8 Reasons you haven't reached your fitness goals in 2015
Four months in to 2015...
So it's mid-April. If like many of us you are a "resolutioner" that started 2015 with great intentions to get that beach body for the summer, you are probably hoping and expecting to have made notable progress four months down the line.
Unfortunately, no matter how many things we do right, there can often be one or two things we are doing wrong that can alter the mental and physical benefits of our new lifestyle. After dabbling in weightlifting for the last ten years, I have nailed down 8 key points that I believe we should not just assess initially, but routinely re-visit them and adjust accordingly.
Reason 1 - Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!
Adding a diet and exercise regime to your already busy lifestyle will increase your body's need for sleep. Sleep cannot be overlooked in its importance in your well being, everything from insulin control to your mental well-being can be affected by it. When you are in a deep sleep, hormones are released that can boost muscle mass, and repair tissue damage (commonly caused by resistance exercise). People will differ in how much sleep they need individually, but 7-8 hours is often recommended as a minimum.
Reason 2- You're doing too much cardio
If you feel that you have reached your body-fat percentage goal, and are trying to add some muscle mass to your frame, take a look at how much time you are spending on the treadmill. Too much cardio can actually stunt your muscle gain. If you are trying to hold on to muscle or gain it, stick to around three 30 minute cardio sessions a week. Gentle cardio, such as incline treadmill work can be a great substitute for high intensity cardio when trying to gain muscle mass.
Reason 3 - Not enough Cardio
On the opposite end of the spectrum, is not incorporating enough cardio in to your regimen. If you are like me and are guilty of a few too many nutritional discrepancies, you made need to get on the treadmill to get that last inch or so off of your belly. I have tried two different ways of getting cardio in to my daily routines. The first is "empty stomach cardio" when you get some gentle cardio in first thing in the morning before eating, a premise that rests on the theory that your body looks straight to its fat stores when there is no food in your stomach.
I have also tried afternoon, more intensive cardio, such as sprints and interval training. I personally have had better results with the afternoon cardio, which leaves me feeling less lethargic than an early morning session.
Reason 4- You're consuming the wrong type of calories
So let's just assume for example you have decided to follow a 2500 calorie a day diet, and you've worked hard and dodged temptation to stick with it, but for some reason you aren't gaining the muscle you want. Well technically you could fill 2500 calories with bananas. Or Whipped cream if you are crazy. If you aren't getting the right ratio of fats, carbs and protein, your body wont have what it needs to repair and grow back stronger. Decide on what your overall goal is, fat loss, muscle building etc, and plan accordingly. There are numerous resources available on the web to help calculate your needs and give you recipe ideas.
Reason 5- Not lifting heavy enough
A common mistake committed by people when they start a regimen that includes weightlifting, is being afraid to lift heavier. I'm not insinuating that your power-lifting career will take off after only four months, but keep in mind that your body will grow in anticipation of your next session. For example, let's say that in January, you could dumbbell press 25lb. You spend a few weeks training with that, and it begins to get easier, because your muscles have grown and adapted to handle the weight. So maybe in late February, you go up to 35lb weights, and so on. If you stop challenging your body, it will stop growing , because it is no longer anticipating a heavy weight. Of course always be sensible, and use a spotter as appropriate, but trust yourself and push yourself to bigger muscles.
Reason 6 - Doing too many or too few repetitions
The amount of repetitions, or reps that you are doing will directly affect the result that your training has on your body. Higher rep ranges are going to focus on definition and less on muscle mass, typically 12 reps and above. Training for mass does not necessarily mean heavier. Your optimal rep range will be between 8-12 reps for about four sets of each exercise. Training for strength and one rep max is a little more advanced, and can range from sets of 2 - 6 reps in a set. Decide whether your priority is size, definition or strength and train to what suits you best.
Reason 7- Overtraining
As overzealous as we can all be about our new passion for getting in to shape, we must give ourselves time to rest and repair. Not to be confused with your sleep regimen, overtraining occurs when your muscles are not given enough rest between workouts. Remember that whether you are trying to get stronger or bigger, the principle behind weightlifting is that you are causing tiny tears in your muscle fibers. With proper rest and nutrition, the muscles repair and grow back bigger and or stronger.
Another thing to bear in mind, is that although today's muscle is not necessarily your focus, the muscle you are focusing on could be causing yesterday's muscle to be overtrained. For example, you did triceps on Monday, and on Tuesday you do chest. Well our triceps play a large role in chest workouts, so you could be causing them to be overworked and stunt your growth. Not to mention your chest won't be able to perform as well as normal with exhausted triceps.
If you keep overtraining, you may start to find yourself feeling run down as your body gets exhausted and, if not kept in check you will be more susceptible to colds etc, which are all detrimental to your fitness goals. Try leaving a couple of days between each muscle group to get the most out of your workouts. Listen to your body.
Reason 8- Supplementation
The fitness world is inundated with all kinds of supplements that retailers want you to believe that you must have in order to reach your goals. After ten years of trying different fat burners, test boosters and all manner of herbs you can think of, I have at least come to the conclusion that if it seems too good to be true, it is.If there was really a "Seven day six- pack pill" we would all have six packs.
.Personally, I recommend four different types of supplement that are crucial to a successful training program.
- Protein powders. Used for repairing the muscles you are hopefully working in the gym. Protein powders are a cost effective way of getting your recommended amount of protein in to your diet, in addition to protein rich foods.
- Multivitamins. These literally come in all shapes and sizes, offering varying levels and types of vitamins. These are particularly important if you are dieting, and not getting as many nutrients as you need. Find one that suits your needs and budget.
- Creatine. I am a firm believer in creatine, with multiple studies showing the benefits of creatine in both lifting and endurance activity. I also believe in sticking to a basic and affordable creatine monohydrate.
- Pre-workouts. This is one for you to decide on yourself, but here is something I love about pre-workouts; on those days where you aren't sure if you really want to hit the gym, take the pre- workout. Usually, you will have no choice but to get out there and work out once it kicks in. There are literally hundreds of choices to choose from. You can keep it as simple as a strong coffee, or the latest cutting edge stuff in a tub.Use whatever works best for you.
Hopefully something in the list above sparked an idea or two on something you can improve on to reach your goals. Good luck for the rest of 2015!
- Immunology and Cell Biology - Overtraining effects on immunity and performance in athletes
Immunology and Cell Biology focuses on the general functioning of the immune system in its broadest sense, with a particular emphasis on its cell biology. Areas that are covered include but are not limited to: Cellular immunology, Innate and adaptive
- Creatine | University of Maryland Medical Center