Time and time again I see women at the gym lifting small weights, flapping away on machines like they are birds preparing for take-off. Just the other day, I overheard an older woman telling her friend, “I’ve worked myself up to 25 reps on this machine, but I’m not seeing results! My arms are still flabby! What gives?” Well, lady, here are several reasons why you may not be seeing the results that you desire:
Up Your Weights— If you aren’t challenging your body, you aren’t giving it a reason to change. It’s that simple. Add more weight to make it difficult to complete your reps (1-5 reps for strength and power, 6-12 for hypertrophy). The last two repetitions of your set should feel quite difficult and you may hate the world momentarily, but those are the ones that count the most. Feel the burn.
Slow Down— Focus on your form. Use controlled movements while lifting and avoid using excess momentum to lift back to the starting position, as this can be harmful to ligaments and tendons. Utilize your muscle fibers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Eat— If you don’t lift like a bird, you shouldn’t eat like a bird (unless it’s a hawk!). Strength training means that you are essentially breaking down your muscles… tearing them apart. In order for the body to rebuild and strengthen said muscles, you must provide it with proper nutrition. Muscles don’t come from thin air. Eat. Even if you do not change one thing about your current diet, lifting heavy weights can recompose your body fat to muscle ratio by ±3% in several weeks time by lifting a minimum of twice weekly. If you’re looking to “tone up” and lose fat, gaining muscle will greatly accelerate the process. Eat healthily and well to build lean muscles.
Rest Days— Strength is built during rest when muscles repair themselves, not while you’re pumping iron in the gym. Allow each muscle group enough time to recover. Rest is just as important as exercise.