Most people head to the gym with a very specific trade off in mind. In exchange for an hour of their time, three or four times a week, they expect to be rewarded with a fitter, more attractive body.
It’s a reasonable exchange to make and it’s one that many people have been very pleased with. Unfortunately for some, the exchange never takes place. They hit the gym as promised but that sculpted body continues to allude them.
Should you find yourself in this frustrating situation, here are seven potential causes and what you can do about them.
No Goals/Unrealistic Goals
One of the most common personal fitness mistakes is failing to set realistic goals. If you don’t have specific goals in mind, how are you going to tailor your workout accordingly?
Don’t head to the gym simply looking for a better body, set goals that are both specific and realistic. For example:
- I want to be able to bench press x within two months.
- I want to be able to do x sit ups within two months.
- I want to drop x pounds within two months.
If you don’t define the terms of the trade off, how will you know when it’s been made?
You don’t need to be a fitness expert to make gains at the gym but you do need to do your research. You can’t just randomly attack different machines and expect to miraculously put on muscle.
There’s an optimal way to work out every single muscle in your body. If you don’t have a plan that outlines your specific exercises, sets and reps, it’s only natural that you will struggle to get anywhere.
If you haven’t already educated yourself on these matters, it’s time to start.
Your body isn’t stupid. If you continue to perform the same exercises day in and day out for a few months, your body is going to figure out a way to handle them without pushing itself. In other words, variety is essential.
It’s therefore very important to keep your body guessing. When you master a particular exercise, don’t marvel at your achievement, try something new. This is the only way that you will continue to make progress towards your goals.
Not Pushing Hard Enough
Gains made at the gym are not based upon how long you stay there, they are based on how hard you push yourself. And as a general rule of thumb, if you’re able to spend over an hour working out, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.
After approximately forty five minutes, your body should be in some degree of pain. I’m not saying that you should be collapsing (this is obviously not recommended), but you should be feeling a serious burn.
The Wrong Diet
There are two ingredients to a well sculpted body, the first is exercise and the second is a well balanced diet. You can spend all day at the gym if you want, if you spend the rest of your time eating rubbish, you’re pretty much wasting your time.
This is particularly true for those hitting the gym to drop a few pounds. Weight loss only occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. A forty five minute workout doesn’t give you an excuse to eat fast food on the way home.
If you want to reach your fitness goals, consistency is paramount. Ideally, you should be hitting the gym three times a week. If you’re regularly missing one of those sessions, you’re only actually training to two thirds of your capacity.
The same logic applies to pushing yourself hard for one month and then taking it easy the following month. If you want to make gains at the gym, you need to be more disciplined than that.
No Rest Time
The opposite of inconsistency is obsession and contrary to popular belief, that’s not going to help you either. If you’re hitting the gym more than five times per week, you’re pushing your body too hard.
Even if you’re pushing different muscles on different days, you’re body as a whole still needs time to rest. Pushing your body too hard doesn’t just increase your odds of injury, it prevents your muscles from growing.
And in turn, it leads to you progressing slower, not faster.