If you have just started training and are not sure if you are getting the most from your training or maybe you are a seasoned gym goer and just feel like you're not seeing any progress lately from your training or perhaps you're fed up with getting injured then there may be a number of factors to consider.
PROGRESSION IN WEIGHT TRAINING
Whether you are new to training or been training for a while, progression is key to any training plan and seeing changes in your body both aesthetically and strength / power wise.
In generalist terms, if you are lifting a weight and are consistently able to achieve the same reps and sets every time you go to the gym, there is a good chance you may need to look to increase the weight you are lifting. This only need be incremental, however when you work within a rep/set range for example of 8-12 reps for 3 sets, the increase should of weight will be reflected in what you can achieve with good form. So may look something like 12reps, 10 reps, 9 reps. The aim is to create microscopic tears in the muscle fibres, which will in turn encourage the body to repair and rebuild the muscle fibres.
Everyone's goal is different so reps/sets will differ from person to person.
Progression can be applied in a similar way for bodyweight training, from increasing the reps (i.e press ups) to changing the levers of the exercise (Hanging knees to chest to L Raise) or the movement of the exercise (i.e diamond press ups)
PROGRESSION THROUGH TRAINING METHOD
Most of us have a weakness or struggle with certain areas of our body, so the one workout fits all approach is hugely unlikely to be beneficial for you. Instead finding a training protocol that works for you is important. Now, I am again going to go slightly generalist here for you as an average gym goer as opposed to more sports specific training (i.e triathlete). Generally you will hear of 4 main types of training:
Full Body Workout - As the name suggests, everyday (3-5x week) hitting all the different muscle groups, there will be a mix of push and pull exercises in this workout.
Push/Pull Workout - This workout can be done over 4/6/8 days. Split into Push exercises and Pull Exercises and are a great way to give the body some recovery throughout the week whilst also allowing you to hit PBs in your strength gains due to the focus not being solidly on one body part.
Upper/Lower Workout - Working out the upper body one day and lower body the other day 4 days out of 6 for example. This gives the lower body a complete rest whilst focussing on the upper body and vice versa.
Bro Split - This is probably the most traditional old school training method focussing on a specific body part each day split between 5-6days i.e Legs, Shoulders, Chest+Triceps, Back +Biceps or maybe a specific arms only day.
All of them have their benefits and you can manipulate them to your liking to some degree. For example I know i need to work my legs a lot more as i really struggle with this area and equally i would like to grow my shoulders too. So for me although i currently do a split programme it looks more like this:
M: One Leg Exercise then Shoulders
W: One Leg and One Shoulder Exercise before doing Back and Biceps
T: REST DAY (this works around my work)
F: One Shoulder exercise then Chest and Triceps
S: REST DAY
For me I have adjusted the programming to hit my weaker areas to keep up with what the rest of my body is doing. I will always be monitoring these areas to note changes or if i need to adjust accordingly.
There are also dropsets, supersets and giant sets amongst other styles of training that can have a profound effect on the way you target muscle groups.
PROGRESSION THROUGH TEMPO
The number of times I see people whizzing through weight, determined to lift the heaviest weight available, whilst momentum does most of the work for them! Working to a tempo to ensure control and reduce the risk of injury is paramount. But also, working with slowing this movement down even more can really elicit greater results such as negative training. Not to be done all the time but certainly an effective method to put some focus (or Time Under Tension) onto a specific muscle group.
Ensuring you are using the correct form is vital to actually getting results, If you are going out of form because the weight is too heavy or you simply are trying an exercise that you've never done before/seen on tiktok and it doesn't feel right....it's probably because it isn't right and of course the end result will likely be an injury. Drop the weight or go completely bodyweight i.e. Rather than Dumbbell Split Squats start off doing this in a bodyweight format to ensure you fully understand the lowering and rising phase of the exercises as well as body placement,
This is often done as part of a block of training to help improve performance, speed up recovery, reducing stress and burnout and preventing over-training, but it is also useful to incorporate on those weeks when you are just struggling or tired*. You are still engaging the muscles but at a reduced weight. All too often our ego wants us to continually lift more and lift for longer but your body also needs to have spells where it is simply able to recover properly rather than just having a hot/ice bath and a massage!
