If you're set on slimming down, you're probably becoming best friends with the gym. But the relationship between working out and weight loss can be a complex one. Here are 6 common mistakes that may be road-blocking your success.
Mistake 1. Being single-minded (and muscled)
Just doing bicep curls will give you bigger 'guns', but you're much better off doing compound movements that work multiple muscles simultaneously (e.g. push-ups, chin-up or squats with barbells). Recruiting more muscles groups enhances the 'after burn', which means additional calories churned to aid recovery post workout.
Mistake 2: Same old, same old
The human body has adaptive genius that allows your muscles and nervous system to build up tolerance to exercise in as little as 6-8 weeks. So, if you're doing an exact replica workout every time you hit the treadmill, you'll quickly face the dreaded weight loss plateau and the scales no longer budge. To continually challenge your muscles and enhance caloric burn, you need to mix it up. This can be as simple as doing short burst of higher intensity intervals (followed by a rest period) or change the type of exercise you do for each muscle group.
Mistake 3: Not giving yourself a break
While it's commendable to push yourself, everyone needs down time. Working your tired muscles around the clock doesn't give them adequate time to repair, which can prevent further muscle growth. Not to mention, overtraining is a dangerous path that can lead to insomnia, irritability and an elevated resting heart rate.
Mistake 4: Going crazy for cardio
Cardio may be a sure-fire way to trim fat, but if you only run, box, swim or cycle, you're missing out on a key ingredient for burning calories: strength training. Whether it's body weight training or using an external force (i.e. dumbbell), strength training will stimulate muscle growth, which in turn raises your metabolic rate, helping you burn fat more rapidly.
Mistake 5: Not HIITing it
Never tried high-intensity interval training (HIIT)? You could be avoiding what experts call one of the best workouts for weight loss. The reason it's so effective is the combination of cardio, strength training and plyometrics all in one session. So whether you're running, biking or swimming, go hard for a minute or two, then slow down (recovery) and then go full throttle again.
Mistake 6: You're a yoyo
The unfortunate fact about slimming down is the inevitable weight regain. While diet and exercise is essential - consistency is key. Hitting the gym 6 days one week, then doing 2 walks the next week may not fast-track your results. For weight loss, guidelines recommend at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity on most days of the week.
Likewise, going the gym every single day, then chained to the desk (followed by the couch) for the rest. The key is to find as many ways to move your body as possible. Take the chairs, have walking meetings, or do calf raises while brushing your teeth. It all adds up!