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Most Common Mistakes Made by Women in the Gym

By Madison Schnarr

Women all have different reasons for working out. Whether they want to lose weight, gain muscle or increase strength, every woman has their own unique set of goals. However, almost all women have one thing in common, mistakes they have made or are making when approaching their training. Helping people change their bodies through health and fitness is my passion. When people are consistently making these errors in training,  there is a good chance they are actually pushing themselves further away from their goals instead of bringing themselves closer. How unfortunate is it to think that so many people are putting in the time and effort to achieve a goal but are in fact only harming their progress. Do not worry, I am here to help each and every one of you change the way you approach your work outs and allow you to reach your goals that much faster!

Listed below are some of the most common mistakes women are making in the gym:


Ladies I promise you, lifting weights will not make you too big or too bulky. Women with these types of physiques take years and years of a specific type of training, supplementation and dieting to get this way. I can guarantee that you will not develop a big physique by accident. It is time for you to start using heavier weights. You will not achieve the body that you desire by sticking with 5 and 10 pound dumbbells for each exercise in every workout.

QUICK FIX:  If you are doing sets and never reaching muscle failure, you are not challenging your body enough to make a change.  In order to build muscle the muscle must be challenged. Try increasing the weight by 5 pounds for each exercise until you find a weight that gets you to muscle failure. When that weight starts to get easy it is time to up the weight once again. Do not be afraid of lifting heavy!


I see this all the time. Women will come in to the gym, hop on the treadmill for an hour and call it a day. How many of you are guilty of this? I know I used to be! All that is happening when you do steady state cardio is your body is burning calories. Just burning calories will not get you the body you are after. In fact, too much cardio will just burn your muscles away and you will end up with a “skinny fat” body. After a while your body will stop changing at all. Look at a picture of an Olympic sprinter; now look at an Olympic marathon runner. Do you see a difference? Marathon runners look very thin and frail with very little muscle mass. If you are looking to build muscle, too much aerobic exercise is the wrong way to go.

QUICK FIX: High intensity interval training also known as HIIT is best done on a resistance bike. The idea is to turn up the bike to maximum intensity and push as hard as you can for a 15-30 second interval followed by a 90 second rest. Repeat this for 8-10 rounds. HIIT is a great way to burn fat and takes much less time. In fact, HIIT has been proven to burn up to nine times more fat than steady state cardio!


Cardio has a time and place but it is not meant to be done before a weight training workout. Any form of cardio you are doing whether it is steady state or HIIT should be done after weight training as form of fat loss. Lifting weights is performed in order to improve intensity of a stimulus to the muscle. After doing cardio you are more than likely to be exhausted, therefore you will not be able to work your muscles as hard as you should after a cardio session.

QUICK FIX: Start you gym session with a 5 minute warm up on your favourite piece of cardio equipment. Doing this will elevate your heart rate but will not get you to the point of exhaustion. When  yofinished your weight training for the day head back to do your cardio workout.


Every person has a six pack. You may not see it because it is covered by fat but I promise you it is under there. In order to have visible abs you just have to strip the fat off that area of your body. Yes, you want to build your abs by doing a variety of different abdominal exercises but by no means do you need to spend half a workout dedicated to working them.

QUICK FIX: Try doing 3 or 4 sets with 10-15 reps  of your favorite abdominal exercise a few times a week and spend the rest of your time in the gym more wisely by working on bigger muscle groups. The bigger the muscle group you are working on, the more fat you are going to burn in the long run. This will get you to your goal of a flatter tummy much faster than spending whole workouts dedicated to your abdominals!


This is kind of strange but we have all been victim to this mistake. Most women are afraid to use heavy weights when training any other body part but when it comes to the abs they overload them. Funnily enough your abdominals are the one area of the body that you do not want to use a heavy load for when training.  When you use a heavy load on your abs, just like any other muscle they will grow however this will not give you the look you desire as it will just make your midsection look thicker if you are not at a low enough body fat to see visible abs. Even more importantly do not use weights for working your oblique’s this will just make you wider and wider as your oblique muscle grow bigger!

QUICK FIX: Do body weight exercises such as hanging leg raises and planks. Avoid the weight abdominal machines and the weights side bends. 


It is easy to fall victim to this mistake whether it is due to lack of preparation or minimal gym knowledge. Changing up your workout routine every 4 to 6 weeks is very important. I see too many women going to the gym and doing the exact same thing day in and day out. Your body adapts to workouts so it is important to keep changing it up! Repeating the same workouts day in and day out is also an easy way to get bored of the gym and lose your motivation.

QUICK FIX: Before going to the gym write out your workouts with sets and reps and bring this plan with you. At the end of every 4 to 6 weeks change up your exercises as well as your set and rep range. This will keep your body guessing, keep your mind from getting bored and keep you seeing the results you are looking for.


I believe no goal is too big or too small. However, based on your individual situation be realistic with yourself and do not expect to see change immediately. The key to results is hard work, persistence and patience. It is time to stop obsessing over the number on the scale and start noticing how you feel, how you look and how all your clothes are fitting.

QUICK FIX:Try SMART goal setting. Write your goals out on a piece of paper. Now, for each goal make sure it is sustainable, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. This will hold you more accountable and brings more structure to what you are trying to accomplish.

Ladies, do not fret if you are guilty of one or all of these mistakes because you are not alone! Simply follow the listed quick fixes for each mistake and you will be right back on your way to reaching your goals in the quickest way possible. Stay focused my friends and use each day as an opportunity to be better than you were yesterday! 



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