The one plan that dozens of women make with great resolution and then abandon within days of making it usually involves drawing up a fitness routine. Some of us are overwhelmed by the seeming enormity of it -- diet, exercise, lifestyle changes -- and never get around to making one in the first place. Others research on the internet and usually come out utterly confused about conflicting verdicts on diets and work-out routines. And some others begin their routines and leave them midway.
So we asked India's leading fitness experts to list out the most common mistakes women make while trying to follow a fitness routine.
1. Confusing fitness with weight loss
A lot of us tend to take up a fitness regime in the hope of losing weight, especially in only one or two specific areas of the body. "Therefore, dieting and some form of aerobics becomes their routine. To complicate things further, women avoid resistance training in the mistaken belief that they will build solid muscle," Reebok master trainer Kompal Gaur said. "This often becomes a double whammy - leading to severe calorie and nutrition deficiency, while also adversely affecting vital fitness parameters like strength, endurance and muscle mass."
So for instance, instead of doing only crunches to get a flat stomach, women should look for a holistic fitness plan that has the right mix of cardio, strength, flexibility and nutrition.
2. Concentrating on just exercise and ignoring diet
Most people presume that physical fitness is just about going to the gym. Yet, it is as much about what and how much you eat. "What you do in the gym is just the tip of the iceberg," nutritionist and fitness expert Nidhi Mohan Kamal said.
3. Eating too less
A lot of women think that reducing the amount of food you eat is the easiest way to lose weight. Yet, instead of eating less, concentrate on having a balanced diet that can sustain your workouts. "You need to adjust your food intake according to your activities," Namrata Purohit, the youngest trained Stott Pilates instructor in the world, said. "Eat smaller meals frequently to keep the energy levels going."
4. Not paying enough attention to your body type and what works for you
Too often women tend to choose a trendy workout, instead of thinking about what their body type is and what works for them. "Each body reacts differently. They should try different exercise before finding out what works out for them," Namrata Purohit said. "Meet a professional trainer to customise your fitness plan and guide you on which exercises are good for your body."
5. Thinking workouts are boring and painful and not working out at all
Workouts don't always have to be boring and painful. If you choose wisely, they can be fun. "It is about getting the maximum benefit with the minimum pain," Purohit said. Try out a few different exercise routines -- yoga, pilates, Zumba, kickboxing and tai chi -- and see what you like best.
6. Focusing only on cardio training
Most women think that the easiest way to lose weight is getting on a treadmill and start running. While cardio does help with weight loss initially, it is at the cost of not having enough muscle. "Cardio is really good for your heart and an important part of your training program, but your best bet for weight loss is in fact building muscle mass," Reebok master trainer Sheeba Mehra explains. "The more muscle mass you have, the higher is your metabolism, and your body burns more calories through the day, even when it is at rest."
Moreover, workouts solely based on cardio can lead to injuries and stress the joints. Look for a well-rounded and balanced training programme that also includes resistance training to strengthen muscles and yoga or stretching for mobility and flexibility. "You can't just run (which is what most of the women focus on), just stretch, or just lift," fitness expert and athlete Sonali Swami says. "If your program is missing any one of the critical components, you're going to be missing out on maximum results as well."
7. Women should not do weight training
A lot of women think that weight training will make them look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but this is a misconception. Since women have lower testosterone levels than men, they cannot develop bulky muscles without taking supplements and medicines. "Weight training or resistance training is important to build lean muscle," Nike trainer Swetha Subbiah said. "It makes you stronger and helps keep the weight off for a long period of time."
Weight training is also good for your bones and countering diseases like osteoporosis. "Apart from the aesthetics, women will develop good bone mass that can keep osteoporosis at bay and add a good amount of muscle that will help them age gracefully," fitness expert Shwetambari Shetty adds.
8. Repeating the same workout for a long period
Your fitness programme needs to keep changing or progressing in order to challenge the body in different ways. "The body adapts really quickly to a workout so over a period, it is going to burn less calories," Nike trainer Swetha Subbaiah says. "You need to either increase the intensity of the workout or change it, in order to burn more calories.
9. Expecting instant results
Instead of expecting quick fix result from your workout, give your body at least 2-3 months to see noticeable changes. Don't get frustrated if you don't get results immediately.