You’ve been hitting the gym but you’re not seeing results. Sound familiar? You’re not alone, says Virgin Active personal trainer Emily Cole. Here, she explains 8 reasons why your workout might not be cutting it and how to fix it today.

Nothing is more disheartening than spending months working towards a fitness goal and failing to see results. Luckily, it may only take one or two small adjustments to your routine to start seeing positive changes.

Here are 8 reasons why your workout may not be working for you, and PT Emily Cole’s advice on how to get the results you want…

1. You’re only working one muscle group

Are bicep curls or calf raises a regular part of your routine? These are all isolation exercises, which concentrate on working one single muscle group. They’re useful if you’re looking to build muscle in one particular area but if you want to burn more calories and look leaner (don’t we all?) then it’s worth trying something new.

Solution: Start exercising smarter

Compound exercises will give you the upper hand. You can do these with single moves that use multiple muscle groups such as deadlifts and squats. Or try supersets and roll two moves together to create one exercise – try a bicep curl straight into a shoulder press.

2. You’re doing the same routine

When it comes to training, your body quickly adapts to the type of exercise you perform. Whether it’s the frequency, intensity, or the activity itself, your body becomes efficient and stops responding.

Solution: Surprise your body

Shock your muscles with a new type of training on a regular basis. If you only do cardio, try weight training or resistance training such as reformer Pilates or Pilates with resistance bands – this will help you stretch your muscles and create a leaner look. If you’ve been lifting the same weights or running 5K three times a week, it’s time to increase the load and up the duration. Try to change your routine every four-six weeks to stop your body plateauing. To keep things interesting, aim to try one new workout every month, whether it’s kickboxing, circuit training or Tai Chi.

3. You’re lax with your eating

If you have a body composition goal – to shed fat or gain muscle – there’s only so much exercise can achieve. Remember, weight loss is down to 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise.

Solution: Be honest with your eating

Your body needs fuel for intense workouts, so include a good balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) in your diet. However, our biggest downfall is overeating – we may consume up to 50% more calories than we realise every day (usually through snacks containing high amounts of fat or sugar). Try keeping a food diary – it’s been proven to work for long-term weight loss, if you’re honest with it. Or try an app such as FoodPlanner, which can help you create meal plans for the week using recipes from anywhere online. If you’re stuck for snacking inspiration, then check out the best foods to eat before and after your workout.

4. You’re inconsistent

One week you manage the gym five times, the next you’re lucky if you run for the bus. You can’t expect results if your training is sporadic and inconsistent – our bodies will only respond to exercise if they are regularly tested and challenged.

Solution: Plan your workouts on a Sunday evening

Whether it’s a run around the park, a gym session or class, plot your workouts for the week into your calendar, accounting for your other engagements and work schedule. Think of your gym time as as important as a work meeting or dinner with friends. Then, all you need to do is stick to it!  If you’re new to training, gradually build up the frequency and intensity so you have time to adjust to the new routine.

5. You’re copying everyone else

You see someone lifting a heavier weight than you or doing a certain technique and rather than ask for advice, your competitive side takes over and you copy them. The problem is, this could give you unexpected results or an injury.

Solution: Work at your own pace

Ask yourself this question. Am I getting ahead of myself? Am I attempting to run before I can even crawl? There’s nothing more demotivating than feeling exhausted or frustrated because you’ve pushed yourself too hard. If you’ve never run a 10k before or you’re new to weight training, start steady, do your homework and learn how to use equipment properly with the correct form (this is so important for effective training) and gradually build up your confidence. You’re more likely to succeed and stick to it.

6. You’re exercising without a plan

If you haven’t pre-planned your workout, this can lead to wasted minutes wandering around the gym – time that could have been spent burning calories and achieving your goals.

Solution: Let someone plan your workout for you

Group exercise classes or personal trainers remove the stress of having to plan every workout, plus, they’re motivating, fun and sociable. A PT or gym trainer can also help you with things like technique, nutrition and working towards a specific goal. Don’t be afraid to ask for a free taster session or help with drawing up a plan. Alternatively, sign up for a 30-day fitness challenge, follow our 4-minute workout videos or check out workout plans or Pinterest.

7. You’re getting distracted by tech

Using your phone for workout plans is great but flicking through your news feed distracts you from sticking to your rest time and focusing on doing better in your next set. Your training session is your time and can be an excellent stress relief, so keep it that way.

Solution: Switch to airplane mode

Use your phone for music, as a timer or to follow pre-downloaded plans but turn it onto airplane mode so work emails or texts don’t distract you. If you head to the gym with a friend, save the catching up for the sauna and steam room and put on a matching motivating playlist instead.

8. You’re not sleeping enough

Muscle growth and repair happens when we sleep. Research has shown that people who get 6-8 hours of sleep a night and have lower stress levels have greater chances of achieving their goals.

Solution: Learn to prioritise your zzz’s

Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired, skip the gym or night out and get a good night’s sleep instead. Try to sleep between the hours of 10pm-12am, when levels of the sleep hormone melatonin are at their highest and this will promote better sleep. Melatonin is released into the blood at around 9pm, so take the hint and priortise some shut-eye.

No time to workout? Try our 7-minute HIIT core workout that you can easily fit in now.

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