It can be really frustrating when you’re not seeing the progress you had hoped for.
This is especially true if you’re relatively new to the gym. When you start following a program, results can come almost immediately after the first 2-3 months.
The amount of calories you’re burning now that you’re exercising is way higher than the amount of calories you were burning in the past, since you’ve been moving more and more.
During the first few months, the average person will start to lose fat and build muscle as long as they are being consistent. They don’t have to be on a regulated program to get results during their “introductory” phase to the gym. As long as you’re moving more, your body is going to be challenged. And that is initially enough to spark results for the average person.
This “introductory phase” usually lasts maybe 2-3 months.
But, after a few months your progress might begin to hit a stalemate. After a few months of focusing on more movement, it starts to become more and more important to implement some “structure” into your routine.
After the first few months, it’s no longer just about “moving more”. Now there needs to be at least a little bit of thought put into your workouts.
And this doesn’t just happen to those of us who are new to the gym, either. Hitting a stalemate in your progress can and probably will happen to you at some point.
This doesn’t mean you’ve failed.
This doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up over it.
This doesn’t mean you’re even doing anything wrong.
When you don’t think you’re seeing the progress you’d hoped for, do this.
1. KEEP GOING
This is number one because the biggest mistake people make when they’re not seeing progress is stopping all together.
Don’t stop. You didn’t work this hard to come this far and just quit. There’s no looking back, only forward. Keep moving.
2. BE PATIENT
Progress requires patience. Real progress takes time (probably more time than you think).
Start learning to live in the moment and focus on the small daily wins and what you can control now in the present moment.
3. PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK
Celebrate the progress you’ve made so far and stop being your worst critic. I’m serious. Quit being an asshole to yourself and give yourself a high five for making it this far. Not everyone can do what you did and that deserves some respect!
You’ll only get to where you’re going by being grateful for where you are now. Be happy with where you are in your progress, but not satisfied so you’re hungry for more.
4. FOCUS ON FIXING ONE THING AT A TIME
We get overwhelmed when we try to be perfect and do too many things at once. Focus on fixing one thing at a time and master it. Be a master, not a jack of all trades when it comes to healthy habits.
For example, if you find yourself snacking every single night, don’t just cut it out completely and start a fucking juice cleanse (which is ridiculous btw). Start by cutting the snacking back by at least one day every week. This small change eventually adds up and changes your whole routine over time.
The small wins add up. And they will add up, as long as you do them consistently.
5. LOOK AT YOUR WORKOUTS
Take a look at your workouts and see what you’re doing. If you keep a training log and track your weights, look back over the last couple of months and see what you’ve been doing in the gym.
Have you been getting stronger? Are you lifting heavier weights? Are you going to the gym as frequently as you thought you were? Have you been following the same routine for as long as you can remember?
That last one is usually what most people struggle with. If you find yourself doing the same old routine you’ve been following for the last little while (several months to over a year), then maybe it’s time to…
6. DO SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
Remember what happened when you first started going to the gym? You saw results almost immediately.
That’s because our bodies appreciate change. They appreciate routine as well, of course, but our muscles like to mix things up every once in a while.
Personally, I enjoy lifting weights for the majority of my training. I also enjoy biking to get my cardio in (probably not as much as I should to be honest).
So, in order to see results lifting weights, I need to make sure I’m performing new exercises on a consistent basis and/or lifting heavier weights.
Why? Because our muscles respond to force, and you apply force to your muscles by either making them move in ways they aren’t used to (performing new exercises) or making them work harder than they’re used to (lifting heavier weights).
If you feel like you have been following this protocol but still aren’t seeing the results you want, consider doing something completely fucking different than what you’re used to.
Change up your routine by:
- Incorporating new exercises
- Trying new rep ranges (don’t fall into the trap of doing 3 sets of 10 for everything)
- Lifting heavier or going lighter (depending on what you’ve been doing up until now)
- Putting the weights down and implementing more bodyweight exercises
7. START HAVING FUN
Not seeing (or thinking you’re not seeing) progress can be stressful. The last thing you should be stressed about is going to the gym. There’s enough shit you’re dealing with already in life, so don’t make the gym another thing to worry about.
Start having fun and enjoying it. Otherwise, there’s really no point. Why spend your time doing something you don’t enjoy?
Exercise is a privilege. Start treating it like that and have some fun out there.
When all else fails, try re-evaluating how you’re measuring your progress.
- Bodyweight: Stop weighing yourself every day. This number is going to fluctuate from day to day due to things like stress levels, how much water you’re holding, how much sleep you got, etc. Look at the month to month trend and don’t worry about the day to day spikes. That’s going to happen.
- Measurements: Body measurements can be a very effective way of gauging one’s progress. Just make sure you’re measuring consistently (using the same tape, same time of day, etc.).
- Pictures: Pictures are powerful (more powerful than the mirror). We’re our own toughest critic. It’s easy to feel like you haven’t seen any progress when you’re looking in the mirror every day judging yourself. But when you have a picture from 3 months ago next to one of you today, it speaks volumes.
- Energy: Are you just feeling better? More energy? Better attitude? Less stressed? That’s progress!
- Your belt: Belt going in a notch? Pants starting to drop? That’s progress!
- How your clothes fit: Need new clothes because you’re starting to look like MC Hammer? That’s progress!
- What others are saying: Remember, you’re your own toughest critic. Stop being an asshole to yourself and start listening to what others are saying about your progress.
Keep going and please ask me any questions you have down below!