The 2 Biggest Mistakes Women Make in The Gym

If you’re a woman who’s new to the gym, chances are you’ve been overloaded with information and you’re not sure what is the right thing to do. In this blog we discuss the most common mistakes women make in the gym, and what to do instead.

One of the first mistakes women make is thinking they need different supplements and products than men.

Have you ever gone to a local supplement store or scrolled through instagram looking for fitness inspiration, only to see a ton of products or ads claiming they’re made just for women?  

Yeah, me too. I went to a GNC recently and saw a ‘just for women’ protein powder. It was flashy with pink lettering and a thin silhouette of a woman on the front. Curious, I looked at the back to see the nutrition labeling. It had less grams of protein per scoop than the other regular brands.

It was even in a smaller container. But it cost about the same. It made me angry because I wonder how many women fall prey to this marketing nonsense!

One of the biggest fitness mistakes women make when trying to improve their health is falling for this BS marketing. Just because it says it’s for women doesn’t mean it’s actually any different. Don’t fall prey and pay more money to get less of a product with the exact same ingredients. Look at the nutritional labeling and ingredients before purchasing. Compare products back to back. Ask questions. Know what your needs are and save yourself some money.


The second biggest mistake is thinking that the best way to get slim and toned is to stick to ‘women’s workouts,’ ie; 2lb pink dumbbells and tons of cardio.

For generations now women have been told they shouldn’t lift heavy like men, because they’ll get too big, or that their uterus might fall out. <– seriously that’s a real claim. Cue eye roll.

As a result, women have flocked to step-class and Jane Fonda style workouts out of fear of ‘training like a man’. I’m starting to think of the movie, The Stepford Wives now where they exercise in heels.


Just say no.


Here’s the truth. Sticking to high reps/light weights and several hours of cardio simply because you’re a woman is also a bunch of BS. The best sets/reps/weight to use is going to be specific to your current strength and your goals. Not your gender.

The training plan should reflect if your goal is fat-loss, building muscle or getting strong. If you’re trying to lose that final 10 lbs stuck around your midsection, but you’re only picking up 2 pound pink dumbbells and flailing around doing donkey kicks every day, you’re not going to get there.

Want to get slim and toned? Getting slim has more to do with nutrition, and getting toned means the same thing as building some muscle. Building some muscle is not equal to becoming the hulk’s female counterpart. Building some muscle means the same thing as being “lean and toned.” Let go of the fear to train “like a man.” You won’t blow up and your uterus won’t fall out either. Scouts honor.



Side note: The women who do get large muscles train deliberately for years and years to get that way. It doesn’t just happen by looking at a dumbbell over twenty pounds. It’s focused work that is intentional and takes discipline and dedication. To the women who do want to build more muscle and train for size, there’s nothing wrong with that either! That’s awesome and something to be respected!


Point being, you should train according to how you like to train, what’s going to get you to your goals and make you feel confident. That’s going to look different for everyone.


Which leads me to a conversation about body image. As women, we’re told our entire lives what’s attractive and how we should strive to look like society’s standard of beauty. Most women spend their entire lives in a constant state of trying to lose weight with dreams of being slim, all the while feeling insecure and never truly stepping into their strength.

We’re told we need to look a certain way if we want to attract a man; be desirable, but not slutty.

We’re told we need to be slim, but not too skinny, toned but not too muscular. We’re told we need to go to the gym to lose the baby weight, but that our bodies will never be the same after having children.

So much confusing and conflicting information… and it’s a load of crap.


Try your best to block out all this nonsense. Take a seat and write down your goals.

What do you want to accomplish? Why are these goals important to you?


Then, create a plan, or find a coach to help you reach your goals.

Once you start training for your goals, you will begin to feel more confident in your skin.

As you get stronger, you will see that strength is beautiful.


With all of this being said, this pendulum indeed swings the other way too when it comes to women training in the gym. Let me explain.

Many professional athletes and even doctors aren’t aware that there are some key differences in women’s fitness!

One of the biggest differences is that we do have ovaries, a uterus and can grow babies!


Yayyyy we’re special…. I got so excited I almost peed myself.


Just kidding… But now that  we’re on the topic of incontinence, did you know this is a COMMON thing that happens to women in and out of the gym? As women, our pelvic floor health is unique and absolutely crucial to our health and fitness, especially if you’ve had children.

When a baby grows inside us, our abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles stretch out. Many women sadly have to ‘accept’ what’s known as Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal wall) and leaking urine during pregnancy, with little to zero education and guidance from their doctors about recovery post childbirth. Most women never fully recover postpartum, either!

I kid you not, my sisters doctor delivered her baby a year ago and said verbatim,

“It [her abdominal muscles and pelvic floor] will go right back to normal after her six week recovery. It’ll heal on its own.”

Cue my angry face again.

