You are working out daily at the gym, but results do not come…
While it’s easy to become disheartened when you’ve worked hard and feel as if you’re getting nowhere, do not despair – you aren’t alone. Many people find themselves disappointed and frustrated in the exact same ways. There is good news, however! Fixing your routine is easier than you might imagine.
Here are 12 things that may be standing between you and the results you desire:
1. You stop when it hurt
Working out might be tough, but nothing worth having ever comes easy. If you stop when the hurt starts going then you will never see the results you crave for. Obviously, use common sense and don’t take the pain to injury, but otherwise, stopping when you feel like your muscles are just starting to work really hard is pointless.
Your muscles are hurting because you are pushing them, and that’s what’s going to make them grow and give you the coveted toned appearance. Anyone can do a workout and stop when it starts to get tough, but it’s a waste of time if you are looking for great abs and a bubble butt, because the only way you will achieve those results is if you push yourself past the pain barrier and work as hard as you can.
2. Your weights aren’t heavy enough
There’s a common misconception that women shouldn’t lift heavy weight – ignore that! If the weights you’re lifting aren’t making you work hard then they aren’t doing anything. Many women choose not to lift heavy weights for fear of getting “too big”. Allay your fears – lifting weights will increase the strength of your muscles, but, unless you have an abnormally large amount of testosterone (or steroids) in your body, you won’t be getting bulky.
If you lift heavy weights and follow a clean, healthy diet, then your muscles will become stronger and denser, and you will burn fat, resulting in the toned appearance many women crave.
3. Your weights are too heavy
Just as lifting weights that are too light can hinder your results, lifting weights that are too heavy can also stop you from reaping the rewards. You need to find a weight that you are able to lift repeatedly for a number of reps, but one that’s not easy for you so that you ensure you’re pushing yourself, without risking injury.
Lifting weights that are too heavy can prevent you from achieving the desired number of reps and by not completing the workout (reps are crucial to lifting weights) you are ruining your progress.
4. You’re not really into it
After a long or stressful day many people believe that doing a workout with half the effort is better than not doing one at all – after all, something is usually better than nothing!? Unfortunately, exercising without the proper form and effort is not a worthwhile workout because you aren’t putting enough energy into it to reap the rewards, and, if you’re really not into it, you could actually damage your muscles by not being careful.
We all have days when we don’t feel like getting our workout clothes on and going for it, but on those days, instead of completing your usual hour-long routine at the gym with half the effort you would normally put in, simply halve the workout time. Not only will halving the length of the workout make you feel better because you will know that it will be over quicker, but it could also actually spur you on and make you work harder than you would’ve done if you had stayed for the full hour.
5. You’re focusing too much on how you look
We all like to get a glance of ourselves in the mirror while working out to boost our confidence. However, if you spend your whole workout worrying about how you look while doing the exercises, then you won’t be putting enough effort into the workout. To put it bluntly, if you still look good at the end of your workout, you didn’t work hard enough.
While exercising we all sweat, we all pull very strange faces and we all either make absurd noises or swear a lot. It’s practically impossible to look good during a proper workout, so don’t fight the inevitable because the only person who’s bothered by how you look while lifting those weights is you! So stop worrying and go for it; you’ll see results much sooner if you do.
6. Spending too much time in the gym
More isn’t always better. Spending more than 75 minutes in the gym (including warm-up) is a waste of your time. After 60-75 minutes, your hormone levels start to lose their ability to help you maximize your efforts. Research shows that testosterone levels peak around 30 minutes, but after 45 minutes they start to come back down and return to baseline. Cortisol, the hormone most commonly related to stress, also spikes during intense exercise. These hormones help us get results but there is a point where they stop being effective. Too much exercise isn’t worth it. Going too hard can lead to sleep disturbances, digestive issues and even weight gain! If you workout too hard, and for too long, you will reduce your recovery time which will lead to fewer gains in strength and muscle and less fat burning.
