Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

In the last page, I described the 3 paths that Angela needs to walk down if she wants to achieve successful and permanent weight loss.

  • Path # 1 – Nutrition
  • Path # 2 – Exercise
  • Path # 3 – Mental / Emotional / Spiritual Strategies

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Now…we are going to take a close look at Path # 2: Exercise.

More specifically, we will be looking at: The Most Effective Training Methods for Fat Loss

As you may or may not know, some methods of training are more effective than others. Not too surprisingly, the best methods make use of the best techniques…prioritizing the best of the best and maximizing your time investment.

1.  The Best Methods:

  • Elevate your Metabolism – Long Term
  • Elevate your Metabolism – Short Ter
  • Burn Calories

2.  The Second Best Methods:

  • Elevate your Metabolism – Short Term
  • Burn Calories

3.  The Least Effective Methods:

  • Burn Calories

So, what does all of that mean?

NOTE – The following section gets pretty detailed. If that doesn’t interest you, skip ahead to the section labelled Let’s Put This Plan Together


How To Elevate Metabolism – Long Term

Your Resting or Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy (measured in calories) that you burn simply by living…i.e keeping your heart beating, brain thinking, kidneys filtering, etc…

The amount of calories that you burn outside of your BMR (i.e exercise or the Thermic Effect of Food) is insignificant when compared to your BMR.

So, how do we increase BMR?

  • Increase muscle mass
  • Move to the Arctic…BMR increases to “warm them bones”
  • Get sick…a fever will increase your BMR
  • Stress…stress hormones can increase BMR

And the winner is: Increase Muscle Mass

And before any of the women reading this article say “I don’t want to get big muscles”, look at these ladies:

weight lifting women

All of these women lift weights….and all of them have built very different bodies.

So, please….REPEAT AFTER ME…you WILL NOT turn into Ms. or Mr. Olympia if you lift weights.

Sheesh……There are a lot of teenage boys that wish they had as much muscle as Ms. Olympia. Instead, they look more like Alfalfa from the Lil Rascals.

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

How To Elevate Metabolism – Short Term

When it comes to increasing your metabolism in the short term, we are looking at EPOC.

EPOC or Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption  is essentially a measurement of how quickly or slowly your metabolism (BMR) returns back to normal after exercising.

When it comes to fat loss, we want to focus on exercises and workouts that give us a very high EPOC.

Burn Calories

This is where most people make their mistake. They hop onto the treadmill, enter their weight into the computer and start running, keeping one eye on the amount of calories burned…..WRONG

Activities that burn calories, but do nothing to increase your metabolism are next to useless in your fat burning battle. Don’t get me wrong. There is a huge health benefit to putting in the miles on a cardio machine, but when it comes to fat loss, you don’t get much bang for your buck.


1.   High Intensity Resistance Training

High intensity resistance workouts are the superstars of this entire program. When performed properly, they elevate your BMR, drastically increase your EPOC and burn a fair amount of calories per workout.
Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Various studies have shown these types of workouts to:

  • Increase metabolism for up to 36 hours post-workout…36 hours
  • Drastically outperform diet and aerobic exercise in fat loss studies
  • Maintain muscle mass in subjects on a Very Low Calorie Diet

The Details

High Intensity Resistance Training works best when you focus on:

  • Total Body workouts
  • Pushing yourself until your muscles burn with lactic acid
  • Perform supersets, tri-sets, giant sets, etc…
  • Compound exercises – squats instead of leg extensions
  • Big muscle groups – legs, back and chest instead of arms and shoulders
  • Performing sets of 5 to 15 repetitions

2.   High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (HIIT)

High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training will increase your EPOC drastically and burn a whole bunch of calories. It is not as effective as High Intensity Resistance Training at increasing muscle mass and BMR.

The main technical differences between High Intensity Resistance Training and High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training are:

  • Lighter weights are used with HIIT training
  • Rest intervals are minimized (30 sec. MAX) with HIIT
  • EDTs and Circuit training are used instead of supersets
  • Reps can be higher – larger range – 8-30 reps

Basically, you will be substituting speed for strength.

And how effective is HIIT (anaerobic) training?

9x more effective at burning body-fat than aerobic endurance training.

3.   High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training

High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training replaces resistance exercises with traditional cardio activities like:

  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Stair Master
  • Rowing

High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training will also increase your EPOC and burn a whole bunch of calories. It is even less effective than High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training at increasing muscle mass and BMR.

Think of sprinting hills.

More info on HIIT can be found here.

4.   High Intensity Aerobic Training

Why Can't I Lose Weight?

