If you’ve been training for a while, ask yourself – exactly how far have you come in the last 3 months, 6 months, 1 year? Are you stronger than this time last year? Are you fitter than 3 months ago? How has your physique changed in the last 6 months? I’d take a bet that some of you aren’t willing to admit that you’re the same level as you were a year ago. You may have not even been aware of it until now.

If you can relate, read on.

Too many people train blindly, and invest hundreds of hours of hard work without any tangible results. Some are training just to maintain, but if you’re investing that much time and effort into it – why not push to improve?

As a trainer that’s passionate about my career, it’s genuinely upsetting because I see it way too often (cue violins).

1) You’re training too often/not enough

Which category might you be falling into? The graph below illustrates exactly what happens when you undertrain/overtrain. The initial ‘dip’ in performance is the acute effect of training, and the rise is the recovery and supercompensation from the training. Give yourself 24-48 hours rest between workouts and you will see the curve slowly but progressively move above the baseline.


2) You have no structure to your training

Do any of you fall into any of the following categories?

-You’ve been turning up to the gym and doing what you feel like on the day, getting tired and going home.

-You’ve been turning up to 3 classes per week but you aren’t motivated to do your own thing or don’t see the point in personal training.

-You have a weekly program but turn up to the gym and do the same thing repeatedly week in week out.

See, here’s the thing… If you can relate to any of the above, the sky is not the limit. Unfortunately, the ceiling of your Nan’s bungalow is probably the limit. The hours you’re putting into your training will do nothing but maintain your current level of fitness (and burn some calories, but that has zero merit unless you’re also dieting).

3) You’re worshipping the physical sensations of exercise

For this one I give full credit to Bret Contreras PhD, his post was well written and on point:

“A surefire way to fail in your endeavour to reach optimal physical fitness is to worship physical sensations. Sweating, reaching exhaustion, feeling the burn, attaining a pump, and being sore the next day tend to be indicators of a good workout. However, a much more meaningful marker is progression. Progression is the goal and it drives physiological adaptations.

People are so hyper focused on short-term body sensations that they fail to see the bigger picture.

In order to keep seeing results, you don’t have to get sore, sweat buckets, or crawl out of the gym. But you do need to strive for personal bests (PB’s) and reach new levels of strength and conditioning.”

Take home points:

-Have a long term goal

-Create a program structured specifically to achieve your goal (or get a professional to do it for you)

-Push for small improvements in some way shape of form each week.

-Don’t be blinded by the short-term ‘feelings’ of exercise; they do not necessarily represent effective training.

Sam Austin

Exercise specialist