Everyone knows there are a million and one reasons to not go workout as much as we should. We are all guilty of it. Whether we try to use “not enough time,” “the gym is too far away,” or “I have too much work to do” as our excuse, the reason is still the same for all of us: working out takes a lot of effort, discipline and desire to maintain. That’s why it is so important that when you do find the motivation (http://www.sentinelperformancellc.com/blog/lets-get-motivated) to work out, you need to make sure you are avoiding any and all road blocks that can prohibit you from gaining the most results possible. In other words, we need to avoid things that we, most of the time unknowingly, do to sabotage our workout progress, and inhibit our fitness goals. These are four of the most common mistakes people make when trying to take on a workout program, and what you can do to avoid them for yourself!
You aren’t eating enough. This has to be one of the biggest struggles an exercise specialist faces with his or her clients, especially when weight loss is their main priority. The logic is relatively simple: if unwanted fat comes from unused calories, then eating less calories means no more unwanted fat…it’s so simple! Unfortunately, this isn’t how the body operates. When you reduce the amount of calories the body is taking in, your brain senses this, and activates protective measures in order to prevent total system failure; you enter “starvation mode.” Basically, your body’s metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy, causing you to become sluggish and chronically fatigued. Additionally, in order to meet the necessary calorie demands to keep the human machine going, your body will actually start wasting away its own muscle to derive calories out of the protein. Not very helpful, especially when you are trying to use those muscles during your workouts! Therefore, the solution to effective weight loss is to create the required calorie deficit through increasing the energy out (ie. exercising) instead of decreasing the energy in (ie. calorie restriction). If you aren’t sure how many calories per day you are supposed to eat, shoot us an email (email@example.com) and we can help you figure it out!
You are drinking too much. After a long day’s work at the office, who doesn’t love to unwind with a well-deserved beer or glass of wine? Although it might seem like a nice reward in the moment, you might be paying a penalty in the end when it comes to your fitness goals. Alcohol contains what we call “empty calories,” meaning your body doesn’t use the energy that’s in those drinks for any productive physiological process like building muscle; it simply goes straight into fat storage. And, although a caloric intake of 95 (1 can of light beer) to 125 (5oz of red wine) may seem relatively innocuous, when added together over the course of one evening, and multiplied over the course of one week, you could find yourself with a caloric surplus that you are then forced to have to work harder to get rid of whenever you do make it into the gym. And who wants to worker harder in the gym?! Now, don’t get us wrong: we certainly are not telling you that you have to give up all of the fun, parties, and great times that revolve around socially drinking with friends and loved ones-of course not! All we want you to keep in mind is try to make life easier for yourself in the gym by knocking off the weeknight drinks that will chip away at your workout progress, and save the alcohol for times when you can really make it count like when you’re on a date with your wife, out with your close friends, or during the holidays with your family!
You don’t have a plan. Much like going on a road trip to a place that you’ve never been to without a map, getting your body into the shape you want to be in without a personal workout program is just as pointless. In order for resistance training, and exercise in general, to be most effective, the stimulus you place on the body needs to be consistent and progressive. Meaning, you can’t just do the same exercises over and over again and expect positive change. On the flip side, it is equally unbeneficial to do a different routine each day and never let the body master a particular skill or a certain weight because you’re always changing things up. Therefore, having a properly designed program that contains the exercises that are specific to your needs, and is progressively challenging, step by step, over time is imperative. That way you will be ensured that every minute you spend in the gym is well-invested in helping you get where you want to be!
You aren’t doing the right exercises. This might be one of the easiest missteps to make for the general exerciser who isn’t seeing the progress they were hoping to see in their workouts. All of us are bombarded on a regular basis by “advice from the experts” on what exercises we all should be doing. You see magazines at the grocery store saying “do these 5 exercises every day for a flat belly;” or perhaps you follow a fitness model on Instagram or Facebook who is videoing themselves doing some heinous exercise just to gain followers; or worst yet, you try to copy a movement that you saw someone else, or even a misguided trainer, do at your gym last week. The problem lies in the simple reality that the one-size-fits-all mentality does not at all apply to exercise. Every one of us moves in a different way, adapts in a different way, and recovers in a different way, and so we need our exercise selection to reflect that. In order for you to be the best version of yourself through exercise, your lifts have to be chosen based solely on what you as an individual can do, and unfortunately, no magazine, tv personality or social media queen can decide that for you. Proper exercise selection requires knowledge of biomechanics, physiology and periodization (along with many other sciences and skills) in order to create the perfect workout plan. Don’t have the time for a 4yr degree in exercise? Then it’s a good thing you know some people who do!
At the end of the day there are many factors that play against the well-intentioned exerciser who wants to make a serious healthy change in their lifestyle. Just like your parents always told you “Life isn’t easy,” we’re here to tell you the same thing about the “gym life.” But there is hope. First of all knowing and understanding pitfalls like the ones discussed here and many others is extremely beneficial; you can’t stop doing the wrong thing if you never knew it was wrong to begin with! And secondly, partnering with a professional, or better yet a team of professionals, who are invested in your success in the gym as much as you are is a full-proof way to get on the fast track to a better you. Though it is difficult, exercise doesn’t have to be, nor should it ever be, hopeless. Never be afraid to seek out the answers you need to excel in the gym-you may be surprised in the end of what you are capable of!
Joe Gernetzke CSCS