Experts say the way lots of us approach the weights section is akin to a child in a playroom: short attention span and stuff all over the place. “Too many women try to do too many things in their strength workouts and they end up getting very little done,” says Greg Justice, an exercise physiologist and author of Mind Your Own Fitness. Three habits you should stop immediately:
1. Forcing Class Cardio Into Your Muscle Sessions
It can be a great way to get a two-for-one workout, but it won’t produce the muscle definition you’re after. It’s better to programme your strength workouts so they have aerobic pay-off. “I prefer super-setting strength moves – doing two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between – to keep the intensity high and heart rate up and to work as many muscles in as short a time as possible,” says trainer Heidi Powell, co-author of Extreme Transformation: Lifelong Weight Loss in 21 Days. Research bears that out. According to a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, this training strategy leads to a bigger kilojoule burn after your workout.
2. Constantly Mixing Things Up
A little variety – a boot-camp class here, a few new plyometric moves there – can help spice up your workout routine, but moderation is key. Switch activities too frequently and it becomes hard to measure your actual progress since you don’t have anything to compare it to. The simplest way to make sure your weight workouts are, you know, working, is to have at least two sessions that are the same week after week. That way, you notice when you start getting more proficient at a move, when you can use heavier weights or when you don’t feel as dead during an explosive exercise.
3. Adding Instability To Every Movement
Sure, single-leg variations and standing on BOSU balls fire up your core activation to help you balance, but you usually can’t add enough resistance to truly maximise your strength gains while you’re that unsteady. Plus, says Powell, “doing more than you’re ready for will only risk injury and frustrate you in the process.”