So, you’ve reached your weight loss goal. Now what? Well, maintaining your weight loss can be tricky. When it comes to changing your nutrition plan, it’s a good idea to add food back slowly. At the same time, experts recommend continuing an exercise routine for overall health and to help maintain the balance between calories in and calories out.
As you move into maintenance mode, you don’t have to keep your workouts exactly the same as they were during your weight-loss phase. In fact, changing things up might have some major advantages when it comes to maintaining your weight more easily. First, directing your attention to a new, non-weight loss goal can help keep you motivated. Second, focusing on the types of exercise you genuinely enjoy ensures you’re setting up a workout habit that’s sustainable for life.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up seven trainer-approved workout tweaks tailored to those switching from weight-loss mode to weight maintenance.
“When I have clients transition from weight loss to maintenance, I’ll have them dial down their training volume,” explains Josh Schlottman, a certified personal trainer. That means they’ll still work out, but they might reduce the number of workouts they do per week or the number of sets and reps they do during their workouts. This can help make working out more sustainable mentally, he says. “People like knowing they can switch up their workout routines and keep things fresh.”
Another common workout change trainers recommend is to reduce the number and length of cardio-only workouts you’re doing. “Generally speaking, the first thing I would do when coming out of a calorie deficit is reduce cardio to roughly around two, 30-minute sessions per week,” says Ste McGrath, owner and founder of Get Results Training. Mostly, this change is beneficial for people who’ve been logging lots of cardio in an effort to burn more calories — not because they particularly enjoy doing cardio. “For those who like cardio, of course, keep it in,” adds McGrath. Overall, the decision comes down to what you enjoy and think you can keep up with long term.
Building visible muscle is a common post-weight loss goal, says Jonathan Jordan, a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach. “We work toward that by lifting heavy starting at the 4 sets, 8–10 rep framework, often in a split routine to hit all the ‘mirror muscles,’” explains Jordan. That means you might have upper body and lower body days in your weightlifting routine, and generally will be performing exercises for 4 sets of 8–10 reps with heavy weights.
Moving out of a weight-loss phase usually means eating more calories. That can be a major plus for people who love exercising but struggle with energy levels or feeling really sore after workouts while in a calorie deficit. “I’ve found most of my clients have more energy and recover better once they start eating more,” says Schlottman. If energy levels allow and you’re feeling good after workouts, that might mean you can actually work out more than you did while losing weight — provided that’s something you find fun and exciting (as opposed to an uphill slog).
Another way to mix things up and keep your workouts focused, Jordan says, is to choose a sport or hobby you want to get better at. “From there, you can build a strength-training program around it. For instance, golfers need rotational core strength, and tennis players need multiplanar lower and upper body strength and mobility,” explains Jordan. If this sounds appealing to you, consider hiring a personal trainer to put together a workout plan tailored to your performance goals.
Training for a specific goal can also be a fun way to boost motivation when you’re moving into weight maintenance, says Jordan. For instance, you might want to hit a certain number of pushups, finally do a bodyweight pullup, or deadlift your own body weight.
Some people who are moving into maintenance might not have a specific workout goal in mind, Jordan points out. “They just want to be healthy and live a long time,” he says. In that case, keeping it simple and focusing on mobility and basic strength training is a plan that’ll set you up for long-term success. Let your enjoyment of your workouts be your guide, along with how you feel before, during and after your sessions.
For more inspiration, check out “Workout Routines” in the app to discover and log a wide variety of routines by performance specialists. Or build your own routine with exercises that fit your goals.