1. No Planning & Not Knowing the Right Workout for Your Body
When it comes to meeting a goal planning is key- there’s no use just turning up to the gym and expecting results to happen, you need to plan a workout based on your fitness aspirations and where you want to be in 6 months’ time. When it comes to developing a workout plan really think about what is best for your body type- there’s no use just replicating someone else’s workout and presuming you’ll gain the same results. Everyone’s body is different and responds to nutrition and exercise in different ways. For example the training regime of an endomorph will differ drastically to that of an ectomorph and the majority of individuals who have seen success in the fitness industry have been through years of trial and error to find out what workout is best for them.
If you’re an ectomorph and someone who is naturally skinny, finding it hard to gain muscle, then a diet with a high carbohydrate and fat content combined with a workout containing little cardio and greater resistance will be best for creating a lean, healthy and toned physique. However for those of us who have an endomorph physique (find it hard to lose fat) then a diet with lower and timed carbohydrate intake with a lower fat and high protein content, combined with a mixed of LISS, HIIT cardio and resistance training will be more suited to obtaining your goals.
2. Too Much Too Fast & Under Recovering
When it comes to training if there’s one thing I can say is true, it’s that your routine can become addictive! If you’re like me then you’re not only a little bit impatient but you often see that as you improve, more becomes better. But this isn’t necessarily the case! Your body likes to remain in a steady regulated state- this means as you put your body under stress tons of metabolic and neurological changes and adaptations occur to keep you happy and healthy and functioning normally. Doing too much too quickly and spend hours in the gym can negatively affect your metabolism and tell your body to hold on to nutrients and fat stores in order to survive. Not only this, but doing too much can cause your muscle development to become catabolic and as your body runs out of fuel, its only option is to use hard earned muscle!
In order to see changes your body needs to recover properly, so rest days really are an essential -even though sometimes we feel like we need tying down! Recovery allows your muscles to adapt and change meaning you’ll not only begin to physically see changes in the mirror but you’ll also feel and see them within your performance.
3. Bad Form
You might have your workout down, but are you performing the exercises properly? Practicing with bad form can totally change the muscle group you are working. For example, the deadlift is a prime example, if you pull and use the bottom of your back too early and don’t push off with your heels and lift with your glutes and hamstrings you’ll not only be risking an injury but you’ll also be putting too much emphasis on your upper body- meaning your lower body is not working as hard within the movement. Another example is front shoulder raises- raising the dumbbells in this movement too far will cause you to start working your lats instead of your shoulders and delts.
Try and research form before you go to the gym and practice mastering the movement before our workout. If your still unsure, get someone in the gym to spot you and check your form- it’s better to be the person who asks for a bit of assistance then to be the person who has incredibly bad form or worse- gets an injury.
4. Focusing on Your Strengths or Staying in Your Comfort Zone
This is definitely a point that I myself am guilty of from time to time. There’s no better feeling than knowing your good at something- whether is lifting heavy on the leg press of running fast minute miles with ease. Being good at something and within your comfort zone may make you tempted to keep practicing but this certainly won’t cause you to see any changes.
The intensity of your workout is crucial when it comes to weight loss or building muscle- the body adapts to the same routine and when it comes to weights if you only train the muscle and lifts your strong with you’ll not only limit your overall gain but neglecting your weaker areas will cause muscle imbalance and risk injury.
Whether its cardio or resistance training that you prefer- mixing up your workout and challenging the body is crucial for pushing physical and mental changes.
If you can’t do pull-ups then don’t just avoid them! Work your lat function, and practice pull ups using assisted machines. If you can run a mile, then practice- start slow and gradually increase your speed. Don’t fear what you can’t do and looking weak of silly by trying- work towards being stronger and better not just looking good.
5. Only Isolation
If you’re just getting into weight training and learning the ropes focusing on isolation exercises and the use of machines may be a reason why you’re not seeing results. By focusing on isolation exercises you may strengthen that one muscle- but functionally the muscle won’t be strong in day to day life movements. E.g. exercises that isolate muscle groups like hamstring and bicep curls—aren’t movements that are used in everyday life. Incorporate a range of exercises into your routine including compound movements like squats and deadlifts that demand several muscle groups work in coordination and will help you build muscle all over your body.
6. Not Lifting Heavy Enough
Many people fall into the same routine of “3 sets of 10-12 reps”. This was me about a year back. But like anything your body becomes used to the same type of routine. If you want to see results you need to shock your muscles and fibres and promote the growth hormone production. To do this you need to focus on both strength and endurance. This means mixing both sets of 12 reps, with heavier lifts and lower reps. Lifting heavier will not make you big and bulky but instead it will promote muscle development and fat burning- when performing an all over body workout, assign sets with 10- 12 reps and 3-6 reps to different movements and exercises. If you focus on a muscle group split look at separating your workout into a two week plan- one week focusing on endurance ( 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps) and the second strength (4-10 sets of 3-6 reps) using heavier weights with a slightly longer rest period.
7. Over Eating
This is one of the biggest mistakes that might be preventing your progress. It’s easy to think “oh I’ve worked hard” and allow yourself that extra helping or slice of cake. Don’t get me wrong a cheat meal each week is fine but allowing little added extras- will add up your calorie intake.
When it comes to cardio- don’t look at the calories on the machine- this method is incredibly inaccurate. If you want to record your calorie burning a more accurate method is using a heart rate monitor. I remember around 2 years ago when I first tried my heart rate monitor and the difference between the cross trainer and my monitor was almost 50%…. imagine how disappointed I was to find that 700 kcals burned was really closer to 300- and even then there are inaccuracies!
If you want to lose weight you need to make sure you have a calorie deficit- this means you are burning more calories than you are eating. So be sure to record your daily food intake accurately (making sure you eat enough to satisfy you basal metabolic rate! Otherwise you’ll be catabolic and go into starvation mode) and don’t overestimate the work you do in the gym.
8. Over Stressed and Over Tired
Being over stressed and over tired is an issue I struggle with greatly! When you’re over tired you firstly don’t recover properly- meaning you’re less likely to see physical changes and gains. Not only this, but being over tired also affects the power input in your actual workout, meaning although you’re exhausted, the energy burned in a workout is not great enough to keep on top of your progress. Working out and eating well are only two parts of the equation and you need to make sure your sleeping well and getting at least 7 hours.
A lack of sleep and a hectic lifestyle (and too much cardio such as running) also leads to an increase in the hormone called cortisol. Cortisol (the absolute Bain of my life) proportionally affects your insulin production and fat burning. As cortisol increases so does insulin, meaning there is a greater fluxuation in blood sugar and greater fat storage – especially in the abdominal area. To reduce cortisol, make sure you’re firstly sleeping enough, and focus on either eating more or supplementing with magnesium, zinc and chromium. Other supplements that can help are vitamin D and also tryptophan/ 5-HTP as this leads to an increase in serotonin in the body which can positively affect cortisol production.