Making the commitment to exercise regularly takes willpower and motivation. Your time is valuable, and carving out an hour to dedicate to your workouts is not an easy thing to do. So, when you aren’t seeing any gains in the gym, it can really wreck your morale.
There are a variety of factors that can be causing your workout progress to stall. Dietary mistakes, stress and lack of motivation can all lead to an exercise plateau. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for.
1. Lack of Sleep – Your 4 a.m. alarm is an incredible testament to your dedication. Unfortunately, it may also be the cause of your stalled weight loss. Swapping sleep for workouts can greatly hinder your progress. When you sleep, your body releases hormones that stimulate weight loss and curb cravings. Depriving your body of the sleep it needs hinders your body from producing these necessary hormones. Sleepless nights also leave you groggy and unfocussed, leading to sloppy and uninspired workouts. If you wake up feeling exhausted or you find yourself dragging during the day, consider skipping your early morning exercise class. Go for a walk on your lunch hour or ride bikes with your children after work. Your body will thank you in the end.
2. Eating Too Much (Or Too Little) – Rewarding yourself with a slice of pizza or a glass of Chardonnay after a tough workout is self-defeating. The saying “you can’t out-train a bad diet” is the honest truth. No matter how consistently and hard you train, your workouts are for naught if your nutrition is out of whack. It is important to view the foods you put into your mouth as fuel, not as rewards. Making improvements to your body takes a lifestyle shift that includes altering how you look at food. Food logging apps like health trac, Loseit, Myfitnesspal and Sparkpeople can help you understand how many calories are actually in the foods you are eating and help you stay within your daily calorie limits.
3. Failing to Challenge Yourself – Your body is extremely good at adapting to stress that is put on it. As it adapts to the stressors of exercise, transformations such as increased muscle mass and decreased fat pockets occur. Eventually, however, your body will reach a level of homeostasis that it finds comfortable. If you are repeating the same workouts over and over again, without increasing resistance or intensity, your progress will plateau and you will stop seeing the gains (and losses) that you are working towards. To maximize your workout success, you must work hard. That means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Increase your weights, speed up the treadmill or try a completely new workout. Challenge yourself and your body and you WILL see results!
4. Fear of Weight Training – If the majority of your workout routine consists of cardio and yoga, you may be frustrated at your lack of progress in attaining your weight loss goals. While cardio is important for calorie burning, a proper exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility. Many women subscribe to the belief that incorporating weights into their exercise regimen will cause them to have bulky, masculine muscles. This myth is simply untrue. The benefits that women reap from lifting weights include increased fat loss, improved calorie burn, better quality sleep and increased energy. Weight lifting is also an incredible way to release stress. Most gyms include a free assessment with a trainer as part of your membership. Take advantage of this offer and use your session to become acquainted with the weight training equipment at your gym.
5. Inadequate Recovery Time – Believe it or not, there is such a thing as working out too hard. If you do not get enough rest between intense strength training or cardio workouts, you will stop making progress and potentially lose some of the gains you have made. You’re also likely to burn out on exercise. If you are the type of person who puts 110% into every workout and rarely, if ever, takes a day off from the gym, you could actually be breaking down your muscles, not strengthening them. Unexplained headaches, constant soreness, insomnia and sluggishness may all be your body’s way of telling you that it needs a break. Take three to five days off from exercising and see if your symptoms dissipate. Slowly ease back into a moderate exercise routine and always remember to take one to two days off to recover each week.
Be sure to choose a workout plan that matches your goals. Stick with that program consistently and work it hard, tracking your progress faithfully. Make sure your nutrition is in place and you’re living a healthy lifestyle. These tips can help you have more energy, feel better and get the workout results you want and deserve!