We all know how fantastic working out is for your health. But what happens when your workouts aren’t delivering the results you want? Or you’re not getting the results you think you should be getting? While any kind of physical activity is good, some workout plans are better than others and—as you might suspect—a lot of other factors come into play when trying to lose weight and tone up. So if your workout isn’t working for you, one of the following eight reasons could be to blame. Find out how to turn that around and get the results you deserve!
1. You’re not working hard enough.
If you have been exercising consistently for several weeks, months or years, it’s definitely time to increase the intensity and start pushing yourself. As you work out more and more, your body adapts and becomes more efficient at doing that certain activity. This means that over time, the 30-minute workout that was challenging for you three months ago doesn’t provide the same results. In fact, you’re actually burning fewer calories and your body is no longer changing if you’re still doing the same old thing.
Get-Results Remedy: In order to get results from exercise, you have to regularly push yourself beyond your fitness comfort zone. Whether you increase the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts, you have to switch it up. Not sure where to start? Try adding an extra day of cardio onto your routine, testing out a new group exercise class at the gym, adding another loop around your walking track, or bumping up the incline and speed on the treadmill. Remember, when it comes to exercise, change is good—and that change should be challenging!
2. You’re working too hard.
Yes, you can actually work out too hard and too much. If you’re someone who goes all out in every workout, or rarely to never takes a day off to rest, you could actually be breaking your muscles down instead of building them. If you always feel tired and sore, have unexplained headaches, insomnia or just a general lack of motivation and an inability to complete your workouts, you may be overtraining.
Get-Results Remedy: Take three to five days off of exercise altogether. It may be hard for you to do this, but know that you must allow your body the time it needs to rest and recover. Get plenty of sleep each night and fill up on nutritious foods. Then slowly ease back into your routine, making shorter, less intense workouts part of your workout plan. And remember to always take one to two rest or easy active recovery days a week!
3. You haven’t changed your diet.
Exercise is awesome, but if you’re not eating a nutritious diet with the appropriate number of calories for weight management, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Proper nutrition fuels your workouts, but eat too much and you could gain weight (or hurt your weight-loss efforts), and eat too little, and you won’t have enough energy to exercise.
Get-Results Remedy: If you can’t seem to see those muscles you’re trying to build, start logging your foods to see how many calories you’re eating a day. If you’re regularly eating more than you should (it just takes an extra 100 calories a day to gain an extra pound a month), then try choosing lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods and slowly decreasing your caloric intake until you’re at the right level! On the flip side of that, if you find that you’re eating too few calories, that can also slow your metabolism and leave you drained at the gym. Find out how many calories you need to manage your weight by visiting your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker.
4. You’re only doing cardio.
Yes, cardio is important for calorie burning, but a proper exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility. If you’re just doing cardio, then you will be burning calories and strengthening your cardiovascular system, but you won’t be really changing your body composition by building more muscle. For that you need strength training!
Get-Results Remedy: Lift weights or do body-weight exercises, such as lunges and push-ups, at least twice a week to reap the amazing benefits of resistance training; including decreased body fat, increased muscle mass and stronger bone density. For hardcore cardio fans, you can also try kettlebell training or circuit training, which is like getting a strength and cardio workout at the same time!
5. You reward yourself with food.
Do you allow yourself to have that extra piece of pizza or order that dessert when dining out because you “went to the gym” earlier? If so, you may be undoing all of that good calorie-burning with too many treats.
Get-Results Remedy: Familiarize yourself with the calorie contents of your favorite foods—and find out how many calories you’re really burning through exercise. (SparkPeople’s Nutrition Tracker and Fitness Tracker will help you learn!) Remember that while you may have run 3 miles at the gym, that only burned 300 calories, which isn’t nearly equivalent to the calorie count in that brownie sundae you ate later. Focus on how good exercise makes you feel rather than what it allows you to eat after; and choose foods that fuel your workouts, rather than the other way around.
6. You’re doing too much too soon.
Unfortunately, results don’t happen overnight. It takes time and consistency to get in shape over the long haul. But how many of us decide that we’re going to get in shape and then get totally gung-ho, spending hours at the gym only to find ourselves tired, sore and no thinner after a week or two?
Get-Results Remedy: Be patient. Remember that you’re creating a lifestyle change that you can sustain for the rest of your life. While there’s temptation to start off doing extra long and hard workouts, don’t. Build up to doing those tough workouts gradually as the weeks go by. Not only will this prevent injury and give your body more time to adapt and change, it will also give your life and habits time to change—permanently!
7. You’re trading sleep for workouts.
We’re all so busy these days, and sometimes the only time to work out seems to be early in the morning—even if you were up late the night before working or with a child that couldn’t sleep. But regularly swapping sleep for workouts can seriously hinder your weight-loss, as sleep triggers a number of hormones that influence cravings and a tendency for weight gain. In addition, too many sleepless nights will leave you tired and unfocused for your workouts, which means that you won’t get much from your efforts. And did you know that sleep is a much needed part of a fitness plan, since a lot of recovery and repair happens while you rest each night? Skimp on the shut-eye, and it could also lead to symptoms of overtraining.
Get-Results Remedy: Start scheduling both your sleep and your workouts—and treat both as unbreakable appointments. Then follow SparkPeople’s 4-week Better Sleep Challenge to make the most of those Z’s! Exercising after an occasional sleepless night shouldn’t pose too many problems. But if you’re regularly swapping sleep for a sweat session, you could be doing more long-term harm than good. Sleep should come first—even before working out.
8. You sit all day.
Sure, you work out regularly, but what you do the rest of the day matters, too! If you put in a solid exercise session only to sit at a desk all day and lounge in a recliner watching TV at night, you may be undoing all of your hard work at the gym. Plus, there are a number of new studies that say too much sitting can be bad for our health and our waistlines—even if you exercise during the day.
Get-Results Remedy: Try to work more activity into all areas of your life by going for a walk after dinner, choosing to stand whenever possible, taking the stairs, parking your car further away and replacing your TV time for more active relaxation (like playing with your dog). Also, if your job requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, set a timer to beep every half hour or hour to remind you to stand up, stretch and do a quick lap around the office.
If you’re not seeing the results you want, you may be guilty of more than one of the mistakes above. Follow these tips to feel better, have more energy and get the workout results you want and deserve!