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5 Reasons Your Workout Isn’t Effective

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 You’ve heard the expression, “Don’t work hard, work smart.” Well, when it comes to working out, it may be particularly apt. Regular exercise is one of the healthiest habits we can cultivate in our lifetime,but if our expectations are a little skewed, it won’t yield the results we’re after. Our whole society seems to be leaning in to a fitter lifestyle, but sometimes our eagerness trumps our common sense, or gets us stuck in less than optimal patterns. Despite the plethora of options available to us now, the “right” way to exercise can seem more confusing than ever. How can you draw on the rich array of resources available while choosing what makes sense for you and making real progress? If you’re reading this, you probably already have a workout routine, so congratulate yourself for taking a positive step in your self-care journey and know that no labor is wasted. The discipline you’ve cultivated, even if it hasn’t been the most fruitful, will support you in making other necessary changes. If you’re reading this and on the verge of making a greater commitment to exercise, then these tips will be great to know in advance.

You’re not Looking at the Big Picture:

Perhaps the most important thing to recognize is that in addition to consistent cardio, and weight training, your body also requires the engagement of its imagination, curiosity and natural movement. It’s this insight that’s making climbing gyms and yoga studios more popular. As a friend of mine recently said about going climbing, “Each climb is like a puzzle I solve with my whole body.” This holistic approach will also limit injuries and support longevity. Hand in hand with this is the importance of knowing your own goals, which will, of course, change over time.

You Haven’t Defined your Goals:

Whether you’ve been an athlete since childhood or have just started taking a few classes at a local gym, choose three fitness goals and then create a plan to achieve them. It’s key that these goals represent a challenge while also being reasonable. For example, if your goal is to run three miles every day, but you just quit smoking and get out of breath in a lap around the block, it may be wiser to start with a combination of running and walking three miles three times a week. Check in with your goals every six months or so, and assess whether your strategy is working, if you’re enjoying it, and if it’s still meaningful to you. Don’t be afraid to ask the bigger questions. If your goal is a toned abdomen, can you check in with why that’s important to you? There’s no correct answer, but getting to the root of a desire can often help us stay in touch with our motivation when we encounter conflicting commitments or hardships. For example, let’s say it’s a busy week in the office and you want to curl up with a movie and some ice cream instead of following through with your core strengthening routine. You’re much more likely to stick to your workout if you remember that your goal of toned abs is a symbol of your ability to let go of excess and refine your priorities, a way of saving as well as creating energy.

You’re Stuck Doing Penance:

Knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing will also help you avoid the third workout “leak” on our list – falling into a rhythm of binging and purging. It’s not unusual for people to maintain a healthy diet and daily workout during the week and then to break loose over the weekend. Unfortunately being “good” during the week isn’t always enough to balance out late night drinking, fast food runs, and lazy mornings Saturday and Sunday. A much more prudent strategy may include planning some treats (like nutritious protein bars!) during the week and then perhaps scheduling an exercise date for Saturday morning.

You’re Overworked:

Along with consistency and moderation, there is also the need for rest. Often if we’re not performing at the level we’d like to be, it’s because the body isn’t getting adequate recovery time. There’s something to be said about working hard and playing hard, but it can also be a one way ticket to burn out and frustration. If the thought of exercising less feels like a step back, think of it as one step back to move two steps forward. Cutting edge exercise science stresses the importance of pushing your edge, the benefits of high interval training, and new, unfamiliar routines, and its right, but its winning formula is incomplete without recognizing that those peaks are impossible without down time to hydrate, repair, and replenish.

You’ve Lost the Spark:

The final reason your workout may be flailing is that it’s no longer fun. This may seem like a silly reason especially if your workout feels like a means to an end, but if your routine feels like stale drudgery, even if it produces the physical results you’re after, it may not help you break through to a new level of goals and challenges. If this sounds all too familiar, consider planning times to work out with friends, or construct a new playlist. And who knows, maybe a little Lady Gaga or Miles Davis may even turn an ordinary workout into a creative passion.

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Emily Hunter crafts content on behalf of the protein bar experts at Promax Nutrition. In her spare time, she cheers for Spirit of Atlanta, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, creates her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen