by Matt Weik
Do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in the gym and not seeing the results you desire? Maybe it’s due to the fact that your workouts simply aren’t getting the job done. In an effort to help get you on the right path, here are seven reasons why your workouts suck.
1. You don’t change up your workout
If you are consistently doing the same exercises, using the same weights, the same rep range, the same number of total sets, there’s a good chance your workouts suck. The problem is, your muscles are getting used to the work and adapt. Think of it like going to a job where every day it’s the exact same thing. After a while, you adapt and become efficient and you run on cruise control without any change. The same thing happens with your body.
In order to start seeing results, you need progressive overload on the muscles. Increase the weight, increase the reps, or increase the total working sets per muscle group. The idea is to constantly be pushing yourself and forcing the muscles to work harder than your previous workout.
2. You change up your workout too often
If you’re the guy who thinks “muscle confusion” is a thing, pay attention. Muscle confusion these days is just a funny term for changing up your workouts. It used to be about challenging the muscles by using progressive overload. When you go to the gym and constantly change your workout, you’re challenging your muscles, but there’s no real overload compared to the previous workout. You’re not confusing your muscles or anyone else for that matter. If you did flat bench for your first workout and then next week substitute that for push-ups, you’re going in the wrong direction.
Just like I mentioned above, progressive overload is what breaks down muscle fibers so they can grow back bigger and stronger. If you hit the bench for 225 last week for 10 reps, this week either push for 235 or do 225 again and push for 12-15 reps. Try to stick to this plan for eight to twelve weeks to give your body a chance to grow. Then, you can decide if you want to change it up or stick with it until you see yourself starting to plateau.
3. Unrealistic expectations
We have all been known to look at images online or in magazines and imagine ourselves with THAT physique—I’m also guilty of this. If you’re just starting (or even a novice), you’re going to need to get some time under the bar in order to understand your body and how it adapts to different training protocols and macronutrient ratios as well as caloric intakes. It’s like studying for an exam and doing your homework each and every day. You’re not going to start working out and in a month, look like a fitness model or bodybuilder—hate to burst your bubble. We need to have some realistic expectations from this.
You can’t expect an instant change. It takes time to understand your body, that’s part of the fun when it comes to health and fitness. No two people are the same, what works for me might not work for you. There is no one size fits all approach to health and fitness that will get everyone the results they desire. If only it were that easy! And if it were, we wouldn’t have over 60 percent of Americans being overweight.
4. You aren’t properly warming up
It’s hard to perform at a high level if you aren’t priming your body and getting it ready to work. You’re not going to start up a sports car and clock your 0-60 with a cold engine. You’re going to get the best performance from that beastly motor if it’s warmed up properly. Your body is that beastly motor and it too needs to be warmed up before it can produce efficient output.
Start each workout with a five to ten-minute warm-up doing some light aerobic work. This will raise the temperature of your body, get it primed, and get blood flowing to the muscles. It will also help increase your flexibility during your workout as well as aid in preventing injuries. After your warm-up is complete, you should be ready to start your resistance training warm-up with some light sets to get the muscles ready for the workload ahead.
5. You don’t have a training program
Please don’t be the guy or gal who walks through the gym just looking for something to do. Have a plan and execute. Not only are you wasting time in the gym by walking around, but you’re giving your muscles too long of a break between sets/exercises if you’re doing this. You want to keep your intensity up. Move from one exercise to the next. You’re not a powerlifter, you don’t need a five-minute rest period.
Plan to fail when you fail to plan—as they say. Each time you walk through the door at the gym, you should already know what you will be doing. If you aren’t sure how to properly write a workout or training program, speak with one of the trainers at your gym and they can help structure a workout based on your goals.
6. Poor attitude
Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right. You need to put yourself in the right mindset if you want to succeed. If you think you’ll never lose the weight… You’ll never gain any muscle… You’ll never look like this person or that person. You’re going to lose thinking like that. Think small, win small. Think big, win big. It’s all upstairs between your ears.
Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. You don’t know their situation. They could have been working out for years while you’re just starting. Or maybe they are a model and that’s their livelihood—therefore they need to work out religiously and eat extremely clean to get ready for photo shoots. You simply don’t know. You don’t need to walk around with a ripped six-pack year-round to be “healthy.” Stay positive and headstrong so you can achieve your goals. Go into it with a positive attitude and make the best of every situation—even the days where you don’t want to go to the gym, but you force yourself anyway.
7. Hitting cardio before your weight training
A common mistake I see many people doing is hitting 30-60 minutes of cardio before they do their weight training. You’re basically zapping your energy before you get to the really difficult stuff in the gym. You wouldn’t run your car down to empty and be running on fumes before you decide to street race, right? Doesn’t seem like the best idea. Same thing with your workouts. If you use up all of your energy and are tapped out before you even hit the weights, you’re going to have a terrible workout and not be able to truly work the muscles to force them to grow.
For that reason, you want to fully warm-up when you get to the gym, then hit your weight training—and if you decide to do cardio, hit that last before you head home.