Could your exercise regime be doing you more harm than good? We found out whether it could be making you bulkier, more stressed or whether it’s just a plain waste of time

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Hitting the gym, but not seeing the results you’re aiming for? Your exercises of choice could be to blame.

Let’s be honest, actually getting to the gym can be hard enough but add the frustration of realising what you’re doing just isn’t working and it’s suddenly all the more demotivating. Therefore to ensure we get the most out of our exercise regimes, we asked personal trainer and Director of Communications at Bodyism Tegan Haining  for both her words of warning and wisdom when it comes to working out well.

From the right exercises for tackling stress to the ones that tone and target fat loss correctly, never workout in vain again with these fitness tips  to hand.

Lose the right kind of pounds

If you’re targeting fat loss but are seeing your readings unchanged, it could be because the exercises you’re doing are targeting the wrong kind of weight. “Doing the wrong kind of exercise can lead to a loss of muscle instead of fat. So while you might feel like you have lost a few kilos, your body fat percentage will remain the same, which can be very disheartening after all your hard work!” explains Tegan.

“This can happen when you only do cardio workouts - maybe running outside or using the machines in the gym. It is the easiest way to move your body and great that you are doing it! But if you want to burn body fat and tighten the tummy and bingo wings, you need to lift some weights 2-3 times per week,” she recommends.

Combat stress with the right exercises

Feeling stressed? Seek out exercises that don’t burden your body further. “When we train we are actually putting a great deal of stress on the body. Combine this with stress from work, relationships and food and we are really beginning to overload the system. The best kind of exercise if you are leading a highly stressed lifestyle might be a strong yoga session - less chanting, more challenging postures so you still feel like you worked out but you have also stretched your body, increased blood flow and reduced your cortisol levels at the same time,” Tegan suggests.

MORE GLOSS: Pilates vs yoga

Lift weights

Think weights are just for the boys? Think again. They’re just as integral to us gals too. “Make sure you do at least two sessions a week of resistance training - Pilates, TRX, personal training, bodyweight exercises, whatever it is. This will increase your resting heart rate which is what you need for serious post-workout fat burning,” explains Tegan.

Stay mindful

Getting mentally ready for a gym session is half the battle. Become a master of your exercise gremlins  though and you’ll reap the rewards from your workouts tenfold. “Make sure you are present in your training sessions. Leave the problems at home for an hour. Think about the muscles you are using and give 100%,” says Tegan.

One of the most difficult skills to perfect in our experience, we’ve found seeing our workouts as essential ‘me time’ definitely helps. Our top tip to make sure you never miss a session? Put them in your diary and treat them like meetings - to be moved only in the most pressing of situations.

Blitz the bulk

Afraid of looking too muscle-y? Technique and variety are key. “Isolating muscles or only doing one type of exercise or sport will usually lead to the ‘bulking up’ of those particular muscles that are focussed on. Take tennis players for example, they tend to have one arm slightly more defined than the other due to repetitive dominant use,” says Tegan.

“Getting lean requires functional movement. Choose exercises that challenge the whole body to develop lean muscles all over and become a more proficient fat-burning machine. Think a blend of yoga, Pilates, TRX, and interval training,” she adds. “At Bodyism I like to blend all of these influences into one session.”

Eat your way to a slimmer you

“To lose fat, diet is key,” explains Tegan.

“You need to be eating a diet rich in protein, healthy fats and nutrient dense carbohydrates. Carbs are super important for energy levels and for fighting sugar cravings. But portion control is key here. Try keeping your carb intake to two tablespoons a day. Try sweet potato, quinoa or brown rice added to salads, stir fries or an excellent side dish to some grilled fish with lemon. Stay off the sugar completely. It turns into fat that gets stored on your belly…hello the overhang on your jeans!!”

MORE GLOSS: 5 flat stomach facts that everyone needs to know

Treat fitness as a marathon, not a race

With New Year’s resolutions now in full swing, our good intentions could cause us to risk injury in the quest for a slimmer waistline. After all, exercise can be pretty addictive, we’ve all been there. However, keeping your focus on the long and not the short-term will ensure you act in the best interests of both your body and 2015 goals. “Start small. It’s great you have a new plan to be fitter than you ever dreamed in 2015 but you need to build a strong foundation in order to succeed,” cautions Tegan.

“Smashing yourself 5 times a week in January is great if you can keep it up. But most of the time by mid-Feb your body is exhausted, your knee or shoulder is playing up or you’re starting to balk at the money you are investing into your programme. Life’s a long game. I always tell my clients 2-3 times per week for the rest of your life is better than 7 days a week for 3 months.”

Now that’s one realistic fitness mantra we should all live by.