You’ve been diligent. You’ve counted calories, carbs, grams of fat and protein—even bites. You’ve also been a regular at the gym. You’ve been doing everything right but when you look in the mirror or step on a scale, the results you’ve been waiting for just aren’t happening. If you’re not getting results, your workout is the culprit. Here are the five most common mistakes you’re making and how to fix them so you can see results.
1. Pre and Post Workout Nutrition
Before you even get to the gym, chances are you’re already sabotaging your workout. Exercise in any form puts a strain on your body. If you aren’t feeding your body what it needs to support it through that strain, how can you possibly expect it to transform into anything new? You can’t! According to London-based nutritionist Keith Cormican, RD, pre and post workout meals are vital and should be relatively easy to implement: “You should be eating a meal with approximately 30 grams of lean protein, 30 grams of complex carbs and 5 grams of healthy fats an hour or two before you workout and up to an hour after.”
2. Having a Plan or a Trainer
You need to have a proven workout plan or a qualified trainer to have a successful workout. According to Kendall Wood, NASM-CMS, and co-author of Core Fitness Solution (Quartous, 2015), there are three types of people who come to the gym: “The person who has a plan and has focus, the person who has a trainer and is attentive to that direction and the person who is lost.” Wood went on to say that if you’re the latter of the three “you generally lack the knowledge and end up wandering around, half-heartedly going through the motions—and that’s just not a workout.” The solution is to have a plan: “Hire a trainer or get a workout plan from a trainer and follow it on your own, workout with a friend who has a plan or seek out more published information and formulate your own plan with some help from a certified professional—find focus in the gym and you’ll see results.”
3. Maintaining Form
Most people have no idea how to actually do the majority of the exercises in their workout. The sad truth is that almost everyone in the gym does at least one exercise wrong every workout. Why is proper form so important? According to Wood, “When you aren’t performing exercises properly, you aren’t harnessing the muscles in the way that they were intended and you’re putting undue strain on your joints, resulting in possible injury.” Wood added that “even when doing lighter reps, proper form will result in better endurance, stability and weight management—just moving the weight without following the science will not.”
4. Limiting Rest Between Sets
Your body needs a break between short bursts of lifting heavy or long sets of lighter reps. Those rest periods are vital, but they may also be derailing any physical progress. One of the most respected training approaches today is high intensity interval training (HIIT). The benefits of HIIT are numerous and well publicized. It’s chief underlying principle is that you gain more from a workout when you keep your heart rate up through intense bursts and limited rest. Recent research from the Scripps Research Institute has also confirmed that short intense workouts produce the best results. According to Wood, “While there’s no defined formula for every person, the average person should aim for about 30 minutes of weight training and 30 minutes of HIIT cardio each day—with minimal rest periods.”
The biggest mistake most people make with respect to drinking water is that they only drink it when they’re thirsty. Most health professionals and organizations alike have espoused the idea that everyone should drink eight glasses of water each day. While that’s a great benchmark, the exact amount you need is a little more complex. Since we’re all different shapes and sizes, prevailing research published in several journals like Obesity indicates that every day we should shoot for consuming half an ounce of water for every pound we weigh. Furthermore, experts recommend that if you want to get more out of your workout, you should up that to a full ounce for every pound.