Heather Marr is an N.Y.C.-based personal trainer and The Model Trainer Method creator, whose A-list client roster includes some of the world’s most famous supermodels. Ahead, she shares five very likely reasons you’re not reaching your fitness goals.
We’ve all been there or know someone who has. You’re slaving away at the gym and trying to make the right nutrition choices but are still falling short of reaching your goals. Putting in all the work without reaping any of the rewards can be extremely frustrating. And it’s a common reason why people lose motivation and abandon their new healthy lifestyle altogether.
I’m here to tell you there is a reason (or two) behind your lack of progress. Find out which one sounds most familiar to you.
1. You Haven’t Committed to a Fitness Plan
This is especially true for someone who is new to working out. Without knowledge of exercises that target specific muscle groups, the recommended amount of reps you should be doing and the best time to take a rest day, we are essentially clueless at the gym. The problem with this is that our workouts are not being geared toward our goals, thus preventing us from reaching them altogether. Luckily, there are plenty of options for new exercisers who may not have the knowledge to design their own programs or training splits. Hiring a personal trainer is of course a great choice but may not be affordable for everyone. For those on a budget, online training is an excellent option. There are many training websites with free programs and exercise demo videos.
2. You’re Not Lifting Heavy Enough
Unfortunately, this is still a common problem we regularly see in the gym. There’s still a misconception that lifting heavy weights will lead to a bulky or masculine frame. This is absolutely not true. You cannot turn into The Hulk unless your diet supports it. It takes years of discipline, extremely challenging training and nutrition to develop large amounts of muscle. This does not happen by accident or overnight. The fear of becoming bulky has led some gym goers who are in search of “toned” physiques to lift very light weights for high repetitions. This essentially serves as a warm-up set or light cardio and will not result in the aesthetic they are striving for. What “toned” really means is low body fat over the muscle. Heavy lifting in combination with a smart nutrition plan and cardio will result in a lean, fit and “toned” physique.
3. Your Meal Portions Are Still Too Big
In order to lose weight, we must be in a deficit. This means our bodies have to be using more energy than we are taking in. If we adopt a new healthy eating plan – replacing junk with more nutritious choices – we must still be aware of how much we are eating, even of these healthy foods. Portion control is always necessary when weight loss is a goal. I recommend using measuring cups and measuring spoons for a few days as a reality check on portion sizes. It is a common problem for people to believe they are having one serving of starch or fats for instance, when in reality they are having several at a time.
4. You’re Buying into Marketing vs. Nutrition
Companies are in business to make money. They are trying to attract you and sell you their products. As consumers, we must educate ourselves and look at the quality and nutrition of the foods we are buying and eating. Reading food labels is vital to know what we are actually putting in our bodies instead of mindlessly reading and buying into the product’s marketing claims. Ingredients on the nutrition label are listed in the order of quantity. By spending an extra minute or two reading these labels while shopping, we may find that some of our current nutrition staples are not the healthy choices we thought they were.
5. You’re Trying to Crunch Your Way to a Six-Pack
In order for definition to show in our core, we first need muscle in that area as well as a low level of body fat, so that we can see that muscle. Often, we see members in the gym doing ab isolation exercises, like crunches, for majority of their gym session. Sometimes these same members do not have a body fat level low enough to show the definition in their core. This is not an effective use of gym time with this aesthetic goal in mind. Instead, prioritize heavy compound moves like squats and deadlifts, incorporate cardio into your training programs and be sure that you’re eating with a deficit to lower body fat levels.