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Top 5 Training Mistakes Women Make

With so many programs out there, it can be hard to find the right program for you and your needs. To help make your search (and decision) a little easier, here are the 5 top mistakes that women tend to make with their training.

Steer clear or these and you will be well on your way to a workout that provides you with on-going and lasting results!


Top 5 Training Mistakes Women Make

1. Doing too much cardio

When I was in university I couldn’t leave the gym unless I had done 60 minutes of cardio. If I did anything less than that I felt as though my efforts had been a waste of time. My only gauge of work effort was how many calories I was able to burn according to the Pre-Core machine. If this sounds like you, it’s time to break the cycle. No pun intended.

I want to stress that I’m not saying cardio is bad, nor am I saying that you don’t need it. But if your routine looks like the regime below, you’re placing WAY too much emphasis on cardio. Your exercise program should include some strength training if you’re looking for results. Including strength work in your exercise program can accelerate body composition change, in addition to many other benefits. Increasing your muscle mass also causes you to burn more calories at rest and will give you better capacity to carry out any cardio-based workouts.

Sample Cardio-Based Exercise Program

Day Exercise
Monday Gym 30 minutes of cardio, light weights
Tuesday Kick Boxing
Wednesday Spin
Thursday Run
Friday Yoga
Saturday Some sort of group fitness class… the more Tabata the better!
Sunday “Off” or maybe a quick cardio sesh just so you don’t feel guilty



2. Not following a well-designed program

Your program should have a balance of mobility support, strength training, energy system training (aka cardio), nutrition and recovery. A well-balance program like this will help to ensure that you see results – and enable you to adhere to your training for the long haul. Which ultimately is the key to you reaching your long-term fitness goals.

If you’re not sure how to develop a program that encompasses all of the components listed above, I highly encourage you to read this article.


3. Not lifting heavy enough

Far too often women doubt their capabilities when it comes to training. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a girl say, “I can’t do push ups” or “I could never do a pull up” only to discover that they in fact can once they commit to putting in the time and effort to reach that goal.

Another reason why women tend to avoid lifting heavier weights is fear. There is a common misconception among women that lifting heavy weights will cause you to bulk up. This could not be further from the truth. Yes lifting heavier weights will cause your muscles to work harder, but it’s your training regime, (e.g. the types of weight training you’re doing) diet and sex that dictates your size.

Bottom line: you have the power to sculpt your body into your ideal vision of you.

I promise that if you follow a structured strength training program—that involves compound lifts and efficient energy systems training—you will not start to look like a body builder.

You will however…

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  • Increase your metabolism
  • Boost your confidence
  • Prevent injury
  • Define your body composition
  • Feel less stressed
  • And, feel empowered and motivated to dominate everything that you do



Here are 4 examples that prove that you can lift heavy, be strong and not look like the hulk.

Our very own Jenny B completing a 315 pound barbell glute bridge for reps.

Melissa powering out 8 chin ups like a boss!

This my personal PB Deadllift of 255 pounds.

And benching 135 pounds.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that not everyone has the same training goals as me – and that the amount of weight that you can lift is dependent on your experience and current level of fitness. What I want you to take away is that if your goal is to get stronger over time, your training program needs to support that.

Groups like Girls Gone Strong have done a great job of spreading the word that it’s okay for girls to want to learn how to strength train, and better yet be able to dominate at it.


4. Not taking a recovery day

Let me make one thing very clear – you need to take rest days. Period. So if you’re currently training everyday like a work-horse, STOP. Your body needs to rest. It’s all a part of the process. I recommend 1-2 days of active rest per week. You don’t have to be a sloth, but you do need a day when you’re not adhering to a specific workout routine. Active rest can include activities like…

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  • Taking a yoga class with a friend
  • Going on a leisurely hike
  • Taking a dance class
  • Or, simply chilling out



Another thing that’s crucial to life—let along any workout regime—is sleep. Women are notorious for sacrificing their sleep to make time for everything and everyone else. I know that there are times in your life where you don’t always have the option to get an appropriate amount of sleep a night, (e.g. when you have a new baby, work deadlines, etc.) but you do need to make sleep a priority. Chronic sleep depravation will sabotage your weight loss efforts, and inhibit your performance. Not to mention the only time our bodies are able to heal and recovery, is during sleep. If you are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night I guarantee this will interfere with your results. So start making sleep a priority, if it’s not one already.


5. Not setting performance-based goals

While it’s totally okay to have aesthetic-based goals, (let’s be honest, who does not want to look good naked?) it’s equally as important to set performance-based goals. Yes aesthetic-based goals will spike your motivation. But it’s your performance-based goals that will leave you fulfilled, empowered and ready to take on all of the challenges that life throws at you.

Training goals can be anything that get you fired up and excited to train, like…

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  • Running 5km without dying
  • Being able to lunge correctly (this is a good one for many of my clients – you know who you are ???? )
  • Doing an unassisted chin up
  • Deadlifting your body weight
  • The list goes on



With so many different exercise programs out there, it can be hard to figure out the right training program for you. But if you avoid these 5 common mistakes, you will be that much closer to a program that delivers you lasting results.

The single best advice I can give you when it comes to setting and hitting training goals is to find an environment that pushes you safely and productively. Or get a training partner. Having a great training partner has made a huge difference in my overall consistency. Not to mention, has forced me to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

In addition, when searching for a program there are a couple of things that you should ask yourself…

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  • Will that program make you move better?
  • Will it improve your strength?
  • Will it make you feel better?
  • Will you enjoy it? < This is really important
  • Will it challenge you?
  • Will it improve your function?
  • Will it deliver you results?



Answer YES to those questions and you will know that you have found the right program for you.

If you’re determined to improve your strength but feel like you need some extra help, send me an email at I’d be happy to get you in for a strategy session to help you map out your goals and device a plan of attack.

Let’s make those goals a reality. ????????



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About the author

Andrea Lawson has been a practicing Kinesiologist since 2008 and is the founder of Balance in Motion, a training facility created for people to rehabilitate from injuries, improve athletic performance, and crush their health and fitness goals. She is passionate about providing a space where anyone can step foot in and feel both comfortable and productive no matter the injury, age, or stage they may be at in their fitness journey. With this vision, Andrea has witnessed her clients achieve goals they never thought possible, and gain unmatched levels of confidence in themselves, helping them to Go Beyond Better.