Bride-To-Be – Biggest Mistakes – Avoiding Weight Training

“I don’t want to do weight training because I don’t want to get big and bulky.”

I’m sure you’ve wondered about this yourself or heard someone rejecting weight training for this reason. Many brides-to-be take up running, spin class or the cross trainer to get in shape before their wedding while ignoring weight training in case it makes them “big and bulky.”

Where does this belief come from? When someone discloses this fear and I dig a little deeper I hear two main underlying reasons:

  1. “I know a girl who took up weights and she looks bigger than ever.”
  2. “I don’t want big muscles like a man.”

Here are 7 reasons why avoiding weight training is a mistake for Brides-to-be.

1.Weight Training is an extremely efficient way to burn calories.

Burning energy (calories) is very basic. To burn energy you have to do work. That work can come in many forms including running on a treadmill on a spin bike, swimming or, weight training.

You don’t have to be out of breath for an extended period of time to show that you’re burning energy. If you’re lifting heavy objects, your body is using energy. As you get stronger, you have the capacity to lift more weight and therefore do more work.

2. Weights aren’t the cause of a girl becoming big or bulky.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news and I don’t mean to harsh, but if your friend has started doing weights and she has since become “big and bulky,” guess what? It wasn’t the weights that made the difference. It was Calories In V Calories Out which has made the difference.

If your friend’s goal was to become slimmer yet she didn’t adjust her diet so that she was in a calorie deficit then your friend will become larger. This would happen whether your friend did weights or cardio or no training at all. When it comes to body composition, Calories In V Calories Out is King. The type of training you adopt is secondary.

So avoiding weight training because of an ill founded fear of becoming “big and bulk” is a big mistake.

3. Weight Training won’t make you look like a man.

I can assure you that weight training will NOT make your body more “manly.”

But what about female bodybuilders? What about the high level CrossFit girls?

Good question. The truth is many women who do weight training but end up looking what you consider to be “more manly” due to a number of possible reasons.

  • Hormone manipulation (ie, Testosterone, Oestrogen suppressants) – These will dictate how much muscle the human body can build as a response to resistance training.
  • Training Programming – Not all weight training programmes are the same. There are some exercises and training methods which will cause you to put on muscle in desirable areas producing toned legs, arms, and a firmer waist. However, if your weight training programme is designed in a way that emphasises areas which you aren’t keen to build such your upper back or shoulders, then this can happen as you get stronger.
  • Goal – Not every lady has the same goal as you. Some women want bigger arms, shoulders or wider back and other features which you might consider to be “manly.” Others simply don’t care. They just want to get stronger and the shape of their body is simply a by product of their increases in strength.

I can assure you that sensible weight training programme will not cause you to turn in to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The reality is, building muscle is not easy. It takes time, effort and other conditions have to be just right for it to happen. Your sleep, nutrition, hydration, recovery are also massive factors. It’s not just about the weight training.

The other fact is, the female body simply doesn’t have enough testosterone to build significant amounts of meaningful muscle. So every millimetre of muscle you add will be hard fought for. The process of building muscle is even more difficult when you’re in a calorie deficit and almost impossible for anyone who has been lifting for longer than about 6 months.

4. Weight Training speeds up your metabolism.

Weight training produces a similar impact on your metabolism that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has. Typical weight training involves performing a desired number of repetitions for a few sets. Each set dramatically spikes your heart rate and then it gets a chance to drop in between during the rest periods.

This stimulates your metabolism for up to 36 hours later so that you burn calories at a higher rate while resting. Sounds good, right? If you’re focusing on going for long, steady runs for 30 minutes or an hour you might burn lots of calories while you’re moving, but the impact on your resting metabolism isn’t anywhere nearly as dramatic and so you’ll have to rely on going for longer runs more often if you’re trying to burn calories.

5. Weight Training enables you to TONE and SHAPE your body.

In order to tone and shape your body, you need to increase your muscle tissue which is below your outer layers of skin and fat tissue. Increasing your muscle tissue is what gives your body shape. If your nutrition is in check and you’re maintaining a calorie deficit, you can reduce your outer layer of fat and as the muscle tissue increases, (for beginners) it amplifies the toning effect.

6. You aren’t maximising the use of your time if you avoid weight training.

In order to change your body as effectively as possible, you need to make the best use of your time. Your body can only do a maximum amount of work and it needs a minimum amount of rest time to recover before exercising again.

If you only do cardio and avoid weight training, you might see and feel some positive changes to your body, but you’re leaving a lot of progress on the table. In short, you’re wasting time if you avoid weight training.

7. Exclusively doing cardio is only beneficial for some people.

This isn’t intended to put you off doing cardio. Cardio is great for your mind and your body and it carries its own unique benefits which weight lifting cannot offer. However, if you’re trying to shape and tone your body but you’re concentrating exclusively on cardio you should be aware that it’s only going to offer significant beneifts if you already have significant muscle mass already developed underneath.

