When working out and trying to lose weight, tone up or just stay consistently fit, there is the constant fear of one huge road block: plateauing. Whether you’re stuck on the same number on the scale, not feeling stronger or more toned while weight training or wondering why you just don’t feel more fit, the problem isn’t necessarily you—it’s your workout.
There are many common mistakes people make in their gym routines that slow down results without them realizing the problem. Fitness Magazine aims to bring these common “Workout Oops” to our attention.
1. You solely rely on cardio to shed pounds. “For most women, sweaty aerobic exercise alone isn’t enough. ‘Research shows that weight loss is minimal if it isn’t accompanied by dieting.’” The solution? To drop a pound (3,500 calories) in one week, aim to eat 300 fewer calories every day while burning 300 calories from exercise four to five times a week. Another helpful tip: to beat the post-workout hunger attack, pack a low-calorie snack like a piece of fruit.
2. You race through your reps. In this case, your weights are too light or too heavy, allowing momentum or gravity to take over. Either way, your muscles aren’t being sufficiently challenged, which is why they’re not getting more toned. Solution: if your weight is too light and you don’t feel challenged enough, pick a heavier weight (go figure, right?). You are using sufficient weight if you feel some strain on the second-to-last and last reps. Your weight is too heavy if you lack constant control in your motions. The rep coming down should be just as controlled as the rep going up—so pick a weight that is equally challenging throughout the entire rep.
3. You over-crunch your abs. If you’re doing more than three sets of 15, you’re wasting your time. Crunches tend to only work one of your four main abdominal areas, so over-doing crunches is neglecting the other three areas of your core. To fix it, take a temporary break from your usual crunches and target the other areas. Some good exercises would be planks (regular and on each side), bicycle kicks, toe touches and Russian twists.
4. You always do the same weight circuit. If it gets easier as you workout with the same weights, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting stronger—it actually means your muscles are bored. When continually doing a weight, your muscles become accustomed to it and are no longer being challenged. There are a lot of different ways to fix this. You could mix up your workout between machines, free weights and resistance bands, but also make sure you’re mixing up your reps. Fitness recommends doing 12 to 15 reps of light weights one session, eight to 10 reps of moderate weights the next then four to six reps of heavy weights.
5. You always run at a steady pace. You can’t increase your speed without interval training. Switching up your pace helps get your heart rate going and helps target a different level of endurance besides steady-pace distance running. Fitness recommends starting out with a one-mile warm-up, then doing four to six rounds of running slightly faster than your regular pace for a quarter of a mile, then running slightly slower than your regular pace for a quarter of a mile.
If you caught yourself saying you’ve made a couple of these mistakes, don’t worry, we all have. Hopefully, these quick solutions get you back on track to getting where you need to be and prevent any future plateaus.
Kelly Foley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org