By Mike Kubas
1. Thinking Cardio is King!
Now I’m not saying cardio is bad, but when the primary goal of most people in the gym is weight loss and fat burning, it’s important to realize cardio is just another a tool in that endeavor and far from the most important tool. When beginning a weight loss routine, the most effective way to do so, is to increase muscle mass to boost your metabolism so you’re burning more calories even after you workout! This is done with proper resistance training. Weight loss only happens if you are caloric deficit. By giving your body more muscle mass and in turn a stronger engine means your body needs to use more calories to develop and maintain that muscle mass. Additional muscle mass will help you burn more calories outside of the gym.
While, it can’t be denied that cardio will burn a ton of calories in the short term, the adaptations from it over the long term aren’t beneficial for weight loss. Here’s why. Our bodies don’t want to burn a ton of calories, so they adapt to become more efficient. This is when the cardio begins to feel easier; now the only way to increase your calories burned is to increase the intensity or increase the duration. This becomes time consuming very quickly.
In addition, very little total muscle mass Is being used during cardio, so the message being sent to the body is that we don’t need this muscle, it’s too heavy, lose it. This loss in muscle mass slows down your metabolism and weight loss! This is why initially you see weight loss from cardio, but then quickly it plateaus and comes to a halt. This is where resistance training comes in to help you add muscle and burn more calories and shred fat! I recommend to clients mixing in the cardio when you are very close to your goal to lose those last few pounds, it’s important to build the muscle mass first then use cardio as extra calorie burning to finish the job!
2. Being Too Comfortable With Your Workout
Another common mistake or oversight in training is allowing yourself to get too comfortable with your workout. What I mean by this is that the body has adapted so well to the same group of exercises and structure that it’s no longer challenging your body enough to elicit an adaptation. There are several ways to get over this hump, but they all come back to one piece of advice, “try something different!”
There are numerous ways you can alter an exercise routine to push through a plateau. You can change your rep schemes, change your tempo, change your rest periods, change your exercises. You don’t need to change all of them, but changing one at a time can be enough to create a different stressor on your body and push through that plateau. This is where the comfort comes in, because often this will not be a comfortable chang;, it’ll be a challenge. One, to stick to the change and be consistent with it long enough to get the benefit (6 weeks minimum), and two, it will actually be challenging because it’s something your body isn’t used to.
If you’ve been doing mostly metabolic fitness classes, shift your focus to a slower tempo resistance training or vice-versa. If you’ve been focusing mainly on yoga classes or stretching classes, maybe shift your focus towards group fitness classes that work on building muscle and burning fat.
3. Don’t Be A Social Loafer!
I’ll start by explaining what social loafing is. Social loafing describes the tendency for people to expend less effort when working in a group than when working alone or in a small group. You know if this is you, and if you’ve ever been in a group class before you’ve definitely seen this person. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with being sociable and enjoying the company while working out, but if you’re guilty of this you should be aware it could be stopping you from getting to your fitness goals! For some, that realization may not have much impact, but others it could be motivation to make some changes to their workout habits/routine. Semi-private group training or one-on-one personal training are both a great way to have a professional hold you a bit more accountable and ensure you’re maximizing your valuable gym time. A different environment, with more accountability and focus can rekindle that motivation to put in the work to reach your goals.