With the New Year just around the corner, many people take this time to reflect on what they’ve accomplished over the past 365 days. If you’ve been logging hours in the gym each week, you’re likely expecting to see some benefit from that time. Sadly, a lot of people are disappointed with their outcome.
Before you give up and cancel your gym membership, here are some reasons you might not be satisfied – and ways to fix the problem!
- Improper nutrition. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it – nutrition is the most important component to a training plan! However, nutrition is confusing, especially sports nutrition. No matter how great your training program is, if you aren’t fueling your body effectively throughout the day, especially post-workout, results will be slow to non-existent. And, no, picking up a pizza on the way home from the gym is not optimal fuel.
- Lack of sleep. Strength training damages your muscles and growth happens when the muscles repair. This repair is done during rest – especially sleep. Reaching the deepest stage of REM sleep is when our HGH (human growth hormone) is released, leading to better muscle repair. If you’re lacking hours OR quality of sleep, you’re missing out on a key muscle-building component.
- Stress is getting to you. If your job, family, or life is general is adding a lot of stress to your day, your hormones could be holding you back. Stress causes our cortisol levels to rise, leading to water retention and fat gain. Additionally, it can alter your testosterone / estrogen levels, hindering your ability to change your body composition.
- You’re overtraining. Truthfully, I don’t like the term “overtraining”, but it can be used in this argument, as it pertains to lack of proper rest time. Everyone who loves working out has caught the bug and is addicted to the feeling – that endorphin rush. However, this can lead to spending most of our free time in the gym and not taking the proper time to recover. This is especially true if you do the same workouts numerous times through the week, whether it’s running or a full-body training circuit. You need to give the working muscle group a chance to recover before hitting it again, otherwise it never has the time to recover and grow.
- Cut the cardio. If muscle growth is what you’re after, you might be running off all your work. Coupled with improper nutrition, doing too much cardio is just burning through the calories you’re taking in, leaving even less for your body to use to grow. Cardio has a time and place in every plan, but it needs to compliment your goals, not hinder them.
- You just aren’t training right. The mistakes in this category are endless, really, and deserves it’s own future blog post. People moving from one machine to another after a single set of work, barely getting out two reps of an exercise, baby reps, resting for 5-20 minutes, or training three large muscle groups per session. Now, this obviously depends on your goal, but if you want to build muscle, none of these factors are going to help you. If you just like going to the gym to be social, keep doing what you’re doing, but stay out of other people’s way 😉 Having a training plan suitable for your goal, and sticking to it is the best way to see results. Use a training split that works with your life schedule and allows the right recovery time between sessions. And finally, challenge yourself! Add more weight when it seems too easy, and focus on the muscle you’re working.
These points just skim the surface of why you might not be seeing the results you’re hoping for. Another big one is that you’re being impatient! You might be doing all the right things, but hoping to see changes happen overnight. Trust the most impatient person in the world (me) – it sadly doesn’t work like that. Keep grinding, love each and every day you put into it, and make note of all your accomplishments along the way!