Is it time to pull the plug on physical fitness and go back to your past bad habits? Absolutely not!
Regular physical movement is vital for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, realize that training smart is just as important as training hard. Maybe it’s time to step back and investigate the lack of results.
Here are 5 common reasons your workouts may be falling short now (some should be obvious, while others may surprise you):
1. Your workouts do not match your fitness goals
Have you written down your fitness goals? Is it muscular strength, fat loss, greater agility or flexibility? Cardio endurance or explosiveness (power/speed)? How about timelines? Are you giving yourself six-weeks, twelve-weeks, or a full year to accomplish your milestones?
There is no way you will achieve your goals without appropriate exercises and a clear schedule for making it happen. It’s not rocket science to set up, either on your own or with professional guidance (see below), but please do it today.
2. You don’t work out often enough
You will never get to where you want to go without literally taking the necessary steps. If you seek moderate health gains, perhaps a daily (and brisk) thirty-minute walk is enough. However, for significant weight loss and/or muscle gain results, expect to budget forty to fifty minutes in the gym, three or more times weekly. Ensure that your workouts are frequent, intense and without distraction.
3. You are overtraining yourself to exhaustion
Believe it or not, exercising too hard and too often can, in some instances, be more detrimental than doing nothing at all. While moderate cardiovascular exercise (e.g. walking, light jogging, biking, swimming etc.) can be performed every day, other programs risk leaving you tired and vulnerable to injury. Muscles need adequate rest and recovery time for repair and growth, so overworking specific body parts is not recommended. Avoid spot training in favour of full-body or split training sessions.
Also ensure that you get enough rest nightly.
4. Doing it all without the benefit of outside help
Professional and upper-level athletes recognize the benefit of certified coaches and trainers, so why not follow their example? Fitness club members have access to qualified specialists who can evaluate your current training habits and make sound recommendations. Whether you need a few tweaks or a complete overhaul, this might be your best move. Also, don’t underestimate the motivational and accountability benefits of a training buddy to keep you on track.
Home gym enthusiasts (especially beginners) should also avail themselves of professional advice, even if it costs a bit of money. Physiotherapists in particular are invaluable sources for people recovering from serious injury.
5. Need to start eating properly
You are what you eat and we would be remiss to ignore the importance of proper eating habits during your training cycle. Nutritionists and dieticians offer great meal ideas and food consumption guidelines for the general population, but they can also tailor weekly meal schedules for your needs.
Logically, avoid foods that are high in sodium, refined sugars and starches and unhealthy fats. Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains (if not gluten-intolerant) and lean meats. Drop typical snack food fare like potato chips, soft drinks and cookies.