Can't Lean Out? Here's Why You're Struggling
Why You're Struggling

Can't Lean Out? Here's Why You're Struggling

Written by Guy Gustafson
August 05, 2019
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We all know the feeling. You’ve been working hard in the gym, sticking to your diet and getting in your cardio, but the scale isn’t budging.

We all know the feeling. You’ve been working hard in the gym, sticking to your diet and getting in your cardio, but the scale isn’t budging.

Maybe you’ve been stuck like this for a week. Maybe it’s been more like three or four weeks. Either way, chances are you’re starting to feel pretty frustrated.

Struggling to lean out is a common issue among bodybuilders, especially women. When you’ve been stuck in a plateau for a while, it’s easy to feel as though you’ll be there forever. The good news, though, is that you can often push through with a little troubleshooting.

Read on to learn about some mistakes you might be making that are sabotaging your progress and making it harder for you to lean out. We’ll also talk you through how you can correct these mistakes and shed the extra weight.

The Problem: You’re Not Doing the Right Exercises

If you’ve been stuck in a weight-loss plateau for a while, one of the first places you ought to look is your exercise programming.

When was the last time you moved into a different phase of training? Have you been lifting the same weights for the same number of reps for weeks at a time?

If so, that could explain why you’ve stopped making progress.

The Solution: Improve Your Programming

Whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain, increased endurance, or anything in between, progressive overload is your friend. If you don’t switch up your programming every few weeks, you’re not going to be able to continue making progress. 

Take a look at your current routine and ask yourself whether you’re utilizing progressive overload. If you’re not, it’s time to make a change to your program.

You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel (and how much better you start to look) when you make adjustments to your training and continue challenging yourself in the gym.

The Problem: Your Rest Periods are Too Long

Sometimes, long rest periods are necessary. If you’re lifting very heavy weights, you’ll need a 3-5 minute rest in order to replenish ATP and get ready for your next set.

Be honest, though. Are you really resting for that long because you want to replenish ATP? Or, are you resting for that long because you’re getting sucked into an Instagram wormhole?

If you’re resting for too long in between sets (especially if your weights aren’t particularly heavy), you’re not going to see the kind of calorie-burning results you’re looking for. 

The Solution: Set a Timer and Increase Efficiency

Luckily, the solution to this problem is pretty simple. Start timing your rest periods and make sure you’re not Instagram-and-chilling longer than is necessary.

Not only does this help you make sure you’re maximizing your rest periods and keeping your heart elevated during your workouts, but it will also help you to be more efficient with your gym time.

You might even find that you can wrap up your workout and get on with your day sooner. Who doesn’t want that?

The Problem: You’re Not Tracking Your Food Carefully

When you’re working on leaning out for a show or competition, you have to be diligent about tracking your food.

Estimating your daily calorie intake and neglecting to track everything will surely hinder your progress, especially when you’re getting close to show day.

This is another time when you need to be honest with yourself. Are you being as accurate with your tracking as possible? Or, are you just kind of winging it?

If you are, you could be eating a couple of extra hundred calories per day without realizing it, and that can easily stall your progress, especially when you’re already quite lean.

The Solution: Be Honest About What You’re Eating

Start being 100 percent honest about what you’re eating. Use a calorie tracking app to take note of all your food and beverages throughout the day.

Make sure you’re using a food scale, too. Measuring by weight is much more accurate than measuring by volume.

We’ve all stuffed more than two tablespoons worth of peanut butter onto a measuring spoon to try and get away with eating a little extra. That kind of behavior isn’t going to help you reach your fitness goals, though.

The Problem: You’re Dieting Too Hard

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s also a possibility that you’re dieting too hard and have cut your calories too low. Don’t forget, your body adapts to what you feed it as well as what you do with it.

If you’ve been eating a very low number of calories for a while, your metabolism may have adapted to that number. As a result, you may have stopped losing weight because your energy expenditure has decreased. 

The Solution: Schedule Some Refeeds

If you don’t have refeed days scheduled into your program, now is the time to add them.

Adding some extra calories in a strategic way can help you speed up your metabolism and increase your energy expenditure. By doing this, you’ll be able to continue shedding weight and leaning out in time for your show.

This isn’t just about how you feel physically, though. Regular refeed days also help with the mental aspects of dieting, too. Giving yourself a day when you can eat a bit more helps you stay compliant and stick to your program long-term.

Just make sure you still account for those extra calories and manage your portions. A refeed day requires you to eat a higher number of calories, but it shouldn’t be an all-out binge.

The Problem: You’re Tired and Stressed Out

Stress and sleep deprivation both play a huge role in the body’s ability to shed fat and lean out. This is especially true when you get close to show day and don’t have a lot of extra fat to lose in the first place.

Stress and sleep deprivation can cause you to hold onto more water and make you feel bloated or puffy. You may also have a harder time sticking to your diet and might find that you’re turning to food for comfort.

At these times, when your weight loss has stalled, you need to take a look at your lifestyle and consider whether stress and a lack of sleep are factors.

The Solution: Get Some Rest and Manage Your Stress

If you think sleep deprivation and stress are hindering your ability to lean out, it’s time to look and see where you can make some adjustments.

Let’s start with sleep. You need to have a solid sleep routine. Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it every night, even on the weekends. Practice good sleep hygiene, too. This might mean avoiding screens an hour or so before bed or cutting off caffeine earlier in the day.

Look for things you can add to your life that help you manage stress, too. This could be yoga, meditation, writing in a journal or doing anything else you enjoy that helps you feel happy and at peace.

The Problem: You’re Using the Wrong Supplements

Not all workout supplements are created equal.

If you want to continue to see results, especially when all other aspects of your diet and training are dialed in, you need to make sure you’re using safe, high-quality supplements that have been tested for purity and label accuracy.

By upgrading your supplement game, you can ensure that you’re seeing the results that are promised on the label. You can also avoid consuming potentially problematic ingredients that might be hindering your progress.

The Solution: Upgrade Your Stack

If you’ve been using the same generic supplements for a while now, consider upgrading to something of a higher caliber.

Don’t be afraid to cycle your supplements, too. If you’ve been relying on the same ones for a long time, you might be starting to see diminishing returns.

Switching to something new or adding in something like L-Carnitine for increased energy will give you an extra push and allow you to continue making progress.

Struggling to Lean Out? Are You Making Any of These Mistakes?

As you can see, there are a lot of potential issues that could be making it hard for you to lean out. Before you give up on your goals and say that it’s impossible for you to get lean, take a careful look at your programming, diet and overall lifestyle.

Are you making any of these mistakes? If you are, don’t beat yourself up over it. Learn from what you’re doing incorrectly, make the necessary adjustments and monitor yourself to see if you start to progress again.

Do you need help upgrading your current supplement stack? If you need some new supplements to help you push through a plateau and continue leaning out, we’ve got lots of great products that can help.

Check out our Get Shredded supplements today. You’ll find lots of effective tools here that you can use to continue shedding fat and working toward your goals.