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Top 3 Mistakes We Make in the Gym & How to Avoid Them

Top 3 Mistakes We Make in the Gym & How to Avoid Them

Mistake #1: Believing Cardio Will Solve All Your Problems

Cardio means heart, and I love hearts.

I have one.

Everyone I like has one.

They’re pretty cool.

So I’m all for doing cardio. Healthy hearts get two thumbs up from me.

But I also recognize that 99% of the time cardio is NOT the bridge between you and the body or fitness level you dream about.

Let’s be clear: cardio is not required to lose weight.

That bears being repeated: you do not have to do cardio in order to lose weight.

Weight loss is solely dictated by how many calories you eat vs. how many you burn.

Cardio, like using the treadmill, elliptical, bike, or stair stepper, definitely burns calories and can aid weight loss. But it isn’t a weight loss requirement.

Tens of thousands of women have lost plenty of weight without doing any cardio — all by maintaining a caloric deficit.  

Cardio is great for a lot of things, like building endurance, protecting your heart and blood vessels, and letting stress out.

But it’s in your best interest to recognize that it isn’t any better than any other exercise at weight loss.

In fact, strength training is a much better option, because it burns just as many calories and protects your metabolism. Because muscle drives metabolism, the more muscle ya got, the higher your metabolism is, making it easier to lose the weight, and, most importantly, keep it off.

Mistake #2: Not Believing in Your Own Strength

Nine times out of ten the women I work with have no clue how much their body is capable of. My favorite part of training them is showing them just how strong they are.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a woman say “there’s no way I can do that!” and then with a little encouragement walk up and crush it 10 times without so much as breaking a sweat.

Often times with clients — male and female — half my job is simply having confidence for them so they feel comfortable exploring their limits. I can easily spot when someone has much more strength than they think they do, and when that happens, giving them a little courage and belief is all they need to go conquer that weight.

Imagine a woman who thinks a 55 pound deadlift is out of the question, but in reality is strong enough to deadlift 95, 105, or even 115 pounds. Because she doesn’t know how strong she is, she hovers between 35-45 pounds for her workouts. That’s barely enough to warm her up, so her muscles aren’t getting any stronger, she’s not toning, and she’s not getting in better shape, but she thinks she is.

Instead, she’s largely wasting a lot of time.

All because she doesn’t know how strong she is!

Women: believe in yourself! You are stronger than you think, and you’re under-shooting yourself and sabotaging your results if you don’t tap into your full potential.

Mistake #3: Inappropriately Combining Exercises

Combining exercises can seem like a good idea, but most of the time it isn’t.

In order for your fitness to progress, your muscles have to be challenged. Combining exercises might jack your heart rate up a little more or feel harder, but it’s probably making the exercise less challenging for your muscles.

Take the bent over row to triceps kickback, for example.

Your back muscles (the ones that do the row) are much stronger than your arm muscles (the ones that do the triceps kickback). If you combine those two moves, you’ll have to use a weight that’s way too light to challenge your back muscles, otherwise you won’t be able to do the triceps kickback.

You might as well just do the triceps kickback and ditch the row altogether.

But because you are doing the row as well, you will fatigue faster and have less gas in the tank to give a great effort on the triceps kickback.

In short: you’re wasting your time with the row and making yourself too tired to get the best result from the triceps part.

Another example is a squat to an overhead press.

The same thing happens here: you can squat way more weight than you can press overhead, so you use weights that are so light your legs aren’t challenged, but the move tires you out too quickly to really challenge your shoulder muscles either.

The end result is you don’t really challenge any muscles sufficiently to progress your fitness.

And the worst part? You sure feel like you’re working out hard — because you are — but your body isn’t going to get in its best shape.

If you’re going to work hard, you may as well benefit from it!

To get the most bang for your buck, don’t combine exercises. Instead, do them individually so you can focus your efforts and get the best result.

Bonus tip: Full Body Strength for Weight Loss

I mentioned earlier that muscle drives metabolism, which is why strength training is such an important part of successfully losing weight and keeping it off long-term.

That’s why we’ve made squad training — our flagship training program — is all about building total body strength.

You don’t want to do the yo-yo thing where you lose 10, gain 15, lose 15, gain 20, and so on.

That’s lame.

Strength training can play an important role in not letting that happen. Building strength in your whole body is a great approach.

Here’s a sample workout template you can use to build a full-body strength workout:

Circuit 1: 3 Sets of 10 reps (30-60s for the plank)

  • Quad exercise (like squats)

  • Chest exercise (like DB bench press)

  • Core exercise (like plank)

Circuit 2: 3 sets of 10 reps

  • Hamstring exercise (like deadlifts)

  • Back exercises (like cable rows)

  • Shoulder exercise (like lateral raises)

When should I workout? Morning or Night?

When should I workout? Morning or Night?

Lift Like a Girl: Q & A with Melissa Malone

Lift Like a Girl: Q & A with Melissa Malone