Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS is the author of six books, including Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover, and Look Great Naked. He’s certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America; he’s also been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals.

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Look Great Naked! with Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS

by Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, Fitness Expert

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Think you're on track to achieve the body you desire? If you're like a lot of people, you might need to think again.

woman exerciseFact is you can have the best of intentions and do a lot of things right in your exercise routine, but it only takes one major faux pas to impair overall results.

Here are three of the biggest mistakes I see people make when training, with advice on how you can get back on road to fitness success.

Mistake 1: Not including weight training in your workout!
All too often, people gravitate toward cardiovascular exercise and shun weight training. This is particularly true of women, who often refuse to lift weights because they think they're going to get too bulky or because they don't want to add muscle until they reach their ideal body weight. Big mistake!

Without question, lifting weights is the most important thing you can do for your health, wellness and appearance - hands down. It improves posture, increases strength, and tones your muscles - things that aerobics just can't do.

And contrary to popular belief, it's also the best activity for losing weight and maintaining your ideal body weight. Muscle is metabolically active tissue that increases your resting metabolism so you're burning calories throughout the day. If you can put on five pounds of lean muscle - which anyone can do within several months - you can burn in excess of an additional 1,000 calories a week!

Mistake 2: Not training with adequate intensity or effort!
Okay, so you heeded my advice in Mistake 1 and you lift weights on a regular basis. Good. But are you training hard enough to make a difference? Perhaps not.

Human nature is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It's not a whole lot of fun feeling your muscles burn while struggling to finish off those last few reps of an intense set. But the fact is, if you aren't struggling, you aren't going to see the results you desire. People who lift those one-pound pink dumbbells while talking on their cell phone or reading a magazine are just engaging in an exercise in futility.

In order to bring about a change in your physique you need to tax your muscles. No two ways about it. This means the last few reps of your set need to be difficult, if not impossible, to complete. Only by sufficiently challenging your muscles beyond their present capacity will you set the stage for muscle development. Translation: Lack of intensity leads to a lack of muscle tone!

Mistake 3: Not having a game plan!
When it comes to exercise, it's all about strategy. Too many times I see people walk into a gym not knowing what they want to do that day. They end up walking around aimlessly, doing a little of this and a little of that... and ultimately accomplishing very little. I equate this to writing a novel without knowing the plot; you end up with a hodgepodge that doesn't work.

The important thing is to decide what you want to do before you start and then follow through on that game plan each time you workout. You should know precisely what you are going to do prior to entering the gym. Decide on the exercises, sets and reps that you will perform. Write them down, if necessary. Account for any possible contingencies. In this way, nothing will be left to chance.

Stay fit!

Brad Schoenfeld is one of America's leading fitness experts. He's the author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect, Continue

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@ 4:19pm ET on March 23, 2009
i don't do weights cause i don't like to, but i love cardio, can't i build muscle this way? doing spinning using my body weight, and running ?

@ 1:49am ET on March 24, 2009
i reduced about 33 pounds by only doing cardio but then i hit a weight loss platue. Then i incorporated some weight training and lost about 6 more pounds in last 6 weeks. I think it is really important to do weight training to keep that weight loss going. It gives more strenght to work throughout the day.

@ 8:43pm ET on June 27, 2011

Ask yourself: why do you not like weight training? Stigma? Fear? Not knowing what to do? Embarassment?

You're a fool if you think cardio can build real muscle. That's why activities are separated into cardio and strength training in the first place. You need to have a sufficient mechanical load to build new muscle tissue. This requires weights,whether it be body weight, free weights, machines, etc.

@ 6:15pm ET on July 15, 2011
could weight training be in the form of resistance bands, squats and yoga? i also hike a lot and do step classes

i hate the fact that when i lift weights, my legs start to get bigger. I understand that it's the fat that's surrounding my legs that will go away with strength training, cardio and diet but i want lean and slender muscular legs, not big muscular legs....are the weights necessary? or can they be replaced with other forms of strength training?

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