High Intensity Aerobic Training is simply hard, sweaty, painful cardio. Think about rowing for 60 minutes without a break. Your lungs burning and your muscles aching.

High Intensity Aerobic Training burns a ton of calories, but doesn’t increase EPOC significantly and hardly does anything to increase your BMR.

5.   Low Intensity Aerobic Training

Low Intensity Aerobic Training is going for a walk. It doesn’t do much of anything for fat loss, but it is good for your heart and every calorie counts in this battle of the bulge.

couple-walking health fitness healthhabits

OK, Let’s Start Putting This Plan Together

First off, I realize that in today’s society, time is precious. There are only so many hours in the day.
Angela has set aside 6 hours a week for her Fat Loss training Program.

  • 2 1/4 of those hours will be spent on High Intensity Resistance Training – 3 x 45 min.
  • 3/4 of an hour will be spent on High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training – 3 x 15 min.
  • 1 of those hours will be spent on High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training – 3 x 20 min.
  • 2 of those hours will be spent on High Intensity Aerobic Training – 2 x 60 min.

What About You?

Take a look at your schedule. Really look.

If you have less than 3 hours of available time to exercise:

  • Focus on High Intensity Resistance Training

If you have between 3 and 5 hours, divide your time between:

  • High Intensity Resistance Training, and
  • High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training

If you have between 5 and 6 hours, work on:

  • High Intensity Resistance Training,
  • High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training, and
  • High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training

If you have between 6 and 8 hours, work on:

  • High Intensity Resistance Training,
  • High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training,
  • High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training, and
  • High Intensity Aerobic Training

If you have more than 8 hours, add in some Low Intensity Aerobic Training.


Before you start any training program, please make sure that you can handle the punishment that you are going to put your body through. Seeing you doctor is always a good idea.

I shipped Angela off to her MD with a request for a bunch of blood tests. (Thyroid problems run in her family and her basal temperature is a little low)

Also, keep in mind that she has me hovering over her making sure that are running smoothly. Better safe than sorry.

In the next page….I will break all of this theory down into actual workouts.

Quick Nav:

Like this article???

If you like this article, don’t forget to subscribe to @healthhabits. When you subscribe, my friends at MailChimp will make sure to send you an email every time I post something new here at the blog.

As well, you also get access to the series of Supplement Reports that I am publishing this year.

button subscribe


  1. Mark,

    I think I need a more all-encompassing title than mental strategies.

    I think that our conscious and unconscious thoughts are so tied up with our emotions, that they are virtually inseparable.

    Maybe I should call it mind-body, but that may be too much of a cliche.

    Any suggestions?

  2. ” Nutrition,Exercise, and Mental Strategies”
    This is true. Maybe include emotional as well?

    Nice post, I look forward to the additions!

  3. I agree, we need to take a new approach to healthy weight loss. It’s about lifestyle changes, not overnight pills or diets. Great post!

  4. this post is great! please keep updating people on how to do it. you’re totally right about how confused people are. i’ll be looking out for what you have to say!!

  5. There is a good book by Paul McKenna called “I Can Make You Thin”. Paul McKenna is very popular in the UK, I don’t know how well known he is over the pond.

    His approach is totally different to anybody else’s that I have ever seen. Basically, rather than counting callories or exercising, etc; it is about how to adapt your lifestyle to speed up your body’s matabalism so that you burn things of naturally.

    Many diets put the body into “famine” mode, where the body thinks that there is not enough food to go around. The body therefore stores as much as it can in case the “famine” lasts.

    Everytime you don’t eat when you ARE ACTUALLY HUNGERY, in order to keep the calories down; you are pushing your body deeper into “famine” mode.

    I have a great respect for Paul McKenna’s work. In fact, you’ve given me an idea for a posting on my own blog 🙂

    PS: In the UK, most of Paul McKenna’s book are on Ebay. Have a look in your country’s Ebay.

  6. Yavor,

    I have to disagree with you.

    On one level, you are right. If I fast or reduce carbs, I will lose weight. So will most people.

    But when I go back to my “normal” way of eating, I will gain the weight back, plus I will have lost muscle mass from the fast.

    Less muscle and more fat…a pretty bad combination.

    These are the type of people that I work with every day.

    Trying to find a lifestyle that works for them and helps them burn of fat and get healthy is a lot more complex than just dropping calories or carbs.

    Thanks for the comment

    Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  7. If people only find a way to eat less which works for them, they will succeed. Fasting, low-carbing, they all work. Just pick one that works for you.



  8. Health Habits is a good place to come for sound advice.

    I’d like to add to this discussion. I talk in depth on my blog about Water Retention. It is not well understood by western medicine, and is a huge contributor to heart disease, and heart failure. My newest post talks about how to tell if you are retaining water and what to do about it.

