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  • Writer's pictureIngri Pauline

Three Mistakes Women Make While Training

I am incredibly grateful that in the past 10 years, women have largely been embracing strength training as a whole. When I first started lifting weight in 2006, I didn;t see too many women in the gym working hard on machines or free weights. When I was in high school, the only girls sports team that scheduled time to be in the weight room was the basketball team.

Now, that has changed a lot. The high school athletic directors can now boat that every girls team learn how to lift weights. The popular aesthetic for women is vastly fitter, healthier and more achievable than when I was a teen. And I see drove of women - from teens to retirees - pumping iron in the gym. To say I love it would be an understatement. It make me well up with tears of pride seeing all these women in the gym.

Being a trainer of women put me front and center to the training habits of women in general. Over the past decade I have noticed some patterns to the training tendencies and habits of women. Let’s talk about the three biggest mistake I see.

Avoiding upper body training

As a woman with extremely broad shoulders, I understand the desire to remain delicate looking up top. But this often comes at a cost. Over the past few years, having a large and bulky booty has become in fashion. Women perform an endless amount of boot exercises. They misuse machines to make them into booty exercise machine and they booty band nearly every exercise (another HUGE mistake).

But what is happening is they are building a large glute muscle, without any back muscle to back it up. Basically, your ass is writing checks that your back can’t cash. It is extremely important for the proper functioning of of our muscles and movement patterns that strength and muscular activation be evenly distributed. I’m not saying that you have to train your back and shoulders as much as your train your legs, but I am saying you have to train these body parts regularly.

If you goal is burn calories and look fit, upper body back strength is a very important part of that equation. Work deadlifts, over head press, rows and pushups into your programming. You will feel better, perform better, move with more eas and look great.

Using small weight

Many women hardly use more than the 25 pound dumbbells or plates. I don't know how many times I have seen a women at the gym squat 95 pound for 10 reps and never go higher. They will do sets of 15 and then burn them selves with one and quarter rep pumps before they ever just slap a 45 pound plate on the bar. They will press and pull the crap out of 10 pounds before they ever put their hands on a 15 or 20.

Lifting heavy weight will give you more shape in less time. Read that sentence again. If your programming calls for 3 sets of 12 reps, the weight should be heavy enough that by the last two reps on the past two sets, you should be struggling to finish the set (read that sentence again too!). If it doesn;t challenge you, it doesn;t change you. Yes we will have days where we cannot put in this much effort, but those days schedule be the exception, not the rule.

Don’t be scared, be curious. See just how strong you really are. You may be surprised.

Constantly eating in a caloric deficit

New weightlifters will grow muscle no matter what they do. It’s true. If the first two years are spent with consistency and using enough weight/resistance, those honeymoon gains are REAL. But if you find yourself unable to change the shape of your body, shift your body composition, or lose fat, you need to look at your diet.

Most women are CONSTANTLY eating in a caloric deficit - or at least they think they are. You cannot tone up (aka: lose fat and build muscle) or get stronger (build muscle) and eat in a caloric deficit. Once you have been around the portion control and calorie counting block, you know that maintenance calories are many times harder than a deficit or bulk. It is hard to gauge just how much fuel we need to feed our bodies and our activity - but its the MOST important part!

Just because you can’t eat both to get slim AND get strong doesn’t mean you also have to get fat to do it. If you have some body fat you would like to lose and some muscle you would like to gain, eating at a caloric maintenance will do your well if you are committed to your goals for the long haul. You have to fuel your body properly to achieve body recomposition.


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