Here are 7 reasons in my opinion that may be holding you back from achieving your goals, and how to fix them.
1. You focus more on quantity over quality
The problem: Doing more does not equate to more fat loss, or a better physique, and will only fatigue you over time. Your body is very efficient, and much smarter than you give it credit for, and all your doing is wasting whatever energy reserves you have just moving, instead of focusing on preserving. When dieting, your goal should be to preserve as much muscle mass as possible, as this will ensure your losing mostly fat. Muscle is way more active and requires way more calories than body fat to survive and all your doing is giving your body a reason to retain body fat, and utilise your hard earned muscle mass as fuel source, which will slow down your metabolism, limit your food intake, and makes it much harder in future to lose any weight.
Not lifting anywhere near your true potential is not only a waste of energy when used as your sole form of exercise, but also very energy depleting. If your body is not fed properly, it will gladly waste muscle mass to survive.
My solution: train smart, big compound lifts, all over body 3-5 times per week, with the focus being on progressive overload (getting better over time).
If you’re getting stronger on a diet, there's no way your losing muscle mass, and whatever does come off will be mostly body fat.
I would use classes as a form of cardio or to spend time socialising with others as it's ok to also do the things you like.
In my experience training this way with supersets, giant sets, reduced rest and lots of variations (think moving from the ground to a squat, rotations etc) will elicit the best results, especially with female clients.
2. You focus more on variety over consistency
The problem: I get it, variety keeps you from getting bored, but here's the problem. You’re not allowing the body to adapt to the training stimulus, and through adaptation we evolve, build muscle, and make physical changes.
Q. But wait, does variety not keep the muscles guessing?
A., You cannot, I repeat cannot trick a muscle, you’re only changing the training stimulus forcing new adaptation. Muscles only know how to contract and relax and again cannot be tricked.
My solution: have one main lift per body part where you focus on strength and skill, every other exercise should not only be focused on skill, but maintaining excellent form, constant tension, and perfect execution. Once these are met you can add a little variety or intensifiers which are extended sets. Once you cannot add weight, reps or improve on form, have a look in the mirror, and I guarantee your body is changing.
Stick with a program for at least 4-6 weeks (advanced), and 8+ weeks (beginners), as this will probably be the amount of time you'll need to adapt, respond, and reap the benefits
3. You fear failure
The problem: looking at a weight, and while lifting the weight assume that if we can't complete a certain amount of reps, or lift a certain amount of weight then you've failed or underperformed, when in fact you’re getting stronger and forcing adaptation within the rep range.
Lifting 12’s on a chest press for 6-8 reps doesn't mean you've failed because you couldn't do more, it means you can lift 12’s for 6-8 reps. Now if you lifted 10’s you could maybe perform 8-10 reps, 8’s for 10-12 reps and so on. So, more weight = less reps, less weight = more reps
1-5 reps = strength, power, muscle growth
6-15 reps = strength, muscle growth
15+ reps = muscle growth, endurance
It's important to note you can grow in any rep range providing the total volume is sufficient, so 5 sets of 6 reps won't make you bulkier than 3 sets of 10, volume is volume.
Now that's cleared up, for our bodies to make a physical change we need to push to mechanical and physical failure over time, this is how we adapt, respond, and grow.
If you’re not pushing some form of failure, and stuck in your comfort zone, then your muscles are already capable of lifting that weight, which will not be enough to stimulate more muscle growth, restrict performance and physical development, and potential fat loss over time (again your basically just moving with weight)!
The solution: Don’t be afraid to fail, get good at it, take rest, and go again. Learn from failure, it's how we evolve in to a better version of ourselves. Just make sure you focus on excellent form and the strength and physique will come.
