Dr. Sarah Ellis Duvall – Physical Therapist

Understand the goal of every exercise you're doing.

Ask yourself, "What am I working? Where should I be feeling this?" Not only will working the right muscle groups make you stronger faster, it'll help prevent injury.

Let's say a woman wants to do more pull-ups and build back strength. When she performs the exercise, she feels it in her arms and shoulders instead of her back. She's using the wrong muscles, meaning she won't reach her goal with that exercise and risks injury.

In short, focus on where you're supposed to feel the exercise and make sure you feel it working in the right place. If it's a back exercise, make sure you feel it in your back. If it's a squat, make sure you feel it in your glutes (butt muscles) and not just your quads and hip flexors (front of your legs). If it's a deadlift, make sure you feel it in your hamstrings and glutes (back of legs) and not your low back. This is key to avoiding tightness and injury while reaching your goal of getting stronger. – Dr. Sarah Ellis Duvall

Bret Contreras – Strength Coach

Don't overdo it.

In 20 years of training women, the most common training barrier I've noticed is the notion that more exercise is always better. But there's a sweet spot of overall exercise volume and resistance training volume that optimizes results.

Exercise shouldn't be used as a means to "undo" poor dietary strategies. Moreover, trying to excel at strength training, yoga, Pilates, running, plyometrics, and HIIT at the same time will render you a jack of all trades, master of none, so training must be focused. Finally, added volume in the weight room is only beneficial up until the point where it's no longer possible to adequately recover from it.

The majority of my clients perform approximately 50 working sets per week in the gym with little to no added cardio or additional exercise. One week out of each month is reserved for deloading. This works because during the other three weeks, they're striving for personal records (PR's) and pushing load and effort intensively.

Many women do too much exercise and overdo it on training volume to the point where it distracts them from getting stronger and prevents them from making meaningful physique improvements. – Bret Contreras


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