There are many reasons why you might not be getting the results you want and are working hard for. The best advice I can give you is this: listen to your body. It’s perfectly possible – and very common – to be doing all the right things, and yet still not get results. So why would this be?
You’re working against your genetics
We now know that genetics plays a huge part in fitness and weight management. Understanding what your DNA says about you if really important to a successful health and fitness program. We’ve seen massive changes in terms of body composition, muscle gains and fat loss using DNA testing. It removes all the guesswork, and allows you to workout according to your genetic strengths.
Here’s the scary headline: stress is one of the single biggest causes of preventable death in the UK. Even when it’s not fatal, it can blight lives and cause a lot of misery. Stress has an incredible impact on the body as well as the mind. Let’s looks at the body first. Exercise will raise cortisol levels, and that’s healthy and normal. However, if there are already elevated levels of cortisol in the blood, and you go out and do a workout, it can have a damaging or counterproductive effect. You might actually be damaging your muscles when they are not well-equipped to repair themselves, lowering your immune response and encouraging inflammation. If you’re feeling very stressed out, you might be better served going for a light jog, a walk or just going home to rest.
There’s not much we can do about this one, except roll with the punches and accept that as we get older, we need to adapt our exercise program and our expectations. The important thing is adaptation – it comes back to listening to your body, and responding to what it needs on a day-to-day and year-on-year basis as you get older. As you age, stretching becomes even more important, and be aware of prioritising quality over quantity. In other words, put the quality of the exercise sessions over the number of sessions you do and how long they are. That’s good advice irrespective of age, but particularly important as from around 35-40 onwards.
The old adage “what gets measured gets done” is valid here. Having a really clearly defined goal will help you to stay focused, it’s as simple as that. You’ll still need to adapt and adjust according to how you’re feeling on any given day, but keep an eye on your main goal and stay focused.
Poor sleep can have a big impact on the success and enjoyment levels of your workouts. If you’re not sleeping well, then your body isn’t necessarily ready for the workout you’re about to give it. You might get through the workout, but you’ll miss out on the benefits if your body isn’t able to cope, whether that’s muscle-building (hypertrophy) or fat-burning. You can monitor your sleep using wearable tech, and then cross-correlate your sleep data against your activity levels to understand how well you’ve recovered and therefore what kind of activity you should plan.
It’s very important to stay hydrated at all times. Note at all times, not just the few days (or even hours) before an event or a workout. Even when you’re 2% dehydrated, your performance will be affected. If you’ve lost more than 5% of body weight, can have a performance impairment of up to 30% (Armstrong et al. 1985; Craig and Cummings 1966; Maughan 1991; Sawka and Pandolf 1990). One of the biggest mistakes I see is people neglecting to drink enough water. I’ve heard all the excuses, from not wanting to go to the loo every hour to not liking the taste. It’s vital to survival and optimum health, just find a way to drink it!
Your training partner
Sometimes your success can be affected by the person you’re working out with. Are you finding that you end up following their workout, the one that they enjoy and get results from? Is that person really supportive of your goals? It might be that you’re better served working out alone, or just doing aspects of your workouts together. Beware training with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife too, as that rarely works in my experience! (Although if it does work, great, stick with it!)
Leanne Spencer is a Fitness Entrepreneur, Author of the Amazon Bestselling book Rise and Shine: Recover from burnout and get back to your best and Founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot specialises in bringing the science of genetics to the world of fitness. Connect with the team @BodyshotPT or Facebook or visit our website at www.bodyshotperformance.com.