By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople
We all know how fantastic working out is for your health. But what happens when your workouts aren't delivering the results you want? Or you're not getting the results you think you should be getting? While any kind of physical activity is good, some workout plans are better than others and-as you might suspect-a lot of other factors come into play when trying to lose weight and tone up. So if your workout isn't working for you, one of the following five reasons could be to blame. Find out how to turn that around and get the results you deserve!
1. You're not working hard enough.
If you have been exercising consistently for several weeks, months or years, it's definitely time to increase the intensity and start pushing yourself. As you work out more and more, your body adapts and becomes more efficient at doing that certain activity. This means that over time, the 30-minute workout that was challenging for you three months ago doesn't provide the same results. In fact, you're actually burning fewer calories and your body is no longer changing if you're still doing the same old thing.
Get-Results Remedy: In order to get results from exercise, you have to regularly push yourself beyond your fitness comfort zone. Whether you increase the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts, you have to switch it up. Not sure where to start? Try adding an extra day of cardio onto your routine, testing out a new group exercise class at the gym, adding another loop around your walking track, or bumping up the incline and speed on the treadmill. Remember, when it comes to exercise, change is good-and that change should be challenging!
2. You're working too hard.
Yes, you can actually work out too hard and too much. If you're someone who goes all out in every workout, or rarely takes rest days, you could actually be breaking your muscles down instead of building them. If you always feel tired and sore, have unexplained headaches, insomnia or just a general lack of motivation and an inability to complete your workouts, you may be overtraining.
Get-Results Remedy: Take three to five days off of exercise altogether. It may be hard for you to do this, but know that you must allow your body the time it needs to rest and recover. Get plenty of sleep each night and fill up on nutritious foods. Then slowly ease back into your routine, making shorter, less intense workouts part of your workout plan. And remember to always take one to two rest or easy active recovery days a week!
3. You haven't changed your diet.
Exercise is awesome, but if you're not eating a nutritious diet with the appropriate number of calories for weight management, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Proper nutrition fuels your workouts, but eat too much and you could gain weight (or hurt your weight-loss efforts), and eat too little, and you won't have enough energy to exercise.
Get-Results Remedy: If you can't seem to see those muscles you're trying to build, start logging your food to see how many calories you're eating a day. If you're regularly eating more than you should (it just takes an extra 100 calories a day to gain an extra pound a month), then try choosing lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods and slowly decreasing your caloric intake until you're at the right level! On the flip side of that, if you find that you're eating too few calories, that can also slow your metabolism and leave you drained at the gym.
4. You're only doing cardio. Yes, cardio is important for calorie burning, but a proper exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility. If you're just doing cardio, then you will be burning calories and strengthening your cardiovascular system, but you won't be really changing your body composition by building more muscle. For that you need strength training!
Get-Results Remedy: Lift weights or do body-weight exercises, such as lunges and push-ups, at least twice a week to reap the amazing benefits of resistance training; including decreased body fat, increased muscle mass and stronger bone density. For hardcore cardio fans, you can also try kettlebell training or circuit training, which is like getting a strength and cardio workout at the same time!
5. You reward yourself with food.
Do you allow yourself to have that extra piece of pizza or order that dessert when dining out because you "went to the gym" earlier? If so, you may be undoing all of that good calorie-burning with too many treats.
Get-Results Remedy: Familiarize yourself with the calorie contents of your favorite foods-and find out how many calories you're really burning through exercise. Remember that while you may have run 3 miles at the gym, that only burned 300 calories, which isn't nearly equivalent to the calorie count in that brownie sundae you ate later. Focus on how good exercise makes you feel rather than what it allows you to eat after; and choose foods that fuel your workouts, rather than the other way around.
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By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople