You go to the gym regularly. You actually look forward to your workouts now – a feat you never thought was possible. For the first few months, you were seeing some results. Maybe your waist got slimmer, maybe your biceps became more toned, or maybe you could finally see the outlines of an actual six-pack. But now? Nothing.
It’s official: you’ve hit a plateau.
If you’re trying to change your body composition at the gym – whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle, or both – it can be frustrating to spend hours at the gym without seeing visible results.
However, there is an upside to your stagnation. Seriously. Because now is the perfect time to assess your exercise and lifestyle routine in order to figure out what’s working for you, and what’s not. Here are some common examples of what you might be doing wrong, and how to remedy it.
1. You’re Not Progressing Your Workouts
If you’re slogging hours jogging steadily on a treadmill without any improvements, there’s a good reason for that – you’re not challenging yourself enough.
More and more studies have proven that when it comes to burning fat, you should be incorporating High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your workouts. HIIT not only improves your metabolic health, but it keeps your body burning calories for hours post-workout. Same goes for weights. If you’re weight training, you need to add progressive weights in order to burn fat and tone muscles. A good rule of thumb is to up your weights every four to six weeks – and don’t be afraid to mix it up with resistance bands for an added challenge.
2. You’re on Repeat Mode
Sure, you might really love your Zumba class, but the more you do something over and over again, the less your body will respond to the activity. Meaning, the results you received when you first took the class will drop off the more often you go. Which is why it’s key to mix up your routine, whether that’s adding a weight training class or a yoga class, to see different improvements in your body.
You don’t have to quit Zumba altogether, but including a type of exercise that you don’t already do will shock your body and will get you seeing those much-desired results.
3. You’re Consuming More Calories Than Not
You’ve just completed a brutal boxing bootcamp, so, naturally, you assume you can eat pretty much what you want post-workout. After all, didn’t you just burn 1,000 calories? However, when it comes to burning calories, we often overestimate how much we actually shed during a single sweat session. On the flip side, we often underestimate just how many calories we’re eating. Which is why it’s important to be mindful of your overall consumption. Track what you’re eating. Focus on eating whole nutritious foods rather than prepackaged meals, and keep an eye on your liquid calories (like those PSLs, for example). Make a conscious effort to clean up your diet, and you should see an improvement with both weight loss and muscle definition.
4. You're Not Resting Enough
While the tendency is to go hard on your workouts, especially if you're looking to lose weight and see changes in your body, you're actually doing your body a disservice if you exercise too intensely and too often. You run the risk of overtraining, which could lead to injury, illness, as well as dehydration and exhaustion, which will only set back your workouts. Instead, incorporate rest days as well as active recovery days, and your body will thank you.
By mixing up your workouts, progressively challenging yourself, keeping your diet clean, and including rest days, your hard effort at the gym will start to become more visibly apparent to you, and your loved ones. However, it's important to remember not to be so hard on yourself. Don't get so obsessed with seeing results that you start taking the fun out of fitness. By keeping your workouts balanced and enjoyable, you're more likely to stick with it no matter what.
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