It's probably one of the worst feelings in the world. You've been hitting the gym regularly, trying to get in shape for that wedding, vacation or other special event you have coming up. For a couple weeks, or maybe even a few months, everything has been swell. Pounds are coming off, inches have been lost, but then all of a sudden you hit a wall...no weight lost, inches staying the same, no visible change in your physique. It's enough to drive you crazy, or even worse, to discourage you from continuing on your fitness journey.
But alas, there is hope. Here are some reasons why you might not be getting the results you want from your workouts and how you can take action to change them.
Not Enough Intensity
One of the most common errors that people find themselves in when not getting results from their workouts is that they lack an intense workout. Monitoring your heart rate (and determining your workout intensity) are two very important steps in making sure your workouts pay off. For an effective workout, the target heart rate that you should maintain in a workout should be between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age). For a consistent measurement and to ensure maximum results, you should purchase a good quality heart rate monitor as well as try to reach and sustain about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate in your workouts.
Muscles Aren't Confused
One of the biggest training principles for muscle growth and body composition change is muscle confusion, or the idea that you must continually push and strain your muscles in order for them to grow and, in essence, change your physique. If you're lifting the same weights or performing the same exercises in the same pattern, your body will eventually adapt and get used to the workouts you're performing. This will negate muscle growth and body composition change, making workouts less effective. To avoid this, every five to six weeks you should be changing up how you workout, what exercises you perform, and also, making sure that you increase the amount of resistance that you are using. You don't have to make drastic changes, but you should keep your muscles "guessing" and make them work for you.
Eating How You Live
The other (and often overlooked) piece to the workout puzzle is the nutritional and diet side of things. If you're rocking your workouts, but pumping your body full of junk, you won't optimize your fuel intake and can thus derail the progress you are making in your exercise plan. It can be as simple as ensuring you take in more greens, fruits and vegetables, or adding lean proteins to your diet in lieu of fried foods. However, if you have a certain medical condition or other health problems, your diet and eating plans may need the help of a professional. Don't sabotage your fitness results from poor eating. It's the easiest thing to change, but also the hardest because bad (eating) habits are hard to alter.
There may be other reasons as to why you aren't seeing results anymore, especially if you've done most, or all, of the above. You could have a metabolism disorder that is affecting your progress, or another condition that may require you to consult a medical professional. Maybe you also aren't creative when it comes to workout design. That's OK too! Your local personal trainer or fitness expert at a gym, YMCA, or even your doctor or hospital can help you to create a solid, doable, and results-driven exercise plan to help you in your goals.
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous professional, collegiate
and amateur athletes across many different fields, including
professional and arena football players, Mixed Martial Artists, elite
runners, international soccer players, and more.
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA, as well as the owner and operator of Funky Fitness PA, a personal training studio, in home personal training and personalized fitness planning service. Ryan's work has been featured across the US and the globe, working with clients in all facets of life. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can check Ryan out on Facebook or follow him on Twitter, or you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.