Six reasons your workout isn’t working

The HealthGal Health Guide April 25, 2014
  • I exercise daily.  While I exercise I often sneak peeks at others, assessing their efforts.  On the one hand, it’s great that people are in the gym, working out.  On the other hand, these members can typically stop coming because the payoff is disappointing.  They don’t see the kind of weight loss or body changes that they feel is merited by their commitment.  Why isn’t their workout working?  Why isn’t your workout working?

     

    You justify extra food because you feel you earned it.

     

    Your workout may only be burning an extra 100-300 calories per session, based on your effort during the allotted time.  If you are consuming extra snacks or larger portions, you may actually be consuming more calories than you’re burning.  You need to decide how many calories a day you should be consuming, based on your true exercise efforts and your goals.  Consider a one time visit with a dietician or nutritionist to get honest numbers, in terms of the number of calories your exercise effort is using, and the number of calories you need to consume daily to either lose weight or to support building muscle mass for a leaner look.

     

    Your think you’re working out with your trainer for an hour when you’re not.

     

    If you take ten minutes to warm up (as I often see clients doing) at a relatively low effort level, and use ten minutes at the end of the workout for massage and/or stretching, and you talk a lot during the workout, then you may be actually exercising for about 30 minutes (not 60 minutes).  Dismal but true, in many cases of trainer-mediated workouts in the gym.  I’m all for having a good time while you work out, but why not warm up before the session begins and keep the talking to a minimum.  Five to seven minutes of stretching and massage is more than enough at the end of your (now) longer workout.

     

    You overestimate your effort and calories burned

     

    I know group instructors like to claim numbers like 500, 700, 1000 calories burned during your one hour class workout – it’s highly unlikely on a regular basis.  You are probably utilizing closer to 250-400 calories during a class that offers a warm up, cool down and some small breaks in between, even if it's a challenging class.  If you 're working out on an aerobic machine and reading, texting, sending emails or talking, you are also robbing yourself on the effort scale.  Listen to music and use intervals to increase your calorie burn.  Take a variety of classes and hold light hand weights to increase the effort.

     

    You use the same equipment and routine every time without any changes

     

    As you lose weight, and become fitter, your conditioned body needs a higher level of challenge to prevent it from moving into a plateau mode, in terms of burning calories efficiently, so you can lose weight.  When you lose weight you also require fewer calories than you did at a higher weight, and you may have to increase your effort and change up your routines.  Switch off between several aerobic machines (treadmill, bicycle, elliptical, stair-climber) and switch off between free weights and weighted machines to “fool your body.”  Remember to allow 24 to 48 hours between weight training days, and rotate between upper and lower body combinations to keep up the challenge.

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    You exclusively do aerobic training (no weight training) and don’t include rest (recovery) days

     

    It is disappointing to me when I hear that some people still haven’t embraced the incredible benefits of weight training – adults and kids.  Especially when the goal is weight loss, you need to create muscle mass.  Muscle cells burn calories more efficiently.  If you do the same aerobic effort every day, you will also fall into an exercise rut, and that typically translates to boredom and less effort.  Create different interval programs if you are still unwilling to include weight training in your weekly regimen, and only want to work out on one particular aerobic machine.  Another approach is to have harder exercise days where you really put in maximal effort, and easier (rest days) when you still exercise but you allow for recovery.

     

    You are drinking energy drinks and calorie-driven beverages before, during and after workouts

     

    If those liquid calories you drink daily are your breakfast or your snack, that’s one thing.  But if you are taking in extra liquid calories, justified by your exercise effort, you can easily replace the calories burned, ending up with a big “zero’ in terms of overall calorie deficit in a day.  Unless you exercise vigorously for more than an hour, water should be your go-to choice.  It will replace any fluids lost through sweat and it has zero calories.  If you dislike plain H2O, then find water options that have just an essence of flavor with zero calories and no artificial sweeteners, or make your own with a light squeeze of a lemon or lime into a water bottle.

     

    Hope these tips help you to make your workout, work!!!

     

    Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience.  Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts.  Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch? Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.

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