- From counting calories and exercising more, many Americans renew their fitness goals in January – but are still unable to shift their winter weight
- A recent YouGov survey shows that an extra 1 in 10 people are very unhappy with their post-Christmas weight, compared to summer
- Searches for ‘summer shred’ jumped up by 4,000% this time last year, as people look for intense workouts to shift their residual weight
Gaining weight in winter is common due to reduced activity levels and an increased calorie intake associated with the holidays – but many of us are unhappy with our excess pounds.
So, why are you struggling to get rid of the last of your winter weight? Nutrition expert Abi Roberts from bulk.com says that a loss of motivation is the main culprit: “After the January gym rush ends and people’s initial enthusiasm for working out is lost, many lose their motivation and find themselves making excuses to skip the gym, or skimp on workouts.
“This can cause frustration as people are technically still keeping fit if they visit the gym every so often – but they’ve significantly reduced the impact of their efforts by doing so sporadically or half-heartedly, as consistency is really key to seeing results.
“Form is also important. Learning how to do key exercises correctly is essential to both avoiding injury and staying motivated. Proper form avoids causing strain or injury to muscles, joints and tendons – and also targets the intended muscles more effectively, leading to better results, a greater confidence, and an increased motivation to keep the momentum going.
“Without long-term and impactful workouts, people will struggle to shift their stubborn winter weight and eventually give up – despite still being unhappy with their body image. ”
Why do people struggle to shift their winter weight?
- They’ve lost their enthusiasm for working out after January
Google searches for gym memberships peaked on the 1st of January in America, whilst YouGov data shows around half of Americans resolve to lose weight or improve their fitness at New Year’s. This results in the January gym rush as new exercisers join the gym – but then for many, their initial enthusiasm dies down and they stop regular gym visits.
Roberts says: “It’s easy to fall back on excuses as to why you can’t fit in a gym trip each day, but just having a gym membership doesn’t count as working out. It’s important to try and make exercising fun rather than seeing it as a chore; mix up your routines, try incorporating music or dance routines, or reward yourself with a treat after each workout.”
Gym-goers can also hold themselves more accountable by agreeing to attend sessions with a friend or loved one so that both can motivate each other to work out.
- They’re disheartened by a lack of immediate results
Many of us fall into the trap of expecting to see clear changes in our fitness levels and physical appearance after minimal effort – but the reality is that it takes consistency and long-term commitment to see palpable results. “It’s very common that people give up on their fitness goals because they’re not seeing the fruits of their labor after a month.
“Whilst some people do see drastic changes in a short window, the reality is that the majority will have to wait a while to see clear differences in their physique. To combat a feeling of failure, you should set small and easily-achievable goals – such as spending an extra minute on the treadmill every week – so that you still feel like you’re progressing.”
People may also choose to take regular photos of their physique in order to identify the small changes week-to-week, which will help with long-term motivation and commitment.
- They’re not following the correct form when exercising
Whilst moving your body in any way is better than not, those who don’t follow the correct form when performing specific exercises are less likely to see tangible results, as they’re not engaging the right muscles. “Not utilizing the correct form when working out is equivalent to not correctly following a recipe when baking – the results won’t be quite right,” Roberts says.
“There are plenty of resources out there to help you nail the form of key moves, like YouTube videos, online guides or personal trainers at the gym. Common mistakes are arching your back, not placing your hands in line with your shoulders and not engaging your core when exercising, so keep an eye out for these slip-ups and try to keep yourself in check.”
- They still need to make other lifestyle changes
For those looking to lose weight, eating in a calorie deficit is important in order to achieve the desired results – as well as working out. Many people adjust their workout routine but still end up overeating, which negates some of the exercise effects and can delay results. It also makes it harder to keep the weight off in the long-term as people fall back into old habits.
Abi says: “Making sure that you improve your nutrition and diet is essential for those looking to pursue a healthier lifestyle – and it’s not just a case of eating fewer calories. You need to make sure that you’re meeting your nutrition requirements and eating well, whilst still being conscious of how many calories you’re able to burn when working out.
“Don’t set your calorie target too low either, as this will cause your body to conserve calories when you consume them and you’ll burn fewer calories even with intense workouts.”
- They’re not mixing up their workout routine
People are creatures of habit, and so it’s all too easy to pick a favorite workout routine and stick to it. However, this can delay progress, as you’re likely only exercising select parts of your body in isolation and therefore not seeing the full-body results that you expect. “Isolation exercises are useful if you’re looking to tone or gain muscle in a specific area, but if you’re looking to burn calories, variety is important.
“When your body gets used to the same movements, they become easier – and therefore burn fewer calories. Make small but key changes to your routine to up the intensity, up the speed and add new exercises to see more palpable results from your efforts.”
YouTube is a great resource for identifying new exercises that suit your fitness levels, or get suggestions on how you can adjust the intensity as either a newbie or a seasoned gym-goer.
As well as providing expert advice on why your workout isn’t working, bulk.com analyzed over 200 YouTube workouts to identify which exercises are the most effective for a summer shred – and therefore worth incorporating into your routine. The top ten moves are:
- Bicycle crunches
- Toe touches
- Jump squats
- Glute bridges
- Russian twists
- Knee tucks
- Jumping jacks
Burpees appeared in 45% of the summer shred routines – performed in 30-second intervals – making them the most effective exercise for those looking to shed their winter weight.