Sunday, 6 February 2011

"I'm not getting any results?..."

Here's one I hear a lot:

"I go to the gym 'X' times a week, and I'm not getting any results!! How come?.."

Rather than a blog, you could write a book on reasons why you might be lacking significant results, but here are some of the most common reasons why people don't get the results they feel they deserve:

"Variety is the spice of life..."
Have you been going to the gym and doing pretty much the same thing each week or worse still, each session? There you have a problem. No matter how much you sweat at the time, or even how difficult the weights still are you need a change. Change can come in the format of a new gym programme, a new style of training, pushing yourself further in classes, adding resistance in suitable classes (spin and body pump etc), new classes all together or even just a few small tweaks to your current gym programme. For further reading see a previous blog post: "Do it the same but different".

"Lift now, talk later..."
Do you go the the gym with a friend or a group of friends? Or with the purpose of socialising while you're at the gym and then leave and happily boast "I've been at the gym for an hour and a half today!" As you tuck into a treat for all of your hard work? Imagine you have a stopwatch and you only turn it on when you're ACTUALLY exercising. Now be honest, how much of your time at the gym is spent exercising? If it's hugely outweighed by activities other than exercise then this is a problem. Stick in your headphones, buzz around the gym, keep talk to a brief "hello... I best get on" scenario and watch the benefits follow.

"Food glorious food..."
Too many people see a gym membership and attending a class as a green light to eat like food it's going out of fashion. If you wear a heart rate monitor at any point you'll know exactly how hard it is to burn calories and how much effort it takes to create a calorie deficit. The gym is a great way to lose weight, gain muscle and improve your body in the way you want to. But it needs to be complimented by your diet; for both aesthetic reasons (weight loss or gain) and for "fuelling" purposes. If someone gave you a Ferrari and you filled it with Diesel petrol, it would still probably run for a little but not at it's full potential. Your body is just the same.

"I want to lose weight, not lift weights..."
Everyone, repeat EVERYONE should use some form of resistance machines or free weights in their programme. For women who fear the bulky repercussions, fear not, your probably couldn't get "big" if you tried. No matter your goals, lean muscle growth will help you. It's also a great way to improve your every day life offering joint stability, improved posture (if performed correctly), improved metabolism, protection of organs and assisting in every day activities which may require a little strength.

"I just don't see it"
What if you ARE achieving results? How do you know?.. One problem when gauging success is that you see YOU everyday, so will often struggle to see these gradual improvements. Try keeping a weekly picture diary, same place, same time of day, same lighting; and compare images of yourself week on week or month on month. Or, try taking measurements and re-measuring each month. A centimetre here and there may be hard to spot but you can't argue with a tape measure! Last point, don't live and die by the scales. Your body goes through many stages while exercising and your total body weight is not always the most accurate guideline for success. Keep an eye on your weight but don't panic if it's not constantly moving in the direction you want it to.

"One for the top and 4 for anywhere else..."
Is your training specific to your goals? Where did you get your ideas, training structure and choice of exercises from? Do you even have a plan when you enter the gym? If you go to the gym and "just do a bit of everything" or "Jump on whatever machine isn't being used"; or, if you picked up your ideas from watching people or use a programme one of your friends has, then it's unlikely you're going to get the results that you want. Training is a science and if you try to wing it, it probably won't work. Seek advice from a trainer perhaps, have a taster with them or even a few sessions where you can tweak your own sessions and learn more for the future.

"Ah, push it, p-p-push it real good..."
Could you have done one more repetition? Then why didn't you? Sure, when lifting weights, safety can be an issue during the final repetitions (especially for those who train alone). However, time and time again i see people cutting themselves short because they didn't quite fancy pushing themselves. It's essential to make the most of your exercise time. While it's never advisable to constantly train to the point of failure or until you throw up; have you ever made yourself sick through exercise? No? then you probably have a little more to give. You need to change your frame of mind and, as I tell my clients "Your body and muscles will decide when you've had enough - not your head!"

"I'm going to have a rest day..."
Now I love sleep as much as the next sloth and the importance of rest should never be underestimated, especially among regular exercisers. However, there are a lot of people who could perhaps be described as "overly tuned" and will avoid the gym if they have any kind of mild muscle soreness, cold, aches and pains. Basically, if they're not 100% they will "have a rest day." You're body is much stronger than you give it credit for and if you decide to avoid the gym every time you're not quite right or stiff from a previous session, then it's unlikely that you'll progress past a certain point. Don't be afraid to "over train", it's a status that is over used in conversation and very difficult to actually reach. "Over training" once in a while can shock your body and boost your results. Try it this week - I DARE you to over train!

"I'll do anything.. but not that!.."
I once told a client "Your problem is that you want a flat stomach, but you don't WANT to do the work required to get it. Until you WANT to work, you won't get whatever else you want."

The problem is that we live in an instant society where generally, if you have a problem and you have some money you can fix it NOW! The body, in this respect is still very traditional and if you want something impressive, the way to get it is hard work and persistence. If you have a target or an image that you want, you must do EVERYTHING you can to achieve it. Giving it a bit of a go and not being completely honest with yourself in terms of diet and exercise will only do so much. You must be willing to try new things and give your body 100% of your effort. Did you need ALL of your last meal? Did you work as hard as you possibly could have last time you went to the gym? Think about it...

"All the athletes drinks them..."
A final short one, please, please, please don't drink endless sugary sports drinks "like the athletes do" and wonder why you're not losing weight! These drinks are meant for recovery purposes and should not be relied upon for "energy" nor consumed on a regular basis. Don't think of them as "sports drinks", think of them more as a liquid meal.

To summarise...
There are multiple reasons why you might not be making the progress you feel you deserve. The last point is "honesty", if you can honestly, HONESTLY say that none of the above point apply to you in some shape or form and you STILL aren't making any steps int he right direction I'd be very surprised. Be more conscious of your behaviour and remember that your progress isn't just impacted in your gym hour, but is also heavily effected by your every day way of life.

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