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7 Reasons Your Not Seeing Results In The Gym

One might think that after two degrees and a few certifications my education might be over. Think again, because the real education begins after college graduation. As a professional in the strength and conditioning and personal training worlds I am continuously trying to improve myself. At first thought, it would be easy to assume that with increased knowledge and experience comes a better understanding of what to do and while that is a correct thought I have learned that although I do learn about what to do and what works I actually learn more of what not to do and what doesn’t work. I have a saying that I tell some of my clients that might question when I tell them not to do something. I say, “I may not know everything that works but I do know what doesn’t.” In my opinion, knowing what not to do because it doesn’t work is just as if not more important than knowing what does work. In my experience, you can always find a new strategy or tool that helps you get over a hurdle or plateau, but the things that don’t work never change. These seven things listed below have never helped anyone achieve anything in the past or present, nor will they in the future.

Note: You may notice I don’t talk about the importance of nutrition and sleep/recovery in any of the points listed below. If you don’t realize that those two things are just as important as the act of working out itself then please don’t even bother reading on

1. Lack of Patience

It blows my mind the lack of patience people have in the gym. It’s not just one demographic either. I have worked with high school and collegiate athletes, stay at home moms, business professionals, you name it and almost everyone suffers with a lack of patience at some point. The reason this drives me crazy sometimes is because the lack of common sense some people display the minute they step in the gym. If someone wants to learn how to play the guitar they’d most likely realize that it’s going to take an enormous amount of practice to even learn to play one song correctly and they accept this challenge because well how can you expect to learn a song in the first week if you’ve never played the guitar? But then that same person that hasn’t worked out in three years becomes frustrated that they haven’t gotten their body back that they had three years ago within the first two months of training. I also see people visibly upset that their weight in a certain lift only went up five pounds in one month. Let’s do the math, five pounds per month x twelve months= sixty pounds in a year. Go ahead and ask any experienced lifter if they would turn down an improvement of sixty pounds in a year. The answer is no way in hell. Bottom line: be patient, work hard, and quit crying.

2. Ego

One of my earliest articles was on ego (A Bodybuilders Worst Nightmare). In my opinion, this is the most amusing on the list. I’ve been working out since I was 14 years old and most of the time I don’t have a gym buddy so every once in a while I have to find ways to amuse myself. There is nothing more amusing than finding that person with the inflated ego at the gym. Just watching them walk across the gym amuses me. How they interact with other strangers at the gym, giving unwanted advice to some teenagers, or talking about their 1 rep max no one has ever witnessed brings amusement to my workout. It’s amusing to me because I will see that person six months to a year down the road and they have made zero improvement. The ironic thing is that the people with an inflated ego are the ones that should read this but they don’t realize that I am talking about them. Bottom line, leave your ego at the door. Bottom line: learn from others that are where you want to be, learn what not to do from those that are screwing up, learn from everyone.

3. No Clear Path/Goals

This point is pretty straight forward but no less important. If you don’t know where you are going how do you know when you have arrived? Or better yet how do you even plan the trip? Yes, doing anything is better than doing nothing. But doing something with a purpose is better yet. The goals you set don’t need to be permanent but they can’t change every week either. Having goals, or a why, uh huh see what I did there, will be your motivation and compass. It is harder to skip the gym if in the back of your mind you know you are screwing up a bigger plan rather than just skipping a single day. Bottom line: set a goal, make a plan, and attack it.

4.Fear of Failure

A fear of failure is something I see fairly often in the gym and it breaks my heart. It hits me hard because I know it is a difficult mental hurdle to get past. A common reason people are afraid to fail in the gym is because of the ego that we discussed earlier. They see failure as a hit to their ego, to their perceived awesomeness. I believe that failure is mandatory for success to happen in life and the gym is no different. I try to explain to my athletes and clients to expect failure. Failure is coming whether you like it or not so expect it. If you expect failure to come one day then it doesn’t hit you quite as hard when it does. Sure, it sucks when it happens but if it was part of the plan from the beginning then no big deal, regroup and push forward. Training in the gym for fat loss, strength gains, etc., is not a linear journey. You cannot continue to improve forever without any bumps in the road. It’s physically impossible. Bottom line: expect failure, learn from it, say screw it, and push forward.

5. Inconsistency

This is a no brainer. If you don’t show up regularly you will not see results or the results will be minimal. Period. End of story. And yes, you do have time for twenty minutes a day for an at home interval workout that will burn more fat than the hamsters running on the treadmill or elliptical for an hour every day at the gym.Bottom line: if it’s important to you, you will find time.

