Last week, a friend of mine called me and said, "I looked at the scale, and I got mad." He had been working out for four months and nothing had changed. Time and time again, I come across people who stress to me that they are unhappy with the way their workouts are going. They consistently tell me that they are not seeing results.
Working out and keeping fit is not an easy task! We need to remember that we are all different. Some of us have an easier time losing weight and toning up than others. You may be able to bench press 300 pounds or run a 5K in 20 minutes, but that doesn't mean that you are able to easily get a shredded six-pack.
Here are five reasons why you may not be seeing the results that you want:
1. Proper Nutrition
Eating is half the battle! People can work out five days a week and burn hundreds of calories, but if they are not fueling themselves properly, all that hard work is squandered. The body needs good nutrition to make sure that it is able to support the work being done.
Eating a diet rich in protein, vegetables, fruits and good fats is the way to go if you are looking for a boost in workouts. Change out the pasta for quinoa. Snack on raw green beans instead of pretzels and chips if you want a crunch. Choose the salmon instead of the T-bone steak. Making decisions like these will send you on your way to better results.
Another common misconception is that we need to eat three full meals a day to support proper nutrition. In reality, we should be eating five to six smaller meals a day. Here is my eating schedule: 7 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. snack, 1 p.m. lunch, 4 p.m. snack, 7 p.m. dinner. Try your own version and see how fast your body makes the transition to a more efficient well-oiled machine!
2. Lack of Periodization
I know what you are asking yourself. What does that funny word that I can't pronounce mean? Well, periodization (period-i-zation) refers to the periodic change in your workout regimen. This is something that almost everyone overlooks, and it is one of the biggest culprits impacting your results.
Let me paint a picture for you. There's a middle-aged man at the gym. You see him every day. On Monday he does bicep curls. On Wednesday he performs bench press. On Friday, he feels saucy and runs on the treadmill. He does this every week for the entire year you are at the gym. Here is the issue with our friend. First, you need to stop watching him work out (just kidding, we all stare a little and wonder). Now really, he is never going to see results. The human body needs variety. For example, if you were to eat the same lunch everyday for a year, you would get sick of it and want something new for lunch. The same goes for the body and working out. The body needs to be fed a different workout plan every so often to keep it from getting stale.
Change your workout every three to four weeks. This amount of time gives your body the ability to work hard and make gains. But before it starts to get used to the daily routine, you fool your body and make a quick change to a new routine. That change will literally shock your muscles and force them to work harder in order to keep up with the change. You will be surprised at how quickly you will see results by changing your routine every several weeks.
3. Lack of Intensity
Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, the amount of effort you put into a workout may be your downfall. How can you tell if you are working hard enough?
Let's start with sweat. We all sweat differently, but if you see that salty goodness dripping off your brow, you are probably working at a pretty high rate. Sweat happens in reaction to your body overheating, and overheating happens when the body is working. Sweat = results.
Let's move onto your breathing. Heavy breathing signals that your body is working hard. If you are moseying around the gym floor, chatting away as you press your weights, this is not working hard. Work harder, breath harder, get results!
Finally, while you don't want you to push yourself till you drop -- you need to feel your heart racing. As your heart rate increases, you move toward the training zone in which results happen!
P.S. If you notice that you have mastered an exercise, it may be time to up the ante. Add weight to the bar. Perform more sets or reps. Keep pushing yourself to the next level.
4. OMGD Syndrome
Yes, I made OMGD Syndrome up. It stands for One Muscle Group Per Day Syndrome, and it is contagious! Unfortunately, it can lead to a lag in results.
Too many people focus each workout on one muscle group. When I first started lifting weights and training, I had this syndrome. I had one day devoted to chest. The next day was devoted to back. The next day focused on arms. Now, don't get me wrong, incorporating a weight-training program into your life is a major benefit. It is the manner in which you incorporate it that will give you the results you want.
There is a major benefit to exercising multiple muscles groups during each workout. An example would be combining chest exercises and back exercises into a day devoted to upper-body training. This provides for a more diverse and efficient session and it can be done by performing supersets using two to three exercises.
Congratulations, you are my new client! (Just go with it.) If the theme of our session is upper-body strength, we can take three exercises and turn them into a circuit. For example, you can start with a dumbbell incline bench for 10 reps, then kettlebell bent over rows for 10 reps, followed by a decline push up for 10 reps. Do this for three rounds and you'll notice a big difference.
You are probably thinking that I made up "overtraining." How can one overtrain? First of all, isn't the point of training to keep pushing yourself to be better and better until you achieve your best? Well, sure it is. But, rest and recovery are just as important as the actual training session. If you do not give your body the much-needed rest after a long series of intense workouts, then your body will not produce the lean muscle mass you want. It will actually do the opposite by burning off muscle. This is called muscle glycogen depletion. Trust me, you don't want this to happen. Many times people overtrain themselves to the point of exhaustion or injury.
How do you know if you're overtraining? Here are some things to look for:
How do you avoid overtraining? Well, that is easy:
Training is not only physical. It is mental. If you are not in a good mental state, then your productivity will suffer and this will directly affect your results!
Remember, results are hard to come by, but they are not impossible. Sometimes we need a little tweak to our routines to make them work. Fitness is different for everyone. What works for one may not work for the other. It is up to you to find what does work for you and run with it. Make fitness your own.
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