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Why You're Not Getting Results at the Gym

Updated on February 11, 2019
Suzette-Annan profile image

Suzette Annan is a certified personal trainer with experience working in mental health.

Have you been hitting the gym regularly but not seeing the results you want? As a personal trainer I hear the same complaints on the gym floor - people wondering why they're not making progress when they've been making the effort to train consistently. Fix the following mistakes and you'll soon be on your way to the body that you want.

You cannot out-train a bad diet full stop.


You do the same workout over and over again


Does your routine consist of jogging on the treadmill for 45 minutes, a couple of sets on the leg press, showering and then leaving? If you do this every session you're making a big mistake. (Obviously not in showering, please keep doing that.)
Your body is extremely intelligent and will quickly adapt to what you ask it to do. You have probably heard the saying your muscles have memory. If you do the same workout all the time your body will get used to it, and therefore have no need to make changes.

You need what is known as progressive overload which means challenging yourself to give your body a reason to adapt. Try to incorporate new exercises, or increase your repetitions and weights on the exercises you have already mastered . Also keep track of what you have achieved. If you reached 60kg on your deadlift last week, try and add on 5kg if you can .

If you don't switch it up, you won't make any progress-simple as that.

You are not improving your diet


You cannot out train a bad diet full stop. The results you get are 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent diet. If you are training to improve the way your body looks you need to eat well.

This does not mean starving yourself, but getting the right amount of macro and micro nutrients for your needs. Macro- nutrients are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Micro-nutrients are vitamins and minerals.

It's difficult to make improvements without feeding your body with the nutrients that it needs. You will get this from eating a varied diet made up of unprocessed, whole foods. This means cooking as much as you can from scratch. Incorporate eggs, chicken, fish, fruit and vegetables, sweet potatoes and brown rice into recipes, and have fun with it. Eating healthily doesn't have to mean eating rabbit food. It's incredibly satisfying to prepare a healthy and tasty meal for yourself. Once you make it a habit you won't even look at a supermarket ready meal again.


Think of food as fuel. If you put low quality fuel like junk food into your body, it's not going to perform very well. If you fuel your body with quality whole foods, you'll be surprised by the results that you get.

You haven't set a goal


It is necessary to be specific about what you want to achieve from training. So many people have very vague goals, and if your goals are vague you are unlikely to achieve them.
Many say that they want to lose weight, but what does that even mean? How much weight do you want to lose? Do you really want to just lose weight or it is specifically fat loss you want to focus on? We can all lose weight from water retention. The common goal of losing weight really lacks clarity.

What most people really want to do us improve their body composition by building more lean tissue, and reducing their wobbly bits. In order to do this you need a tailored plan. Sitting on a recumbent cycle each session for an hour is not going to do this.

Get specific about what you really want to achieve so you can start training in away that will get you there.

You don't weight train


We have all seen those cardio queens that spend all of their time on the treadmill or elliptical machine. They do this each session and wonder why they are not seeing results. I have already mentioned that doing the same workout all the time won't get you results -this is even more the case if you just do cardio.


Being intimidated to step into the weights room is understandable, especially if you're female. All of that testosterone and grunting can be really off putting. However in order to improve your body composition you need to do resistance training. That means either lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises.


Incorporate barbell compound lifts like squats, deadlifts and overhead presses into your workouts and you will soon see improvements. Ladies you will get the round bottom and shapely legs that everyone seems to want. Guys you will also see improvements by focusing on compound lifts.


You're not pushing yourself

It's called working out for a reason -you actually have to work. How many times have you looked around the gym and seen people just sitting on equipment either on their phones scrolling through Instagram or just people watching. Yes, you're supposed to rest between sets, but resting for 30 minutes plus kind of defeats the purpose.
If you have made the decision to train regularly don't cheat yourself by not doing your best. If you're there just to go through the motions you may have well just have stayed at home sitting on your sofa which is probably much more comfortable than sitting on gym equipment.


Everyone finds it difficult to motivate themselves, but you've already motivated yourself to go, don't let yourself down by not pushing yourself when you get there.
It might help to train with a friend so you can motivate each other, plus you will have someone to hold you accountable . Creating a good workout playlist of motivational tracks can also get you in the right frame of mind. You could also try listening to motivational videos on You Tube while you train. There are so many to choose from so you can definitely find one that resonates with you.

You need to eat well to see results.
You need to eat well to see results.

Fitness is a holistic concept

Weight lifting is crucial to improve body composition.
Weight lifting is crucial to improve body composition.

Your self-care sucks


Fitness is a holistic concept meaning that there are several components that work together to create a healthy body and a healthy mind. You can't train one area in isolation. If you want to get fitter you not only have to exercise and eat well but ensure you are sleeping enough and reducing your stress level.
You cannot expect to see results if you workout after just two hours sleep. Your body recovers from exercise while your sleeping so you won’t see significant muscle growth if you don't get enough shut eye.


Stress is also horrible for training. When you're stressed your body releases the catabolic stress hormone cortisol which decreases muscle size, holds onto unwanted belly fat and reduces immunity. Too much of thus hormone can really jeopardize your progress at the gym.


Try to limit the amount of stress in your life. If that means limiting your time with people and situations that get to you, it's worth it for the sake if your health.
Correcting these common mistakes is a sure-fire way to get the results you want. Are you getting the results you want at the gym? Comment below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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