Many of us have the same problem. We aren't losing any fat and look the same month after month, despite trying so hard. In the worst case, we even put on some weight… and that's not muscle weight.
Where's the problem?
First of all, you probably already know this, but for the sake of honesty, I have to say this again: fat loss is mostly due to diet. Working out and burning energy (=calories) is hard, but it's oh so easy to go and eat that energy back in five minutes.
So, diet matters the most. But if your diet really is in check, the problem might be in your workouts.
If you don't lose fat or gain muscle definition, try the following things:
Switch Things Up
When was the last time you changed something in your training?
If you don't remember, you may have found a really important reason why you can't lose fat and get fitter. Do you run for an hour every single day, the exact same distance and with the exact same heart rate? Or, if you strength train, when did you challenge yourself with a bit heavier weights?
What You Can Do: Instead of running the exact same five miles every day, take one or two days and do a speed work instead. Run 10 x 100 meters as fast as you can. To make things even harder, do the same thing uphill. Added intensity will boost your fat burning!
Instead of using the same 25 lbs kettlebell (or sandbag, barbell or whatever else you're using) for your squats and do 3 rounds and 10 reps every single time, change that routine up every now and then. Pick up a 35 lbs kettlebell and do 3 x 6 reps.
Vary the weight and intensity, that will wake your body up again! Of course, these weights are just examples–work with ones that are appropriate for your fitness level.
When I used to run a lot, I was pretty skinny. And I stayed like this, but I never saw much muscle definition.
Long cardio workouts may help you to maintain the way your body looks right now, but they're not going to change it. It wasn't until starting to train with weights that I started seeing some muscle definition.
Running is fun, and I totally understand if that's all you want to do. I was like that too. It can still be the main form of your exercise, but if your fat loss has stalled and you can't see any muscle definition that you really want to see, it's time to change something.
What You Can Do: Add at least two, better three, strength training sessions a week into your routine. They will take you even less time than running, if you're doing them right!
For example, you can check out these awesome dumbbell HIIT workouts that are absolutely great for burning fat and getting fit while saving time.
There's no need to go to a gym. Also at-home bodyweight training is weight training. In my opinion, there's nothing more fun than an outdoor workout. Check out this video for a 15-minute well-rounded, completely weight-free outdoor workout!
If you have some equipment in hand, that's even better. For example, here's what's in my home mini gym.
Train Big Muscle Groups
To get most benefits from your strength training, focus on bigger muscle groups. Because they're bigger, they use more energy when they're working, and bigger energy expenditure means greater fat burn.
So, if your goal is burn more energy, you're better off skipping isolating movements like biceps curls and triceps kickbacks and focus on training bigger muscle groups.
What You Can Do: Do a lot squats, swings, walking lunges, thrusters, goblet squats, burpees, pull ups, and push ups. Vary and combine them! If you have a few weights for them, that's ideal, but bodyweight goes a long way too.
Pick Up Heavier Weights
I'm pretty sure that most people, especially women, could use heavier weights in their training. Many of them are afraid to pick up heavier weights because they think they don't have enough strength for them, but from what I've seen, that's absolutely not true–they can lift them!
Other people think that they should avoid heavier weights in order to avoid turning into muscle monsters. It doesn't happen. In fact, I kind of wish it did! I think muscle makes everybody and every body more beautiful.
But even if you don't agree with that, there's no reason to avoid heavy weights. They really do make a difference in fat loss. The stronger you are and the bigger your muscles, the more efficiently you're able to burn fat.
Don't be one of those people who trains with the same weight day after day, month after month, year after year. Your body is so used to it that it's definitely not going to change.
What You Can Do: Next time you strength train, pick up weight that is a little heavier than what you usually use. It could be as little as 10% more, but try. It probably feels totally fine.
Maybe you can add even more weight? However, technique should always be your number 1 priority, so if the weight is too much for you to perform your movements perfectly, you may go back to lighter weights again.
Keep the Breaks Short
Leaving your phone home when you go workout is one of the best things you can do to make your workouts more intense and your body burning fat more efficiently. Otherwise you may end up checking your Instagram and Facebook all the time between the exercises, and your workouts lose the intensity.
But if you want to burn fat, the breaks between your exercises shouldn't be too long.
A 20-minute intense workout where you keep your breaks short and intensity high is way more beneficial from fat burning perspective than a hour long workout during which you rest more than actually work out.
What You Can Do: Pick three movements that involve big muscle groups, like kettlebell swings, squats and push ups. Then, set your timer for 15 minutes. Do 10 reps of each exercise for as many rounds as you possibly can and take breaks only as much as you need to get ready for the next exercise, but no longer.
Keeping the rest periods short and workout intensity high will definitely kickstart your fat loss!
If you can't see fat loss and muscle definition, despite of training hard and eating right, you may need to change something in your workouts.
Switching up your routine is the number one thing to do. Change something! Your body has probably fallen asleep from doing the same things over and over again.
Remember to also do strength training in addition to your cardio, and to get most of your workouts, train bigger muscle groups that require the most energy. Lastly, keep the breaks between the exercises short, so that you're really working out hard and don't spend the majority of your workout resting.