Stop Wasting Your Time: How Women Shortchange Themselves at the Gym

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in gyms over the years has seen the same patterns repeated over and over again.

I’ve been training since the Nixon administration and I’ve seen  every diet/exercise craze, new fad and latest greatest equipment/program that has rolled down the pike since the 70’s.

I’ve even tried a few of them too.

The natural human proclivity for novelty makes us all suckers for the next new thing.

What really works to produce results seems to be a mystery to many women, even though they crowd the gym in droves.

Escape the Average Treadmill Physique

Because there are so many choices and so many people marketing their various programs/diets/workouts like religious cults, it leads to confusion for the average woman.

The bigger  problem is that most women  have no clue what they want out of their workouts and are scared to venture into the  free weight area of the gym. They listen to conventional  fitness wisdom peddled by the media and spend endless hours at the gym plodding away at steppers, treadmills and bikes.

They crowd in the studios doing zumba, pilates, yoga, bootcamp and all kinds of other “fun” activities. They think this will produce “visible results”.

Occasionally, they may see some random improvement.  I  plead guilty to falling into this trap in the past. Cardio has it’s place and purpose from a point of  health but endless cardio does not equal weight loss and a better body.

Next time you are at the gym take a look at  the women and men slogging away on the stairmaster or bikes and ask yourself if they have a body you would want.

Chances are the answer is no.

Big Fat Lie: “I Have these Arms from Lifting Itty Bitty Girly Weights”

Another thing I’ve seen at the gym is women piddling around the weight machines with no real purpose or program. Paraphrasing Martin Berkhan, this is a bad case of Fart-around-itis  (the original term is not appropriate for family publications).

I occasionally see women in the free weights area doing a few sets of flies, presses or rows with 5 & 10 lb weights. Occasionally,  I will see a  woman lifting  heavier weights. Usually a college athlete.  It’s so uncommon, I take notice.

Woman Lifting Heavy

Do you want to get in shape? You have to lift heavy, period.

Which brings me to my big question.

Why do women shortchange themselves in the gym?

Why are so few lifting weights that can actually give them results and a body that people would envy?

There are a lot of cultural issues that come in to play here.

I suspect that most women are afraid to go beyond their comfort zone and have preconceived ideas about weight training and femininity. I also think that women have no clue how strong they really can get and lack the self confidence to find out.

Have a Clear Measurable Goal

So we get to the heart of the problem.

Ask yourself this question: What is my goal?

If it not something that is clear and measurable you will be wasting your time.

Things like  “getting in shape” getting “fit” or losing a few pounds seem like goals, but they are really pretty nebulous and hard to define. It’s like people saying they want to be healthier. The definitions of “health”  being “in shape” or being more “toned” are varied and subjective.

Even losing  scale weight,  while measurable does not always yield a more attractive  body.

Many women are in a “normal” BMI range, yet over fat and under muscled. Losing 10 lbs will not really help if you do not work on increasing or maintaining muscle mass.

If you have small underdeveloped muscles and you  lose 10 or 15 lbs you will  be smaller but still look soft and undefined. Muscle creates shape.

That’s what separates “hot” from NOT.

Do What Produces the Best Results for the Time You Put In

This is where women shortchange themselves and fail.

They do endless cardio and fitness classes thinking that it will “tone” them and make them look “hot”. They go and do  a couple of  light sets on weight machines. Or they pick up some 5 or 10 lb dumbbells and do some kind of weight training without a clue of what they are doing and  are clearly NOT challenging themselves in anyway at all.

Result is: no noticeable results!

Challenge Yourself and Use Heavier Weights

pudgy stockton pressing overhead

Look, Ma: Big Weights & No Bulking.
Great Results: Old School Style.

Big news flash: Women will not get big and bulky using heavier weights. You do not have a Y chromosome and lots of circulating testosterone, so you will not build huge muscles. Not now, not ever.

The women and men you see in bodybuilder magazines and competitions use  anabolic steroids and lots of other drugs you’ve never heard of to look the way they do. Lifting heavier weights will NOT make you look like that.

“But I get bulky if I lift something bigger than a  pink barbie bell” you cry.

Reality check: bulk is fat.

That blanket of adipose that covers your  scrawny little muscles is the source of the “bulk”. Lose the fat  and there is no “ bulk”. Losing fat is a question of  appropriate caloric intake for your height. You need a lot fewer calories than you think. If you are not losing fat you are eating too much.

Yes, I know, not what you want to hear.

Apparently most of people I see in public are not eating less. Which explains the expanding pant sizes and need for bigger hospital gurneys.

Define your goals.

Let’s face it, unless you are a competitive athlete,  your goal  is probably to  look better in a bathing suit. Your definition of better. If you need to lose fat, you will have to control your calories and eat less. Doing an hour of stair stepper and then drinking a 600 calorie juice smoothie will not lead to fat loss unless you are 6’4”.

Use cardio to condition your  cardiovascular system, not to burn excess calories. The actual caloric burn from most exercise is rather modest. Not the 900 calories the stairstepper/treadmill/ machine thingie says. Those are fantasy numbers.

Lift heavier weights.

Preferably  free weights, not machines.

You will build muscle by repeatedly creating strong contraction against greater resistance.

So use enough weight to create that required resistance.

At the minimum you need to lift at a threshold of 40-50% of your one rep max on any given exercise. This will vary but chances are if you have not gotten good results in the past with weight training you are not lifting enough weight.  3 sets of 10 reps with 5 or 10 lbs will not produce any results unless you just stepped out of a prison camp or famine or you are 90 years old and in a walker.

You  also need  a good program that gives proven physique results.

Venus Index is designed to give you a balanced symmetrical shape that is  universally attractive and healthy looking. It works for all figure types because it is based on the  universal proportion found in nature   (fibonacci’s number). Every woman wants to have a balanced hour glass shape. That is considered attractive in all cultures and throughout history.

It is a prime indicator of youth, health and vitality.

Even if you are not 18 years old, you can have a great body at any age if you do the necessary work in the gym.

If you are over 40, 50 or even 60, a youthful, lean strong body makes you younger and healthier.  And another news flash: It does not require hours a day in the gym or on a treadmill.

Working out longer is not necessarily better. You can do marathons and spin classes ‘til hell freezes over and not look good in a swimsuit.

More is NOT always better. Better is better.

Lifting ‘til you puke or working out ’til you drop does not equal great results.

Targeted programs give real results with no photoshopping needed. Just real results for real women with busy lives who are willing to do the work.

The Cliff Notes:

  1. Have a clear measurable workout  goal
  2. Consider what gives the best results for the time put in. More is not better. Better is better.
  3. Challenge yourself with heavier weights
  4. Choose a good program that will give real results. Venus Index fits that bill.


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Facebook comments:


  1. Denise is a wealth of information. Nice work!

  2. Kimberley says:

    Great article Denise.

  3. How true that achieving the VI proportions makes you look younger. Denise is our oldest contest winner and looks hotter than most US women nowadays! Great article, shooting from the hip as always.

  4. Terry Clauss says:

    Awesome article Denise! Time to get the word out!

  5. Nice job Denise, lots of great advice!

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