It makes me angry that even our medical doctors aren’t educated on the detrimental and long term side effects that pregnancy and childbirth do to a woman’s body. It’s simply brushed aside like it’s nothing when evidence clearly shows it’s a big deal and something that requires recovery.



The good news is, there is help out there. Pelvic floor physical therapists are staking their claim in the industry. If you’re a woman who’s been hitting the gym and trying to get strong but can’t seem to *not* pee your pants with some exercises, I highly encourage you to search around for a pelvic floor PT specialist. If you don’t know where to start, email me and I’ll refer you to someone.


Incontinence is not a badge of honor (which some box-gyms may lead you to believe), it’s actually a red flag. Your body is warning that your pelvic floor has a dysfunction. Listen to your body and take care of the necessary foundations of strength and in turn you’ll lift safer and be stronger. 


As always, do your research, ask questions and if you’re paying more for a product because it’s marketed towards women, chances are you can buy the “mens” product and it’ll be the exact same thing.

Use that money you saved on some new workout pants. I know I will.



Jordan Raye

Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor & Wellness Coach

Transform Your Body in 8 Weeks! (8 Weeks of FREE Workouts)

Josiah Novak - Author of Diets Suck

For the past 18 months I’ve run numerous 8 week Body-Transformation Challenges – The TRUE8 Challenge – that have resulted in hundreds of successful permanent body transformations.  Each 8 week program is centered around teaching you the habits, routines, workouts, nutrition guidelines and tips to ensure that fitness becomes a permanent part of your every day life.

In today’s blog, for the first time ever, I’m mapping out the exact workout and cardio routines that has been utilized in our TRUE8 program to help people transform their body and keep their results.  Our TRUE8 is getting a makeover and, moving forward, will be an even better transformation program called TRUE8 BEGINNINGS.

APPLY For 1 on 1 Coaching HERE


Phase 1 is all about building a strong base.  Whether you’ve been out of the game for awhile, or if you’re just starting out – it’s important to build up your baseline of strength to ensure you’re building momentum as you go into the next few phases.  Having strength helps you avoid injuries, improves energy, increases muscle functionality, and can boost your metabolism.

Each workout starts with a dynamic warm up – I’ll cover a quick exercise list here for a solid warm up.  Be sure to start each workout by warming up properly to avoid injury and ensure that your workout is effective!


-Jumping Jacks 30 seconds x 3

-High Knees 30 seconds x 3

-Arm Circles 30 seconds x 3

-Walk-Outs x 10

-Seal Jacks 30 seconds x 3

-Push-ups (hands elevated if necessary) x 10

-Lunges x 10

-Air Squats x 10

-Crunches x 10


  1. Squats (barbell, goblet or bodyweight) 4 sets of 4-6 reps – Rest 90-120 seconds between sets
  2. Reverse Lunges 3 sets of 6-8 reps each leg – rest 90 seconds between sets
  3. Push-ups 3 sets of as many reps as you can (stay 2 reps shy of failure) – rest 90 seconds between sets
  4. Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows – 3 sets of 6-8 reps – rest 90 seconds between sets
  5. Planks – 3 sets of 30-45 seconds


On days off from the gym – you should focus on total activity.  Start by tracking your steps using a free app such as Pedometer to figure out where you stand now. Aim for 6,000-8,000 steps per day for Phase 1 on all days (especially off days).

Besides activity, focus on stretching, mobility and staying hydrated on days you aren’t working out.


  1. Hex Bar Deadlifts – 4 sets of 4-6 reps – rest 120 seconds between sets
  2. Glute/Hip Thrusts – 3 sets 0f 6-8 reps – rest 90-120 seconds between sets
  3. Seated Rows – 3 sets of 6-8 reps – rest 90 seconds between sets
  4. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps – rest 90 seconds between sets
  5. Face Pulls – 3 sets of 8-10 reps – rest 90 seconds between sets


Same as Off Day #1


  1. Goblet Squat – 3 sets of 6-8 reps – rest 120 seconds between sets
  2. Bulgarian Split Squats – 3 sets of 6 reps each leg – rest 90-120 seconds between sets
  3. Incline Dumbbell Press – 3 sets of 6-8 reps – rest 90 seconds between sets
  4. Pull-Up Bar Hang – 3 sets of 30-45 seconds – rest 90 seconds in between
  5. V-Ups – 3 sets of 10-15 reps – rest 90 seconds between sets

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Phase 2 is all about building more muscle size and shape.  In this phase the reps will start to increase and rest time will decrease.  You’ll definitely sweat a bit more than phase 1 and your total work volume will begin to increase.

This phase also comes with the introduction of “Finishers”.  These are short, challenging cardio workouts to add to your calorie burning for the day.