For example, if you have a previous background in sports or resistance training then doing cardio might be fine for you. However, if your muscle mass is relatively low and you’re hoping to tone and shape your body for your big day while avoiding weights, you’re going to find it much tougher.

Hopefully this clears up some of the myths regarding weight training for you. One of the most satisfying aspects of my job is teaching girls how to lift weights and then seeing them get stronger and lift heavier with amazing technique and filled with confidence and fearlessness.

Bride To Be – Biggest Mistakes – Not Having a Plan

This mistake isn’t exclusive to brides. It’s one of the more deceptive errors that many active people make. Of course, doing something is better than nothing. That goes without say. But this approach only takes you so far before your progress stalls, you lack direction, end up frustrated and feeling burnt out.

Planning Your Nutrition

If you’re serious about changing your body size, shape or composition then nutrition planning is essential. If you don’t plan and track your nutrition then it’s like playing darts with a blindfold on. You might hit the bulls eye once or even twice but the chances are slim. You’re dramatically reducing your opportunity for success by guessing, hoping or thinking your consuming the correct amounts of food.

First of all you need to figure out how many calories your body needs. There’s a simple way to do this on this page.

Next, you need to figure out how many of each type of nutrient your body needs. There’s more on this on this page.

It’s all about creating the best possible opportunity for your body to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously. You need to ensure you’re taking the correct amount of calories each day and the staying within your own specific range across the week for optimal results. After you get your Calories nailed down, your next priority is your Macro Nutrients.

Macro Nutrients are the main nutrients in your food which include Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. The amount of each of these you consume is incredibly important when it comes to fat loss while retaining (and even building) muscle.

Use a tracking app like My Fitness Pal, FatSecret, YAZIO, Lose It etc, to track your calorie and nutrient intake. This takes the guess work out of it and I guarantee you’ll see progress much faster than by simply whinging it and hoping for the best. Eating “healthy” is not the same as eating the right amount of calories for your body. You could eat nutrient dense foods but still overdo your calories and then you’ll either not lose any fat or else you could even put on more.

Planning Your Workouts

Many people simply go to random classes like Spin, Pump, Circuits or Bootcamp hoping to get results. This can be the perfect recipe for some people  IF they already have a substantial amount of muscle build up underneath and they simply need to increase their activity level.

However, for many people these can actually be unhelpful for achieving your goals. They are better than doing nothing but they aren’t the best option for you and will only take you so far. When you plan your workouts and track your progress you can see if you’re getting stronger and fitter.

In order to change your body you need to progressively overload the muscles. This means as you get stronger, your body requires more resistance (a heavier load) to challenge it. As you get fitter and your aerobic capacity increases, you need to keep challenging yourself in order to keep improving so that you can burn more energy.

Unless you’re tracking what weight you’re using, testing yourself with the same workouts each time and trying to lift more weight or more reps then you have no idea whether you’re improving or not. At best you’ll just waste time, and at worst you’ll actually go easier on yourself and give yourself less work to do without realising.

Unless you track your workout and make some recordings of your performance then you’ll not know if you’re pushing harder or if you’re just simply feeling more tired that day than normal.

When you plan your workouts appropriately, you have a much better opportunity to improve, challenge yourself and see the progress you’re after in the least amount of time.

Sample Workout Plan

A very simple, sample workout plan might look something like this:


Back Squat 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

Lunges 3 Sets 8-10 Reps each leg

Barbell Bench Press 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

Pull Ups 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

1.30-2 Mins Rest between each set.


Rowing Intervals

250m x 8

Rest 1 Minute between efforts


Back Squat 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

Lunges 3 Sets 8-10 Reps each leg

Barbell Bench Press 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

Pull Ups 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

1.30-2 Mins Rest between each set.


Sled Sprints 50m x 10

Rest 1 Minute between efforts


Back Squat 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

Lunges 3 Sets 8-10 Reps each leg

Barbell Bench Press 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

Pull Ups 3 Sets 8-10 Reps

1.30-2 Mins Rest between each set.


400m Run x 5

Rest 2 Minutes between efforts

Stick with a programme like this for about 1 month before changing the exercises to keep challenging your body and your mind. You can also change the reps, sets, angles, rest periods etc to keep challenging yourself to improve. Track your performances each time and try to better it each time.

Sample Nutrition Plan

Nutrition can be very complex so it’s difficult for me to prescribe a nutrition plan that will suit everyone both for quantity and for taste. Here is a very simple


3 Scrambled Eggs,

2 Slices of Grilled Unsmoked Bacon

2 Grilled Tomatoes

5 Grilled Mushrooms

Mid Morning Snack:

20 Mixed Nuts

1 Medium Apple

Beef Jerky


1 BBQ Chicken Fillet

Mixed Veg

Sweet Potato


Mid Afternoon Snack:

1 Skyre Yogurt

1 Banana



1 Grilled Salmon

1 Backed Potato

Mixed Veg



1 Tub of Quark Cheese

Mixed Berries


Again, I want to emphasise that nutrition is very personal and a “one size fits all” approach is not appropriate. Use this sample as inspiration to create your own meals using spices, home made sauce and marinades to flavour them as you want. The main priority when it comes to changing your body is Calories In V Calories Out. If you’re trying to get slimmer and your body requires 2000 calories each day (14,000 per week), but you end up at the end of the week having consumed 15,000 no fat loss will have occurred. The other priority is to aim for a significant portion of protein in every snack and meal to enable your body to retain as much muscle as possible while in a calorie deficit.

