We’ve combined forces with Fernwood Fitness to bring you Lift the Nation – a campaign to inspire women to start lifting weights.
Words by Melanie Katz
If you’ve started lifting weights at the gym but you’re yet to see that magical shift in your body shape towards a leaner, stronger shape, make sure you’re not making one of these five weight lifting mistakes.
5 common weight lifting mistakes
Not lifting heavy enough weights
Lifting bigger weights will not make you bulky, on the contrary; the larger the weight, the more muscle mass you’ll recruit, and the leaner you’ll become as a result. It’s a common myth – one we’re working very hard to dispel!
Doing too many repetitions
If you’re able to do more than 12 repetitions, you’re working aerobically, not anaerobically. Aim to only lift a heavy weight for a maximum of 10 repetitions. If you’re really struggling to get the eighth or ninth repetition out, you’ve found your magic number. Lifting heavy weights will ensure you’re working within your correct limit.
Not getting help
Bad technique = bad injuries. If you’re not executing the move correctly, you’re putting yourself at risk of sprains and tears.
That’s why we recommend that if you’re a complete newbie (i.e. ‘what’s a squat?’), starting a strength training regimen with proper advice from a professional is a MUST. Book in for a strength training session with a personal trainer who can tailor a program to your individual needs. Personal trainers (or PTs for short) are a friendly bunch of fitness enthusiasts who will help you become familiar with the equipment and ensure you’re using the correct technique to reduce your risk of injury.
Not doing compound exercises
Compound exercises are moves that use multiple major muscle groups all at the same time, along with smaller stabilising muscles and joints. This means you work more of your body in a shorter amount of time, giving you more bang for your exercise buck.
Take the squat for example, it engages the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the calves, the glutes, the lower back and the core in one swift up and down motion.
Our advice? Ditch isolated muscle exercises like hamstring and bicep curls, and save time by opting for compound exercises that work multiple muscles groups at once. Think squats, push-ups, chin-ups, chest press and the mother-of-all exercises: the deadlift.
Not eating protein
When we lift weights, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibres. Our body responds by creating new muscle fibres to repair – in turn creating more lean muscle mass. This means if we’re trying to build muscle, but we don’t consume enough protein to get the amino acids our bodies need to repair, we won’t see the results we’ve been working so hard for.
The other benefit consuming adequate amounts of protein has is keeping your appetite in check, meaning you won’t be reaching for extra snacks between meals, keeping your kilojoules and waist-line in check.
On average, women need between 40-60g of protein a day. Add grilled chicken, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds or legumes to each meal to boost your protein intake.