While some women still stay away from weights in favor of cardio, there are endless benefits to growing lean muscle, including an increased metabolism, improved athleticism, and a more sculpted physique. If you're invested in growing your glutes, carving out a strong core, or getting sculpted arms, read on for common mistakes people make on the journey to building muscle.
Much like everything else to do with health and fitness, strength training is a journey. You won't see any noticeable muscle growth in a day, a week, or even a month, but that doesn't mean your body isn't changing. Instead of looking in the mirror every day for obvious signs of growth, try to look out for different signifiers that your body's responding to your new training style, such as increased energy or being able to perform more reps or use heavier weights.
Not Eating Enough
Muscles don't just need fuel to power up; they also need to be replenished after a hard session. The more muscle you build, the more your metabolism will increase, so eat with growth in mind. Protein and complex carbs are the best fuel for strength training, so make sure you're eating enough to repair your muscle fibers and to encourage growth. One simple way to start upping your calories is by keeping track of your macros.
Going Too Hard
If you jump from a cardio-heavy plan to a strength-training plan, you might be surprised by how little you actually need to be at the gym working on your fitness. Due to the fact that strength training leaves you burning calories long after the workout is over (as opposed to cardio, which only burns calories while you're doing it), you can train less often. Because you expend so much energy when you strength train with added weights, you need to take rest days to allow your muscle fibers — which tear and experience micro traumas — to repair themselves in between workouts. Overtraining can have adverse effects on your body, so if you want to be active on your rest days, find an activity that is not too taxing and won't tire you out before your next gym day.
Not Properly Warming Up
Making sure you get the most gains out of your training is all about how you prepare. Warming up with a routine that includes moves that will fire up the muscles you're training is a great way to make sure you get the maximum impact of your routine while avoiding injury. If your focus is on growing your glutes, for instance, start every workout with a glute-activating routine that ensures your glutes are limber before you lift.
Not Planning Ahead
"Fail to plan, plan to fail" — this saying isn't just clever; it should also be a way of life! Planning your workouts allows you to focus your training and track what's working, what's not, when you need to size up on the weights, and when it's time to rest. The spontaneity of freestyle workouts is great, but if you want to see serious gains, making a workout schedule will give you a clear record to look back on and diagnose why you're not seeing any progress.