10 mistakes women make when trying to get in shape

March 2, 2013

A large part of getting in shape is separating fact from fiction, learning what works best for your body. To do this you must open your mind and dispel fitness myths with factual information backed by scientific research. Here are 10 mistakes women sometimes make when trying to get in shape that can be easily fixed with the right information.

Substituting time for intensity on cardio

The more is always better philosophy doesn’t cut it if results are what you are looking for from your cardio training. You must learn to work out of your comfort zone with shorter, more intense cardio sessions that are very challenging, but you are able to complete them. Longer, more comfortable cardio session do not work and will leave you feeling frustrated with no results.

Cardio over weight training

Resist the urge to pick cardio over weight training, because weight training is much more effective in building a tight body and a strong metabolism. This is because weight lifting builds lean muscle that acts as the metabolic engine for fat burning and causes a response called EPOC - excess post-exercise oxygen consumption - that keeps the body burning fat up to 48 hours after a hard workout. Cardio is definitely an important part of the puzzle, but it should be done in addition to weightlifting, not as a substitute.

Lifting lighter weights for more reps

Lifting weights that are heavy enough to exhaust the muscles but light enough to master good form is essential for getting in shape, burning unwanted fat and building tight, lean muscle. A great rule of thumb is if you can do two or more extra reps, it’s time to add some weight or your body will get used to the workout and results will come to a halt.

Eating less to lose weight

Most women gain weight because they don’t eat enough, not because they eat too much. This is because the body doesn’t know how much food is in the cabinets; it only responds to what it's being fed, so if you don’t eat frequently enough, the body will go into survival mode, conserving calories as fat stores. Eat five to six small meals a day, spacing them every two to three and a half hours, and you will naturally stoke your metabolic fire.

Not eating after 6 p.m.

Research has shown that it is much better to graze than to gorge when it comes to eating a healthy diet. To get optimum results, eat five to six small meals a day, and your body will kick your metabolism into high gear. Failure to eat after 6 p.m. is not only unsustainable but will actually stop your metabolism from functioning to its full potential.

Counting calories

The old adage that you must burn more calories than you take in to lose weight is simply outdated and unsustainable. It makes much more sense to focus on rules that teach your body to burn fat than it does to burden yourself with mathematical equations. Eating smaller, more frequent meals, whole fibrous foods and proper portion sizes along with a good workout that includes cardio and weight training can supercharge your metabolism and lead to quality weight loss for a lifetime.

Choosing less effective cardio

Choosing the most effective cardio can be a great way to increase the results of your workout. Choices such as the elliptical, arch trainer, stair climber, sprinting, running and jumping rope are great because they burn large amounts of calories and can quickly take your body out of its comfort zone, forcing it to adjust for new results.

Checking the scale too frequently

Getting in shape often requires slow and steady weight loss, so don’t let the scale derail you from achieving results. Body weight will fluctuate weekly, and if you get on the scale on the wrong day, you might panic and abandon your fitness plan. That’s why it’s essential to check your weight just once a week on your own reliable scale, first thing in the morning before you eat or drink. This system will give you steady and accurate results by which to gauge the success of your program.

Believing that weight training will make you bulky

If done correctly, weight lifting will have a slimming effect because muscle is lean and tight, taking up approximately 1/3 less space than the same amount of fat. The more muscle you build, the more you accelerate your metabolism, causing your body to burn an average of 50 more calories a day than the average person who doesn’t lift weights.

Going back to old habits and forgetting what works

Too often I see people who previously did the right things and achieved great results return to old habits or try new fitness trends, causing them fall out of shape. As the old saying goes,”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Remember, the things that worked in the past will work again. You just have to get back to basics and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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