Finding Success at the Gym: How to Stay Consistent
We currently live in an “on-demand” society, where we have grown to expect having a lot of the things we want as quickly as possible, and when that doesn’t happen, folks begin to get frustrated. When it comes to fitness, it’s unfortunate because this can lead to poor decisions out of desperation.
While, when it comes to the beginners, it is not uncommon for many of these folks to be able to shed fat and/or build muscle mass in a matter of weeks, but this is not going to last forever. Additionally, as we age, fat loss becomes a lot harder and muscle will dwindle away.
One of the greatest motivations to remaining consistent with working out happens when you can see the results, whether in the mirror or the clothes you wear. However, what about the folks that aren’t seeing the results. For many of them, they might feel like they’re not making any progress and that they’re just spinning their tires. If this is you, understand that you’re still making a giant difference for your body, especially if you’re exercising consistently and eating healthy, so you shouldn’t let the number on the scale convince you otherwise.
Here are a couple tips to help you remain consistent with your workouts.
Fitness Trends Suck
Every year, millions of Americans jump on the bandwagon for the latest workout trend that’s sweeping the nation, and just as fast, they jump right off after a couple of weeks. So often, this has a lot to do with the style of training being too difficult or flat-out unenjoyable, and sometimes, these trends can actually be dangerous, namely for beginners.
I had a client who told me about how she tore her meniscus while doing P90X. She started feeling discomfort in the knee, but didn’t let that deter her because she was determined to lose those 20 lbs. Since she was a total beginner to working out and still relatively young being in her early 30s, she thought nothing devastating was going to happen. Then came the day where her knee completely gave out and had to undergo surgery, followed by months of physical therapy. The moral of this story is that you have to listen to your body and know when it is time to ease up on the gas.
There’s no guarantee that you’re going to enjoy the latest fitness trend, nor that you are skilled enough to properly handle it. For example, I hate to admit it, but my flexibility isn’t great, so had I jumped on the hot yoga bandwagon, there’s a really good chance that I would have experienced the worst cramp EVER. Before you sign up for any new workout program, be comfortable with identifying your limitations and understand that some of the latest trends may not be suitable for you at this point, but they may be later down the road.
Do you know about the V Shred guy on YouTube? I see the ads all the time and decided to see what was the story behind him. The first red flag was a total lack of education in Nutrition posted on his LinkedIn profile, instead I believe he graduated with a bachelor’s or master’s in business administration. Since I know how much hard work is required to get a Master’s in Nutrition, I get really skeptical about those that are “self-taught”. One thing that had me cracking up was about a supplement his company sells, in which he said the research showed the test group lost twice as much fat compared to those that were given the placebo. The placebo group lost 0.5 kg and the test group lost 0.9 kg, so he’s literally touting losing 14 oz as something worth spending $60 on supplements. Think about that for a second.
Hiring a Personal Trainer
Do you have to hire a personal trainer to get fit? Of course not, but there are many benefits to working with a personal trainer, whether you are a total beginner and newbie to the fitness community, as well as someone who has trained as a competitive athlete for several years. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and make it seem like every trainer is perfectly qualified for the job. In fact, when I moved to El Paso, I was talking with one other trainer about single leg deadlifts and asked him if he ever does them, in which he said no. I followed up with citing research indicating improved performance when single leg variations are included in a training program, and his response floored me. He said he doesn’t read any research because things change all the time — completely oblivious that that is the main purpose of scientific research, to update and advance knowledge. But I digress — make sure you conduct a lot of research about a trainer and ask a bunch of questions, instead of thinking that one is an expert because he/she has a great physique.
Have you ever wondered why gyms are always so packed at the start of the New Year, then they dwindle back to the normal numbers after a couple weeks? Much has to do with these people being motivated at the start, but as the honeymoon stage of the fitness journey begins to fade, they don’t have someone there to keep them accountable. When you’re working with a personal trainer, you literally have someone waiting for you and having a set time to show up to the gym.
One of the most effective tools that I use to help my personal training clients to understand when I want to see them do is the camera on my phone. I usually set it up at different angles for each set, then show my clients what needs improvement. By helping clients identify their technique errors and listening to my instructions to correct it, they can learn the proper way to perform exercises in much less time.
Let’s be honest, when you’re a beginner, it can be difficult to stay motivated about working out, especially once the honeymoon phase with going to the gym has passed. A good personal trainer can help you push yourself to work hard in your training sessions, as well as being able to identify when something is off and the intensity has to be turned down a bit. There are going to be some days where you just don’t feel like working out, in which a good trainer will remind you of the reason why you started working out, and you will be surprised about what you’re body is capable of doing.
Changing Things Up
When it comes to eating, I’m one of those weirdos who can literally eat the same thing everyday without batting an eye. In fact, when I moved to Philadelphia, I was rowing with Penn AC Rowing Club, which meant that I had practice before and after work on most days. Because of this, I would always eat spaghetti for lunch — shout out to Trader Joe’s Bolognese pasta sauce! However, I understand that not everybody is like this, particularly when it comes to their workouts. If you find yourself getting bored of your workouts, it might be in your best interest to change things up.
Getting bored with working out can be problematic for beginners because you need to have a reason to keep yourself excited about going to the gym. Boredom can be a major barrier to consistency in your fitness journey. In reality, most people are unwilling to stick with workouts that bore them, and if you find yourself in this situation, I’d suggest you start exploring new options.
One of my favorite benefits of changing things up with your training regimen is that it allows you to learn new skills. For example, taking a kickboxing class will have you feeling like a fish out of water in the beginning, as well as feeling soreness in muscles you never knew existed. But, after a couple months, kickboxing will feel more natural and you will notice that you can kick the heavy bag with way more power than when you started. By trying new exercises, this can be very rewarding and motivating.
Personally, I like training to build strength, but being 40, I know that can be really taxing on my old body. For this reason, I periodize my training regimen, such as three months of strength-focused training, followed by one month of metabolic (high repetition-low weight) training, and two months of training for hypertrophy (gaining and conserving muscle size), and repeat. Switching up the routine can help prevent burnout by keeping workouts interesting and challenging.
Being consistent with your training is at the backbone of any hope to reach your fitness goals — it’s never going to come overnight. Stop trying to find what’s the latest trend or what promises the fastest results, and start finding something that you find to be the most enjoyable for you.
Coach Julio is an expert in fitness and nutrition, having helped hundreds of busy professionals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s be healthy, as well as offering nutritionist counseling services. He works out of El Paso, Texas, but also offers remote nutritionist counseling and online personal training. Coach Julio’s expertise is backed by over eight years as a personal trainer and a Master’s degree in Nutrition.
For information about working with Coach Julio for online personal training and nutritionist services, visit https://www.365physique.com