5 Reasons Your Workout Isn't Working

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5 Reasons Your Workout Isn't Working

3. Your workout burns fewer calories than you think.
Feeling pretty righteous when the treadmill says you've torched 800 calories? Not so fast, cautions Olson. An unusually high calorie burn reading is rare, Olson says, and most machines overestimate readings by as much as 30 percent.

"Many machines do not require you to put in your body weight and, therefore, the calorie output is often based on a ‘reference weight' often used in science of 155 pounds," Olson says. "So, if you weigh 135 pounds, for example, you would not burn the same calories as someone who is at the reference weight."

And even those that use heart rate readings may not be accurate either. "Machines that incorporate arm activity (such as the stair stepper or elliptical) can cause a higher heart rate compared to a leg-only machine like a treadmill, but this is not usually because you are burning more calories," Olson says. "Research has shown that at the same level of calorie burning, the heart rate will be markedly higher when using the arms versus the legs, and you may even be burning fewer calories despite a higher heart rate."

The solution: Try using a ‘distance covered' read-out to more accurately gauge how many calories burned, Olson says. "For instance, if you want to burn 300 calories, jogging 3 miles, walking 4 miles, or cycling about 10 miles on a bike are known to burn this amount."

4. Your workout's not balanced.
Sure, we love Zumba just as much as you do, but that doesn't mean it's all you should be doing to stay in shape. "Variety is not only the spice of life, but the key to getting a better, leaner, stronger body," Olson says. "There is not one single activity that can give you everything you need."

Doing only cardio workouts or the same strength workout over and over means you are sacrificing the opportunity to build lean muscle mass and challenge your body in new ways (translation: burn more calories doing something new), and you may plateau because of it.

The solution: Create a weekly program that rotates through different modalities of exercise (cardio, strength training, flexibility, core) in order to keep your mind, and body, engaged and changing. Olson recommends fitting in at least three strength sessions and three to five cardio sessions per week for best results.

5. Your workout is totally stale.
Have you been taking the same body-sculpting class using the same 3-pound weights week after week? Grab some heavier dumbbells to boost your calorie burn and build more fat-blasting muscle, recommends Sonrisa Medina, group fitness manager for Equinox Fitness Clubs in Coral Gables, Florida. And while you're at it, try a class you've never done (like yoga or Pilates) to stimulate your body in new ways.

Why is it so important to switch things up? Doing the same workout routine over and over means your body doesn't have to work as hard to perform it after a few weeks. "We 'learn' how to do any activity and movements," Olson says. "The more ‘learned' we are, the easier the activity is to our bodies, which means you will actually burn fewer calories than you did when the activity or your routine was new to you."

The solution: Whether its trying heavier weights or adding more resistance during cycling class, changing up the intensity and style of your workout can help kick up your calorie burn to start losing weight again. Even adding workouts like yoga and Pilates that don't typically burn a large amount of calories, if they are new to your body, will create some nice changes in your physique simply from being a new challenge to your movement and workout patterns, Olson says.

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