It may seem you’re doing everything right for exercise, but for some reason you aren’t losing weight. If you’ve been losing weight consistently and feel like you’re in a rut, it may be because of a workout mistake that is preventing weight loss.
There are many reasons why weight loss has stalled, but check through the list of these simple workout mistakes to see if you need to adjust anything.
Going as hard as you can for every workout
It may seem intuitively right: The harder you exercise, the more calories you burn, the more weight loss will happen. Although there is definitely some truth to this basic concept, the fact is you probably are not utilizing fat at a fuel efficiently with this thought.
Moderate intensity exercise feels like you’re working hard, but you could still carry on a conversation, you’re not breathless. Vigorous activity you don’t want to talk and are out of breath. Yes you burn more calories during vigorous activity, but it is primarily carbohydrates. Moderate activity burns a higher percentage of fat and can help “teach” the body to burn fat more efficiently.
Doing intervals is also a good way to bring heart rate up high and down again, which may increase metabolic rate hours after exercise. Bottom line is vary your intensity during your workouts. Don’t always go at the same intensity.
Compromising form for extra sets
More is not always better if it means you’re doing the exercise wrong or using the wrong muscles just to get in more lifting. Going faster and more reps doesn’t always mean a better workout. When you rush through exercises or go faster than what your body should do, you are probably using fewer muscles to get the job done.
Try slowing down a bit when doing intervals or lifting weights. Make sure you feel your muscles that are supposed to be working.
Exercising when dehydrated
Working out when you’re dehydrated, even 1-2%, can drastically impact your workout. If you’re dehydrated, your muscles won’t be able to work as hard as normal and you’ll feel more tired. You won’t be able to lift as much weight, go as fast on the treadmill or may cut out your workout earlier than normal.
Make sure your hydrated all the time, especially before exercising. Ideally you want your urine color to be very pale yellow to clear throughout the day. Make sure to drink water (or other liquids) throughout your workout.
Only doing one type of exercise
You should do various types of exercises for a workout. If you only do one type of activity, you are not challenging your body in different ways. Changing intensity and working out different muscles can easily be done by diversifying your workouts. Here are some examples of activities to add to your routine:
- Add in strength training if you don’t already. If you do, try some different lifts instead of doing the same routine.
- Zumba or other dance classes can give you a great cardio workout.
- If you’re used to running, elliptical, stair stepper or biking, try going for a swim to diversify your cardio workouts. Swimming is a total body workout, high calorie burn and easy on the joints.
- Interval training can get your heart rate up high, but not for very long. It can be a stimulating break up between workouts where you’re staying at the same intensity the whole time.
- Find someone to play racquetball, soccer, tennis or other sports with a few times a week in place of or in addition to a workout. This will give you some cardio while also changing up the intensity.
Eating extra because you exercise
Exercise doesn’t automatically mean weight loss. Humans are naturally good at compensating for the calories we burn off; we naturally ramp up our food intake when we start exercising more. Just because you worked out hard at the gym doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want if you’re trying to lose weight.
Diet plays just as much, if not more, a role in weight balance. If you feel you’re exercising a lot but not losing weight, check your food intake. Doing a food log for a few days can help you see where you’re off track or talk to a dietitian for more assistance.
If you feel hampered from your weight loss goals, it may be because of simple mistakes you can fix when exercising. Vary your intensity instead of always going all out or only moderate. Changing up the intensity can help shift weight loss.
Don’t try to get in some extra sets or up the weight just to do it. Stay within a range you can lift with proper form. Make sure you are staying hydrated throughout exercise, as slight dehydration can affect your muscle’s ability to work. Watch your food intake; are you over compensating your calories from your workout?