While bodybuilding tends to be far more a man’s sport, there are a great deal of women who seek the same art for themselves, but find very little information for them out there that can be of benefit. This leaves them in the dark and guessing about how to build lean muscle that doesn’t leave them looking like their more bulky chiseled male counterparts. Our goal here is to explain some fitness mistakes that women make when trying to reach their fitness goals, and how to rectify them.
Mistake number one: Relying too much on cardio
The idea that cardio makes you thinner and resistance training causes bulk is not just antiquated, but wrong completely. All women seek to have less fat and more tone to their muscles, but they tend to look for a leaner physique than the bulk men look for. In order to make this happen, you need to bring in some form of resistance training like swimming or resistance band exercises you can do from home.
As your lean muscle mass increases, your body will begin to burn up to four times the amount of calories than you were before, even while sleeping. There’s no woman or man on this planet that wouldn’t prefer that in their corner. While you don’t need to do away with your cardio workouts completely, just assume that it’s not the only thing you should be doing to maintain a healthy weight and shape. Cardiovascular activity helps to get rid of the fat that covers your lean muscle, but it must be worked into a resistance training program to be really effective.
Mistake number two: Eat an extremely low cal diet
Somehow, people began to believe that if they cut their caloric intake to levels below their daily intake recommendations that they’d lose weight. While this cannot be argued, because you will – you’d have to, you’re robbing your body of nutrients and caloric energy you need throughout your day and your workout regimen. You also run the risk of your body not just burning away fat stores, but going for the healthier muscle in your body to feed from, which is counterproductive to getting healthy.
Your diet should include at least 1200 calories a day to be considered healthy, more if you’re already at a healthy weight but looking to build more muscle. You should aim for losing two pounds of fat every week, anything more comes from your muscle. Use 45 minutes of cardio mixed in with your resistance training schedule for maximum fat burning potential and be sure to include healthy fats, carbs and protein.
Mistake number three: Do the same workout over and over for best results
There’s a lot of problems with this theory but the biggest of them is reaching a weight loss plateau. It also will cause you to become bored, or suffer burnout from doing the same monotonous routine day in and day out. By adding variety to your workout you can help your body stay perpetually challenged and make the new muscle groups work for you alternately.
Best practices: Change up the number of reps, sets, tempo and the range of motion you use when you exercise. Try things like boxing, yoga, kickboxing, tai kwon do, pilates, zumba, or anything else that will keep your body moving and your interest piqued. Don’t do all your exercise from inside, try to go hiking, swimming, jogging, biking or running to change your scenery for a fresh take on your routine.
Mistake number four: Don’t push too hard for intensity or you risk burnout
The vast majority of people don’t push themselves to muscular exhaustion which is actually what is needed for results to show. To make the body take drastic changes on your muscles, you must put it under stress repeatedly. The University of New Mexico stated that exercising at a vigorous pace offers several positive health benefits over moderate exercise. The benefits include higher caloric burn and a lower risk for cardiovascular related diseases.
Purchase a heart rate monitor so you can get a good read on what your average resting heart rate is. Cardio machines at gyms are rarely accurate. Use something called the “Rate of Perceived Exertion” to determine your intensity level during exercise. Also incorporate interval training. Alternate 30 seconds of sprinting, then one minute of walking for 20 minutes. The same can be applied to lifting weights.
Mistake number 5: Unrealistic expectations
Try to set goals that are small and quickly able to be seen through to avoid feeling like a failure and giving up. Weight loss and muscle gain is just something that takes time and there’s nothing you can do to speed up that process. By being patient and having goals that are realistic you avoid facing a demotivated spiral that will cause you to lose progress entirely. Try to say things like, “I’m going to gain energy, reduce my body fat and try for losing 5-10 pounds this month” instead of telling yourself you’re going to lose ten pounds period. That way when the month has ended, and you’ve only lost 3 pounds, but have gained muscle mass and energy you can still feel good about your progress on the whole. It still feels as though you’re getting somewhere.
Another tip is to not measure yourself to another woman’s accomplishments. We are all made differently and what works for one person may not work for you. You can look to that person as motivation for certain, just don’t try to use her as a benchmark to beat or see her as your competition. Write down your goals so you have something concrete to look at daily, and make sure you’re taking everything one step at a time. If you end up too busy to do your workout for the day, don’t feel guilty. We all get busy, and that isn’t a failing in you at all, just jump back on and keep going.