6. You Get Bored

I have to be careful not to go on a rant about this topic. Does training need to be boring to be effective? Absolutely not. Will it get boring sometimes? Most likely, yes. If you need your workouts to be entertaining every day the entire time you are working out then you might want to rethink yourwhy.Is your goal to see results or to be entertained? I can honestly say 1000% if someone told me watching paint dry for five hours a day would make me see the results I wanted I absolutely would do it. Of course, there are always ways to make training fun and there are too many for me to begin to list them. That’s not the point I’m trying to make anyways. Bottom line: if you can make training entertaining then absolutely do it but don’t lose sight of why you are training in the first place.

7. Majoring in the Minors

This last point is one that most people don’t even realize they are doing. Majoring in the minors refers to giving major focus to minor details. In my professional opinion, based off of my experiences, your success, no matter what your goal is, is going to come down to you doing anywhere from three to five things correctly and consistently. Yet, for whatever reason I have witnessed people giving a crazy amount of attention to one minor aspect of their training that will have little to no effect on them achieving their goal. I know at the beginning I mentioned I was not going to discuss the importance of nutrition and sleep but a perfect example of majoring in the minors would be stressing about what brand of supplements to purchase when you are sleeping four hours a night and eating processed crap. Guess what? You can spend whatever you want on the “perfect” supplement and if you are sleeping and eating like crap you can say bye-bye to those goals. And that’s not up for debate. An easy way to determine if it’s a minor aspect of training or a major aspect is if you have to think about it, it’s minor. I hope you get the point I’m trying to make because this topic was actually more difficult to discuss than I initially thought. Bottom line is: majoring in the minors, you just know it when you see it. Avoid doing it.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to support the site by subscribing with your email.

Perfecting the Kettlebell Swing

One of my favorite kettlebell exercises is the kettlebell swing, and thanks in part to CrossFit, it is one of the most well-known uses of the kettlebell. As a trainer, there have been many occasions where a client has told me that they have done swings in the past. I always ask to do a few swings and let me observe their technique. After several swings I find myself cringing and stopping them before I watch them injure themselves. Most people do not realize the technique involved with the swing and end up tweaking their lower back. It should be no surprise that swinging a weight in the shape of a ball fast between your legs can lead to discomfort if done wrong. Fortunately for you, I’ve become efficient at teaching the swing using these three steps below.

Step 1: The Hike Pass

  1. Place the bell a foot or so in front of you.
  2. Your feet should be in your power stance. The same or similar stance to the deadlift stance.
  3. Hinge down to the bell by pushing your hips back. Being sure not to lock your knees.
  4. Ensure that your back is flat and tight when you push your hips back.
  5. Grab the bell with both hands and tilt the bell towards you.
  6. Hike the bell high and tight between your legs letting the bell go through your legs and not stopping at your groin.
  7. Return the bell to the starting position on the ground.
  8. Repeat the hike pass until you feel comfortable. (I usually have clients do a set of 5-8)

Tips:

  • Hiking the bell high and tight is a major key in the swing. You want to hike it right at your groin.
  • The bell going to low through your legs will make the swing feel awkward and will put major strain on your lower back.
  • Make sure the bell goes through your legs and doesn’t stop at your groin. So if someone was watching you from the side they would be able to see the bell behind you at the top of the hike pass.

Video Here: Hike Pass

Step 2: Feeling the Weight Shift

  1. Repeat the hike pass but do not return the bell to the starting position.
  2. Instead, let the bell float out in front of you and swing back in between your legs as in the hike pass.
  3. Be sure not to raise your chest or try to stand upwards.
  4. Let the bell swing back and forth being sure it is going high and tight between your legs every rep.
  5. As the bell swings back and forth notice your weight sift from front to back. Do not fight this feeling.
  6. As the bell goes back between your legs your weight should shift to the mid/front of your feet. As the bell swings forward out in front of you your weight should shift to the mid/back of your feet.
  7. Your back should remain flat and tight as the bell swings back and forth and again be sure not to raise your chest or try to stand up.
  8. Repeat until comfortable. (Again, I usually have clients do 5-8 reps)

Video Here: Weight Shift

Step 3: The Full Swing

  1. Repeat the hike pass.
  2. As you hike the bell feel your weight shift in your feet.
  3. As the bell comes forward thrust your hips forward and stand upright.
  4. At the top of the swing you should be completely upright.
  5. Be sure not to arch your lower back.
  6. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the swing.
  7. At the top of the swing the bell should be right at eye level.
  8. Let the bell float back down between your legs high and tight.
  9. Repeat (Except for the hike pass) for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Tips:

  • Thrust your hips forward by driving through your heels.
  • You should never feel like you are on your toes as the bell is coming upwards.
  • You should be able to see over the bell at the top of the swing.
  • Your eyes should follow the bell throughout the entire swing. Do not try to look upwards or forward and do not try to keep a “big chest” as the bell is coming back down between your legs. (This is a very common mistake)
  • Do not “baby” your hip thrust to get the bell going upwards. It should be a quick, powerful movement.
  • If your shoulders are getting tired throughout the swings you are using your arms to swing the bell instead of using your hips. Treat your arms as only ropes hanging onto the bell.

