Mistake #1: Too Much Cardio
There’s no doubt that cardio is a great way to lose weight. Weight loss is basically creating a calorie deficit (you’re burning more calories than you consume). Since cardio is the act of getting your heart rate pumping, you tend to burn more calories as you get it to pump harder. However, focusing solely on cardio for weight loss does not mean that you’ll be happy with what you see in the mirror. Although it can help to burn fat, it can also lead to mass muscle loss. When you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows and you hit that plateau.
Fix: Incorporate Strength Training.
Let me start by saying this: lifting weights does NOT make a woman get “bulky”. It actually helps to improve the natural state of the muscles in your body to get you the curves that you desire. In addition, weight training continues to burn calories even after you’ve finished; whereas cardio only burns calories during the exercise. For best results, do a combination of both cardio and strength training.
Mistake #2: Skipping Breakfast
If you exercise in the morning (like me), breakfast is needed to refuel your body. You should have a healthy balance of carbs and protein to help your muscles repair and recover within 30-45 after you finish. Even if you don’t exercise until later in the day, skipping breakfast is not a good idea. Not eating deprives your body and leads to unhealthy cravings and even bad moods. Having a balanced breakfast sets to the tone for the day and gives you the energy you need. It also regulates your metabolism when you eat on a consistent schedule.
Fix: Plan Ahead.
If you are skipping breakfast because you feel you are too busy to cook in the mornings, plan ahead and make them the ahead of time. Simple ideas would be to make homemade breakfast sandwiches that can be microwaved on the way out of the door or even overnight oats that you can just grab and go.
If you skip breakfast because you think it only consists of sweets like pancakes and cereal, think outside the box and incorporate more savory options like vegetables, eggs, and quinoa. These can also be made ahead of time and stored in containers.
Mistake #3: Sticking To A Routine
While exercising should be part of your weekly routine, what you do during that workout shouldn’t be routine and the same thing over and over. When you consistently do the same workout (whether it’s cardio or strength training), your body learns that routine and your progress plateaus. In order to see consistent gains, you have to switch it up so that you shock your muscles. Switching up the routine also ensures that you are targeting different parts of the muscles so that you are getting more well-rounded results. The last thing you want is for your body to to into auto-pilot during your workout.
Fix: Switch It Up.
Because I like to measure my growth, I will create a workout plan that I will follow for 3-4 weeks. After that time, I’ll create a new plan to challenge myself and shock my muscles. The first workout in the new cycle of exercises is always challenging because the body hasn’t been consistently doing it.
Mistake #4: Staying Comfortable
Genetically, men have stronger upper bodies and women have stronger lower bodies and cores. (This is science, not sexism, so don’t try to get me. LOL) It’s natural for people to do what comes easier to them so you see men doing pull ups, push ups, bench press, and bicep curls more often. Women tend to do more cardio, squats, and sit ups. Only sticking with what is easier to you, doesn’t give you a proportionate body. Whether you like it or not, you have to work the muscles that are a challenge. Nothing grows in the comfort zone.
Fix: Challenge Yourself And Set A Goal.
If you are challenged when you attempt an exercise, that’s good. That means there’s room for growth. For each workout session, add one move that’s not comfortable and challenge yourself to complete at least two sets of it. You may have to start with a lighter weight or a lower number of reps in the set, but you can do it. Just take it one rep at a time. Also, don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Everyone has their own challenge and they may be striving to be like you in some other aspect.
Mistake #5: Training Too Hard
Go hard or go home is good but not all the time. Doing too much, too often could lead to fatigue and subsequently loss of gains. When you are fatigued, you run the risk of injuring yourself when you try to maintain your regular routine. When you are injured, you are forced to take the break that you should have naturally taken. The time that you are forced to take off could be extensive in order to avoid future injuries. During that recovery time, you are gradually losing the progress you’ve made.
Fix: Listen To Your Body And Rest.
Just like everything else, your body needs an opportunity to rest and recharge. When you strength train, you are essentially tearing muscles to get them to grow. Without the proper resting period to repair that muscle, you are losing the benefit of all the work you did. This is also a reason to vary the muscle groups you work during the week.
When you feel fatigued, listen to your body and rest. Your body is smart and designed to protect you. Giving it the rest that it’s begging for will reward you in the long run. You’ll return back to your workout renewed and energized to go hard again.
Mistake #6: Counting Bad Reps
It’s too often that I see someone performing an exercise all wrong. Whether it’s using momentum to do a bicep curl or not fully extending during a rep, you aren’t getting the benefit of that move if you’re not doing it correctly. Many times when using weights, a bad rep is due to using too much weight. While it’s good to challenge yourself, using too much weight can lead to an injury. And not performing the exercise correctly at all (even for bodyweight exercises) means your missing the intended results. No matter how many bad reps you do, you won’t get those results until it’s done properly. You’re just wasting your time.
Fix: Focus On Your Form.
One of the best things to do to ensure you’re performing an exercise is to record yourself. Just like dancing, we sometimes look better in our heads than we actually do. I challenge you to record yourself for at least one set of each exercise you perform. Before it’s time to do the next set, watch your video to see what changes need to be made and then record yourself again. And be honest with yourself. If you need to lighten the weight, do it. There’s no competition with anyone, except the person in the video.
By Krystal Taylor, CPT and Fitness Nutrition Specialist
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the I Am Beautiful 365, affiliates or partners.
I would consider myself a “late bloomer” into the fitness industry. Many trainers’ resumes list their multiple degrees and certifications in all things fitness. My history is a little different. Visit my website for more information.