You have been hitting the weights for months or even years, and you are still lifting the same weights for the same number of sets and reps.
What’s wrong? Why are you not seeing results in the gym?
Here are some common reasons, and some suggested solutions that will help you move to the next level!
1. Lack of goals/not pushing yourself
This is probably the biggest reason people fail to make progress. We all fall into this rut from time to time. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you ever get there? If today’s workout wasn’t better than the last one, how do you expect to get anywhere?
How to fix it:
-Start right now by writing down a short term goal. (It is absolutely critical that you write these down in detail. Down the road, you will look back at these and laugh at how far you have come!)
Your first goal should be something you know you can attain with just a little more effort. Here are some examples:
- I am going to start using 30 lb dumbells for bicep curls instead of 25’s.
- I am going to do a total of 20 pull ups during every back workout, no matter how many sets it takes.
- I will use a heavier weight than I normally use on my last set of every exercise.
- I will take every final set to complete failure.
- Instead of doing 3 sets of 12 reps, I will increase the weight and do 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
After you reach your first goal, set a bigger goal that will take a bit more effort, and so on. After you complete a few goals, set a really big goal that is realistic, but something you never considered before. Maybe set a goal to bench press 225 for 10 reps or 315 for 10 reps. Be sure your goal is something that you believe is possible, but at the same time makes you a little scared that you may never get there!
There was a time years ago that I was doing inclined dumb bell chest presses with 60 pound dumb bells. That was it. Every workout I would work up to 60 pounds and do maybe 8-10 reps. Then, a friend challenged me to set a higher goal.
I set a goal of 80 pounds. So I started ending every chest workout with 70 pounds, and doing as many as I could. It started with 2 reps, then 3, and before long, I was up to 10 reps with 70 pounders! Then, I started with 80’s and so on, and in a few months, I was doing 100’s for 6 reps!
All because I decided to set a goal and work toward that goal at every workout. Goals will give you motivation and someting to move towards.
In this particular example, Now, I did not increase the weights EVERY workout. I wasn’t always able to do more every single time. I was just goal-oriented and made a huge effort to improve toward the goal.
2. Using Bad Form
If you are not performing an exercise properly, you will not get the result the exercise was meant to produce. I see guys at the gym loading up the barbell or dumbells and performing bicep curls using the momentum of their upper body movement to “throw” the bar up to their shoulders. I am not saying that this sloppy form won’t build any muscle, but it will NOT build as much bicep muscle as the same exercise using strict form, and forcing the bicep to do most of the work. Besides, you stand a good chance that you will injure your back or pull a muscle with sloppy technique. Then the only person you will impress is your doctor, and not in a good way!
After all, it is not the weight of the bar that builds the muscle, it is the amount of work the muscle must perform that causes it to grow. Lower the weight and make the target muscle do the work.
How to fix it:
- Look on reputable Website for information on the proper way to execute your exercises.
- Ask a friend or someone at the gym who looks like they know what they’re doing to look at your form and give you some tips.
- Watch yourself in the mirror and be critical about how it looks, and fix anything that looks sloppy.
3. Lack of Variety
If you do the same exercises in the same order for every work out, your muscles will get used to that particular stimulus and they will stop responding.
How to fix it:
- Every month or so, do something completely different such as using different exercises for a particular bodypart. For example, try bicep cable curls instead or using a barbell, if you do a lot of bench presses, change it to dumbbell presses instead. For your back, instead of bent over rows, try T-bar rows or cable rows.
- Simply do your exercises in a different order. Maybe do your isolation moves before compound exercises.
- Try doing your reps at a slower pace. (this is brutal) For example, when doing bicep curls, take a full 8-10 seconds to raise the weight and another 8-10 to lower the weight.
- Another way to change things up is to use a different set/rep sequence. For example, if you usually do 3 sets of 10 reps, try a heavier weight and do 2 or 3 sets of 5-6 reps. Using lighter weight and doing higher reps, somewhere in the range of 12-to 15 is also a possibility.
4. Crappy Diet
Just because you are trying to gain muscle (weight) doesn’t mean it’s ok to eat anything and everything in sight, especially if it’s junk food.
How to fix it:
- The most important aspect of your diet when trying to gain muscle is that are you you are getting at least 1 g of high-quality protein per pound of body weight per day. (this means EVERY DAY, not just workout days) That means lots of red meat, fish, dairy products, and other whole foods sources of protein throughout the day.
- The most convenient source of protein is powder supplements. If you are a 200 pound bodybuilder you need at least 200 g of protein in each and every day. A protein shake in the morning and a protein shake at night can easily take care of 50 to 70 of those grams. The rest should come from real food.
- Minimize your intake of junk food. I’m not saying never! I’m just saying not a lot.
- Eat lots of complex carbs like yams, oatmeal, and other high fiber foods.
5. Lack of commitment
Life is always getting in the way of your goals. But if you’re serious about your physical fitness in improving your muscle mass, you need to make your workouts are priority. Most workouts can be done and 60 minutes or less if you don’t dillydally around the gym!
You need to work out each body part 1 to 2 times per week, every week in order to make real progress. If you take a couple of weeks off here and there you’re not going to make significant gains.
OK, those are my top five reasons why you are not making progress in the gym. They are not in any particular order, because all of them will kill your progress.
There are certainly other reasons that could be at play such as a really horrible personal trainer! But for the most part if you set goals and strive for them consistently, watch your diet and make sure you’re doing the exercises properly you should make good gains.