Top 5 Reasons Your Workouts Are Not Working
By Kelly Bonner
Recently I came across a fitness article entitled “10 Reasons Your Workouts Aren’t Working” and thought, if this was a blog post, it would have been “liked” hundreds of times or retweeted just as often. As a fitness specialist the top complaints I hear are, “I come to the gym all the time; why am I not losing weight?” or “I work said muscle group all the time; why does it still look like this?” Therefore, the before mentioned article was definitely hitting on a popular topic. While I agreed with most of what the author said, I thought it might be interesting to put my own spin on it. I’ve geared my version toward an inclusive population and condensed it into the main issues I see on a regular basis.
Why Your Workouts Are Not Working
- First and foremost, what I call the “Cardio Coma”. Do you exercise just to exercise? You go to the gym, hop on the piece of cardio equipment of choice -- be it a treadmill, arm bike, or elliptical -- and just go through the motions. You get your 30 minutes in, but during that time you didn’t really sweat, you certainly didn’t get out of breath, and you probably could have read a book or sang along to your favorite song. Well then, you are probably in a cardio coma and aren’t really seeing any benefits from your trip to the gym! Unfortunately, this isn’t the Jetson’s era yet; if you want to see results you actually have to work for them! One way to judge the intensity of your workout is the Talk Test:
Low Intensity - You can sing your favorite song or carry on an uninterrupted conversation while exercising.
Moderate-to-High Intensity - You can't sing your favorite song and can only carry on an interrupted conversation (meaning it takes some effort on your part to talk) and… your speech is somewhat labored with a little huffing and puffing.
High Intensity - It becomes difficult to talk while exercising or you can't talk at all.
If you want to see benefits from your workout, don’t get caught in the first category and every now and then you might even want to give the third category a try.
- CHANGE IS GOOD. I have come to realize that people don’t like change, but you need it! If you have been doing the same weight routine for more than a couple weeks, it’s time to CHANGE. Trust me, your body will thank you for it! It’s just like changing the oil in your car. Your car runs better when you do and so will your body. You can still work the same muscle group, just in a different way and your body will respond at a whole new level. So try to learn three or four ways to work every muscle group. This could include free weights, machines, body weight exercises, or a combination. You could change your routine daily, weekly, or even monthly and your body will likely start to show its appreciation.
- Faster Doesn’t Always Equal Better! This is particularly true if you use a lot of machines in your workout – the faster you go, the more momentum is taking the weight and not your muscles. Slow down; try to get a slow steady cadence going maybe even try counting as you move through a full range of motion. Remember, just because you can do several push-ups really fast doesn’t mean that you are accurately performing them.
- The fourth reason I’ll call “Weight Challenged”. When you set your weight machine, could you do reps of 10 or 30 and not really tell the difference? Well then, you probably aren’t using the right weight to see any type of results. You actually want to CHALLENGE your muscles. It is literally what they LIVE for. The body is an amazingly adaptable machine, and the more you work it, the better it gets. You want to feel the burn at the end of a set. Don’t worry; you won’t get big and bulky, but you might notice a difference the next time you carry in the groceries. So here’s my challenge; the next time you hit the gym if it is a major muscle group you are working on, up the weight by 10 pounds (leg press, rowing, lat pull down etc). If it is a smaller muscle group, try to increase the weight by five pounds (triceps, biceps,shoulders, etc.) and continue to increase the weight every couple of weeks.
- My final reason I call “No Mind” – a phrase I stole from The Last Samurai. If you recall the movie, the phrase basically means – don’t overthink things. Don’t let your mind defeat you from having a good workout anddon’t obsess over the numbers. Whatever those numbers may be to you; body weight, pounds lifted, number of sit-ups performed daily, etc. enjoy some freedom in your routine, and you will find it much more enjoyable. Don’t get hung up on one body part. If you regularly perform a well-rounded routine than that one body part will reap the benefits as well. Finally, don’t let your mind psyche you out of trying something new and different. You may actually find something you love.