6 things holding back your fitness progress

It’s 2016 and the hashtags about our health and fitness levels seem to be beating us at our own game; #MotivationalMonday, #TransformationTuesday #HealthyHumpDay #ThighThursday and #FitnessFriday. Keeping up is tough, but doing it well, and to your optimum benefit is even tougher. Thankfully here are six things you may be doing wrong...

#1 Doing cardio and strength together

Many people think it’s better to do cardiovascular training like running before resistance training, but this is not entirely true. The ideal would be to do these two forms of exercise on different days (or one in the morning and one in the evening), so that you can devote maximum effort and get the maximum benefit from each. Any time you do one followed by the other, the second one will suffer at least a little, although you may gradually improve your overall endurance this way. No matter if you want to lose body fat or gain muscle mass, the structure should be a split focus.

#2 Sticking to the same routine

If you continue to do the same type of exercise over and over for a long period of time, your body will quickly adapt and stop progressing. By varying your workout challenges your body will fire up your metabolism; keeping the body guessing. It is also a lot more refreshing and challenging for the mind: think of when you’ve gone for a run in a place you’ve never been, every turn is exciting and by the end of it you’ve had a solid exercise sesh.

#3 You’re not taking breaks

It is important to implement rest days into your fitness regime because the body needs time to recover. Rest days are even implemented in Olympic athlete training plans in order to allow their bodies time to recuperate. This is because as we work out, we place greater strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. Our immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, this system doesn’t have the time to catch up and start patching everything back up. So, if you’re building muscle, you should take a day off from working the same area so the body has time to repair the muscles you’re activating. Otherwise you run a greater risk of injury such as bone spurs, shin splints, muscle tears, tendon shearing and so much more.

#4 You’re losing motivation

Fitness is a lifestyle. It's common to struggle to maintain a routine and, like diets, start and stop frequently. Developing a routine and getting into good habits makes it easier to stay on track, especially if what you do is enjoyable and you’re seeing results. Surround yourself with the energies and messages you need to push yourself in the direction of progress. Paying for the exercise you want to do is a great way of motivating your commitment because you would rather sweat than waste money, right? Another way to motivate yourself is to keep a log of when you exercise, marking all the days when you don’t with a giant ‘x’ – a visual reminder that you need to get your butt into gear.

#5 You don’t have clear goals

It's important to have a goal or objective in mind in order to motivate you to train. Decide what you want to achieve and why, as well as when you want to achieve it by. Try to measure progress by writing it all down, track performance and use any progression as motivation and an incentive to continue. Regularly check your body fat percentage, or the cirucumference of your arms, legs, hip and waist to check your progress. Rewards make great motivators and they're particularly good in the early stages of a fitness programme before exercise has become a reward in itself. You can make your rewards small or big, depending on how hard you work and how good you feel as a result. Things like a weekend away, a chocolate or ice cream after a long week of exercise, or dinner at your favourite restaurant.

#6 Your habits are letting you down

There are a lot of horrible habits we get accustomed to and we don’t realise how they affect our fitness progress. Here’s an overview of the biggest culprits: 

  • Inconsistency: you should be planning your next training session so you can stick to it. Many people tend to struggle to be active regularly and end up training 1x/week, then 3x/week, then not at all/week. Planning your next training session ahead can avoid “forgetting” that you have to train again.
  • Sleep deprivation: your body needs enough good sleep for it to repair properly, and to minimise the craving for unhealthy foods.
  • Protein deficient diets: your body needs protein to recover from your training session and help build more muscle.
  • Eating highly processed foods: the food you are eating has to be of the very best quality (unprocessed) so you can get the most nutrients and get more out of your training sessions.
  • A dehydrated body: as much as a 1% level of dehydration will have a significant impact on your fitness.
  • Highly stressful lifestyles: a stressful lifestyle means the body will prioritise dealing with the stress over repairing the body.
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