This process of figuring out what the problem is can be difficult, and many people are insistent with their views on training and the results they have or haven’t achieved. Most people fall into this category of denial. There are many possible reasons for your success or lack thereof.
As trainers we see them in the gym or hear the same dogma come out of their mouths. Something like, “I know what I am doing,’’ or, “I use the same circuit of machines 3 times per week starting with my arms.’’ Usually this is mentioned with the utmost confidence. As always their appearance never changes or if change occurs it’s usually undesirable.
I have 4 areas to evaluate which will help you stay on track to ensure productive results. Now if you are pleased with your progress, then this info may not be for you. The 4 areas to consider are listed in order of importance to use as a checklist.
AREAS TO CONSIDER
1. Goal Setting
2. Exercise Selection
This term seems simple enough but is often used incorrectly. The key here is learning to set realistic goals that are attainable. By no means am I saying to stop daydreaming of becoming a professional surfer like Laird Hamilton. Just realize what is attainable and what is not.
I am only 5’10’’ so I know I probably do not have the best chance of playing in the NBA. Setting this as a goal would not be realistic. I realize there are exceptions to every rule, but I am not that for basketball.
Goals can be put into short and long-term categories. You should implement both kinds of goals associated with your fitness needs. A short-term goal is a goal with a more immediate outcome where a long-term goal is set and accomplished over a longer period of time.
An example of both would be: I want to lose 20 pounds and lose 2 pounds per week. The long-term goal is to lose 20 pounds and the short-term goal is to lose 2 pounds per week. Next would be to make the goal more concrete and set a timetable. I want to lose 2 pounds per week for 10 weeks equaling 20 pounds total.
Another area to mention is having a plan. You should have a plan written down prior to entering the gym. What does this have to do with goal setting? Without an initial plan there is not any way to measure your progress. Failure to have a pre-workout plan would be an easy way to ensure the goals you have set would not be met.
This area is dependent on your individual goals. You want to make sure to choose exercises that are appropriate for your goals. Every exercise should have a purpose or cause and effect. You perform bicep curls to get larger or toned biceps depending on your goals.
The majority of your exercises should be compound exercises. Compound exercises are going to be the most beneficial for the majority of people. Compound exercises recruit a larger number of muscle fibers than other exercises.
This means incorporating larger total body lifts or exercises. The human body is part of a kinetic chain. The body functions together as a whole. If you think about running, for example, do you just isolate your calves or just your hamstrings? No, your calves work with every muscle in your leg: some stabilizing, some firing to initiate hip flexion and extension when running correctly.
Of course there is a time and place for isolation and isometric exercises. This is where having specific goals will be most beneficial.
This term can be applied in all aspects of your fitness goals. Progression ensures that you are moving forward and not reaching or staying at a dreaded plateau.
The human body has the ability to adapt to most forms of stimuli. The first time you train with weights after a rest period you will most likely experience incredible soreness in the muscles that were used during that training session. The next time you repeat that particular training sessions your body adapts resulting in less soreness. With out progression you will eventually hit a point where you do not see any positive gains since your body has completely adapted to that particular stimulus.
With regards to resistance training progression can be used in many different varieties. You can progress by adding weight to your work sets or reps, even duration. Plus your exercises can progress from compound lifts to single joint lifts to isometric holds.
An easy way to ensure that you are progressing is to write everything down. Document your workout sessions, cardio sessions, and daily food intake. The more thorough you are the better. You can even include how you are feeling that day mentally and physically.
I usually jot down what is sore or bugging me. For example: left hamstring feels slightly strained. A small notebook will do just fine. You can pick up a “Fat Lil Notebook,’’ from your local grocery store.
One of the more overlooked areas for most people is sleep. During sleep the body recharges and recovers from the rigors of a normal day. Eight hours is the normal amount of sleep a person usually needs, but athletes may require 10 hours of sleep depending on the intensity of their training.
Most of my best REM sleep takes place before midnight. Since I get up at ‘o’ dark 30, the earlier I can get to bed the more refreshed I will feel in the morning. Find a way to quiet your thoughts or go to your happy place when you’re trying to fall asleep. This will help you decompress and fall asleep faster.
A couple of helpful tips are to remove all electronics from your bedroom, i.e. cell phones, televisions, and any other electronic devices. Also, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time in the evening and morning to establish a normal routine.
These four areas may seem simple enough but their impact should not be underestimated. If you have not seen any significant improvements towards your fitness goals, then you might look here first. Check to see if you’re implementing these strategies correctly. If you are, then you can cross them off your list of possible pitfalls.
Correct implementation can make the difference between you staying stagnant or you moving forward toward any fitness goals.