January 25, 2017
If you’re working out but not seeing results, one of these reasons could be why.
Crazy, but true: You could be actually wasting time at the gym. No, this isn’t an excuse to cancel all of your gym classes and type “pizza on the couch” into your Google calendar (as tempting as that might be), but, rather, an ~opportunity~ to become more efficient. After all, no one wants to slog through hours at the gym only to see the same results they’d see if they stapled their own bodies to the couch. So what out for these ways you might be messing with your workout.
1. YOU’RE SUPER STRESSED OUT
Whether work has been crazy, your love life (or lack thereof) is making you anxious, or the fact that people are literally predicting the end of the world is just too much for you, all that stress is wreaking havoc on your gym goals. That’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, has been proven to lower your self-confidence and squash your competitive edge. What does that have to do with the gym? Well, if you’re feeling shitty about yourself and don’t feel any desire to push yourself better, there’s really nothing motivating you to hit the gym — or work hard while you’re there.
2. YOU DON’T FEEL CONFIDENT ABOUT YOUR BODY
You might think this is a reason you would want to go to the gym, but the number one reason people skip the gym is actually lack of confidence in their body. In fact, 75 percent of women say they want to go to the gym, but fear of judgement keeps them at home, according to a survey by Sport England, a group that provides services and funding to sport in the U.K. No one should fear judgement at the gym, but if that’s what’s holding you back, start your own fitness routine at home.
3. YOU’RE WORKING OUT TOO MUCH
Sometimes when you set a goal, you’re ready to go balls to the wall to achieve it — training as often as possible, skipping rest days, etc. But not only is that going to led to some serious burnout, it isn’t doing you any favors. For example: People who ran fast for more than four hours a week were just as likely to die as sedentary people during a study conducted by Danish researchers. The people with the lowest mortality risk were those who kept their jogs short, moderately paced, and limited to less than three times a week. So, like with most things, moderation is key.
4. YOU’RE STRETCHING BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT
Stretching isn’t a bad thing, but it can be if you’re doing it pre-workout. Static stretching (or holding certain positions until you feel the stretch in your muscles) before lifting weights can actually make you feel weaker or slowerduring your workout, research published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found. Not cool! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warm up, but stick to a quick jog or more dynamic movements to maximize your sweat time.
5. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Getting at least seven hours of sleep will help you work out longer and hard the next day, according to research from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. And a study published in the journal Sleep linked poor sleep to poorer physical performance.
6. YOU’RE EATING BREAKFAST BEFORE WORKING OUT IN THE MORNING
There’s an ongoing debate as to whether you should eat breakfast before or after a morning workout, but a Belgian study found that working out on an empty stomach is more likely to prevent weight gain. Basically, exercising in a fasted state forces your body to use it’s energy stores more efficiently, which could lead to weight loss and performance gains. That doesn’t mean you can chow down on anything post-workout, though — stick to a healthy diet or you’ll cancel out the benefits.
7. YOU’RE DRINKING AFTER YOUR WORKOUT
Here’s an interesting correlation: People tend to drink more on the days they exercise, says research published in Health Psychology. The researchers didn’t find a direct influence on workout performance (that wasn’t the goal of this study), but anyone who’s ever had two glasses of wine on an empty stomach after a workout can probably attest to the fact that the following day’s motivation to hit the gym will be…subpar at best. Instead of rewarding yourself with alcohol post-workout, try a decadent smoothie that can actually help weight lossweight loss.
8. YOU DON’T HAVE A GOAL
You don’t have to sign up for a marathon or pledge to fit back in your college jeans, but setting some kind of goal will make your workout easier. Researchers at New York University found that simply imagining a finish line can make the end of your run — you know, the part where you kind of feel like you’re going to die — feel easier. It doesn’t just have to apply to running — try imagining what the end of your rep set will look like, or picture savasana (ahhh) in the middle of yoga class.
9. YOU’RE TRYING TO BE PERFECT
Goals are great, whether you’re trying to nail that eight-count sequence in your dance cardio class or hoping to run a race in a certain amount of time. But obsessing over the minutiae of that goal can backfire. There’s a distinct correlation between perfectionism and burnout, according to a meta-analysis of 43 studies published in Personality and Social Psychology Review. The research showed that perfectionists are not likely to adapt their goals to their circumstances, and “perfectionist concerns” lead to negative emotions like stress (see #1) and total burnout (see #3). But! “Perfectionist strivings” — or high standards that you work towards consistently — can actually help you reach your goals. So cut yourself some slack!