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Did you know that you can make great improvements in strength, muscle tone, and endurance, with just two workouts per week?
If you’re working out two or more times per week and and aren’t noticing any progress, not to worry; your workouts and/or nutrition may just need a little fine tuning.
Below are 5 common areas that could be holding you back from getting noticeable changes in strength and muscle tone. It's important to note that this post applies equally to men and women, and isn't just reserved for the young folk. Some form of fitness progress can be made at any age!
1.Lack of “Progressive Overload"
Are you continually performing the same exercises with the same weights for the same numbers of reps? Have you been doing this for months, or maybe even years? This could be a huge barrier in holding your body back from noticeable change in lean mass and strength. Progressive Overload, in it's simplest definition, states that in order for fitness levels to improve the body needs to apply a new stimulus that is beyond what it has previously experienced.
This can be as simple as increasing the amount of being weight lifted, or, increasing the number of reps lifted with the same weight. It doesn't mean that you have to learn a bunch of new crazy exercises or be going for one repetition maximal effort lifts in the gym. There are many simple shifts in number of sets, repetitions, load, exercise order and groupings, rest periods and more that can easily put you into a state of progressive overload.
2. Over-emphasis on isolation exercises (and not enough emphasis on compound exercises)
Do you spend the majority of your workout time focusing on smaller exercises such as biceps curls, lateral raises, calf raises, and leg lifts? Do you avoid key compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, presses, and pulling/rowing?
Isolation exercises can be effective, but you're much more likely to experience better changes in total body strength, endurance, and muscle gains if you spend more time on the above mentioned compound exercises. I've found that a 2:1 ratio of compound to isolation exercises is equally beneficial both in terms of maximizing time efficiency and garnering results.
3. Too much “shiny object” syndrome:
It can be tempting to look for the newest and coolest program on Instagram, or in the latest edition of Glamour Magazine. Unfortunately, most of the funky exercises that get posted/published aren’t likely to get you the results you’re looking for. Mastering, and subsequently progressing, through the basic compound exercises is a recipe for sustained success. In short, master the basics, and build from there :)
4. Splitting up muscle groups on too many separate days:
Unless you’re an elite level bodybuilder, there’s no need for you to split up your muscle groups over more than 2 separate days.
If you have a separate day for arms, shoulders, chest, back,legs, etc., the chances are that you are likely not training each muscle group frequently enough, and also, over-training each muscle group when you do train it on it's designated workout day.
It would probably be beneficial to switch to a Full-Body workout (done 2-3 times per week) or a 2-Day muscle group split routines (done twice each, per week) such as: Push/Pull, Upper/Lower, Chest/Back/Triceps AND Legs /Shoulders/Biceps... There are many different options to consider for muscle group splits, and I'd be happy provide more details on how to go about choosing which muscles to train on which days. Feel free to drop me a note :)
5. Over reliance on cardio:
Simply put, nutrition is the chief facilitator of fat loss, and resistance training is the prime facilitator for an increase in lean body mass (when coupled with proper nutrition. which includes adequate protein intake). Three potential downsides to doing excessive amounts of cardio include: increasing time commitment, decrease in muscle tone, and an increase in hunger hormones.
Cardio should still be a part of most everyone’s training, but more so from a perspective of improving cardiac health and performance, and/or because you like doing it!
I’ve literally had clients ditch hours of (sometimes) tedious cardio per week while simultaneously dropping fat, getting stronger, and actually IMPROVING their cardio; through focusing on short, but progressive cardiovascular activity.
At the risk of making this list a lot longer, I decided to stop now and will revisit this post with 5 more areas to consider, so stay tuned for Part 2!
If you’re interested in learning about whether or not customized programming would be a good fit for you, feel free to fill out my inquiry form here.
Thanks for reading!
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Kristian Leach is a personal trainer and nutrition coach residing in Calgary, Canada. He is the founder of the KrisFit and Fit Woman For Life online training and nutrition programs.
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