This article was totally inspired by Martina’s recent article “4 Biggest Breakfast Mistakes”, so Martina, I owe you some thanks. A common concern I hear from some of my new clients is that they are working out regularly but not seeing any results. However, when I ask them questions about their workout regime I find they are usually committing one or more of these workout ‘sins’ which sabotages their results.
If you work out regularly but aren’t seeing any results, read the list below and see if you are unknowingly sabotaging your workout:
1. Doing the same thing over and over
If you are doing the same exercises, in the same order, at the same level of intensity over and over you’re going to hit a plateau. Hitting a plateau means that your body has adapted to your workout routine and you aren’t going to see any material gains. This is one of the most common workout sabotages I see. People show up at the gym and lift the same amount or run at the same intensity every time for over a year and don’t know why they aren’t seeing any changes! If you don’t make changes to your workout routine, then how can you expect to see changes? Increase your weight, add another set or rep, change the tempo, add cardio – just do something different. For tips on changing it up, check out my article “6 Tips on What to Change when Hitting a Plateau”.
2. Not getting enough rest
This comes as a surprise for some people, but rest is a vital component of your workout regime. You have to ensure you’re getting adequate rest because you negate your gains if you don’t give your body time for rest and recovery – and that includes proper sleep and not working the same muscle group on consecutive days. You make gains during rest periods so rest is important. Without adequate rest you run the risk of overtraining and injury. I’ve discussed the importance of rest in the article entitled “The Importance of Rest in your Workout Regime”. This one in particular is a personal struggle for me as I enjoy working out and actually find I’m grumpy on days I don’t go. So I make sure I do something like go for a long walk with the dog!
3. Doing only cardio
If you are presently only doing some form of cardio and no resistance training you should look to incorporate resistance training into your workout at least 3 times a week – and that includes you ladies! While many women may be hesitant to do resistance training because they feel they are going to bulk up I can assure you that is not the case. Both Martina and I weight train and neither of us are bulky.
So why are you sabotaging your workout by only doing cardio? You are burning calories right? Why should you add resistance training? Resistance training is important because muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning that it burns calories just in maintaining itself. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you are burning at rest! As we get older, we begin to lose muscle mass if we aren’t engaging in some kind of resistance training. Loss of muscle = reduction in calorie burning = weight gain. So again, if you are only doing cardio, start adding resistance training today! Ladies, I wrote an article on women and weights as one of my first articles on Mirror Friendly. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already read it. And for ideas on resistance training, check out the fitness section of Mirror Friendly.
4. Not enough intensity
This is another very common way of sabotaging your workout. Like number 1, l see people at the gym taking an easy pace on the treadmill for an hour or doing weights that are way too light for their size or the muscle grouping they are working. If you are committing this workout mistake, up your intensity! If you are walking or slowly jogging, pick up the pace and just reduce your time on the treadmill. When it comes to cardio, there is a lot of research out there that supports the benefits of shorter bursts of higher intensity workouts. You torch a bunch of calories without sacrificing muscle as you may be when you engage in longer steady state cardio (check out my article entitled “The Magic of Tabata Training for Quick Fat Burning”). When it comes to resistance training, ensure you are using the right amount of weight where you feel fatigued at your last rep but can still maintain proper form. So don’t pick up those 5lb or 10lb weights to do your squats! Your quads, glutes and hamstrings are a larger muscle grouping and can handle a higher load. Remember, you have to be working at the right intensity level to see results otherwise you’re just going through the motions – spending a lot of time in the gym to reap very little returns.
5. Improper diet
If you’ve read my article on “Diet or Exercise which is More Important?”, you know that diet matters when it comes to seeing results. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you had a great sweat session at the gym you can go home and treat yourself to a slice of chocolate cake or a bag of chips or an extra glass or two of wine. The calories burned in your workout session will be far less than the amount of calories you consume from your treats. Not to mention that treats (unless they are Mirror Friendly ones) don’t contain a lot of nutritious ingredients which are important to maintaining good health. What you eat and when you eat it really matters when it comes to seeing results. There are a lot of healthy recipes on this site as well as tips on proper nutrition on the nutrition tab.
Remember to always eat a whole foods diet. So avoid processed carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice, and white bread, anything with added refined white sugar, and watch your portion sizes. Consuming a quick release high glycemic carbohydrate combined with a protein after a good workout helps to replenish lost glycogen in the muscles to help speed up repair and recovery. Otherwise, minimize your consumption of high glycemic foods (look at the glycemic load not just the glycemic index) or pair a high glycemic food with fat and fibre to slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream and avoid an insulin spike. For more information on the glycemic index, check out my article “Glycemic Index vs Glycemic Load“.
To fitness with love,
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