Why You Exercise But Don’t Lose Weight (and Easy Ways to Fix the Problem)

Some common mistakes new gym enthusiasts make when trying to shape up and slim down

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Working out is not that hard. You’re making it tough on yourself by not following simple rules. That prevents you from obtaining results, which leads to frustration and, eventually, throwing the white flag. This vicious cycle seemingly has no ending.

Losing weight is not rocket science. You have to eat better, exercise more, and get sufficient amount of rest. The challenge usually is consistency. But some people struggle to accomplish their goal even when all three requirements are met.

Every person, who has ever tried to get fit, has been through the frustration of workouts not working out. The mistakes that affect a training routine are common and, thankfully, easy to fix. A few quick tips will make a stronger body, higher energy levels and looser pants a totally realistic and easy objective.

You do too much cardio exercises

Running, climbing stairs, and many other forms of cardio training are vital for your body to burn calories. But you need to be able to burn more when you’re resting in order to drop the few extra pounds. This can only happen if you build muscles. Ten pounds of muscle will burn 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat would burn only 20. You can only build muscle by doing strength training. So lift light weights next time you’re at the gym. Don’t forget to do some lunges and squats every day. Consider circuit training if you want to keep your heart rate up during the entire session.

You focus too much on weight lifting

Unless you want to look like a 90’s bodybuilder, you must not skip your cardio routines. You have to keep your heart healthy and your muscles flexible. Cardio exercises will help both. Stretching after running or other exercises that have warmed up your muscles is the way to go. Balance is paramount to getting the best results possible.

You’re not drinking water while you workout

Drinking water while you exercising is important not only to avoid cramps. Your muscles will recover much faster if they are hydrated. Have some coconut water because it has lots of potassium if you don’t like plain ol’ boring H2O.

You’re drinking too many energy drinks

Sports drinks are not the same as energy drinks. The latter have too much sugar. Consuming too many of these liquid calories before and after exercising replaces the energy you’re burning at the gym. Your overall calories deficit will be zero while it should be a positive number. Water is your safest choice.

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You eat more because you work out

“I burned it, so I earned it” is not a good way to go about losing weight. Studies have proven that gym newbies tend to eat more, justifying their increased calorie intake with exercising. Unfortunately, you can burn fewer calories in an hour than you consume during lunch. An average woman burns about 450 calories running a mile in 10 minutes.  How many calories is your average meal? A simple dessert can have as many as 1,000. A snack here and there adds even more. Be honest with yourself and compare your workout routine with your diet. Do the math and subtract the extra calories. Eat no more than 30 minutes after you stop exercising. Your muscles need proper nutrients to help them recover. Don’t let more time to pass because than you’ll likely feel very hungry and overindulge.

You’re working on only one muscle group

You may end up having super strong legs but that does little to your body which is now imbalanced. Physical fitness doesn’t mean overdeveloping one muscle group at the expense of another. You have to work on muscles that counterbalance the one you have been exercising already. You can easily fix this mistake by doing drills that focus on large muscle groups such as lunges, squats, pullups, triceps kickbacks.

You’re fairly new to working out but you’re doing a lot

You’re not going to form a six-pack wafter one session at the gym. Results take some time. You must accept that and plan accordingly. Build a program that keeps you working out consistently if you want good results in the long-run. Spending hours at the gym is not the way. You are only putting yourself in a position to get sore, injured and exhausted while keeping the weight on. You need to give your muscles time to repair so they become stronger and help you slim down. Train one muscle group, rest the next day, and work on the opposite muscle group on the third.

You’re not sleeping enough

Sleep activates several hormones, including ghrelin, that influence cravings which make you eat more and gain weight. You don’t actually lose pounds or build muscle during a workout. That happens when your body is at rest. How much sleep people need is very individual but the number is generally around 8. Cortisol, which is your stress hormone, is also released when you’re sleep-deprived. How many people do you know who eat a lot when they feel under pressure? You probably do it too. Go to bed early. Schedule naps during the day, if you can, or do certain things that will help you get a good night’s sleep.

You don’t move unless you’re at the gym

Sitting all day and then running a mile on the treadmill won’t get you anywhere. Sitting is the new smoking, in case you didn’t know. You need to quit. It’s important to keep your body moving throughout the day. Don’t use working in an office as an excuse. Park far from the entrance, walk to work, climb stairs during your lunch break, stretch every hour or so…There are plenty of actions you can take.

You never change your routine

Your body adapts to whatever you’re putting it through for a prolonged period of time. This means that, as time goes by, you will burn fewer and fewer calories when you run a mile or do any kind of exercise. The body adapts by increasing your endurance and aerobic capacity. You always want to start slow and easy but you’ll have to increase the intensity of your workout as you get stronger and more fit. You always have to feel some resistance when you do strength drills. If it's not challenging at all, the workout isn't working.

More readings: 

Why do you stop losing weight (and what to do then)

15 Ways to Re-Launch Your New Year’s Resolutions

How to Get in Shape Just By Walking