9 Ways to Tell If You’re Exercising Enough
Find out if your actually hitting the gym as much as you should be with these helpful tips from Self.
There's nothing as frustrating as hauling to the gym regularly and seeing no results. And it happens all. the. time. Why? Because you're not working out as hard as you think you are. Or worse, you're working hard, but you're focusing on the wrong things.
"It's very common for people to set a fitness goal and be super-aggressive in the beginning and then lose momentum when they stop seeing continued results," says Jimmy Minardi, personal trainer and owner of Minardi Training in East Hampton, NY, and Aspen, CO.
The most frustrating part is that you might not even realize that you're not cranking it up to the right intensity. So we rounded up nine signs (some obvious some shockers!) that you might not be hitting it hard enough along with advice on what you should be doing instead.
<b>The sign: you never feel sore or tired the day after a workout</b>
What it means: "This happens when your body gets comfortable with your routine," says Erin Bulvanoski, a trainer at Kore in New York City. You might be sticking to the same workouts or the same amount of weight, and you really need to be mixing it up.
How to adjust: Once a week, grab heavier weights. Adding more HIIT exercises can help as well, says Bulvanoski.
<b>The sign: you're not losing any weight</b>
What it means: "Is your body composition changing? That's what is most important," says Holly Rillinger, a master instructor at Flywheel in NYC. If your clothes aren't fitting better, you might just be spinning your wheels at the gym—and not in the way you want.
How to adjust: Keep track of what you are eating and see if you need to adjust your diet, says Rillinger. If you don't already strength train, add some weights to your routine to build fat-burning muscle. Otherwise, consider working in a high-intensity cardio session to your plan to blast calories—research from Canada found that sprints can help reduce body fat.
<b>The sign: you barely break a sweat </b>
What it means: You're likely working at a steady state and need to add some interval training to your routine, says Minardi. "You should break a sweat when you train and should see [or feel] a spike in your heart rate," he says.
How to adjust: Get your heart pumping more often. For instance, between yoga poses or a set of squats, drop and do 10 push-ups or 20 mountain climbers to rev your heart rate.
<b>The sign: the last rep feels hard, but you could probably do another</b>
What it means: It's probably time to add more weight. "You should barely be able to squeeze out that last rep," says Rillinger. If you're not sure you can do one more, try she says. If you fail, that's OK, and is a sign you've reached your limit!
How to adjust: Pick up free weights that are two to four pounds heavier than what you're used to, suggests Bulvanoski: "It can help burn more calories, take your sculpting routine to the next level and get you results faster."
<b>The sign: you can chat with your friend throughout your workout</b>
What it means: Unless it's supposed to be an easy recovery session you're probably exercising at too low of an intensity.
How to adjust: Sport a heart-rate monitor and check in to see if you're working out in the right zone. Hitting the weights? Don't put them down until you notice your form slipping or can't lift them without shaking; those are signs you've done enough, says Minardi.
<b>The sign: you're not getting any more flexible in your yoga classes</b>
What it means: You might not be hitting the mat consistently enough. "One yoga class here or there will not lead to increased flexibility," says Bulvanoski.
How to adjust: Set a goal to get to the studio a few times a week. On days when you can't squeeze in a full class, stretch for 10 or 15 minutes at home.
<b>The sign: you run several days a week but aren't getting faster</b>
What it means: There's a good chance you're doing all your runs at approximately the same pace—which won't help you get speedier. "Intervals are key, and you need to add speed to your routine," says Minardi.
How to adjust: A recent study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that adding high-intensity cardio sessions to your routine can boost your fitness by improving your VO2 max, which can translate to better performance. Make at least one of your weekly runs a speed workout—like sprint intervals, hill repeats or a tempo run.
<b>The sign: you're making strides in boot camp but are always stiff and un-flexible</b>
What it means: Your strength and cardio games may be on point, but you've been skimping on stretching.
How to adjust: Supplement your boot camp sessions with a Pilates, barre or yoga class at least once a week, suggests Bulvanoski.
<b>The sign: you take the same class regularly but aren't getting better at the exercises</b>
What it means: You might be working with improper form. "Bad posture, not lifting your knees or keeping your body in one position throughout can have a negative impact on your results," says Minardi.
How to adjust: Throughout class, remind yourself: Form is what counts, not your ego. "It's not how fast you move but how your body moves while you're doing it," says Minardi.