You can also have different exercises for each body part that focus on different rep ranges
Squats 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps (strength, muscle growth)
Pull ups 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps (same as above)
Incline DB chest press 2-3 sets of 9-12 reps (muscle growth)
45-degree hip extensions 2 x 15-20 (muscle growth, endurance)
When working in the lower rep ranges always stop 1-2 reps from failure, and as the reps go higher push for some form of muscular failure (burning in the muscles, or failure to move lol)
4. You care too much about what other people think
The problem: unfortunately, as time goes on there’s still a certain stigma with weight training that needs to die!! Most relate the free weights area to a man cave, or the grunt box, and think there being judged for stepping into the realm. Thinking this way will not benefit your goals one bit, and is a complete waste of time and energy, but then again I also understand why you think this way, especially if your relating weight training to grumpy men with classic shitting dog posture lol.
The solution: take one step at a time, do the things you like. Remember this is your body, your journey, and no one is judging you, if they are having a look at them, there not evolving, and I guarantee they look exactly the same as they did last year! Trust me, most men today are more self-conscious than the women, and a lot of my female clients lift better than the guys, especially when it comes to technique! Never let anyone come in the way of you reaching your full potential!
5. You’re not eating enough when it matters the most
The problem: I see it all the time, women who live on poverty calories, and caffeinated beverages all day, finish work and head to the gym, perform two classes back to back, then wonder why they're not getting stronger, nor seeing change, then wonder why they start to raid the fridge at night, and overeat at the weekends. It’s not that you don’t have willpower, your blood sugar levels are low and need to be replenished with something fast, high fat and sweet. Therefore your still hungry post dinner time, you've not eaten all day, trained for 2 plus hours and your bodies saying feck off.
What your doing is unsustainable!!!
Consuming less calories doesn't always equate to better results, and there will come a point when your body starts fighting back by slowing down metabolism (think exercise, hormones, digestion, the immune system, and day to day life), and all bodily functions (so you’re basically just moving slower), which will also shunt your fat loss efforts.
Therefore you feel your eating more on other diets. Your still in a calorie deficit, but a minor one which is enough to shift fat and keep things running. Don't be fooled into thinking by eating more you'll lose more, your still in a deficit and cannot lose fat in a calorie surplus.
Extreme dieting is not sustainable, unnecessary and will mess with your progress long term, not to mention binging and any future eating disorders.
To perform optimally you need calories and within those calories specific nutrients, and the good news is you can meet this nutritional quota or the RDA when dieting.
My solution: 3 balanced meals per day containing all 3 macronutrients, with either 2 cups of veg, salad or fruit in each, as this should balance your blood sugar to prevent overeating. Eat a complete meal 2-3 hours pre, and post training and keep ¼ of your total carbohydrates around the training window. This should help again balance blood sugar and replenish deleted energy stores, which again should stop the need to excessively overeat later.
Even when dieting your main goal should be performance, and getting the most from your body, as long as physically possible.
6. You don't believe in yourself
The problem: we have such high expectations of ourselves along with fixed mindsets. We believe we can't be successful without suffering, and believe we're not working hard enough if we're enjoying our training.
I get it, you've been here before, you've been very active and healthy at a younger age and believe to be healthy you need to do as much as you previously did. Your Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with people who preach “the grind”, and drill this nonsense into your head that the only way to diet is plain chicken breast and salad, mixed with battle ropes and every workout you don't like. The best training and diet plans are the ones you like and can stick to, these will elicit the best results over time.
My solution: hire a coach to help alter your mindset to match your belief system, let him educate and teach you exercises that you can perform and give 100%. Work together to build a nutrition plan that matches your needs but optimises performance and moves you further towards your goals, and start to include, and replace instead of exclude and cut out.
Most people should only focus on a calorie deficit first, as this is all that's really needed.
7. You fear getting muscular on a diet!
This will be a short one…..
You cannot I repeat cannot gain muscle mass on a diet, think about this for a bit! There's not enough food available to grow for a start.
Would you really be bothered if you gained 3 pounds of muscle over a year but lost 2 stone of fat???
My solution: train with the aim to grow. The muscles will re develop which will show their tone but not increase in overall size. You'll get stronger muscles, build strong bones, reduce fat, boost key reward hormones (preventing depression, overeating) and look amazing.
When you train your body see’s survival only, so take advantage of this and train to hold onto muscle mass and ditch as much fat as possible.