I’ve had a gym membership for 11 years. Over the years I’ve seen way more white women than black women working out (a different article for a different day). And when I do see black women in the gym I notice we consistently make the same mistakes. Notice I say “we”. I too have made these mistakes, but once corrected, I was able to reap the bountiful blessings of the gym. And I want you too as well. So here are the three mistakes black women make:
1. Too Much Cardio/Ineffective Use of Cardio
My first love is running outdoors. I love a good run, but black women spend too much time on the treadmill, elliptical, Stairmaster or bike. Cardio has its benefits but if you’re like me, you want to be toned, firm and look amazing naked. 30 minutes to an hour on the treadmill is not going create a toned, firm body. Yes, you sweat. Yes, you will drop some pounds. But cardio is not going to make you look good naked. Unless you do cardio properly and that involves HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower intense exercise. My favorite form of HIIT is to walk the treadmill at 2.5 to 3.0 mph for a minute and then run anywhere from 7.5 to 9.0 mph for 30 seconds and then back to walking at 2.5 to 3.0 mph. I will alternate between the walking and sprinting for 10-15 minutes. HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time and it helps to build muscle which is a perfect Segway to the 2nd mistake we make in the gym.
2. Not Enough Heavy Lifting
The more time you spend on cardio, the less time you have in the rack. If you want to build the body of your dreams you must lift and lift heavy. A lot of women avoid the rack because they are afraid that if they lift too much or too heavy they will look like a man. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We don’t have enough testosterone to look manly. We will however be curvy and toned. Yesterday at the gym I deadlifted singles at 225lbs. Do I look manly? It can be intimidating in the weight section with all the men grunting and groaning but don’t let that stop you. Incorporate the deadlift, squat, and press into your workout routines and lift as heavy as you can without sacrificing form. When you get stronger, lift heavier. Use the bar, dumbbells (not 5lb ones either) or kettlebells. Make lifting an integral part of your workout routine and you will fall in love with the results.
3. Not Stretching Before Working Out
I have recently realized the importance of stretching prior to working out. And I don’t mean a quick 2-minute stretch. Stretching for 5-10 minutes before working out loosens up the muscles and prepares them for the heavy loads. You’ll be able to workout longer before becoming fatigued and less likely to experience muscle strains. I find that when I stretch my workouts are much more productive. I can lift heavier and longer. My favorite stretches are butterfly, shoelace, and sphinx.
Stretch for 10 minutes+ HIIT Cardio for 10 minutes + Heavy Lifting for 40 minutes = The Perfect Gym Workout
Bonus Mistake: You can’t outrun your fork! 70% of your body composition is based on what you eat. What you eat in private, you wear in public no matter what you do in the gym. Incorporate intermittent fasting, juicing, and plant- based foods into your daily routine and you will reach your fitness goals faster.
Kathleen is a Published Author, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Vaginal Steam Practitioner, Yin Yoga Instructor, Intermittent Fasting Specialist, Herbalist and Death & Mourning Doula