Why You Should Take Your Girlfriend's Fitness Advice
When it comes to making gains in your fitness routine, you might not think to turn to your significant other for advice. After all, she likes barre and you like barbells. But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed from working out with my husband, it’s the fact that you guys can stand to learn a few things from us females. Follow these four fitness rules from women to get stronger, fitter, and faster.
SECRET 1: Be open to new experiences.
While there’s a fine line between shaking up your fitness routine and chasing every fitness fad imaginable, women aren’t afraid to put their egos aside, make a fool of themselves, and have a little fun. We’ll try it all once, whether it’s a new yoga studio, salsa dancing lessons, a weekend kettlebell workshop, or even trampoline classes.
Although my husband grumbles from time to time, he appreciates the fact that I’m always seeking out new and interesting training methods. For instance, a few months ago I announced that I signed us up for a flying trapeze class. (Aren’t those the words every man longs to hear?)
The class was awesome, but it also called out our need for more hip mobility. Ever since then, we’ve tweaked our workouts to alleviate this problem. We do more flow-based kettlebell work, partner resistance band drills, and yoga regressions. As a result, my husband admits he likes the fresh workout regimen, and agrees he feels healthier and stronger due to the increased range of motion in his hips. He can thank me (and trapeze) for that.
SECRET 2: Sweat with a buddy.
Peer inside any group fitness class and you’ll realize that women like working out in groups. They value the idea of a fitness community, and, according to a study in the American Journal of Health Promotion, women are smart to do so. The study reported that social support goes hand-in-hand with exercise adherence. Read: Having a workout partner or a group to exercise with increases your gains.
While men are becoming more comfortable with the idea of working out in groups (due in part to popular fitness trends like CrossFit), many guys still prefer to go it alone. But you’re missing out. The more people you have training together, the more energy, sweat, and encouragement there is in the room. You can do a better range of exercises if someone’s spotting you, and they can push you outside of your comfort zone.
Still not buying it? Do what my husband and I do, and work out together. Indiana University study found that couples that worked out separately experienced a 43 percent dropout rate. Couples that worked out together, however, had only a 6.3 percent dropout rate—even if they did different types of exercises.
Who knows what makes the two of us stick it out together? Maybe he’s attracted to the colorful spandex I wear, or maybe I can't be away from his sexy deadlifts. Whatever the reason, it works. Love can be a powerful tool in your exercise arsenal.
SECRET 3: Be coachable.
You know the stereotype: Men are less likely to ask for directions when lost than women. But according to a coachability test by PsychTests.Com, men’s stubbornness flows into the work place as well. It found that females are more coachable, better at handling criticism, and more willing to learning new skills than men.
So why am I telling you this? Swallowing your pride when receiving feedback is a necessity in business and sports. It can help you past the competition, and leave them in the dust.
Start following your wife’s or girlfriend’s lead and take direction at the gym. Sign up for a weekend workshop that introduces you to novel skills or workouts. Get a tuneup, and check back in on skills you acquired years ago. (If you learned to power clean in a high school football weight room, your form could probably stand to be cleaned up now.) Ask an expert to adjust your form. What’s the worse that could happen? At the very least, it might pay off in more pounds lifted.
SECRET 4: Know when to stop.
While females push themselves with hard workouts, most of us don’t adhere to the “no pain, no gain” mentality that many guys follow. Personally, I’d rather enjoy my workouts. Why would I keep doing something that hurts? The more fun I have during my workouts, the more motivated I am to increase my exercise intensity and stick with a program.
Contrary to popular belief, pain doesn’t need to be present in order for your training session to be productive. That’s right: Suffering doesn’t indicate a quality workout. In fact, pain can be a warning sign of injured muscles, tendons, or ligaments. It’s our body’s way of saying stop. And if you always go overboard, bouts of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can stop you from working out consistently, and ultimately hinder your goals.
Now, I’m not saying your workouts shouldn’t be challenging. Trust me, women still know how to push outside their comfort zones, break a sweat, and make a change. But take a page out of your girl’s playbook, and don’t annihilate yourself. You’ll look and feel better for it.
Jen Sinkler, RKCII, USAW, is a longtime fitness writer and personal trainer based in the Twin Cities. She trains clients at The Movement Minneapolis. No fitness topic is off-limits on her blog musclemorphosis.com