There’s nothing quite as disappointing as putting time and effort into a goal only to find out your effort was wasted.
This is one of the reasons why so many people give up on their health and fitness goals, especially weight loss. If you put in hours at the gym only to see the needle on the scale refuse to budge, it’s easy to get frustrated.
“How much harder do I have to work?” you might think. “How much more time do I have to put into this.”
But the problem often isn’t time or effort; it’s the details. You’re working hard at what you’re doing, but you’re doing the wrong things.
Here are five things that you might think are helping with your fitness goals, but really aren’t:
1. Spending too much time on your abs.
If you have a big belly that you’re trying to shrink, it might seem logical to think that spending hours on sit-ups and other ab exercises would be the best way to use your time at the gym
But that plan is flawed. While abdominal exercises are great at making your abs stronger, they’re not that great at burning fat. There are many other exercises that give you more bang for your buck by burning more calories in a shorter period of time, even if they don’t directly involve your abs.
That’s not to say ab exercises aren’t worth doing. Having a strong core is a great goal. Just don’t be under the misconception that crunches equals six-pack abs.
2. Cutting too much fat from your diet.
The nation’s Nutritional I.Q. has been raised quite a bit over the years, but some people still believe that the best way to lose fat in the body is to cut fat from the diet.
Fat is essential for many reasons: It helps control blood sugar, keeps you full and helps your body absorb nutrients. That’s not to say you can’t overdo it on fat. Watch how much you consume, especially trans-fat and saturated fat. But don’t eliminate it altogether.
If you’re looking to cut something from your diet, sugar would be the best option for health and for weight loss.
3. Expecting too much from supplements.
Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, improved athletic performance or anything in between, don’t be fooled by the marketing campaigns of supplement companies. Pills will not make you skinny; caloric deficits will. Shakes won’t build muscles; breaking down your muscles with strength training and building them back up with rest and food will. Pre-workout drinks won’t make you a better athlete; practice and perseverance will.
Supplements have a place in the world of fitness, but they’re no substitute for hard work and proper nutrition.
4. Doing all your exercises on machines.
Machines are great for isolating one muscle or muscle group, and they’re fine to include in your exercise regimen. But no matter what goals you have, old school exercises involving functional movements using several muscle groups such as squats, lunges and deadlifts should be the foundation of your exercise routine.
5. Sticking with one thing.
Every gym has its share of one-way exercisers: people who only take group classes, people who only do cardio, people who only do strength training, etc.
Those who mix in a variety of exercises and train across multiple planes tend to get the best results. Break out of your comfort zone and you may find those results you’ve been looking for.
Frank Shelton is a certified fitness trainer and owner of Frank Shelton Fitness. He can be reached at (302) 463-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.