There’s nothing more frustrating than working incredibly hard to lose weight, build muscle or prepare for an event or competition, and not seeing the results you are working so hard to achieve. Before you throw in the towel and reach for the potato chips, make sure you aren’t making one (or all) of these common fitness mistakes.
- Your nutrition is off. It’s a fact: you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Nutrition is a critical component to seeing results in any exercise regimen. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle, there is a balance of caloric needs you must meet in order to make those results a reality. Eating at ideal times can make or break the results from a workout. Likewise, skipping meals or eating an unbalanced diet can sabotage your progress. For example, loading up on tons of protein to gain muscle mass won’t work unless you balance out your other macros (fats and carbs) in a healthy diet, and skipping meals in order to lose weight will have the opposite effect by sending your body into starvation mode, where it will store fat cells for fuel. Bodybuilders, especially natural competitors, have their nutrient intake down to an art. For most people, however, a more realistic goal would be to simply implement basic meal planning. Meal planning and being intentional with how you are fueling your body is 70% of the work involved with attaining fitness goals of any kind, including weight loss.
- You’re not training for your specific goals. There is a specific way to train for muscle definition, weight loss, weight gain and everything in between. You can’t expect to gain muscle mass if your muscles are training for endurance instead of strength. On the other hand, there are major benefits to resistance training when working on endurance event training or weight loss. These are reasons why working with a personal trainer to achieve a certain goal is so important. Their expertise in program design will ensure that you have the best regimen in place for your short and long term goals.
- You’re being impatient. Growth takes time in any discipline, and training your body is no exception. Just as weight doesn’t go on overnight, it won’t come off overnight. A good rule of thumb when dealing with weight loss expectations is to shoot for a loss of 1-2 pounds per week. This is a steady, sustainable way to lose weight. However, it might take longer to put on that amount in muscle. If you see the scale going up quickly, but you are losing definition or not gaining strength, most likely you are not gaining muscle, but fat. Muscle can take months to develop, and fat can take just as long to burn, so be patient with your regimen! Switching it up all the time will only make it difficult to measure progress, so only go this route if you’re in maintenance mode and are experimenting with cardiovascular workouts or wanting to break muscle memory.
- You’re not keeping track of your workout progression. It is incredibly easy to get into a rut with your workouts. Sticking with the same reps at the same weight will yield the same results. There must be progression to your workouts to see growth. Therefore, it’s important to keep track of your exercises, reps and sets so that you can increase resistance, time, and/or both. Coming to the gym and hammering out three sets of 10 reps at the exact same weight you’ve been pumping for the last couple of months is only creating a static hold on your progress. A good rule of thumb is once you are easily able to complete 12 reps per set for 3-5 sets (if you are aiming for muscle hypertrophy), it’s time to move up on the weight. You should avoid adding more than 5% weight to your sets at any given progression.
- You’re doing too much steady-state cardio. We’ve all seen the ‘cardio bunnies’ at the gym, spending what seems like hours on the elliptical machine or treadmill and then complaining that they don’t have any muscle definition. That’s because steady state exercise as your only form of cardiovascular work can cause your body to burn the same cells used to build muscle, and only burns as many calories as are burned during the exercise. Hence the resulting physique coined ‘skinny fat.’ Steady-state cardio as part of an overall regimen can be very beneficial, but only effective when combined with high intensity exercise and resistance training, which create an effect in the body that burns more calories, even at rest. This trinity of exercises will certainly take your workouts to the next level.
When in doubt, always consult with a professional personal trainer. We understand the frustration of working out regularly and maintaining a healthy diet, and still not seeing growth or results. Through the science of diet and exercise, a program can be designed specifically for you to ensure that you don’t get stuck in a rut and end up burning out. Reach out to any of our trainers by reviewing their qualifications and specialties here.