This is one of those funny things in life where it seems like almost everyone would benefit from doing the opposite of what the generally accepted wisdom is.
Let me explain:
Here are two observations that can be made about the workouts of the majority of gym goers:
- Men tend to lift too heavy, get too caught up in the numbers and are often focused on stroking their ego rather than training their bodies
- Women tend to lift too light, not push themselves as hard as they could and are less driven by progression
Now, not everyone fits those assumptions, of course. There are many men and women who are exceptions.
If you think you’re an exception, then enjoy this article as validation for your methods—you’re doing things well already.
Think you might be making these mistakes? Let’s dig deeper in to WHY these observations are true and the benefits of training more like the opposite sex typically do.
Guys tend to want to lift as heavy as they possibly can, to push their limits and be better than the guy on the other side of the gym.
Is that really the best way to get and stay in shape?
It’s important to push yourself, but there is a difference between testing and training. Constantly testing your max is a terrible way to train.
You sacrifice control, tension, tempo and the ability to really focus on building muscle when you’re trying to move as much weight as possible.
Your risk of injury is going to increase, you’re more likely to compensate with bad form, and are fatiguing your nervous system without a huge benefit.
If men lifted lighter, with more control while still pushing, they would make more progress over the long term.
You’d be more balanced, have better mind-muscle connection and be less likely to get injured. Sometimes it’s a case of moving slowly to move quickly. Being gung-ho all the time often leads to inconsistent training and ultimately not making progress.
Men should learn from the way many women train, using lighter weights and concentrating on being safe and feeling it working. The numbers don’t matter to your body, only the workload. You can work just as hard, or harder, using less weight, by simply controlling tempo, reps and volume.
Slow down, use more control and focus on a strong mind-muscle connection—feel the muscles working—rather than focus on moving the weight from A to B.
Ladies—you’re capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for!
As a personal trainer, you soon learn that almost every female client can comfortable lift at least 50% more weight than they think they can.
Being safe and in control is great, but you should work just within your limits, not comfortably within them. If you’re not pushing hard enough, you will not make progress.
When you first start training, you see results because you haven’t been doing anything and then you add a completely new stimulus. After a while, if you continue to do the same workout without pushing yourself harder, you will stop seeing results because your body is used to it. It’s become comfortable.
Using a little bit of ego and trying to push yourself harder and challenge yourself will bring better results to your body, strength and fitness level.
Of course, stay safe and don’t go crazy. Focus on consistent, incremental increases. Doubling the weight in one go is a bad idea. Instead, slowly increase it each workout until you really start to hit your limits.
Where Consistent Results Come From
Consistent results in your fitness come from the combination of two things—consistent application and progression.
You must consistently work out, but you must also be doing a little bit more each week. When you strike this balance, you will continue to see progress in your body for a long time to come.
Unfortunately, guys tend to go too hard, too quickly and too often, either burning out or getting hurt. They fail on consistent application.
Ladies often do not progress their workouts and continue to do the same thing, failing to push harder and results stagnate.
The middle ground is the place to be for everyone.
A really simple way to do this practically is to start working out slightly within your limits, say at 80% of your capacity, and build the consistency from there.
Each week, add 2% effort and you will soon exceed what was your previous 100% capacity, seeing the results in your strength, fitness and figure to prove it.
The tortoise will always beat the hare in the gym. Look at any of the fittest, most in-shape people you know. Most likely, they have been consistently working out for a long time, pushing themselves to do just a little bit more each workout.