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Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 10 Ways To Make Your Workout Work

by Maria Bell Published on 25/02/2014 at 16:00
Why Am I Not Losing Weight? 10 Ways To Make Your Workout Work© Getty

Ever look in the mirror after months of hardcore working out and think WHAT WAS ALL THAT WORK FOR?! Working flat out at the gym and seeing only a few lbs shift is incredibly frustrating but there's actually plenty of reasons why you're not losing weight as you'd like. We spoke to Julia Buckley, personal trainer and author of fabulous new fitness book, The Fat Burn Revolution, to get the facts.

  1. · Increase intensity, not duration
  2. · Mix up your routine
  3. · Leave your comfort zone
  4. · Get a strategy that suits your lifestyle
  5. · High weights, low reps
  6. · Support your training with good eating
  7. · Free weights over machines
  8. · Get a plan and follow it
  9. · Set session goals
  10. · Think strong

Losing weight isn't down to one thing alone. For instance, if you're working out like a machine and then congratulating yourself with a curry afterwards, your weight will probably go nowhere. Simples.

Dr Christian from Channel 4's Supersize vs.Superskinny says: "Exercising is useful for our health but it doesn’t necessary burn that many calories. So you might think you can have a couple of glasses of wine tonight because you’ve been to the gym. Well those glasses of wine probably have more calories than you’ve burnt in the gym – which is where I think people go wrong."

But perhaps the biggest factor behind why people aren't losing weight, is the fact they might be doing the wrong type of exercise.

We get it, we do. Finding the time and effort to get up and go to the gym, hell, even finding a workout that you enjoy can be tough. So settling into a routine that you are motivated enough to complete week after week sounds like a good thing. Sadly, it's not. Julia says that your body is incredibly quick to adapt and after only a few weeks of doing the same exercise, it will plateau.

"I’d bet there are millions of people out there drowning in a sea of frustration doing exercise which they don't realise is inappropriate for the goals they’d like to achieve. I totally understand what it’s like. You find a type of training that gets the scales moving, but sooner or later your fat loss results plateau. So, you increase the amount of time you put into it, which works at first but then the fat stops shifting again. And you repeat this process until you get fed up, or ill, or injured as a result of all of those the long arduous sessions," she explains.

As Julia details in her book, it's not about simply doing exercise, it's how you do it. So for any of you girls struggling to shift the pounds while you sweat it out, here's Julia's 10 ways to change all that.

1. Increase intensity, not duration

It's a horrible fact, but that one hour run you did yesterday isn't going to blast your fat as fast as you'd like.

"Any type of long, slow endurance exercise, when done regularly will cause the body to become more endurance-focused. It will then want to store energy as fat to ensure it has plenty of reserves to get through all the miles it is using as fuel," Julia says.

So instead of constantly going for longer, go harder instead. "As your workouts start to feel less demanding, instead of adding on more reps or time spent doing an exercise increase the weight or do a more advanced version of the exercise," suggests Julia.

Once you switch from high-intensity sessions and added more variety and strength training into your training your body should see changes. Fast. But it won't just be your waistline, Julia says that your energy levels should soar and you should start feeling healthier and stronger in no time.

2. Mix up your routine

It's easy to fall into the trap of finding a routine and sticking to it week in, week out but Julia warns that you're more than likely doing more damage than good.

"A varied training schedule featuring different types of exercises and methods of training reduces your risk of injuries which are often caused by too much repetition of the same movements, and maximises your results."

She says "a good, varied programme will ensure sure all your muscles get activated regularly and that your body doesn’t get too used to one type of exercise, which can lead to progress plateaus."

3. Leave your comfort zone

Doing exercise for long, lengthy periods probably means you're essentially not pushing yourself hard enough.

​The reason why Tabata and HIIT classes are so short, is because if you did them for any longer, you'd probably collapse. Julia explains that if you want "fat loss, body sculpting and explosive fitness levels" you need to go to "the other side of your comfort zone."

