7 Things That Make Your Workouts Terrible and Less Effective

If you’ve been working out fairly regularly, but still aren’t seeing the kind of progress you’d hoped for, chances are you might actually be sabotaging yourself during your workouts.

(Don’t worry. We’ve all been there.)

But if you’re putting in all this time, energy and effort into improving your overall fitness and health, you want that time spent - whether it’s in the gym, at home, or wherever life takes you - to ultimately be WORTH IT.

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That’s why I’ve created a list of the Top 7 things that are making your workouts less effective - so you can use these tips to help ensure that your next workout is a total success!

1. Not Eating Enough Calories  

If your goal is to gain muscle, but you’re not eating more calories than your body burns per day, your workouts will never be effective. This is because you can only gain size when eating at a caloric surplus. Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes, brown rice, or whole grain bread) in order to promote muscle growth. On the other hand, if your goal is to lose fat, but your caloric deficit is too low, your body will not have enough energy to work at its peak condition. Make sure you are eating enough calories to sustain your lifestyle (even while you’re cutting down, you should never be eating so little that you cannot complete a workout). If you’re feeling tired, sluggish or like the weights or workload is a lot more than it typically is, there’s a good chance you haven’t eaten enough.

2. Not Eating Enough Protein

One of the most common factors that affect our progress in the gym is not eating enough protein. Not eating enough protein prevents your muscles from fully recovering from your workouts. Not enough protein = no muscle growth = an ineffective workout. The average person should eat between .8 to 1.3x their weight in grams of protein. This means that a 130lb person should aim to consume between 104g and 169g of protein per day, depending on their physical goals. Remember: the more muscle we have on our bodies, the more calories we are able to burn in a day. We WANT to maintain or grow as much muscle as possible! So, be sure to eat enough protein in order to get there.

3. Poor Programming

The way you program your weekly workouts has a lot to do with how effective it is in terms of reaching your desired goals. If your goal is to gain muscle but you’re doing lots of cardio, chances are you won’t be seeing the results you want. On the other hand, if your goal is to lose fat, but you’re doing lots of cardio and not incorporating any weight lifting, chances are you may lose pounds for a short period of time, but your body won’t change in the way you want it to. The muscle may weigh more than fat, but it takes up less space in the body. Incorporating a challenging strength training routine with a bit of cardio here and there is the best way to lose fat, gain muscle and completely alter your body composition to look more toned, tighter and leaner.

4. Improper Form

Poor form can not only result in serious injury, but it can also prevent you from seeing your desired results. Try checking online for video demonstrations of certain exercises you may not be comfortable with before jumping into them to ensure you’re doing it the right way. While performing each movement, make sure you can concentrate on feeling the muscles contract and work through each exercise - known as the “mind to muscle connection”. If you’re not finding yourself feeling the right muscles working during a specific exercise, such as your legs or glutes, try adding resistance bands to help focus the tension on that particular muscle group. It’s also important to make sure you’re not speeding through the movements or overextending your joints.

5. Overtraining

If you are just starting a new workout program training 5-6 times per week, but you’ve only previously been exercising 1-2 days per week, you may be overtraining. Your body will always give you signs of overtraining and fatigue, such as soreness, tiredness, dizziness, etc. If you’re feeling any or a combination of these things, chances are you need to slow things down and allow your body enough time to rest and recover before jumping into your next workout. The more you train without recovering, the more muscle you will eventually LOSE, because it won’t have time to repair itself before you add more stress and break down more tissue.

6. Inconsistency

If your training program is very inconsistent (training 1-2 times in Week 1, skipping Week 2, training 5x in Week 3...etc), or if you’re not training your muscles regularly (ex. focusing on upper body 3x per week, but lower body only once a week), chances are your inconsistent training program is not making it any easier for you to achieve your goals. The proper training program is one that gives you adequate rest but continues to work your muscles on a regular basis. Finding the “perfect” training program is different for each person, but if you’re constantly falling off the wagon or jumping from program to program with no clear focus, then inconsistency may be the problem.

7. Stress/Psychological Factors

If you’re stressing out about work, worrying about something your best friend said, or experiencing any other psychological challenges during your workout, your body, unfortunately, pays the price, too. Try to remind yourself to “check your worries at the door” before you begin. Just leave behind everything that’s bothering you right now and use your workout as a way to escape that mentality. (Don’t worry - those worries will be waiting for you when you finish if you want them back. Chances are, you won’t, and you’ll have a much better and more productive session in the long run.)