainers refer to as periodization. Periodization is basically a systematic planning physical training which involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period. Aim to change your program every 4-6 weeks so, cycling between endurance training, muscle building, strength training and fat burning (again this is planned based on your body and goals and the cycling of the programs must be paired with that – But you can not just stay in one such :cycle” indefinitely).
MISTAKE #9 Working out for more than an hour
More is not better. Hard and intense is important, and this is why if you work at a high intensity there should be no reason or energy for you to be there for more than one hour to one hr 15 mins (this includes warm up and stretching)
If you are overtraining and pushing your body too far, your body WILL fight back. Not only will you likely get injured, your body may actually start storing more body fat! When the body is under too much stress (which is what overtraining essentially does), our cortisol levels increase (basically our body thinks its under some of attack), and as a defense mechanism our body fat increases. Our body uses fat to protect our organs from danger.
Too much training is counter-productive to your results because you will be putting your body in a poor hormonal state and you will be taxing yourself mentally as well. SO again stick to shorter and more intense workouts to burn fat and build lean muscle.
MISTAKE #10 - Bad eating habits
Yes, it had to make the list. Here is a sad fact YOU CAN NOT OUT TRAIN YOUR DIET. No you cant. No no and no. Just because you are working out it does not mean you get to eat more, which is basically what some people start doing “its okay to have this muffin, I worked out today”. To get a lean, fit physique or to lose weight, your diet is essential. The two go hand in hand and no matter what anyone tells you, you will never get a six pack or lose weight from just working out.
We drill this in our client’s heads and all our programs, always include nutrition plans. If you are working out on your own, fix this ASAP. If you are working out with a trainer or any group setting, make sure they provide you the tools you need to keep your diet in check. All training programs, and all trainers must have this covered!
Need help with your diet? Check out our Body Beautiful Diets for women
To get the best results consider working with someone to customize your training regimen. He or she will take the guesswork out of the equation, create a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs, make sure you’re doing your workout correctly and even give you tips on proper diet - an even bigger piece of the weight loss puzzle. If you stick with it, you’ll finally start to see those pounds disappear.