"Think about it. You’ve tried easy – easy probably didn’t get you the results you wanted. To change your body you need to step it and work at an intensity that really challenges it. That’s when your body will take notice and make changes," she says.

She talks a lotta sense.

4. Get a strategy that suits your lifestyle

If you're committing yourself to getting fit and healthy, you're going to need to face up to the fact that there's going to be times when you just don't want - or can't - go. So Julia says having a training sequence that you can do at home is just sensible.

"It’s very much possible to get an affective all-body workout with no equipment at all and it’s good to have a few bodyweight sessions on file for when you don’t have access to any kit. If you’d like to do all of your workouts at home I recommend investing in a few key pieces of equipment, but it doesn’t need to be space-consuming or expensive – some weights and gym ball is enough. You can get a decent set of easy-storable adjustable dumbbells for around £30 and a good quality gym ball for around £10-15," she says.

5. High weights, low reps

Julia says that if it's fat burning you're after, then weights are your friends.

"Picking up light weights and doing lots of repetitions will help build your muscles’ capacity for endurance, but if fat loss is your main aim I recommend go heavy for low reps in most of your weights sessions. This will put your body in a state where it burns fat long after your workout is over," she explains.

​Lifting heavy for low (fewer than 15) repetitions is the way to super-charge your metabolism and get stronger.

6. Support your training with good eating

If you're training hard but starving yourself on cottage cheese and Cuppa soups then your weight loss will effectively go nowhere.

As Julia says: "​Food gives us fuel to be able exercise and it also delivers the resources the body needs to adapt to training. It’s essential that you give your body the nutrients it needs (especially protein) to make these repairs and improvements so you can get fitter and keep those fat-burning metabolic fires burning."

What could happen if your body doesn't get that fuel is that ​"you’ll be in danger of getting weaker, less fit, less healthy and you could end up with a slower metabolic rate and less sculpted body." No thanks.

7. Free weights over machines

Using free weights instead of weights machines can make a lot of difference too. You can also just buy a set of dumbbells at home and use them from the comfort of your sitting room - practical in every way.

​"Exercising with free weights employs more muscles which means more fat burning and strengthening benefits. They can also help even out imbalances and encourage better functional movement patterns," explains Julia.

8. Get a plan and follow it

Now we've talked a lot about variation and not getting stuck in a rut with your workout, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't follow a plan. Julia says the best way to get to where you want to be "is to have a route planned and follow it, then all you need to do is take the steps required to get there."

The best time frame to choose to see some impressive results is over 3 months as you should aim to change and reassess your goals every 12 weeks. Julia says: "If you’re following a well-devised plan, your body can change a lot in 12 weeks, if you’re not, it probably won’t."

9. Set session goals

When most people say they've been to the gym for an hour what they actually mean is they've wasted 15 minutes dithering around wondering what to do next. Setting mini-goals for each session is a great way of getting around this to make your gym time really count.

Julia recommends keeping a training journal where you can record everything that you do in every training session is a great way to keep you on track.

"​That way you can set session targets, for example of lifting heavier weights in particular exercises or getting more reps done during an interval training session. It works wonders for motivation. You may not always manage all of their session goals, but there’s usually at least one move that they progress in so you can feel like a winner almost every time they workout," she advises.

10. Think strong

Julia explains the main key to losing weight is to stop focusing on cardio so much and move over to weight training instead. No pain no gain remember people!

"With a good training and eating plan you’ll get stronger and fitter with every session too. I know you probably don’t want to become a bodybuilder, you won’t get a very muscular-looking physique by accident by doing the type of training I’ve described here," she reassures.

"The muscle tissue you add to your body will speed up your metabolic rate and make fat loss easier along with giving you a sexier, sculpted shape to be revealed as you strip back the fat. Strength training helps women get leaner, stronger and healthier. So pick up those dumbbells and put your plans into practice today!"

We know we're convinced! ​

If you want to know more about blasting that fat, then just pick up a copy of Julia's fabulous new book - it'll be well worth it.

Thinking of trying these tips? Seen the light with how to workout? Tweet us at @sofeminineUK.

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