Why Some Athletes Have Trouble Losing Fat (And What They Can Do About It)

Athletes struggling to lose weight can follow these three strategies to fix common training flaws.

Athletes are incredibly active and typically far surpass the recommended amount of exercise each day. Yet some athletes may have stubborn body fat that won't go away despite hours of training to achieve that goal.

Is it because their workouts are not fat-loss workouts?

Before you answer, you must dig deep down inside to find what it takes for you to be consistent with your training and nutrition. But if you are consistent and yet still struggle to get lean or put on muscle, then you need to open up your training journal and determine whether your workouts qualify as fat-loss training.

Often, when you're not losing weight or getting leaner, your exercise program has three simple flaws and you can make three simple changes to ensure the results you want.

Flaw 1: Your Program Lacks Volume

Fix: Density Training

To shred fat and increase muscle quickly, your exercise program must have a high amount of volume. This may mean doing more sets, performing more reps, or completing more exercises within a training day. The trouble with this occurs when you have a limited amount of time to work out. Luckily for you, you now know about density training. The resistance of the exercises allows your body to release the hormones needed for fat loss and muscle growth, and the higher number of sets and reps amplifies that hormonal response to promote better and faster results.

RELATED: Density Training: The Solution for Faster and More Effective Workouts

Density Training Instructions: Set a timer for 10 minutes. Perform as many sets as possible of the exercises below in that 10 minutes. Attempt to beat the number of sets you complete each week. Choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to keep good technique.

Density Circuit Example

  • Set Timer for 10 minutes
  • A1) Goblet Squat x8 reps
  • A2) Dumbbell Chest Supported Row x10 reps
  • A3) Med Ball Slam x8 reps

Flaw 2: You're Not Performing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Fix: Add 30s/30s Intervals to the End of Your Workouts

Similar to density training, HIIT places a metabolic demand on your body that is more effective for improving body composition and losing fat while maintaining lean mass than traditional forms of steady-state cardio.

RELATED: Your Complete HIIT Training Guide

HIIT Instructions: Work at a maximal intensity for 30 seconds with an exercise that doesn't have high technical demand (ropes, medicine ball throws, bike, rower, treadmill, sleds are all great options). Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. You can do all the same exercise or mix it up each set.

HIIT Example Session:

  • Week 1: 3x30s/30s
  • Week 2: 4x30s/30s
  • Week 3: 5x30s/30s
  • Week 4: 6x30s/30s

Flaw 3: You're Overeating

Fix: Spend Some Time Tracking Your Food Consumption

Weight loss often comes down to calories in vs. calories out. While you're working hard in the gym, you must also ensure you're staying in a caloric deficit. The best way to do this is to spend some time tracking your food. Choose one day during the week and one on the weekend. Choose a normal day at work and a normal day at home. Develop a sense for how many calories you need to consume in order to lose weight, and learn how you can adjust your dietary habits to meet that number.

RELATED: How Many Calories Do I Need in a Day?