1. You Need to Switch Up Your Workouts
After doing the same cardio or strength routine three to six times, your body adapts and you burn fewer calories. Eventually your results – weight loss, muscle definition – will slow down. Also repeatedly placing stress on the same muscles and joints could lead to an overuse injury.
It’s as simple as changing one thing about your cardio and weight training regiments. Mixing things up may help you stick with exercise too! People who vary their routines are found to enjoy their workouts more – they exercise more – than people who do the same thing day in and day out.
2. Cardio isn’t the Magic Button for Weight Loss
While biking, running and walking are great for your heart, it’s difficult to lose fat when your do only cardiovascular activities. Although aerobic exercise will burn calories, it doesn’t really change your metabolism. What does? Lean muscle mass. Building muscles help you burn more calories even after your workout is over. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate. Women tend to lose five to seven pounds of muscle in each decade of adulthood – one reason why the pounds creep on as we get older. Strength training three times a week, can add an average of the three pounds of muscle in about three months, increasing your metabolism by 6 to 7 percent.
Keep doing cardio but add two to three strength training workouts a week. Aim to work all the major muscle groups.
3. Wimpy Weights Will Get You Nowhere
According to the “overload principle” for muscles to become stronger, they have to be challenged with a load that’s heavier than what they’re used to. Without challenging you muscles, you can’t substantially strength or tone them.
Choose a weight that you can lift for only 10 to 15 receptions before losing good form. Don’t worry: You won’t bulk up. Women’s bodies have a biological limit on how much muscle mass they can build. It’s hard for women to get big lifting weights alone.
4. Muscles Come in Pairs; Train Them That Way
Most of us focus on the “mirror” muscles – the ones you can see when you look in the mirror (biceps, quadriceps). But just as every action has an equal and opposite reaction, every muscle has a mate that works in the opposite way. For example, you use your triceps to extend your arm and your biceps to bend it. To avoid imbalances that can lead to injury it’s essential to train both equally.
Consider doing weight training in a split. Work, say, your biceps and hamstrings one day, then your triceps and quadriceps the next. One exception: the back muscles. Many people have weak back muscles from working at a computer all day, so if this is the case then follow a two-to-one ratio. That is, for every exercise you do for the chest, do two for the back.
5. Crunches Aren’t Crucial for Strong Abdominals
Crunches aren’t the best exercise choice because they strengthen only a few of the muscles in your core. What’s more, if your abs are weak, doing crunches could cause a strain on your neck, since you’ll probably be pulling on it in an effort to lift your torso.
Although you don’t have to eliminate crunches from your routine, you’ll get more bang for your buck with moves that work the entire core area. The plank is a great one!
6. A Workout Doesn’t Merit a Post Gym Binge
When you’re feeling victorious after you’ve exercised, it’s easy to eat back all of the calories you just burned (and then some). It’s also easy to collapse on the coach afterward.
To refrain from grazing after exercising, have a healthy snack after your workout containing protein and stay as mobile as possible.
7. Bad Form is Bad News When You’re Strength Training
When someone lifts weights with improper form, it not only dimities results but it can lead to injury.
Even if you’ve been weight training for a while, it’s a good idea to brush up on form. Watch the teacher, then look in the mirror and focus on your form. At the same time watch your speed. If you lift too fast, you let momentum, not your muscles, do the work.
8. Working Out On an Empty Stomach Won’t Burn More Fat
A common belief is that if you exercise before you eat, your body will turn to it’s fat reserves for energy instead of the food in your stomach. In fact, it’s just the opposite. People can experience a bigger boost in metabolism – meaning burning more fat – when they exercise after eating breakfast then on an empty stomach. Eat already! Have a small snack a half an hour before working out. Low fat yogurt, a banana, or oatmeal and fruit.
9. A Death Grip on the Cardio Machines Strains Your Body and Burn Fewer Calories
When you hold the treadmill or bike handles so tightly that your knuckles are white, your body is forced into an uncomfortable position, which can put strain on your muscles. Also, because your legs don’t have to work as hard when you lean on a machine, the number of calories you burn plummets.
Maintain proper form here too.
10. The Fat Burning Zone Isn’t Really a Fat Burning Zone
If you’ve even played around with the controls on a cardio machine, you may have experienced the “fat burning” program, in which you exercise at a low, steady intensity. The idea is that slow intensity is better for weight loss than more vigorous effort, because you can sustain it longer. However studies show that even in a shorter workout, boosting your intensity can burn as many, if not more, calories than long, steady cardio.
Slow, steady workouts are a great place to start, but as you get more fit, bump up the intensity. Try interval training where you work at a high intensity for short spurts, lower intensity to recover, and then repeat.