Everybody’s ideal body is different. For some it’s the one they’re walking around in right now, for some it’s leaner, or bigger, or stronger than it is right now, for others it’s a body that can do something they currently can’t. Like a 9.6 on the beep test, or windsurfing.
If there’s something you want from your body, though, then having a gym membership card in your pocket isn’t even half the battle. If your membership is all paid up but you don’t feel like you’re on the path to your goals, then it could be for one or more of the following reasons:
#1 – You’re Not Making Time
You don’t really need this one explained, do you? Sure, you can fit in an express workout a couple of days of the week, but you’re going to have to devote some time to this project somewhere along the line. Look at your schedule, make some space, and treat that space as sacred.
#2 – You’re Not Using That Time
So you’ve cleared away an hour at lunchtime to get out and hit the gym. You decide to walk there, so you can warm up along the way, that’s ten minutes at either end. Then you stop to buy a paper, a protein shake for afterwards, an apple, have a chat to whatserface on reception and that guy whose name you don’t know but who works on the next street over. You use the foam roller, check your messages, have a shower and head back to the office. Sound familiar?
#3 – You Don’t Have A Plan
You’ve dispensed with all the time wasting activities listed above, you get straight to the gym ready to train, but when you show up you’re standing there trying to decide what to do. You need to know ahead of time exactly what you’re going to be training, and how you’re going to be training it. If you’re getting to the gym, grabbing whatever piece of equipment is free, and only deciding a couple of sets into your session which muscle group you’re going to hit today then you’re unlikely to be following the kind of well-thought-out program that yields results.
#4 – You’re Showing Up In Body But Not In Spirit
You might be showing up and doing three sets, but were they three sets where you were focused on the task at hand, looking to improve or optimise, and constantly analysing your movement for flaws? Or did you sleepwalk through the door, load on the same weight as always, then press it whilst writing this afternoons emails in your head and making a list of people to call back? Get your head in the gym along with your body.
#5 – You Stop When It Starts To Get Difficult
It’s not those first reps that matter. Anyone can do rep number one. If you want your body to change you have to give it something to adapt to. If you want your body to adapt, you need to challenge it. The point where it starts to feel difficult is the point where your body starts to understand that it is having a new requirement imposed on it. Once it begins to understand this it will begin to adapt to those requirements. These are the changes you want to see. When it starts to hurt, those are the reps that matter. Those are the reps where the changes are made. Those are the reps that count. Do as many of those reps as you can.
#6 – You’re Doing The Wrong Things
You want to lose body fat, so you’re spending half an hour on the treadmill, then fifteen minutes on the bike and ten on the rower. You might burn some fat, but you’re also eating into your muscle, which is slowing down your metabolism, which means long term your body’s going to store more fat. You’ll see a little weight loss initially, but the “muscle-tone” you talk about wanting is never going to arrive without the “muscle” component, and you’re focusing all your efforts on eating away at that. All you’re doing is getting further from your goals. Maybe you want to put on muscle, so you’re spending all your time doing bicep curls. You need someone with a little more experience and knowhow to take you through the bigger picture, because right now your inability to see it is robbing you of the results you want.
#7 – You’re Doing The Right Things But Doing Them Wrong
Alright, you know and understand that if you want to get lean you’re going to be lifting weight in order to achieve that goal. This is awesome, but it’s still only a small part of the process. How’s your form? You might be putting a bar on your shoulders and moving up and down, but is your back straight, are your legs stable and your weight on your heels? Guidance in this area is not just critical to seeing you effectively move towards your goals, it’s also essential to preventing injury.
#8 – You’re Doing The Right Things, Doing Them Right, But Doing Them Inconsistently
Your program’s good, your form’s good, but you’re frequently skipping leg day in favour of the muscle group you prefer to do. Or maybe you’re picking a different exercise for the same muscle group every time you hit the gym. It doesn’t matter how immaculately you perform the repetitions, your body is going to need consistent stimulus in order to adapt.
#9 – You’re Doing The Right Things, Doing Them Right, But Doing Them Too Consistently
In spite of what I said above, there comes a point where your body has done all the adapting it’s going to do to those particular stimuli. Even if you’re upping the weight. After a month, it’s definitely time to change things up a bit. That’s a month of consistently sticking with your training plan. Then make a new plan. Then stick with that one too.
#10 – Your Fear Of Getting Too Muscular/Getting Too Lean/Eating Carbs/Getting Fat Is Crippling Your Goals Before You Start
The key here is to educate yourself. You are going to need some carbohydrates in your diet to provide energy for your hard training sessions (this is all of them). You are going to need to develop some muscle in order to stay in control of your body composition. The things that result in getting too fat or too lean are often not what you think. Frequently dietary fat intake isn’t a factor in either of these. No-one ever got too muscular or too lean in the gym by accident. Even getting fat takes some time. If you want to strip away body fat, work hard to put on some lean muscle, you’re not going to attain the physique of a bodybuilder without a lot of very deliberate action on your part, but telling yourself what you “don’t” want to do is limiting the gains you do want to make before you ever start.
#11 – Your Diet Isn’t Supporting Your Training
“Healthy” is in the eye of the beholder. Just because a diet is labelled “healthy” doesn’t mean that a) it is. b) it’s the diet you need to be following. For example, people who do a lot of yoga often follow a diet very heavy in plant based foods. People who lift a lot of weight eat a lot of animal protein and vegetables. Sure, it can be done other ways, but these diets and training styles tend to go together well, and tend to yield the results the person desires. It’s no good just throwing together an abstract training regime and diet plan and hoping for the best, because chances are a regimen of Atkins and Zumba isn’t going to work as well as you’d hoped. There’s certainly very little statistical evidence to support it. What you put into your body is going to directly impact on how effectively you are able to perform any given physical task. Your diet needs to support your training.
Have a great week, everyone,
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