Each week personal trainer Barb Gormley answers your most pressing fitness questions.
I’ve been lifting weights and running on the treadmill three times a week for two months. I’m sleeping better and have more energy, but I haven’t lost any weight and I don’t see any muscle gain. Can you tell me what I’m doing wrong?
When you aren’t seeing results from your workout, you need to take a close look at all the details. Don’t worry – hopefully you just need to tweak a few things to get on the right track. Here are three suggestions:
1. Pump up the cardio
Are you sweating (or at least really warm) when you step off the treadmill? If not, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough to burn a significant number of calories or to improve your endurance. Don’t overdo it (try run/walk or run/jog intervals), but move at a pace to get your heart pounding. If you can read a magazine, follow the details on a TV show, or carry on a chatty conversation, that’s a big red flag. Stick with it for 20 to 30 minutes; if you watch the machine’s calorie counter, you’ll see that it moves very slowly and it takes effort to hit a significant number.
2. Forget the pink dumbbells
One- and two-pound dumbbells are fine for super-small muscles like the rotator cuff, but little else. Choose bigger weights for bigger muscles; go with a weight that’s heavy enough to produce fatigue with two sets of 10 or 12 reps. Be sure that during every exercise you’re moving the weights with control and not swinging them. Quality repetitions always build muscle faster, and they decrease the chances of hurting yourself.
3. Analyze your intake
How’s your diet? Lots of people don’t realize that exercise is only half of the equation. If you’ve worked hard to create strong and firm arm, leg and ab muscles, you’ll never see them if they stay hidden under a layer of fat. Consider the math: you need to eliminate 3,500 calories to lose a pound, and a 150 lb. woman burns about 350 calories during a 60-minute cardio and weights workout. (That’s 10 workouts to lose one pound.) If you’re rewarding yourself with a treat after your workouts, a muffin or bagel can easily have 350 calories which will wipe out any weight loss resulting from your hard work. For the best and fastest results, combine a challenging workout with sensible portions of healthy food.
Barb Gormley is a certified personal trainer and a freelance health and fitness writer. You can contact her at www.barbgormley.com.