5 mistakes women make at the gym

With summer around the corner, many people start training in spring – either for the first time or after a break. In either case, here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid
if you want to maximise your results.

Too much cardio, not enough weights

Cardio isn’t the be-all and end-all of fat loss. Resistance training burns a lot of calories while definition and shaping are largely determined by muscular development, so aim for three or four of these sessions a week, with cardio at the end of at least two. Do HIIT, steady state or a combination – the best choice is whatever you can commit to consistently.

Choosing the wrong weight

Go for movements you can complete safely and work all the major muscle groups regularly. Choose the resistance carefully – if you can’t move the weight with proper technique, it’s too heavy. If you can do more than a dozen reps without much effort, you’re not stimulating the muscles enough.

Underestimating the importance of recovery

It’s possible to overdo your training, which can result in burnout, injury and stunted results. The harder you go, the longer you need to recover. Have rest days, get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious and balanced foods, rest if you’re sick and adapt the difficulty of your workouts when you’re tired. You may need to use techniques such as massage or foam rolling for recovery – listen to your body.

4 Listening to the wrong people

Just because someone’s been going to the gym for longer than you, it doesn’t mean they can help you. If they have no qualifications or haven’t learnt from someone who does, they may have found a routine that works for them, but it may not be right for you. They may know how to execute certain exercises, but not be skilled in passing that knowledge on,
and that’s when injury becomes a risk.

5 Not learning proper technique

Even appropriate exercises and weight selection can be risky if the movement isn’t executed correctly. You may fall out of position and place excessive stress on certain joints and tissues, or overactive muscles may override the desired target muscles. At best, you may not obtain the desired results; at worst, you can hurt yourself. This is why it’s important to learn correct technique.

Susy Natal is a Sydney-based performance coach, wellness writer and personal trainer. She works with beginners through to athletes, with a focus on strength training for women and mindset coaching. Go to susynatal.com

5 mistakes men make at the gym

Not prioritising large compound exercises

I see a lot of men focusing on the wrong exercises to build a well-rounded physique. You should be prioritising large compound movements to activate multiple muscles groups in one exercise. This will engage your core muscles and allow your body to burn more calories during the workout. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do isolation exercises – simply prioritise compound moves.

Not valuing diet

You can’t “out-train” a bad diet. Whether you’re looking to lose body fat or gain muscle, your body composition will be determined by your energy balance (calories). It’s important to remember that your training needs to be supported by a healthy diet to achieve optimum results.

3 Not warming up

To maximise a workout, you’ll need to prepare your body in the correct fashion. Skipping ahead and training without a warm-up can be extremely dangerous. A simple warm-up can consist of stretching/mobility exercises, foam rolling, light warm-up sets or even 10 minutes on a cardio machine.

Lifting with your ego

Have you seen the guy who loads the bar with four weight plates on each side, followed by a struggle to even complete one full rep? Not only is he failing to impress his peers, but he’s also risking injury. I believe in training with confidence, but it’s just as important to use a smart and safe approach. Technique should always be prioritised over lifting heavy weight.

Lack of stretching

Stretching plays a very important role in your body’s recovery. Lack of stretching can prolong muscle soreness and even lead to injury. I find it a lot easier to get up and go to the gym when my body is feeling fresh without extreme muscle soreness. Aim to stretch for 5-10 minutes post-workout.

Max Dimarco is a personal trainer at St Leonards Fitness First and the owner of The Hills Fitness. You can contact Max via Instagram @maxdimarcofitness