  1. Goblet Squats 3 sets of 10-12 – rest 60 seconds between sets
  2. (SUPERSET) Dumbbell Bench Press 3 sets of 10-12 superset with Band Pull-Aparts 3 sets of 15 – Rest 60 seconds after Superset
  3. (SUPERSET) Seated Row 3 sets of 10-12 superset with Lying Leg Curls 3 sets of 10-12 – Rest 60 seconds after superset
  4. (SUPERSET) Calf Raises 3 sets of 15 superset with Decline Bench Crunches 3 sets of 15 – Rest 45 seconds after superset


As Fast as Possible Do:

10 Rounds of:

10 Squats / 10 Burpees


In Phase 2 your target steps for each day, especially off days, goes to 10,000 steps.  The best way to do this is to schedule time to walk and to be sure to stay as active as you possibly can.


  1. Standing Dumbbell Press 3 sets of 8-12 reps – rest 60 seconds between sets
  2. Leg Press 3 sets of 8-12 reps – rest 60 seconds between sets
  3. (SUPERSET) Lat Pulldowns 3 sets of 8-12 reps superset with Push-ups 3 sets of 12 – rest 60 seconds between supersets
  4. Bent Over Rear Delt Flys – 3 sets of 20 – rest 45 seconds between sets
  5. (SUPERSET) Barbell Bicep Curls 3 sets of 10-12 superset with Tricep Rope Pushdowns 3 sets of 10-12 – rest 45 seconds between supersets


Same as off day #1.


  1. Sumo Deadlifts – 3 sets of 8 – rest 60-90 seconds between sets
  2. Dumbbell Incline Press – 3 sets of 10-12 – rest 60 seconds between sets
  3. (SUPERSET) Barbell Row 3 sets of 10-12 – superset with Dumbbell Lateral Raises 3 sets of 12-15 – rest 60 seconds between sets
  4. Dumbbell Lunges- 3 sets of 12-15 – rest 60 seconds between sets
  5. Plank – 3 sets of 45 seconds – rest 45 seconds between planks


Complete as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes:

2 Kettlebell Front Rack Squats – 8 reps

2 Kettlebell Swings – 8 reps


Phase 3 is going to push you both physically and mentally.  The last 2 weeks of this 8 week program are all about taking your training to new levels. Your workload in this phase will increase and you’ll be pushed outside of your comfort zone.  These types of phases are meant to last long, but in short bursts they can be super effective.

In this phase you’ll be introduced to more density work through Giant sets.  This is where we group 3-5 exercises together and perform them with very minimal rest between exercises (10-20 seconds).

Buckle up – you’re almost done with the 8 week program!


GIANT SET 1 – Rest 15 seconds between exercises- after all exercises are complete -rest 60 seconds and then repeat for 4 total rounds.

1A) Dumbbell Front Squats – 15-20 reps

1B) Push-ups (hands elevated if necessary) 15-20 reps

1C) Dumbbell Reverse Lunges 15 reps each leg

1D) Planks – 45-60 seconds

GIANT SET 2 – Same as giant set 1

2A) Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 15 reps

2B) Split Squats – 15 reps each leg

2C) Push ups (hands elevated if necessary) – 15 reps

2D) Bench Dips 15 reps


Complete 100 sit ups – everytime you break you must stop and complete 10 burpees


In Phase 3 you’ll continue to aim for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day.  On off days try to reach for 12,000 if possible.


GIANT SET 1: Rest 15 seconds between exercises- after all exercises are complete -rest 60 seconds and then repeat for 4 total rounds.

1A) Chest Supported Dumbbell Row 15-20 reps

1B) Dumbbell Deadlift 12-15 reps

1C) Dumbbell Curls – 15 reps

1D) 3 Point Plank – 30-45 seconds

GIANT SET : Same as Giant Set 2

2A) Seated Cable Rows 15-20 reps

2B) Rope Face Pulls 15-20 reps

2C) Rope Cable Crunches 15-20 reps

2D) Lat Pulldowns 15-20 reps


Complete 21-15-9 reps of — Wall Balls & Box Jumps


GIANT SET #1: Rest 15 seconds between exercises- after all exercises are complete -rest 60 seconds and then repeat for 4 total rounds.

1A) Lateral Lunges – Max reps each side

1B) Wall Slides – 20 reps

1C) Reverse Snow Angels – 20 reps

1D) Hollow Hold – Max Time

GIANT SET #2: Same as Giant Set 1

2A) Hand Release Push-ups 15 reps

2B) Pike Push-ups – Max Reps

2C) High Knees In Place – 30 seconds

2D) Calf Raises 20 reps


In each phase there’s only 3 workouts, but if you have the time and recovery ability you can workout 4-5 times a week.  Simply start again at workout 1 after completing all 3 workouts.

To speed up recovery – be sure to stay active on rest days.

Drink plenty of water.

Practice perfect form.

Working out is just one piece of the puzzle.  Nutrition, mental strength, recovery, sleep and lifestyle are major pieces when it comes to transformation.  If you’re ready to get the guidance and accountability needed to make a permanent change, hit the apply button below and we will set up a consultation!

APPLY for a 1 on 1 Consultation Call HERE