It can be so frustrating if you are exercising regularly and not getting the results you expected. You’re working out regularly and watching what you’re eating. However your fitness isn’t improving and you don’t feel like you’re “toning up” or getting stronger. Maybe you’re seeing minimal weight loss results, or your goal of entering that half marathon seems way out of reach?
There could be many underlying reasons why you’re not getting results from your fitness program. You may even need to get professional advice from a personal trainer or a health care practitioner. First, let’s look at some of the common reasons you’re not getting results.
Lack of sleep
It’s sometimes claimed to be over rated – particularly by busy people – but lack of sleep is important on a number of levels. For starters, short sleep duration can impact the levels of important hormones, which regulate appetite. These are called leptin and ghrelin. If these hormones are out of whack you might find it hard to make healthy food choices. Highly processed, sugar rich food options could become more appealing to you on days like these, and you’re probably aware that your nutrition choices are very important when it comes to supporting your exercise efforts.
Inadequate sleep can also affect your exercise performance. Exercise is a stressor for the body. Add that stressor to your sleep deprived state and you could easily find yourself having troubles with recovery, illness, injury, and pushing your physical limits.
Poor nutrition habits
Even if a lack of sleep isn’t causing you to make poor food choices, are you fuelling your workouts appropriately? You need to consider both your fuel sources leading up to your workout and how you are going to refuel and aid the recovery process afterwards. Protein, carbohydrates, fats, and hydration are all important factors. Planned carefully they’ll help ensure you get the most out of your workout and achieve the level of performance you’re striving for.
The British Nutrition Foundation offers some important advice on fueling your body for exercise. In general, simple and complex carbohydrates, as well as hydration levels play important roles in providing fuel for your workout, and also in pushing yourself to the next level during your workout. Protein and carbohydrates both play important roles in recovery. Speak with a nutritionist if you’re not sure whether your nutrition choices are helping or hindering you.
Over or under training
Over training and under training can both have a similar outcome – lack of results. When you under train you’re basically not doing enough to elicit a change. You’re not exercising frequently enough, or perhaps not hard enough to achieve “overload”. When you over train you’re either training too often or too hard (“overreaching”). Your body isn’t getting the rest and recovery it needs to perform well and help you achieve the incremental gains you’re after.
If you’re not getting stronger or fitter, take a look at the variables within your program. These include frequency, intensity, time, type and enjoyment. You also need to look at your program over the long term. How long is it since you’ve had a “rest week”? If you’re pushing and pushing for months on end you might be surprised that a rest week can help you to come back faster and stronger. Ideally your program should be put together by a fitness trainer because they will understand how to set these variables in line with the results you want to achieve.
You’ve reached a “plateau”
You could in fact be doing things “right”. You’ve got a well-designed program and the variables within it have been well planned out. You’re eating nutritious meals and getting good quality sleep but you’re frustrated that you’re not achieving the results you want to.
How long have you been doing the same program for? Has your body simply adapted to it and is it time for a change? A personal trainer can help you to tweak or change just a few aspects of your program, which could be all you need to step things up to the next level. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with your program; it just needs a little adjustment to help challenge you that little bit more.
It’s also worth noting that if you have been working out consistently for a long time, the gains you see over time are likely to get smaller. Think about an athlete whose specialty is short distance running. Shaving a second or two off their running time could be seen as a very big improvement or “gain”. This is because they’re already at the top of their game and may be closer to their “ceiling” in terms of performance.
The bottom line
The good news is that there is a solution for your lack of results. You may need to investigate and tweak a few things before you discover the answer, but it is out there! If you don’t think any of the above factors are responsible, then it’s worth chatting with a health practitioner who can address underlying health concerns such as hormone imbalances.
Do you think you need to make changes to any of the above areas? If so, please leave a comment in the box below – we’d love to hear your thoughts. Tell us about any changes you’re going to make, or any adjustments you’d made in the past that have helped you to accelerate your results.