Been going to the gym for what seems like ever but your have not lost weight or changed body shape! I know a number of people who fit this description. They religiously attend a set number of gym classes (eg Monday aerobics, Tuesday Pilates etc), on set days for a duration of 60 minute per session almost every week of the year but are still overweight and out of shape. It seems to be a paradox really - regular exercise but not weight loss, increased muscle tone or fitness level. How could this be the case?
Common mistakes that reduce the effectiveness of your gym workout.
I know form my own experience there could be several contributing factors. These are:
- Social Outing - The gym visit has become a social outing by proxy: the attendee meets up with like minded gym attendees who have a similar view. Lots of time is spent walking on a treadmill at low speed to enable maximum talking time.
- Increased Food Consumption - Gym class is followed by a social visit to the coffee shop where the attendees reward their hard effort with a latte and carrot cake ( kidding themselves this is a healthy option compared to the slice of chocolate mud cake). The other mistake is following the exercise class your appetite is elevated which can inadvertently lead to the consumption of high carbohydrate/calorie foods.
- Same work out different days - While it can be comforting to perform the same routine each time your go to the gym, particularly if your unco like me, your muscles adapt to the exercise and you're likely to reach a plateau.
- Cardio but no strength training - Women tend to avoid free weights and the weight machines in the gym fearing they will develop large muscles
- No workout plan- st going to the gym and using what ever machine or equipment is available means your workout is
probably all over the place and missing the aim all together. Half the time your are probably standing around doing nothing.
- Lack of intensity in the workout -Do you see your gym time as the perfect way to catch up on your reading? Are you leaning on the machines? in addition, most big gyms tend to have a series of TVs all around. It is easy to get in the mode of just watching them and lose complete focus of the workout. Same goes for using your mobile phone while walking on the treadmill or exercise bike. Some people are just going through the motions, even though they may look like they’re working out. They think that as long as they’re moving, they’re going to lose weight, but if the intensity is not at the level that it needs to be at, it’s almost a waste of time.
- Timeout - After vigorous exercise at the gym some people spend the rest of the day on the couch in front of the TV or performing minimal incidental exercise.
Buddy Up: Ask someone who has a similar goal and commitment to improving their fitness to be your exercise buddy. You can provide each other with encouragement and motivation. In addition, you can help each other stay focused and on track.
Diet and Exercise: While your body does need some extra carbohydrates post workout, throwing a sugar and calorie bomb in your body is not ideal and not helpful. People tend to consume more calories in general, following a gym session in the mistaken belief they can get away with it as they do exercise. Unfortunately it’s not the case for most of us. For best results combine your exercise with a balanced healthy diet and weight loss program. (Diet tends to be the major aspect of weight loss rather than exercise alone).
Mix it Up : Keep your body guessing by mixing up the equipment you use and the order of the exercises you do. Also try out new fitness classes, and work different body parts on different days. It'll not only challenge your muscles, but you'll get a more effective workout, which translates to a leaner, more sculpted body. Try upping the stakes a bit. Increase the weights you are using or introduce new exercises. Interval kind of training tends to provide variety and intensity so why not give it a go. You could still be working the same muscles but with a different exercise. If you are the type to go for a run instead of the gym then try a different route or try introducing some side stepping/running, stop on the side to do a couple of squats or a couple of arm exercises. Why not have one day of doing some resistance instead of going for a run. You can do as much in your living room as in a gym. This will also improve your running and provide variety and challenge.
Strength Training: A good fitness program should incorporate one to two strength training sessions per week. Strength training can reduce overall body fat since muscle burns more calories than fat. And don't forget the after burn: after an hour-long strength training session, the average woman burns an extra 100 calories over the next 24 hours. But if you're lifting weights that are too light than you're not building muscle mass effectively. You'll know your weights are heavy enough when your muscles fatigue after 10 to 12 reps. The same goes for strength training moves like push-ups or crunches—do enough reps to feel the burn. Make suer you use good form. Check yourself in a mirror or meet with a personal trainer because if you're doing the moves incorrectly, like using momentum instead of your muscle strength, it can lead to injury and not getting as good a workout as possible.
A Workout Plan: Some experts advocate that a short high intensity workout may be as good as or even better than long medium intensity workouts. If in doubt have get the assistance of a personal trainer to devise a workout plan that meets your fitness goals, then stick to the plan in terms of what you doing, how long and in what intensity.
Focus: If you've paid your gym membership and your goal is to get firm and fit then make that your focus (otherwise you've wasted your money). You don’t need an expensive gym membership to socialize, watch TV or read your favourtie magazine (this includes social media). Whether at home or at the gym avoid the TV stations and leave your mobile phone in your locker or room. Concentrate on putting maximum effort into your exercise routine. That way you will maximise the return in calories burnt and fitness gained.
Sustain Activity: A gym session should only be part of your health and fitness regime. If you go home and become a lounge lizard for the rest of the day then you have either overdone it or reduced the effectiveness of the workout. Incidental activities like vacuuming, cleaning and gardening all contribute to your overall activity level and calorie burn. Other activities could include a regular sporting activity or yoga session. Also, following your gym session make sure you reflect on and record the progress you've made towards your fitness goals to keep you motivated.
Finally remember the any exercise is better than none. If you are happy with what you are doing - then just keep doing it. Have a great workout.