    If water is your issue rather than fat, you will be frustrated with traditional dieting, and the excess fluid in your system will over burden your heart muscle!

    Be well,
    Many blessings.

  9. What a coincidence!

    I was just reading a chapter in Gary Taubes’ book, Good calories, Bad Calories, about how a high carb diet forces your body to hold onto excess fluid, resulting in higher blood pressure.


    I have to admit that I don’t know very much about water retention. Could you throw a little info / science my way?

  10. Am I overweight? It is a common question. I found your article is very informative. I would like to say that simple free hand Yoga everyday for 15 minutes along with 30 minutes breathing exercises (Pranayam) is extremely helpful for quick fat loss. Actually pranayam improves metabolism and oxygen carrying capacity of your blood. I referred your websites to my clients becuase I found it is extremely useful.

  11. The attorney general has come out and said that by the year 2025 85% of all americans will be OBESE. Not just over weight.. OBESE. Also siad that if the current trend continues our children’s generation will be the first of a downward trend of average life expectancy. That is a downward TREND! Chemicals, additives and preservatives along with GMO plants. are the cause!

  12. I am so envious of her. I am 5’5” and would LOVE to weight 170. I have a bit more ‘bagage’ than that. I also have tried many, many things and nothing seems to be working for me either. I need help STAT. I just can’t be this fat girl anymore. I love your posts and look so forward to reading on about how I can FINALLY lose the fat that I need and want to. Thank you!!!

  13. I’m 26 years old.
    132 lbs
    I work out 6/7 days/week
    Lift weights in a high intensity for 40 – 60 min/day
    Sometimes I do Tabata work outs.
    I have a balanced diet with a lot of protein.
    around 1,300 cal/day
    I do eat sugar sometimes but nothing absurd.
    and I can’t get rid of 1 inch of body fat.
    I’ve been doing this for at least 2 years. And I just gained/didn’t lose.
    I only lose when I do atkins (but gain all it back once I eat a breadstick) or when I starve myself eating 800 cal/day.

    tried to raise my cals intake, gained even more fat.
    should I give up? haha

  14. Let’s look at what we know:

    You eat healthy & exercise a ton but can’t get as lean as you want. From this, I would say that adding more exercise isn’t going to solve your problem.

    We also know that when you drop calories very low, you lose weight, but we are not going to look at dropping calories below 1300 – the down side of doing that is greater than any long term benefit

    We also know that low carb takes the food off and when you increase it the weight comes back on – this tells us that like just about everyone else, your bodyfat storage is strongly affected by insulin.

    So, where do we go from here?

    If you can afford it, it would help to get a hormone panel done

    Estradiol (a potent estrogen)
    TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
    Free T4
    Free T3 (the metabolically active thyroid hormone)
    Free testosterone
    Total testosterone
    Total Cholesterol
    LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
    HDL (high-density lipoprotein)
    C-reactive protein
    Liver function
    Kidney function
    Complete blood cell counts
    and any others your doc can think of…

    But before you do that, take a look at nutrient cycling. In particular, try and consume the majority of your carbs before and after your workouts. That way insulin is going to put those carbs to work fuelling your muscles and not storing them as fat.

    I am working on a new diet ebook that will include this tip amongst others – should be out in a few weeks and will cost under $5. HH readers will pay less if they pick it up from the blog

  15. I think the word “fast” needs to be stricken from any dieters vocab. If you are looking for “fast” results you’re gonna fail long term. Understanding that losing weight at a moderate rate over time is the only true success. #WINNING

  16. This series is a MUST READ for anyone out there looking for real advice on healthy, long lasting, weight loss! No Gimmicks allowed!

  17. Doug, I think that some of the terminology describing the exact formula for your HIRT workout is confusing. For instance, Day 1, Workout A above in your sample workout, consists of 4 “Exercises”. But if I’m reading it correctly, some of them are 2 or 3 exercises grouped together. (Hang Clean TO Squat Thrust; 60 seconds rest between sets. What constitutes a set? 5 Reps of Hang Cleans? Or 5 reps of Hang Cleans followed by 5 reps of Thrusters? OR am I completely off base and is the whole exercise a Hang Clean/Thruster and one set is 5 reps of that compound movement. I think its the second option I listed but I’d love clarification, thanks!

  18. Great article! I agree with your methods & I think you put in some awesome videos! The article is helpful to all the people who feel frustrated with working out and not seeing more results. I like what you told one of the people who commented – Marina – about getting a hormonal profile. Thanks for the great read, can’t wait to share.

Comments are closed.