7. Exercise ADD
Consistency is key. Exercise disrupts homeostasis, or the balance your body works to maintain. This stress causes change in the bodily processes like body temperature, oxygen consumption and heart rate. With proper recovery methods in place, your body can work to restore homeostasis and encourage adaptation to the new stresses. Results will not happen if you don’t stick to a personalized program that allows you to progress through the exercises week to week. This is why most programs are written for a 4 to 6 week duration! Many people take to ‘class hopping’ or doing different things from week to week. In doing this, you may see results at first but you will plateau quickly. Find yourself a program that allows for a progression, for a steady and gradual increase in stress that your body can adapt to and therefore provide you with results.
8. You haven’t cleaned up your diet
Working out regularly will only produce results if you also follow a clean, healthy lifestyle. It’s no good spending hours in the gym if you then eat junk when you get home; all you will be doing is eating more calories than you burned during your workout.
The old mantra of “I’ve worked hard so I deserve it” is to blame for many people’s inability to see results from their workouts. If you’ve worked hard at the gym and burned 700 calories, but then come home and eat a big slice of cake as your reward for working hard, then you’re undoing all of your hard work. It’s unlikely that you will ever see results if you don’t clean up your diet alongside your workouts.
Treats are obviously allowed, but not as rewards for working hard.
9. You are expecting too much too soon
If you started working out with the hope that you would look like Jamie Eason within a month, then you were only setting yourself up for failure, because, you aren’t going to see results immediately. You will undoubtedly feel better and healthier within days, but the abs you crave will take far more time to achieve. Setting unrealistic targets will only make it harder for you because you will repeatedly feel disappointed, when you in fact should celebrate your achievements, no matter how small.
Don’t expect miracles; don’t be upset if you measure yourself after one week and don’t see a difference, because it takes time. Don’t get disheartened because, once you start to see results it will be one of the best feelings ever. Keep going, and remember that you get out of this what you put in.
10. You only ever work your favorite muscle groups
We’ve all seen the pictures of people who “forget” to train legs, and, although that’s not what I’m getting at, it is important to this point because, repeatedly only training the muscle groups you enjoy working on will not help you to burn fat from your whole body as much as working different muscle groups consistently does. Your whole body needs to be pushed hard for you to see results.
11. You are doing the same workout you’ve been doing for months
If your workout routine used to produce results, but lately you’ve not been getting anywhere with it, then it’s time for you to switch it up. There’s no specific time frame after which it’s recommended that you should change your routine, but a basic guide is, if you start to feel like your workout is getting easy and not in any way pushing you, then it’s time to change it.
When you do the same thing repeatedly your body starts to become more efficient at doing it, meaning that, although you struggled initially and it worked really well for you, your body will begin to adjust to it, making it harder for you to burn the fat. By regularly changing your workouts you will keep it fresh, and your body won’t know what’s coming so won’t be able to adapt to it, meaning you will see results.
12. Recovery, rest, improvement
Consider this: most of the results you get from your strength training program happen when you are not at the gym. Without adequate recovery, your body won’t properly adapt and you won’t get the results you want and deserve.
Nutrition can be a form of recovery. While some supplements may be used to help you in the gym (i.e. creatine and protein powder) and for health benefits (i.e. multivitamin, fish oil, probiotic, vitamin D), these products should be used as additions to a healthy diet. Eat whole foods, avoid processed foods at all costs, and use any other supplement if needed. With good nutrition, your body is able to recover and function at its best.
Massages, low intensity walking and sleep are other forms of recovery, which are important for achieving results. Stress can be the number one cause of illness and lack of success. If you are always “on”, your body will not fully recover and your ability to sleep will be affected. These methods will help you go into a more relaxed physiological and psychological state, a must for your strength training results to take place.
Keep these 12 principles in mind and the results you want are sure to follow. Consistency and patience with your progress are virtues we should have in the gym in order to reach our goals. Life is often this way as well.