3 Reasons you've stopped seeing results
I always try to encourage my clients to see that it’s not the destination but the journey that counts, but they look back and me, roll their eyes and say; "The destination is Bali and I have to wear a bikini so make me look good.”
While I know (and love the fact that) not everyone is training for aesthetic based reasons, I think we are in denial if we can't admitt that we are training for some kind of result. After all, time is precious and why should we waste our time training if there is going to be no positive result in some way.
If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in results, then this article is for you. I hope you have some ‘aha’ moments and can apply the tips appropriately.
1. Progressive Overload
When I tell you that your workouts need to get harder over time, what I’m referring to is; the principle of Progressive Overload - probably one of the most important Laws of strength training (if your goal is to get stronger), however, I think it’s one of the most important Laws in all types of training, whether it’s flexibility, agility or strength. You can’t expect to run 40 kilometres if in your training you’re only doing 5k, you can’t expect to perform a handstand if you’re only training push-ups and above all, you’ll never change your body if you always DO, WHAT YOU’VE ALWAYS DONE. The body needs to be pushed in order to adapt.
Now before you start whacking on extra 10 kilogram plates to your squats every week, it’s important to remember this important quote from the Great Bret Contreras:
"Progressive Overload starts with whatever you can do with perfect technical form"
This is a really key thing to acknowledge early on. If you can’t perform a bodyweight squat correctly, then trying a loaded squat is both pointless and dangerous, because your progression will only be reinforcing poor form (which leads to injury or just an undesired aesthetic).
There are so many different ways to apply progression to your training, believe it or not, it’s not just about adding further weight every week.
Sometimes progression is simply adding 2 more repetitions to an exercise, or sitting deeper, or moving in a slightly more complex or unstable way.
Too many people don’t apply this principle correctly and end up either changing too many variables (which can lead to a drop in quality of form or movement) or they don’t change anything at all and have been following the same routine for the last 3 years.
Both of these mistakes can occur in those that go to exercise classes only, and don’t do any training on their own, outside of group classes. Classes are fun, but they certainly aren’t bespoke and will never be able to cater for everyone. You also can’t monitor your progress (unless you bring in your note pad) in classes. If you’re not monitoring your progress, it’s really difficult to know where or when to progress.
Here’s my top tip to track Progressive Overload:
Start tracking your workouts. Note down your reps, weight, exercises and see where there might be room for improvement.
Before you add Load or Reps, ask if there is room for improved form and improved range. If there is, there is no point adding weight to a shitty, half rep squat. Right? Unless you want to be better at doing shit squats.
Then, once you’ve mastered the form, change only one variable (either reps or weight increased) of an exercise every 3/4 weeks, making sure that you are still performing each exercise correctly.
2. No Plan
Fail to plan and you can plan to fail. It’s cheesy and very fitspo (insert eye roll), but it’s true. I recognise it’s not always feasible to have a personal trainer, but jumping from a Hiit class to a barre class on Class Pass or Move GB is only going to get you so far on your health and fitness journey. If you really want results, if you really want to change your body, you need to also take training into your own hands. You need to control the variables and track the exercises you’re doing, along with the way in which you’re going to apply the Overload principle (see above).
If you’re unaware of your starting and middle points, how will you control and determine the outcome, ending and in the case of training, result?
It’s kind of like having GPS on your phone; of course you can get to where you need to go without it, but my GOD IT’S SO MUCH EASIER WITH IT!
Here’s my Top Tip to following a plan:
Buy my book and follow my plan - LOL-A (which stands for; laugh out loud awkwardly; because I’m totally self-plugging my book here but I know it will work). I teach you how to track your workouts, when to progress and of course, provide you with both and food and fitness plan. I hate to get all salesy on you, but I know it works (and so do thousands of other members of the Vertue Crew, practicing the Vertue Method).
3. Under nourished
Too many women are still starving themselves and I’m not referring to those with eating disorders. I’m talking about those that eat lots of food but don’t actually get the nourishment they need in order to develop the body they want or support the training they’re doing.
If you want to be efficient in your workouts, you need to be nourished. If you want to be toned and sculpted, if you want an athletic body, if you want to be fit, strong, lean and agile - you need to eat, not just enough, but enough protein, carbs and fats. Eat too little and you can wreak havoc on your metabolism and endocrine system (hormones) in a way that is often irreversible AND can actually have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.
A lot of the women that I meet, whom are struggling to see results are often not consuming enough protein (to support their training goals), are eating ‘diet’ versions of food (which very often are void of the micronutrients required for optimal metabolic and hormonal function) and are avoiding carbohydrates which actually help to grow muscle tissue (something that is required if you want to be strong, fit and lean) and provide the body with the energy.
Prepare to consider the following things:
You might be eating a lot but what is your food quality like? Is it highly processed? Do you live off deliveroo?
Are you consuming a diet that is balanced, rich in macro and micronutrients and truly nourishes your body and activity? Or, are you trying to reduce your calorie intake in an effort to lose weight without considering the quality of the calories you’re consuming (and the situation under which it’s consumed - eg. You’re stressed AF, speedily eating your lunch at the desk while racing to finish a deadline)?
I don’t necessarily think you need to track your macros but having an awareness of the amount of quality protein you're consuming in a day can be a really eye-opening. More often than not, my clients have found that they aren’t eating ENOUGH! Rather than what much of the ‘diet culture’ suggests which is; ‘Eat Less, Move More’ - that kind of oversimplification makes me want to scream (scream for ice cream).
Here’s an awesome protein consumption breakdown from The Examine.com page that analyses the existing research on protein intake. As with most things related to health and fitness, daily protein intake depends largely on health goals and activity level:
- If you’re of healthy weight and sedentary, aim for 1.2–1.8 g/kg (0.54–0.82 g/lb).
- If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to keep your weight, aim for 1.4–2.2 g/kg (0.64–1.00 g/lb). Try for the higher end of this range, as tolerated, especially if you’re an athlete.
- If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to build muscle, aim for 1.4–3.3 g/kg (0.64–1.50 g/lb). Eating more than 2.6 g/kg (1.18 g/lb) is probably not going to lead to greater muscle gains, but it can minimize fat gains when “bulking” — i.e., when eating above maintenance in order to gain (muscle) weight.
- If you’re of healthy weight, active, and wish to lose fat, aim for 2.2–3.3 g/kg (1.00-1.50 g/lb), skewing toward the higher end of this range as you become leaner or if you increase your caloric deficit (hypocaloric diet).
- If you’re overweight or obese, aim for 1.2–1.5 g/kg (0.54–0.68 g/lb). You do not need to try to figure out your ideal body weight or your lean mass (aka fat-free mass). Most studies on people with obesity report their findings based on total body weight.
- If you’re pregnant, aim for 1.66–1.77 g/kg (0.75–0.80 g/lb)
Hope this helps. Let me know any questions you have below.