Common Mistakes Women Make with Exercise


Calling all my ladies. Listen up because this stuff is important. I am trying to do you a solid by letting you know the most common mistakes I see women making when it comes to exercise. I am guessing you make at least one of these…am I right?

Alright, let’s not mess around and just get down to the nitty gritty.

Doing excessive amounts of cardio: I don’t hate cardio. I am not a naysayer because there is just something about getting your heart rate up that makes for a satisfying workout. Plus, it is beneficial for overall functional fitness, and it does have a place in creating better body composition. However, it is not all that a bag of chips (insert favorite kind here).

Many women get stuck in the cardio bunny rut because they see that it burns more calories on their fitness trackers (see point below), and they are so afraid of getting “too bulky”.

Steady state cardio will burn more calories in the actual workout, but it pretty much stops there. HIIT training or strength training are going to have you burning calories not only during the actual exercise, but also long after while you just do your thing the rest of the day. I am down for that. It means more efficiency and efficacy. Boom!

Moreover, cardio is not really going to change the shape or composition of your body. If you want to have more muscle tone or better defined abs or a nice shoulder cap or a round bum and on and on and on, cardio will not make that happen. Plain and simple. You need to be doing some strength training.

So yeah, do some cardio (especially if you LOVE it), but don’t put all your stock in it. As Layne Norton said “Cardio should be like a girl’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep things interesting.”

Living and dying by our fitness trackers: Put the damn device down. Excuse my language, but maybe it will show how passionately I feel about this. Yes, I wear a smartwatch, and yes, I love it, but not for the reasons that you think and because I know that you have to take these numbers with a huge grain of salt…actually a whole dang salt rock may be a more appropriate analogy.

These things are just guesstimates essentially, and the tracking can often be inaccurate. For example, my watch consistently tells me that I burn more calories and have a higher heart rate doing a 4 minute jog in the park than a whole a 4 minute Tabata of burpees. Now, I am not sure if you have ever done a burpee or not, but if you have, I don’t think I need to explain how ridiculous this is.

Beyond that, they miss the whole picture. For example, it can tell me generally (emphasis on generally) how much I burn in a workout, but it completely misses the calories burned due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (the calories burned long after you finish a HIIT or strength training workout – see point above).

For another example, I am not going to have as good as “numbers” post strength workout, but what the fitness tracker misses is that these types of workouts are actually going to change my body composition (more lean muscle mass and less fat mass) and the shape of my body (again see point above).

So stop with the watches already and gloating about how many calories you burned in your workout or that you closed all your circles. That can mean crap really. Man sorry a lot of language here.

Refusing to do strength workouts:
Doing strength training, whether it is lifting weights or body weight training, will not make you bulky. You don’t have enough testosterone to do that.

I know you are like “but what about those women that are super muscular”? Well, a couple of points…

1. They might be taking supplements to get that muscular.
2. It takes a loooooong time to build a significant amount of muscle.
3. Muscle doesn’t create a bulky look. Poor nutrition does. If you have a lot of muscle, but also a good amount of body fat on top of that, you of course are going to look bigger. However, if you have lean muscle mass and a lower body fat percentage, you are going to look “toned”.

Oh and just because you think someone looks too strong, remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone likes a different look.

Thinking calories are everything:
Yes, expending calories is important. I mean the old classic rule of fitness “you must burn more calories than you can consume” is the most basic, time-tested principle for a reason. Hello, we can’t be lazy oafs and expect to change our body composition. However, burning calories cannot be taken in a vacuum.

I think you are already starting to get the point on this one from the topics above.

Performing the wrong exercise postpartum: This one applies to all my Mamas out there. Remember, that once you are postpartum, you ALWAYS are. Chances are quite likely that if you have had a baby, whether it was 2 days ago, 5 years ago or 30 years ago, you may have a condition called diastasis recti to some degree. This is a separation of the rectus abdominis, creating the dreaded “Mama pooch”, and it is very, very common – even more common than we think.

If you do have this condition, there are many exercises to avoid entirely because it will exasperate the problem, and even more exercises of which to be wary. Moreover, healing the DR is a very specific process that doesn’t get a lot of press.

I mean how many women do you see that are otherwise very fit, but still have the “Mama pooch”? Maybe you are even one of them. This is most likely because there is underlying DR, and if that is the case, several exercises need to be avoided until it heals.

Side note: did you know not only is width important in determining DR, but also depth?

Glorifying the “sensation” over the results:
I admittedly fall into this trap. We tend to measure the quality of a workout by how…

– much we sweat
– hard the workout feels
– much it burns
– sore we are in the following days
– out of breath we are

These things are not bad, and they occur with exercise. Duh (no shit Sherlock). BUT these things do not HAVE to happen in order to get a quality workout.

So I ask you…who’s guilty?

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