Making little to no progress with your gym efforts or hitting a training plateau can be frustrating and more importantly demotivating. There may be numerous reasons or factors withholding you from achieving your desired results but before you decide to throw in the towel, check out our list of the most common pitfalls of achieving fitness success and learn how to get back on your feet and make way to achieving your health and fitness goals.
This may come as a surprise, but many people attend gyms or a fitness facility with no real goal in mind. Goal setting is important to any feats of achievement. A goal is your health and fitness destination and ultimately your source of motivation. It’s a frequent reminder of why you are sacrificing some of your favourite foods and why you need to get your butt into the gym.
Getting dressed for the gym isn’t enough if you’re stumbling around willy nilly once you get there. Without a goal in mind (your fitness destination) there is no plan (workout program/schedule) to get there. Define your goal and map out your workouts of how you will reach fitness success.
What to do: Set a clear, distinct and realistic goal with a deadline. ‘Getting swole’ or ‘I want a rig’ is not a defined goal. Your goal should be achievable yet challenging. A good example of defined goal setting would be ‘To drop a dress/pants size in 8 weeks’. Once your goal is defined you can then build a workout regiment (roadmap) of how to reach your fitness goal.
As most of us would know, nutrition holds the key to health and fitness success. If fitness success is your destination and a workout program/schedule is your roadmap then nutrition is the fuel to get you there.
Your nutrition needs to support your goal and training efforts. Eat too little and you sacrifice energy through your workouts. Eat too much and you start to increase your fat stores instead of diminishing them. Throw in calorie intake and macronutrient ratios and it’s clear to see how easy it is to be confused or overwhelmed.
What to do: Keep a food diary and track your nutritional intake. You may surprise yourself with what foods you actually eat. Once you have recorded a week of food intake, revise it and see how much junk food to nutritious food you ingest on a weekly basis. Aim for an 80/20 ratio of wholesome food to junk food.
Try and make 1-3 healthy changes to your food habits each week if possible. A healthy improvement can be as simple as having breakfast everyday or reducing the amount of soft drink consumption each week. The smallest change to your eating habits will pay huge dividends in the long run.
3) Exercise Consistency and Intensity
Exercise consistency and intensity determines the benefit from each workout. Let’s be real for a second. If you are trying to change your physique you must train like it. Intensity is the key to instigating change. Your training and nutrition efforts mirror your results. You only get out what you put in!
What to do: Train the house down! Give your body a reason to change. Before every session remind yourself of why you took yourself to the gym in the first place – to achieve your goal (source of motivation).
Push yourself a little harder than you did on your last workout. Spend an extra minute or two on the rower or increase your weights by 5kg. Progress with your training efforts = progress with your results.
Variety to training is the key to progression and exercise motivation. Ask yourself this: Have you been doing the same ol’ exercises and the same gym routine for the last few months? If you answered yes, then a change to your workout routine is well long overdue.
Exercise variety challenges your body in a different way to what it’s used to and therefore forces adaptation. Our bodies ‘adapt’ to exercise. This is how we get fitter and stronger. Different exercises stimulate different muscles. Heavier loads in weight improves muscle recruitment and therefore mass, leading to improved metabolism.
What to do: Mix it up. Try a new exercise from time to time and challenge yourself. Increase your weights. Progression is in the struggle.
5) Not Enough Recovery – Overtraining
Too much of a good thing turns a positive into a negative. Whilst training is imperative to fitness success, train too much and you will run yourself into the ground. This occurs when volume and intensity of your exercise routine exceeds an individual’s capacity to recover. This leads to training plateaus and ultimately no progression at all.
Common signs of overtraining can include but are not limited to:
- Persistent headaches
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Lack of motivation
- Increased susceptibility to injuries
What to do: Listen to your body. Chronic, ongoing fatigue is the first sign of overtraining. Allow yourself ample time to recover from your workout. In extreme cases where fatigue is ongoing no matter how much sleep you acquire, take a week off training and let your body recuperate.
- Have a goal and set yourself a plan with nutrition and training
- Actively make time for exercise until it becomes second nature
- Mix it up. Try new things to keep motivated. The benefit is in the struggle
- You only really fail when you decide to quit. Dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and keep on trucking
- Rest and relax – Recovery is just as, if not more important than the training itself.