Aligning Your Workout and Your Goals

People exercise for lots of different reasons. Probably the most common one is to change (or maintain) physical appearance. But it could also be to improve sports performance, to enhance health, or maybe just for  the joy of movement and the feeling of exertion.

If your program is helping you feel good and achieve your goals, you’re on the right track. If you struggle to make progress, or if you are stuck in a perpetual cycle of injury – recovery – re-injury, your program is ineffective at best.

The Roots of Failure

There are a handful of common reasons why a program won’t produce results. Consider these possibilities if you’re not getting what you need from your workouts.

Outside the Gym

The first two stumbling blocks don’t have anything to do with exercise. They are “lifestyle” errors: lack of good sleep and poor nutrition habits. Both work directly against adequate recovery from exercise and negatively affect fat loss. In fact, if your main goal is to change your body composition by lowering your body fat, better sleep and nutrition will influence your results more than your exercise program.

While at the Gym

Consistency is another common reason for lackluster results. Your program could be perfectly tailored to your goals, but it will fail if you only do it sporadically. Forming an exercise habit is key. If you haven’t already, identify the obstacles in your way and strategize a plan to get past them.

If you consistently exercise but don’t see progress, you could be missing a key element in your workouts. For example, setting a goal of stronger muscles but only using the elliptical machine and never weight training. A well rounded general exercise program addresses cardiovascular fitness, strength, mobility, and balance. More specific goals might call for adding power or agility training as well.

Lastly, if you’re consistently using a program that’s well suited to your goals, you might be working too hard, or not hard enough. Perpetually working with very high intensity can run your headlong into overtraining and burnout. Pay close attention to how well you recover from your workouts and don’t be afraid to plan a recovery week when necessary.

On the other hand, if you don’t work hard enough, your body won’t have reason to change. The essential “magic” of exercise is stimulus and response. Simply put, you decide to start walking briskly for 30 minutes everyday, and your heart and lungs adapt by improving their function. Or, you begin lifting weights and your muscles adapt by increasing their ability to generate force. If the stimulus isn’t strong enough, the body won’t change.

Uncovering specific reasons why you’re not getting the results you want requires careful self-reflection. If you have taken a hard look at your habits and can’t figure out where things are going off the rails, stop by the fitness desk and ask one of our trainers if your program aligns with your goals.



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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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