10 Reasons You're Not Getting Slim at the Gym

Weight loss mistakesYou've committed to working out and eating healthy, but the scale isn't budging. What gives? Your routine may actually be backfiring. Here are 10 common mistakes that prevent you from winning the battle of the bulge.

1. You hit the gym on an empty stomach
Nothing will sabotage an efficient, productive workout like exercising when you're hungry, says celebrity trainer David Kirsch. "Exercising first thing in the morning before eating is an optimal way to burn fat stores, [but] the problem is that too often my clients training after 8 a.m. come to the gym hungry, cranky, and low-energy." Premium cars need fuel to run efficiently and so do we. Power up before you hit the gym with an easily digestible meal. Kirsch recommends eating 20 almonds, or an apple or banana with a tablespoon of almond butter.

Related: Can Yoga Really Help You Lose Weight?


2. You eat too many carbs before exercising
And, yes, you need to eat, but don't consume too many carbs (good or bad) before your workout if you want to see results, says Adam Schersten, trainer at Equinox in New York City. "The added blood glucose will encourage the use of those and other sugars for your fuel source rather than the pesky fat stores."

3. You repeat the same cardio routine
"The body is a master of minimizing caloric expenditure," says Schersten, "and a long, evenly paced run is easy for it to adapt to." When you first begin a cardio regime, your body burns more calories and you see progress more quickly. But if you don't continually challenge yourself with new moves, your workout turns into weight maintenance instead of weight loss. "Mix it up with some intervals or tempo runs on hills to see continued results," he recommends.

4. You don't challenge your muscles
To get the most of your workouts, make sure the strength-training exercises you do target and overload muscles to the point of fatigue. "Go toward that burning, uncomfortable feeling in your muscles. That's how you'll get the results you want to achieve," says Tanya Becker, co-founder of Physique 57 and co-author of The Physique 57 Solution. Interval overload training produces maximum results in minimal time.

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5. You use the wrong weights

Despite all the back-and-forth discussions on heavy versus light weights, keep the weights on the lighter side if you want to trim down, says Kirsch. "Women often use weights that are too heavy. I like to stay in the 3 to 15-pound range. If you're more fitness-experienced, use weights in the 8 to 10-pound range. If you're a beginner, start in the 3-pound range."

6. You sacrifice good form
Bad form not only puts you at risk for injury, but it also prevents you from maximizing your workouts, says Becker. "Having good form will allow you to get deeper in the positions and help your body transform fast." If you're not sure how to do a move, ask a trainer.

7. You perform exercises that don't work for your body type

Just because the woman next to you is doing traditional squats, that doesn't make them right for you. "The most common mistake when women go into the gym is to watch someone else do an exercise and start doing the same one," says Kirsch. "When training intelligently, 'one size doesn't fit all.' There are exercises and weights appropriate for some body types, ages, and overall objectives and not for others," he says. Consult a trainer to develop a routine that's right for you. Some gyms even offer complimentary sessions when you join.

8. You "waist" too much time working your core

You don't need to do an endless amount of crunches to whittle your middle. Your best bet is to expend that energy on exercises that burn more calories. "If you're doing free weights, your core is getting worked too, because you are holding your body upright through the exercises," says Schersten. "You can burn a lot more calories targeting large muscle groups rather than smaller ones, so stick to squats and skip all those sit-ups."

9. You fail to push yourself hard enough
If you're leisurely reading a magazine while you're on the elliptical, chances are you're wasting your time, says Kirsch. Your workout should be uncomfortable - but not painful. A good way to gauge effort? Holding a conversation should be a challenge. If it's not, push yourself harder.

Related: Find More Time to Exercise

10. You don't fuel properly when you leave the gym
It's just as important to replenish your body with proper nutrients after your workout, says Becker. "Eating processed foods will prevent you from losing weight and shedding fat. Drink plenty of water and fill up on fresh fruit and veggies." Kirsch recommends a shake that contains carbs, protein, and amino acids. Remember, your results are highly contingent on what you do when you leave the gym. Smart eating habits and healthy lifestyle choices will help you achieve the results you want.

-By Kim Peiffer

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