Are you struggling to make progress in your fitness journey? Discover common reasons why you may not be progressing and how to overcome them.
by Atomic Mommy Editors
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As we slowly progress into the winter months and the cold or flu symptoms start to appear, this is the time when workouts tend to slip by the wayside. Some people work out through the winter and see incredible results, but anybody embarking on a fitness journey can feel disheartened when they’re not seeing what they expected. While setbacks and plateaus are common in fitness, there are several reasons why you might not be progressing with your exercises as you should. In today’s guide, we are going to address some of the common ones, so read on to learn what might be holding you back.
1. Stress and Mental Blocks
When we examine our workout routines, we have to determine if stress is impacting our abilities to get stronger. Prolonged stress can increase cortisol levels, and this stress hormone can impact our abilities to gain muscle and even lose weight. On a very basic level, we are putting stress on our bodies through exercise, so if we add more stress on top of it, we won’t progress. Therefore, stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or incorporating essential oils can help calm you down.
2. Not Sleeping Properly
Poor quality sleep will result in fatigue and when this is already in addition to the aforementioned stress you will experience slower recovery. Some people can’t recover within 48 hours as per the general guidelines and if this is you and you are indeed poor at recovery despite having 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night you need to start playing with the recovery periods.
If after 48 hours, you feel like you can’t do another workout, wait another 24 hours and you may find the ideal solution. It’s not cut and dry, which is why we must remember that if the goal is to get stronger going back into the gym and pummelling our bodies too soon means that we are depleting our resources which means that we’re going to feel unwell and it will have an impact not just on our ability to gain strength but in every part of our lives.
The exercise scientist Andy Galpin says that there’s a difference between overtraining and overreaching and most of us are firmly in the latter camp. If you are overreaching with your exercise choices you will start to feel fatigued over time. Lots of people think that they can work out every single day but doing proper strength training that exhausts your body should only be done once in a blue moon.
Going for your personal best, in fact, should be only three or four times a year, but most of us think that we need to exhaust ourselves in the gym in order to get any results. However, this flies in the face of what our bodies were built to do. You may think that you’ve got to tire yourself out in order to gain the benefits, but if every other aspect of your life is not conducive to recovery and getting stronger, you will not.
It takes a lot of discipline to not do too much and this is where the three to five concept can be very useful. This is where you do three to five sets of three to five reps with three to five minutes of rest in between or until you feel recovered enough to do the next set with proper form. We should be actively avoiding overtraining and in fact avoiding soreness because soreness is, contrary to popular belief, not a sign that we’ve done a good workout.
4. Improper or Inadequate Nutrition
If you are looking to lose weight you might think that eating less is a good thing and while we need to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, if we are in a dedicated workout regime we can’t be dangerously low in calories because this will result in extreme fatigue and not getting the results we need.
This is also where there’s many different approaches to nutrition and it’s about finding what’s right for you. Some people can train on an empty stomach but others need to fuel themselves with carbs but others also think that they can benefit from just having protein and healthy fats but others need carbs for energy. Get used to what your fuel tank really needs.
If you are looking to progress in your fitness you’ve got to understand some of the many reasons for stagnation. There are many more reasons why you may not be progressing as you think you should, but as long as you are getting better with each workout you can confidently say that you are heading in the right direction.