Strength training for women is critical to living a healthier lifestyle, as it helps build muscle, reduces fat and creates a body that looks more trim and fit. However, there are ways that women sabotage their gains during strength training, which can lead to frustration.
Never Changing Your Routine
One way to sabotage your gains is to vary your workout routine. Doing the same routine over and over is not only boring, but your body becomes accustomed to what you are doing and does not respond as well. Some women avoid regular strength training as they are afraid they will “bulk up.” The fact is that muscle burns more calories than fat, which can improve your weight loss results.
Not Eating Enough
Another common way that women sabotage gains is by not eating enough for their body to sustain active workouts. Many women believe that the less they eat, the more they will lose. It is not unusual for trainers to hear a woman say that she eats between 800 and 1200 calories a day, regardless of how strenuous her workout is each day. Experts say that active strength training requires an intake of between 2200 to 2500 calories per day in order to build muscle, and dropping below 1500 calories per day can be counterproductive to losing fat. Fuelling your body is critical to getting the most out of any workout.
While protein is important to building muscle, properly timing when you eat carbohydrates and choosing the right carbs is just as important. Women whose workout includes strength training need between 120 and 200 grams of carbohydrates per day. Instead of providing on big burst of energy, complex carbs give your body a steady flow of energy, according to Jackie Berning, a nutrition professor at the University of Colorado. A whole grain bagel before a workout is an excellent way to give your body the energy it needs throughout your fitness routine. Other complex carbs that provide valuable nutrients and energy that can specifically help during your workout routine are bananas, berries, carrots, whole grain cereal and oranges. After a workout, choose a baked potato with a little bit of salt to replace electrolytes lost during strength training.
Skipping the Warm-Up
That few minutes you take warming up could be the difference between successes from your fitness routine or sabotaging it. Warming up increases the temperature of your muscles, making them stretch easier. This reduces the chance of injury and improves the results of your workout overall. A short walk on a treadmill at a low speed, or regular stretching exercises do not add a significant amount of time to your workout and may help you reach your goals in a shorter time.
Using the Wrong Weight
Often, women choose weights that are either too heavy or too light for what their body needs. Choosing a weight that is too heavy could lead to injury, while too little weight will not provide the results desired. For those just starting out with strength training, start with one to two sets of between 15 and 20 reps using a weight that is approximately half the amount you can comfortably lift at one time. Slowly increase to two or three sets of between 10 and 15 reps with heavier weights until you reach between 60 and 75 per cent of the maximum you can lift.
Slower is better when lifting weights, yet many women tend to lift too quickly, using their body’s momentum rather than actually using muscle to lift. The slower you move, the more force is placed on the muscle, increasing your gains during the workout. In addition, lifting too quickly can put more stress on your joints, which could lead to injury.
Resting Between Sets
Although it is tempting to rest between sets, adding a two to five minute jog on a treadmill, jumping rope or a few jumping jacks adds a cardio boost that helps burn more calories. In addition, adding cardio throughout your strength routine saves time as you can get both portions of your workout routine done in one half-hour to 40 minute workout.
These simple mistakes could be sabotaging your gains during your strength workout. By making a few small adjustments, you will see better results and reach your fitness goals in less time.
Heather writes for Orbit Fitness, a gym equipment retailer based in Perth, Western Australia.