When you're taking up a new workout regime, being consistent in dragging yourself to the gym/mat/pool is only half the battle.
If you're not seeing the results you hoped for in the gym, it could be that there's some other factors at play that could be hindering your progress.
Turns out skipping some necessary steps in your wellbeing could actually have a pretty big role in scuppering your fitness goals.
Thankfully, breaking through your fitness barrier could actually be easier than you might think, requiring just a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle for some pretty major gains.
From not getting enough sleep to skipping food before working out, we spoke to the experts at Fitness Volt to reveal some of the key reasons why you might not be seeing results, plus tips on how to fix them so you can hopefully stay on the right path to achieving a fitter you.
Never underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to conquering your fitness goals. "If you’re not getting enough shut eye at night, you’ll lack energy for your workouts and therefore won’t reach your full potential when it comes to your performance," the team explains.
"On top of this, muscles release amino acids that build protein into the bloodstream during sleep which allows them to grow and recover, meaning you can get back to exercising sooner."
The experts recommend aiming for around 7-9 hours of sleep each night, even if it means going to bed earlier than usual.
Not warming up
Warm-ups are often overlooked, despite them being a crucial element of a workout. "Without warming up, you won’t have your maximum capabilities and you won’t be fully prepared for exercises as your muscles won’t be activated," the PTs say.
Warm-ups will vary depending on your specific workout, but in general, you need to get your blood flowing into your body by doing something like jogging.
"As well as this, perform a mobility routine to help with your joints that will be most used in your workout, such as arm and shoulder circles if you are training upper body," the experts continue. "If you’re specifically focusing on weightlifting, you can warm up by practising the exercise with no weight – doing so will help with your form, too."
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Skipping food before a workout
Skipping a meal before your workout may sound practical if you’re heading for an early morning session as soon as you wake up, but it’s vital that you eat beforehand to give your body energy.
"Carbohydrates in particular will give your body the fuel it needs, so opt for foods such as whole-grain cereals or whole-wheat toast with some fruit," the team suggests. "However, stick to a small portion size so that you don’t feel sluggish for your workout."
Not consuming enough protein
Protein is an essential nutrient in your diet, whether you wish to build muscle or lose weight.
"If weight loss is your goal, protein supports a healthy metabolism and reduces your appetite, while it also helps to build muscle by helping to repair and maintain muscle tissue," the experts explain.
It’s recommended to consume around one gram of protein per pound of your body weight for optimal results, so consider adding foods like chicken, Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese, and walnuts to your diet which are all high in protein.
"If you struggle to reach your suggested intake, consider protein shakes which you can even have on the go if you have a hectic schedule," the experts add.
Staying in your comfort zone
While it is easy to coast along with your same comfortable workout routine, this could lead to you losing determination due to boredom. Plus your body gets used to the same exercise so the experts recommend trying to push yourself out of that safe zone.
"As your body gets used to the workout, you’ll build strength and resilience and will eventually have the ability to push yourself to the next level," the PT team explains. "For example, you will find that you will soon be able to run for a longer amount of time on the treadmill or will be able to lift heavier weights if you stay consistent with your workout."
Pushing yourself to the next level avoids a plateau and keeps your muscles challenged to continue building strength, the experts add.
Not letting your body rest
You may assume that the more days you spend in the gym the better your results will be, but if you’re not leaving any time to rest, this can actually slow the process right down.
"Over-exercising leads your body to exhaustion, thus affecting your performance when working out and preventing you from building strength," Fitness Volt’s PTs explain. "Not to mention, letting your body recover avoids injuries which would only cause lack of exercise in the long run."
Three rest days a week is generally the recommended amount, although if you are partaking in particularly intense exercise or new to working out you may need to take more depending on how your body responds.