The article I wrote for Marie Claire, sorry this is mainly aimed at the ladies!
1. Not warming up.
You’ve made it to the gym, you have new workout clothes so you jump right on to the first machine that’s free. What about warming up? Everyone knows that a good warm up gets the blood flowing, warms and loosens the tissues around the joints, but sometimes most importantly it gets your head in ‘the zone’. Start with 5-10 minutes on a cardio machine at a steady pace and finish with dynamic stretches, squats, lunges, reaches, roll downs. Focus on what you can feel stretching and working as you move and you’ll be well on the way to an efficient workout!
2. Not having a plan.
You move from one free machine to the next available machine. You do a mindless 15 to 20 repetitions, you probably lost count, and you might do that twice then move on. You don’t really know what you’re working, you’re just pushing the handle away in the direction the machine goes! Go and have an induction or program setting session with a gym instructor, have a taster session with a PT (most gyms offer an induction when you join) or ask a friend what they are working on. When you have a plan you will work harder, you can focus on what you’re doing and you can see results in the wight you push or the distance you run! These tend to improve before you see results in the mirror so can be very motivating!
3. You avoid using weights because you’re nervous to go into the ‘man area’!
Free weight areas tend to be dominated by men, yes. However, more and more women are using them and breaking that stereotype. Ask a female gym instructor to help you the first time you go in. When you know what to do and you’re in ‘the zone’ you won’t notice anyone else! You’ll realize most men in the free weights are watching themselves in the mirror and focusing on getting their gains!
4. You avoid using the weights because you’re convinced you will bulk up.
Sorry, you’re wrong! Women do not produce enough testosterone to build or maintain that much muscle mass! Muscle can give you’re a body a good shape; firm thighs, perky chest, shoulders to make your waist look smaller and not forgetting a great round booty! If you want to tone up, lift some weights!
5. You just do cardio.
Great, you’re burning calories! Unfortunately, you’re not maintaining any shape. You’ve heard the term ‘skinny fat’? It’s someone who looks great in their clothes, but in their bikini, all their shape is flabby and soft! If you want to be firm then include weights. You don’t have to go slow and stop sweating. Try Kettlebells for a whole body workout. Add Sprints in between each weight set you do. Do a boot camp or circuits class! The possibilities are endless!
6.You’re too embarrassed to sweat.
You read number 5 and thought, sweat? me? NO WAY! Granted some people work hard and don’t sweat that much, but if you’re not working hard and not sweating, what are you doing? You could have gone for a leisurely walk outside or gone sifting through clothes racks. You’re at the gym… Workout! Sweating or working hard can boost your metabolism at that time, and if you work hard enough afterwards too! That means you will continue to burn calories after your workout. Try interval training, 30 seconds of hard work and 30 seconds of steady for the best of both worlds and sure to make you sweat!
7. You’ve got going, but your technique is bad.
You don’t want to do more harm than good or simply just build up bad habits. Start the way you mean to go on. Unless you’re doing a crunch, keep your spine long: lengthen your tailbone away from the crown of your head. If you’re squatting or dead lifting, lead your movement with your hips. If you’re unsure, ask someone for help, that is what gym staff are there for!
8. You’re not lifting heavy enough.
You’ve started using weights, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, TRX… But you’re not feeling it. If you’re confident with the movement take your weight up. If you’re not sure, try using a rep range of 12-15 reps when you start. 12, 13, 14 and 15 should feel hard, and your next set you might only be able to do 13. That is good! Your body adapts to a stimulus, so stimulate it!
9. Cool down? What cool down?
You’ve worked hard, you’re muscles have been contracting for an hour, and then you go and sit in the office or on the sofa. Your muscles then stay contracted and you feel like you can’t walk the next day! Add 5-10 minutes of stretching at the end of your session, you can take this time to congratulate yourself for working hard and enjoy the release of endorphins! Start simple, lie on your back to stretch your hamstrings (one leg in the air), twist it over the top of you to get your lower back, then take a seat and stretch your chest. You can build up your stretching vocabulary as you go and remember, you can always ask for help!
10. So this isn’t at the gym, but they do say abs are built in the kitchen!
You train really hard and you eat really well! Unfortunately, a banana for breakfast, a chicken and leaf salad for lunch and a green vegetable smoothie in the evening will only clock up between 800 and 1000 calories. You might lose weight for a couple of days, then your body will go into ‘starvation mode’ and hold onto as much weight as possible because it doesn’t know when the famine is going to end! Yes ‘starvation mode’ is not a myth and it is that dramatic! You are likely to hold on to fat stores and use lean tissue as fuel, that’s muscle mass and sometimes even organs! So to maintain your firm muscles and keep your sexy, fit shape you need to fuel it! Try incorporating healthy snacks into your day and use a calorie tracking app like MyFitnessPal to help you.
11. Not training often enough or giving up.
The more your train, the better you will feel, the faster you will get strength and fitness gains and the quicker you’ll SEE results! So train atleast twice per week and work on building that up to 3 times. It takes 21 days to see results but only a week to lose them. Keep going! You will feel fitter, more energized, will sleep better, will be happier, more motivated at work, feel better in your clothes, and a million other amazing things! Now you’ve started, keep it up!