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It seems ridiculous that working "too hard" can be your downfall when you are trying to burn off stubborn fat. Think for a moment though; have you really pushed all of the boundaries, followed your diet to the calorie, increased your intensity across the board and yet still not managed to get rid of fat in those hard to burn, easy to see/feel places?  

It really might be that you are trying too hard.

There is a point where you can exercise to a level that prohibits effective recovery. When you are working out your body is put under a certain amount of stress and as such cortisol, the so-called "stress-hormone" is produced. While this is supposed to happen and indeed needs to happen for training to be effective cortisol is not meant to be produced in large quantities or over prolonged periods of time. Small yet very effective pockets of cortisol production are what you should be aiming for, not a flood which will over time have  negative effects.

One of the side effects of having too much cortisol caused by over-exercising is having fat reserves which seem insistent on going nowhere. With the physical stress of exercise as well as the mental stresses associated with on-going and relentless training the body soon starts to feel the strain and a body not at its best is not going to do what you want it to do. In this case I mean burning off stored fat.

Returning to mental stress, it is worth taking note of the fact that this type of stress continues to produce cortisol whereas usually when exercise halts so does its hormone producing capabilities. What is the answer?

There is no cut and dried answer to this scenario however if you are working out and getting nowhere it may be worth having a really close look at both your physical and your mental health. 

  • Are you following a diet that is too strict, too unforgiving and which essentially doesn't offer the nutrients you need? If so make the change. 
  • Are you suffering from mental stress? If so do whatever you need to do in order to identify the causes and eliminate or significantly reduce this. 
  • Listen to your body, remember that recovery is essential and that it is during the rest periods that your body burns the most fat so don't deny yourself.
  • Ditch long cardio sessions. These are more likely to reduce lean muscle mass which in turn reduces the ability to burn more calories. Look at HIIT instead with workouts being less than thirty minutes in total, including a warm up session.

If you are already nearly where you want to be and are struggling to lose that last 5% or so of fat working too hard, physically and/or mentally could be your problem.