To sum up:

  • Create a workout plan.
  • Track your workouts and aim for a little more weight or more sets each time.
  • Calculate how many calories your body needs for your goal.
  • Calculate how many of each macro nutrient you body needs.
  • Plan your meals so that you hit these figures as closely as possible.
  • Track your nutrition each day.
  • At the end of every month take measurements of your hips and waist and adjust your nutrition accordingly.
  • Be patient.

Bride to Be – Biggest Mistakes – Unrealistic Expectations

Setting goals and having ambition is important when it comes to exercising. They help your motivation and can signal whether you’re progressing or not. However, it’s important to set realistic goals otherwise they can have exactly the opposite effect. They can beat you up psychologically, discourage you and even lead you to giving up exercising and healthy nutrition altogether, believing (falsely) that it “doesn’t work.”

It can be tempting to look at an Instagammer and assume that if you do the exact workouts they’re doing in the same way, then you’ll look exactly like them. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen for a number of reasons.

1. They’ve been training with weights for years before they posted their latest cool looking workout.

What many Instagrammers fail to disclose with their latest workout video is that the main reason they are in the shape they are is due to regular heavy resistance training for years before. They didn’t get it by just doing H.I.I.T., running, Spin Class or Body Pump, (although these can have their place. They’ve built up substantial muscle mass underneath which has hardened and firmed their bodies. It’s much easier to maintain a slim, firm physique than it is to get one.

2. Their genetics are entirely different to yours so where and how they distribute their body fat will be different.

“I just want to lose a few inches round my waist.”

“I’d really like to tone up my arms.” Do these statements sound familiar?

The truth is, we’re all unique. Our genetics largely dictate where we store most of our body fat. We can’t spot reduce. What we can do to make an effective difference, is work our muscles underneath which will growth and firm up that area. We can do this through resistance training (as mentioned above) and strip the outer layer of fat away which covers our muscles through a calories deficit. Which leads us to the next point.

Your genetics might dictate that you tend to store fat in your arms or thighs. For your friend it might be around her hips and tummy. That’s just life. We have to accept that we’re all different, unique and special. Your fiance clearly realises this.

No matter how your genetics influence your body composition, it’s still possible to make massive changes when you provide the right conditions.

3. They’ve paid close attention to their nutrition consistently for years beforehand.

In order to reduce fat around your waist, hips or wherever else nutrition is vital. You really can’t out train a bad diet, as the saying goes. A healthy calorie deficit is vital for reducing body fat while retaining as much muscle tissue as possible. This is your starting point. The next priority is ensuring you’re getting the right amount of Proteins, Fats and Carbs.

In order to change your body you need to ensure it’s getting the right fuel consistently. If you’ve neglected sensible nutrition for 3 or 4 years, you can’t reasonably expect to somehow magically overcome this is in 8 or 12 weeks.

4. Their starting point is different to yours.

Guess what, if your body fat is currently 35% when you start to exercise and eat well, you’re not going to achieve 20% body fat as quickly as someone who started at 25%. If you expect to hit 20% body fat in twelve weeks but you’re starting of closer to 40% then I’m afraid you’re in for disappointment. It’s a scientific process and it’s all about creating the right conditions for fat loss to happen as effectively as possible. It comes to a point where you can’t speed it up any more and you just have to be patient and keep ensuring the conditions are right.

Set “You” Centred Goals

If you start off aiming to look like someone else I can guarantee you’ll not only be disappointed but you’ll end up miserable, as will your friends and family. Set goals with you in mind that are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time based. This post will give you more detail on goal setting.

An example of a SMART goal for you might be to reduce your waist size from 38 inches to 36 inches in 2 months time. However, if you have a 38 inch waist in April and your Wedding is in July, aiming to have a 30 inch waist in time for your dress fitting is not realistic I’m afraid. You can still make progress in that space of time and get closer to what you’re aiming for but it’s important to realise what’s realistic and what isn’t.

If you’re looking at pictures of brides on Pinterest and Instagram and subconsciously thinking, “I hope I look like her on my wedding day,” I would encourage you to be actively avoid this trap. There are no winners. You will still look like you whether you exercise and change your nutritional habits or not. Your body is still going to look like your body whether your waist is 35 inches or 25 inches.

Having realistic expectations for what you can achieve by your wedding day is important and it can stop you being disappointed on your big day with what you’ve achieved. It’s never too late to change your exercise and nutrition habits and at the very least you’ll notice a difference to how your body feels and your frame of mind on your big day.

If you’d like any help setting some realistic goals for your wedding fill send me a message here.