Whatever your goal is in the gym, whether it be gaining muscle or losing fat, (which still should help you gain some muscle) every goal is precious to you and well deserved. The truth of the matter is, is that the time you spend in the gym only makes up a few hours out of your week. How you spend the rest of your time outside of the gym is just as important, if not more, than what we do during our workouts. Health and well being is a lifestyle choice, not a crash diet.
Often, people are unknowingly sabotaging the gains they worked so hard for in the gym. Set an intention to let go of these five habits that are standing in the way of your goal.
Not eating enough
Eating enough is just as important as eating healthy. When you do not eat enough it can
raise the levels of a hormone naturally produced in our body called cortisol. Cortisol is best known as “the stress hormone.” An excess of cortisol can cause an increase of visceral fat which is primarily stored in the mid section.
Besides making it difficult to keep off the fat, it can make it difficult to put on the muscle. Without an adequate amount of protein, there is nothing to feed your muscles. This is the reason that bodybuilders generally have seasons of “building muscle” and consuming slightly higher calories, and then seasons of “cutting fat” by creating a calorie deficit. Make sure that you are eating the appropriate amount of calories for your training and goals.
Not tracking your progress
Tracking your progress is important to see your results, and without quantifying anything, you are guessing! Remember, what gets measured gets improved! Make sure you are regularly recording circumference measurements, body weight and body fat. In addition, track the amount of weight you are lifting, and how many reps you are able to complete of an exercise. Tracking these two things allows you to monitor your progression over time. There are two key components to seeing the results you want. First, creating novel stimulus or new ways to stimulate and use your muscles. Second is progressive overload, which is to overtime add more of reps, sets, time under tension, velocity, etc. to progress the exercise and make it more difficult. Both of these crucial to gaining muscle.
Not getting enough sleep
We really cannot stress the benefits of sleep. It plays a significant role in the recovery process and determines how many calories your body burns as energy (also known as your metabolic rate.) It also greatly affects the production of hormones like ghrelin and leptin, which are the hormones that tell you how hungry you are. Lack of sleep can greatly sabotage both your muscle gain and fat loss.
Relying on “comfort exercises”
As we said earlier, it is extremely important to stimulate muscles in new ways. That’s right, working out is supposed to be challenging! Repeating the same workout over and over again, especially at this same weight can hinder results. Our bodies are made to adapt to things, including exercises. To see optimal muscle gain and fat loss, challenge is key.
Not focusing on recovery
Recovery is just as important as exercise. If your muscles don’t recover it can harm your chances of any type of long term results. An injury can completely and permanently halt your fitness goal, so be sure incorporate recovery in your training. Over-training is taxing on the both the nervous and immune system leading to constant fatigue and low energy levels. It is important to remember that our muscles don’t grow in the gym, but are actually broken down during exercise. Giving them adequate time while we rest to grow back bigger and stronger than before. Build in at least one day per week of active recovery such as yoga, easy hike or long walk. Massage, cold plunge and physical therapy are great recovery options.