This article is dedicated to all of you who desire something greater out of yourself not because you feel you deserve it but because you know you can be a better, stronger you.
Why do you feel like your workout isn’t working for you? You obviously haven’t seen the results you want or at least not in the time you thought you would. You’ve probably been scouring the internet looking for a magic solution or workout plan that is GUARANTEED to give you huge muscles or drop 40 lbs in a week. If there is one thing I have learned from my many years in athletics, it’s that hard work pays off and you only get what you put in…including in your mouth but more on that later. Enough talk though, it’s time to start helping you out. Various issues contribute to a lack of results: motivation, pushing limits, nutrition, recovery, and the absence of a workout plan.
I can do this! I think I can do this! Maybe I can do this? Well…
Motivation is one of the biggest issues an aspiring athlete or individual has to conquer to achieve desirable fitness results. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Mind over matter” then you understand the goal of motivation on fitness. When things start getting tough that’s when you need to push it the most. Nothing worth getting comes easy and only you can decide how far you’re willing to commit to reach your fitness goal.
I think that motivation is a matter of experience. Knowing how heavy you can lift or how fast you can run helps to determine the level of motivation you have for certain activities. If you can only bench press 100 pounds then your motivation to lift 300 is probably little to none; however, using the same example let’s say you want to bench 130, your motivation for this is much much higher because the goal is more feasible. To help you stay motivated keep your goals in mind and bring a friend with to lift with you, it makes all the difference in the world.
The Rubber Band
This concept of motivation by experience can also be thought of in terms of a rubber band. If you stretch the rubber band once in a while it may slowly grow larger if you’re lucky. If you never stretch the band then it will stay the same size or shrink due to deterioration. If, however, you stretch the band too hard it will eventually break (getting injured). Only when you gradually stretch the band consistently and progressively more and more will you safely and effectively achieve a larger rubber band. The rubber band is your ability to push yourself.
You are what you eat! Wait you eat that?! That explains a lot…
Nutrition is what gives your body the ability to carry out any of its functions, so as you can imagine it is a critical aspect to achieving your workout goals. There are many places that help you figure out what
sort of nutrition plan to follow, but ultimately its your responsibility to monitor your own needs. I cannot get into a detailed nutrition plan on this article because like I said everybody has different needs: gaining muscle, losing fat, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergic to water, etc. I CAN however give you some guidelines to follow that will serve as a starting point.
For those of you that are obsessed with nutrition here’s a link to approximate amount of nutrients you should be getting on a 2000 calorie diet: http://www.netrition.com/rdi_page.html
What this link does not account for that we are concerned with is the level of activity you are performing. The level of activity will cause your intake demands to increase. You will need more carbohydrates, protein, and a bit more fat too. While increasing all of these things you should remember to always try and get as many quality vitamins in as you can as listed on the link above. Rather than go into what carbs, protein, and fats do to you let’s just explore what can happen if you don’t get enough of each.
Carbs are your fundamental energy source when it comes to your workout. If you’ve ever heard the term “carb loading” it has to do with eating a ton of carbohydrates before a major competition (usually only for long competitions or endurance athletes). During swimming season here at college, the team almost always gets kicked in the face by workouts, in other words they’re very difficult, and it’s essential for survival to eat a lot of carbs and calories.. usually more than 600 grams of carb and 4000 calories for most of us.
How do you know if you aren’t getting enough carbohydrates? If you can’t complete workouts you know you should be able to then it might be due to the lack of energy your body has to spend. Try eating more carbohydrates the day before a workout and see if you feel noticeably different.
While there is a ton of information out there telling you that you need a billion grams of protein to build muscle and that you have to buy a certain brand of protein powder to do so, that just isn’t the case. While protein is important for muscle growth it does not have to be consumed like you’re a starving prisoner. If you don not eat enough protein your muscles will not recover fast enough and will continue to be broken down which leads to zero results. At the most you should be consuming around a gram of protein per pound of lean muscle and even that could be too much. The best practice is to space out meals with protein in them throughout the day to give your body time to absorb most of it.
While you can indulge yourself sometimes (cheat days) it is best to avoid trans fats whenever possible and saturated fats aren’t too good for you but with moderation they can be ok. Generally unsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat is the good stuff. For more information –> http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fat/NU00262
You’ll only achieve fitness in your dreams?
Getting enough sleep and rest time is one reason why your workout may not be working out for you. If you only get 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night then you might have a problem. Sleep is the body’s time to recuperate and adjust to the stresses you have placed on it. Working out on sleep is like eating soup without a spoon…it’s just pointless. And while you may have a busy life (who doesn’t) it is important to set aside at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
Without enough sleep you’re depriving your body of the most beneficial, natural supplement of all, growth hormones. During sleep your brain tells the rest of your body to STFU and recover because sleep is the best time to do so. How much sleep you need depends on the workout.
On training trip for college swimming I took a nap every afternoon because without it I would’ve been exhausted for the next workout. Judge yourself in terms of how awake and ready you are for your workout. A lot of how you achieve goals is being self-reliant, to know how you feel, and adjust. Here’s another pretty good summary of why you need sleep: http://www.2buildmusclefast.com/2011/01/importance-of-rest-and-recovery-in.html
No Plan = planning to fail
Does your workout plan have a logical process that will lead up to your goal? Have you done any research on workout plans that have proven to work for what you need? If you haven’t done at least some research on what you’re doing then you’re bound to fail. Just tossing around weights hoping to see results is not going to be very effective. Learn what you want to get out of your workout and start from there.
Generally you want to make your workout have cycles of different repetitions, intensity, and exercises. Right now I am personally trying a 3 part cycle: high repetitions with medium-heavy weight, lower repetitions with heavy weight, and then a power cycle of explosive lifting with heavy weights. The interchanging of cycles such as this help build upon each other to progressively build strength. I have read about my type of workout, been advised by my credible coaches and have tried and tested for myself. I am absolutely confident in my workout plan. Can you say the same? May be of some help --http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbinfo.php?page=Periodization
By making sure you have everything in this article checked off then you should have no problem reaching your workout goals. I want you to succeed at what you do, and so if you have any further questions or problems dealing with your workouts feel free to comment below, I respond quickly. I can guarantee you I’ve been in your shoes whether your stuck in a plateau, a beginner looking to find a good program, having muscle pains, etc.
Now what are you waiting for!? Go get organized and be fit!
Comment box below!!