Whether you’re trying to tone up, build endurance or lose weight, a lot of factors can get in the way of success. Read on for the top reasons your workout isn’t working AND tips on how to get the results you want.
Food (this is a biggie!).
Raise your hand if you’ve ever rewarded your workout by eating something you really wanted, and we’re not talking about a juicy stalk of celery. Food is probably the biggest pitfall when it comes to achieving the results people want from exercise. A post-workout splurge, an overall diet that’s unhealthy, or even consuming too few calories (it can slow your metabolism and sap your energy) will quickly undo all the good you’re trying to do by exercising.
Get Results: Be an intentional eater! Think of food as fuel for your body. If you want to develop a finely tuned machine you have to give it the right amount of the highest quality fuel to run on. You’ve worked too hard to sabotage your success with mindless grazing, crazy big splurges or starving yourself.
You’re workout hopping.
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this—you’re staying active and having fun. But if you have a specific goal in mind, like running a sub-25 minute 5K or mastering a back handspring, you can’t be all over the workout map.
Get Results: Set a goal and tailor your training to meet it. After you’ve run your race or made the cheerleading team you can go back to yoga and spin class, but for now, focus is key.
You’re going through the motions.
Are you trying as hard as you can? Is your run more of a gossip session with your BFF than a workout? At the gym do you spend more time leaning on the machines chatting than using them?
Get Results: Recommit to your exercise regimen, or if you’re bored to tears with it find a new one that’ll motivate you.
Here today, gone tomorrow.
So you worked out for five days straight, then you had to study for a test so you missed two days. Then you went to a couple of yoga classes, but the next day it snowed hard so you couldn’t get to the gym. One thing led to another and now you haven’t done anything for a month!
Get Results: Schedule time for exercise and don’t make excuses. Set a phone reminder that’ll bug you on a daily basis—then don’t ignore it. Have indoor options ready to go in case the weather prevents an outdoor workout.
You’re only doing cardio.
It’s great for burning calories and boosting your endurance, but cardio alone will never be enough to improve your strength or flexibility.
Get Results: Wanna rock a flatter stomach or leave that nagging hamstring problem behind for good? Take some time to work with weights, strengthen your core and increase your flexibility (yoga, anyone?).
You’re not working hard.
If you’ve been working out consistently for a while now, you’re getting stronger and in better shape! There’s no way the exercise you’ve been doing 10 reps of with a three-pound weight is as challenging now as it was six months ago when you first did it.
Get Results: Time to up the ante! Tackle a new challenge with longer, more frequent or more intense workouts. Add a day of cardio each week or increase your running distance. Try out the barre class you’ve been wondering about.
You’re working too hard.
Muscles get stronger when you work out, but they have to have time to rest and repair themselves. If you’re pushing to the max in every workout you might be hurting yourself more than helping. In addition to overuse injuries, overtraining can lead to sugar cravings, a weakened immune system and insomnia.
Get Results: If you’ve been going at it hard without a break, take a few (three to five) days off completely to rest, hydrate and sleep. Then, slowly work your way back into your workout routine, being sure to schedule rest days regularly.
You’ve worked out almost every day for three weeks and you’re so sore you can hardly move, but you still haven’t placed in the top three in the 400 at track practice. What’s the problem?
Get Results: The problem is that you’re comparing yourself to others! Instead of beating yourself up, look at the progress you’ve made. Have you dropped time off your personal best? Increased the amount of weight you work with or the reps you can do? Noticed that your jeans are fitting looser or that you’re not winded after walking up a few flights of stairs? Focus on your successes and give yourself a pat on the back!