Working out is hard..
But when you feel your body becoming stronger, your energy levels increasing, and your pants feeling looser, it’s worth it. The problem is, at one point or another, everyone has put in work and felt like they were reaping zero gains. Besides being very frustrating, it can cause even “gym rats” to throw in the towel. Sound familiar?
Not anymore. Below are five main reasons you may not be seeing the fitness results you want, plus easy ways to get your workout working for you.
- You’re doing the same ol’ thing. Whatever you do, whether it’s sitting on the couch watching Netflix or running 5 miles a day, your body gets used to it. Your body is an amazing adaptive machine, it gets stronger and adds more muscle when you lift weights. With cardio, your body adepts by increasing endurance and aerobic capacity. If you do the same thing workout after workout, your body will stop changing. You have to change it up! The fix: progressive overload. Once you feel like your workout is getting easier, add more weights or reps to your strength routine, run faster or farther, or try more advanced progressions of your favorite yoga pose.
- You wing it. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some people change their workout up too often. Hopping between different programs goes against the concept of progressive overload. This doesn’t let you advance in any particular program. The fix: pick one discipline to be your bread-and-butter for at least a few months at a time. You can always sprinkle in other types of workouts to keep things interesting, but you should feel like you’re getting better at something.
- Your body’s stressed out. A bad breakup, work drama, financial troubles, processed foods and crappy sleep can trigger a stress response in your body. Cortisol and inflammation levels can increase and over time your body could start breaking down rather than building strength. The fix: You have to reduce the amount of stress in your life. If you can, cut back on the hours of work you do or your workouts if needed. But you will need those workouts to get more fit, so focusing on what outside force is stressing you out and trying to manage that is ideal.
- You try to crunch your way to a flat stomach. Spot training is a myth that just won’t die. Abs are some of the smaller muscles we have, and core exercises burn a low amount of calories because of this. The fix: If you want a flat stomach, you have to build muscle everywhere rather than just your abs. Focus on compound, total-body exercises like squats, deadlifts, and burpees to work out your body’s largest muscle groups.
- You’re eating too much- or too little. The foods you eat can either fuel your workouts or completely counteract them. Some people deprive themselves of calories and carbs they really need to workout, whereas others will eat a package of Oreo’s after moving around some dumb-bells at the gym. While the former can make you feel sluggish, cause your muscles to break down and actually slow your metabolism, the latter can easily cause you to take in more calories than you’re burning – even if you’re counting calories. The fix: Treat food as something that should fuel your body both in and out of the gym, rather than something that either 1) makes you fat and should be kept to the bare minimum or 2) is your reward for hitting the gym. That mind shift takes work, but it will help you keep your diet balanced and allow your workouts to show.
What do you do to avoid zero gains?