Q: I am trying to get into shape and cut some body fat. I am not severely overweight but I do need to lose about 30 pounds. About 2 weeks back I started a new circuit training routine which combines both resistance training and cardio in the same session. I am also supplementing it with a low carb diet.
The problem is, as days go by, the workout seems to be getting harder and harder for me. The same routine that I could do without stopping on the first day now feels impossible and I find myself stopping for a few seconds before restarting. Plus, after every workout, I feel like throwing up. I eat 3 hrs before and don’t overdo the water. I checked my heart rate, and throughout the workout, it is between 179 bpm and 185 bpm and I am a 25-year-old female. I am panting throughout the workout.
Why on earth is this becoming harder instead of showing improvement in my endurance and cardiovascular fitness? Am I pushing myself too hard or not enough? Or am I doing something wrong on the nutrition side? (I don’t take in any breads, pasta, sugar, and any other junk. Mainly healthy fats, protein, dairy, and loads of vegetables.)
Any help would be appreciated since this is frustrating. Now I dread going to the gym instead of enjoying it. – Maria
A: If your fitness routine isn’t getting easier, ask whether any of these could be the cause:
- You aren’t getting adequate rest between workouts.
- You’re pushing too hard during your workout.
- You aren’t eating right before you exercise.
Metabolic training is a powerful workout, but repeating a circuit routine should get easier, not harder. It’s important when starting a metabolic circuit routine not to jump in too hard, too fast. That’s a surefire way to overload your muscles and get burned out quickly. If you’re losing steam or growing weaker each time you work out, you could be overdoing it.
Give It a Rest
So what is “adequate” rest? It depends on your conditioning and the intensity of the workout. Most people need at least one day of rest between rigorous metabolic training workouts. Some people need two or three days to recover. If you start your workout feeling sore and fatigued, that’s a cue that you need more rest time.
Not only does compounding stress on your body cause you to lose steam, it will also prevent your muscles from repairing and developing. As a general rule, try not to work the same muscle group two days in a row. On in-between days, do steady state cardio or skip the gym altogether.
To preserve muscle quality and relieve tension, you should also spend plenty of time stretching before and after your workout.
Another great way to loosen up your muscles is foam rolling. If you’re doing strength training, you should definitely roll out your muscles after the workout. Your muscles will thank you!
Why “Sustainable” Exertion is Best
If you’re struggling through your workout, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard. This is a common mistake people make when starting a new program: we use our pent-up energy and excitement to crank out a crazy-intense workout the first few times, and it catches up to us fast.
To build endurance and sustainable energy, you need to start slowly and be patient, especially with an intense regimen like HIIT or circuit training. You shouldn’t start full-force and wear out; make it the other way around. Not only will that help you increase stamina but it will also help prevent injury.
What about your diet? You might not be getting enough fuel, or the right kind of fuel, to keep going strong. What you’re eating (or not eating) could also play a factor in why you feel nauseous mid-workout. Find out what to eat before exercise here.
Avoid Exercise Burnout
Have you ever bought a new CD you were stoked about and listened to it 10 times a day? It gets old fast, doesn’t it? In a few weeks, you lose interest. After a few more weeks, you’re over it. When your once-favorite song plays on the radio, you change the station.
The same is bound to happen with a workout routine when you start full-throttle. Before you go any further into your metabolic training workouts, take a minute to learn how to establish an unshakeable fitness routine and create sustainable weight loss goals.
Fitness results take time, so why rush? If you’ve only been working out for two weeks, it’s too soon to see drastic improvements in your endurance, fat loss, and muscle definition. You know the old saying, “a watched pot never boils.” It seems to be true of weight loss, too. While we’re not suggesting that you stop tracking results, if you can put more focus on enjoying the workout, results will quickly follow. That’s because if you enjoy it, exercise will become an effortless part of your daily routine rather than a means to an end.