Whether you are trying to improve your fitness through home gym sessions or taking the latest HIIT class, if you are frustrated with your lack of progress in your fitness regimen, it may be that poor lifestyle choices are holding you back.
It seems instinctive that lifting weights, cycling, running, jumping rope, and walking should all culminate in weight loss, but in some circumstances, this is not the case. In this article, we look at eight habits that could be setting you back on your journey to weight loss and improved fitness.
1. Not Warming Up
Any good trainer will tell you that a warm-up session is an essential element of any workout. As New York-based fitness trainer Nick Ebner points out, not warming up can decrease the effectiveness of workouts, as well as increase the chance of injury.
The purpose of warming up is to prepare not just mentally, but physically for exercise activities, increasing the heart rate and blood flow, and enabling more oxygen to reach the muscles. An effective warm-up also activates and primes connections between nerves and muscles, improving the efficiency of movement.
2. Failing to Measure Heart Rate
Measuring your heart rate during a running interval or conditioning circuit is a simple means of quantifying exercise intensity. Keeping track of your heart rate during training sessions is really important, since different heart rate percentages of your maximum heart rate will engage different energy systems, resulting in different training effects.
In fact, anyone serious about improving their fitness should monitor their heart rate even during recovery periods, providing an indication of their ability to recovery and current fitness level.
2. Not Eating Enough
The amount of energy an athlete puts into their body dictates their training response. Those who wish to lose weight not only need to restrict their calorific intake, but ensure they put the right kind of fuel into their body, since without energy to burn, the body will revert to burning muscle protein. Meanwhile, those who aim to build muscle will need to take in more fuel.
3. Eating Too Much Sodium
The average American adult eats around 1,000 mg more sodium than they should on a daily basis.
Since processed and restaurant foods tend to be very high in salt, one of the most effective ways of reducing your sodium intake is to prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients.
4. Not Getting Enough Rest
Frequent, consistent trips to the gym are the obvious route to achieving your fitness goals. However, it is possible to overdo it, and progression will slow quickly if you push your body too hard.
It is a natural assumption that the real progress happens while we are at the gym, but in reality, it actually happens while your body is resting, with rest providing the muscles with a vital opportunity to recover and grow.
Failing to allow your body sufficient time to recover between exercise sessions can slow down your progress, leading to overtraining syndrome. It is therefore vital to take at least two days a week to recover and rest from fitness workouts. This is particularly important after high-intensity sessions like interval training, when your muscles need time to replenish their fuel levels.
6. Not Training Hard Enough
Research suggests that around three out of four people trying to improve their fitness levels are not actually training hard enough to stimulate sufficient adaption from their bodies necessary to achieve the results they want.
Two recent studies show that many people underestimate their true limit for weight and repetitions, exerting less total effort than necessary to stimulate results.
A 2017 study involving both male and female university students revealed that most underestimated the maximum repetitions per set load by an average of just over three repetitions, with the least experienced training group underestimating their maximum by almost double that. The study results suggest a tendency for inexperienced gymgoers to drastically underestimate what they are really capable of and an inability to push themselves past discomfort.
7. Not Drinking Enough Water
With 60% of the body consisting of water, it is not surprising that hydration is critical to human health. Drinking enough water not only has physiological benefits, but psychological benefits, too, helping to keep your mood stable, your memory sharp, and your motivation intact.
From a physical perspective, keeping up your fluid intake helps your skin to stay supple, cooling the body when it is hot, allowing the joints and muscles to work better, and cleansing toxins from the body.
According to the Institute of Medicine, an adult woman needs around nine cups of fluid per day, while an adult man needs 13.
8. Eating Late at Night
According to the National Institutes of Health, late-night meals can result in indigestion, interfering with sleep patterns. In addition, when grabbing a late-night snack, many of us make poor food choices.
In addition, research suggests that a longer lapse between meals enables the body to digest food more efficiently. In addition, research on intermittent fasting, with meals spaced out and eaten in a shorter window, suggests that it may help with weight loss.