All too often the reason you aren't making any gains in the gym or in your chosen sport is because you are sleep deprived. Poor, interrupted sleep can play havoc with your hormones incl. cortisol (the stress hormone). Cortisol in normal levels is essential for your body but when we lack sleep and/or are under stress the benefits of cortisol:
Regulating your body's stress response.
Helping control your body's use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, or your metabolism.
Regulating blood pressure.
Regulating blood sugar.
Helping control your sleep-wake cycle
become negatives when they raised above normal levels.
Intestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or diarrhea
Anxiety or depression
Increased blood pressure
Increased blood sugar levels
Low libido, erectile dysfunction or problems with regular ovulation or menstrual periods
Difficulty recovering from exercise
Muscle pain or tension in the head, neck, jaw, or back
Aiming to get at least 7-9hrs of sleep is essential to allow the body to recover properly both in terms of post workout as well as every day life. As well as all the other benefits mentioned above. If you struggle getting enough sleep, try to think of sleep like your daytime routine. You set an alarm every morning to get up, perhaps you meditate, go to the gym, shower, have breakfast and then go to work.
Your bedtime routine should look similar but in reverse as you wind down for the day.
You have a set time you want to be in bed by, so you work backwards, ensuring you don't have screen time at least 30mins -1hr before bed, have a warm shower/bath or a hot herbal or milky drink and then be in bed 10- 30mins before you want to sleep and read a book or write in a journal. Ensuring your room is dark and cool, your mobile phone is not in your bedroom and utilise a proper alarm clock for the morning time, Do this consistently every day in the same way you get up at the same time every day.
ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH?
If you want to make progress then you need to be fuelling your body right. Ensuring you are getting the right amount of macros (protein, carbs and fat) and in turn the right amount of calories will aid your progress. It's usually pretty easy to tell if you are not eating enough from a number of factors:
Feel hungry all the time
Struggling to get through workouts
Not seeing any improvements in body composition changes or losing weight when you're trying to gain
Understanding the macro requirements you need to eat sufficiently and learning how to eat sustainably and still be enjoyable are vital to attaining your health/fitness goals. Denying yourself a food group because that is the current fad being fed across social media will most likely be detrimental in the long run, not just for your physical health but also your mental health.
ARE YOU HYDRATING ENOUGH
A loss of just 2% body mass of water can be detrimental to physical performance, so maintaining a good level of hydration by replacing fluids lost by sweating with appropriate fluids is important to promote performance.
The effects of dehydration include:
Reduced blood volume,
Reduced sweat production (thermoregulation),
Reduced cognitive function and concentration,
Increase in overall body temperature,
Increased time to fatigue,
Increased rate of muscle glycogen use.
Generally speaking, for active adults that would look like 2.5L for women and 3L for men.
If you want to be more specific this can be calculated:
Sweat rate calculation:
Pre-training weight = 75kg
Post-training weight (before showering & dry off any excess sweat) = 73kg
Change in body weight = 2kg
Fluid intake during training = 1 litre
Training duration = 2 hours
Fluid loss (L) = pre-weight (75kg) – post-weight (73kg) = 2kg
Total sweat loss (L) = change in weight (2kg) + fluid intake (1L) = 3kg
Sweat rate (L/hr) = total sweat loss (3kg) ÷ training duration (2hrs) = 1.5 L/hr
There are other forms of hydration but for the purpose of most everyday gym goers and runners, water is the best form of hydration for the body.
If you have been struggling with improving your overall body composition, relate to any of the above issues or simply want to know a better way to programme your training to get the most out of it why not book in a programme call.
This will give you the opportunity to discuss your current training and how we can get more out of it for you!
In person and online training available.