Video Here: KB Swing

Benefits

  1. Great for developing power from the hinge position.
  2. Once soreness disappears from the first few times trying this exercise you will see improved flexibility in your hamstrings.
  3. Can be done for many repetitions and used as a fun way to get your heart rate up (Trust me, do 25 of these consecutively and you will have to catch your breath afterwards)
  4. Activation of your glutes and hamstrings.

Try it Out

Have some fun implementing the kettlebell swing into your training program. Include it in different parts of your workout and see when it best fits you and your goals. Once you are efficient at the swing try all different kinds of weights to get a different feeling each time.

As always, thanks for reading and please support the site by subscribing with your email and stay up to date on future articles.

 

 

Sports Performance Training: Don’t Outsmart Yourself

“What are you doing in the gym today? Arms? Shoulders? Chest? You’re not doing legs, right?”  “No, I did legs last month.”

 That is usually the exchange that goes on between two gym buddies when discussing their upcoming workout. Focusing on one or even two muscle groups a day is a great way to achieve mass and an aesthetic look while also giving you a great pump. These are your typical bodybuilding style workouts. As an athlete, however, the training needs to be different to fit different needs. I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of young athletes over the past few years and it can be challenging at times to explain to them why they don’t train in this classic bodybuilding style. Most athletes, especially when they are young, start working out because their older brother or friends are doing it. They learn quickly that bench press and curls look and feel awesome. They soon realize that girls dig arms, and no one cares about training legs. They view every exercise in terms of what singular muscle it is focusing on and sometimes breaking that muscle down into an even smaller portion (i.e. upper chest.)

When training for athletic performance you can’t look at the body in terms of muscles or even individual body parts.  Instead, think about everything being interconnected.  I like to think of the human body as a big computer; a complex system where seemingly unrelated parts have an effect on how well each other performs. An athletic feat is rarely the result of a single muscle or body part and the training should represent this. Instead of thinking in terms of training a certain muscle, start thinking about training a movement.

The four basic movements are a press/push, a pull, a squat, and a hinge. You’ll find that these are not only the movements of training but these four movements comprise the movements athletes use most often to perform. These are compound movements meaning to perform each of them correctly you will use more than one joint. This coincides with athletic performance in which you use multiple joints at the same time. Because compound movements use multiple joints and therefore multiple muscle groups, you can move the most weight with these exercises. The best way to move those large amounts of weights is with a barbell. As I discussed in one of my previous articles, “Become Strong,” the barbell is simply the best tool to increase strength. The four barbell exercises that best represent the basic movements are the bench press, strict press, squat and deadlift.  Bent over row variations and pull ups are the most common exercises representing the pulling movement.

These compound movements with a barbell have benefits besides increased strength that cannot always be seen with an untrained eye. One of the major benefits is increased neuromuscular coordination. Neuromuscular coordination is how our nervous system coordinates with our muscles and is one of the biggest contributors to athletic success. Other benefits include improved balance, core strength, power, speed and so on and so forth. I will write separate articles for each of these benefits, but for now, this article will simply bring awareness to the fact that the body is a system and that system works as one unit in athletic performance.

A good example of the difference between the typical bodybuilding style workouts and training for athletic performance would be to compare dumbbell raises and the strict press. If you are unfamiliar with the strict press, check out part two of the four part series “Exercises You Aren’t Doing but Should” on this site. Okay yes, you will get a great pump in your shoulders doing dumbbell raises and if done regularly you will start to develop boulders for shoulders. No doubt a great exercise for building an aesthetic look. However, this exercise isolates only the deltoid muscle (isolation being the goal of bodybuilding). On the other hand when performing a standing strict press the body acts as a system. Anyone who has ever done this exercise feels this right away. The tight glutes set a base for pressing the weight; the spinal erectors and core muscles brace the back and transfer energy from the lower body to the upper body; the deltoids and upper chest help initiate movement of the barbell and the triceps help lock the barbell out over head. All of this occurring while neuromuscular connections are making sure you don’t fall over. With one exercise you just became stronger and improved neuromuscular efficiency, core strength, balance, and transfer of energy. All of which will improve athletic performance.

I hope that this article shed a light on why athletes need to train a certain way. Yes, I know that it sounds basic of me to tell athletes to lift heavy weight with a barbell, but if you have read any of my previous articles you know that I believe the simplest ways are the best ways. I too can come up with five different balance exercises that will look cool and make me sound really smart and I could distract you with new and shiny pieces of equipment that wobble and are brightly colored. Or, I can save you a bunch of time and energy and have you pick a heavy barbell off the ground and press it over your head. Did you fall over? No? Good, you can thank me for your improved athletic performance later. Please subscribe to this site and share this article so that I can reach more readers who may be interested in these topics. Thanks!