Have you been going to the gym for years with the same people? Do they look the same, and do you? The statistics are that for every one person who actually makes physical changes and reaches fitness goals, there will be 50 who don’t! If you don’t want to be in the the group that looks the same, year after year, spending all your time getting no where, there’s good news! You can stop the merry-go-round madness-it just takes the willingness to keep an open mind and step outside your workout rut.
There are several important parts of getting the results you dream of. If you’ve been paying attention to what others do in the gym, you’ve probably noticed them doing the same moves session after session, using the same weight, doing the same amount of reps and using poor form (most don’t know what proper form is or how to set a machine properly, so be warned!). Maybe you copy what they do because of the ‘herd’ mentality. If they’re getting marginal results, most likely you will too. Like sheep, we tend to follow, especially if we’ve never had any formal training, are afraid to ask questions or never do any research of our own. You've come to the right place because here's The Single MostImportant Component in achieving results: the Principle of Progression.
Is this typical of your current routine? You take one exercise and do it as follows:
Set 1: 10 lbs. for 10 reps Set 2: 10 lbs. for 10 reps Set 3: 10 lbs. for 10 reps
Just looking at this in writing should make it CLEAR that there isn’t a lot going on here, not even the calorie burn, which is most likely all you're aiming for...The human body is an amazing machine. If you constantly introduce the progression overload principle (progressively increasing demands), your body will adapt, become stronger, capable of doing more and hopefully grow muscle. Progression in your current work out would now look something like this (it can be applied to any exercise) so, next time, aim for this:
Set 1: 15 lbs. for 10 reps Set 2: 15 lbs. for 8 reps Set 3: 15 lbs. for 8 reps
If you can’t get 10 reps the first time you use a new weight, don’t sweat it! At the very least, it's going to wake your body up and most likely, you'll be sore! Keep it up until you can get 10 reps and then increase the weight. Maybe your next goal will be to do Set 1 at 20 lbs. for 8 reps; Set 2 at 20 lbs. for 6 reps, Set 3 at 20 lbs. for 4 reps. Don’t let this bother you! I’ve heard so many clients tell me they felt their workout wasn’t good when they first tried this. When asked why, they all said it was because they didn't get 10 reps! I’ve always reminded them that the goal was never to get 10 reps! There are many approaches to progression overload-the goal is always to become better and that’s not about a rep count. The count is just a guideline so you know when you are progressing. Believe me, now you will start to see your body change. You just have to ask it, and this is how you do that!
This ties right in to the next part of why your workout may not be representing! Did you not notice the opening photo, referring to the No Pink zone? If you are super attached to those cute little things that should just be used as paper weights, then just keep on doing like you're doing and get the same results (that would be: NONE). See the woman below?
She is trying hard not to laugh when the photographer asked her to strike a muscle pose with the PD (pink dumb bell) as she can clearly see there's no correlation betweenit and muscle mass. So, just donate yours to the Museum of Worthless Artifacts and graduate to real tools for fitness:
Now here's something we can work with! Do NOT be distracted by the other pretty colors you may pass on the way to the rack above:
These are just as pointless as PINK. Unless-you are extremely weak, recovering from an injury and truly MUST start with an extremely light weight, in which case, I take back all the criticism and acknowledge that it IS important to start some place. Personally, I wouldn't let anyone see me using these and would work like crazy to progress to the serious color of BLACK. Just kidding! But-please don't tell me you are afraid of The Black Rack because you think it will give you manly results! While I have already discussed this in a few of my previous blogs, I will say it again: unless you are a genetic freak of nature or juicing, weight training will not deliver huge muscles to women. Oftentimes, it won't even deliver them to men. Many factors go into gaining muscle and I rarely see women utilizing them-those that do can tell you that it's a process, it doesn't happen over night and takes serious commitment.
If you've graduated to the Dark Side of the gym, good on ya! If you've been there for a while and still aren't seeing results, take a close look at what you're doing. Did you move up in weight and then stop, deciding the 15 or 20 lb. dumbbells were good enough? Do you do the same exercises, in the same order, and possibly even with bad form? This last point can be tough because there are few people that truly understand good form (yes, even trainers!). I see it so often that it seems to be the norm. I used to be tempted to help but have found that this is more often met with defensiveness. While I always preface help with "Would you be interested in how to make that exercise more effective?", this is most often heard as "You're doing that wrong" and no one wants to hear that. And, sometimes it's hard to break from what we've been doing-even if the results are less than stellar. Breaking bad form means upsetting muscle memory. Ask a golfer how hard that can be to do! Ever heard the phrase 'Practice makes perfect'? Think of it this way: it only makes 'perfect' if it's been perfect practice. Men are particularly prone to the use of bad form in lieu of heavy weight so if you've been watching guys do exercises and you copy them because you think they should know what they're doing, just remember the Herd mentality. You'd do far better to find a woman who looks like she knows what she's doing and ask her advice. Go an additional step beyond that and follow up on what she advised by doing your own research. My favorite source is still bodybuilding.com
Bottom line? If you want all the hard work to be visible, make sure it's hard work. Remember-if it were easy to do, everyone would be doing it! One of the best parts of training, to me, is the transference to other parts of your life. You do become stronger physically but the mental gains may make you feel like a snack-size buddha!
And don't forget your training partners: diet, rest, patience and consistency. If you don't invite them to the party, there will be no celebration.