We’re just over half way through 2020. And while recent circumstances may have necessitated a little improvisation, a little compromise and some doubling down on motivation and determination, things are looking good.
Gyms in the UK are likely to reopen by the end of the month. And while you may have been doing well with your home workouts, you’re likely aching for the opportunity to get in there and start pumping iron once again.
Many of us are looking forward to things getting back to normal in terms of our workout regimen. Still, as in all aspects of our post-lockdown life, it’s worth considering which parts of normal are worth returning back to.
There’s no point in going back to normal, if going back to normal means resuming bad habits and continuing to do the same things that keep holding us back in and out of the gym.
If you want to end 2020 in peak shape, you need to be honest with yourself. You need to own and celebrate your accomplishments while also acknowledging and rectifying the things that are going wrong.
With that in mind, here are some things that may be holding you back in the gym and elsewhere…
Your daily dose of stress
Do you find that you have a persistent paunch despite watching your refined carbs and doing hours of gruelling cardio every week?
Do you find yourself trying various diets and punishing HIIT workouts only to find that the belly just won’t shift?
There are two possible culprits. Alcohol, and stress. Or, possibly, a combination of the two. If you have a stressful job or lifestyle, your brain may be producing a lot of the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol causes a range of reactions within our bodies. One of which is the storage of fat around the abdomen (love handles, on the other hand, are usually caused by an excess of sugar and other refined carbs).
Remember that our bodies don’t know whether we’re stressed because we’re behind schedule on the report our managers asked us to put together or whether we need to elude a dangerous predator.
It simply knows that something has us stressed. So it stores energy as fat should we need to outrun or fight something fanged and furry.
And when we’re stressed on a regular basis (chronic stress) it can be hard to reach the state of ketosis (fat burning) that can shift this persistent belly fat. And that’s really the tip of the iceberg in terms of how damaging stress can be for your health.
Furthermore, stress can push us towards temporary solutions that exacerbate the problem like comfort eating, snacking on heavily processed sugar, fatty and salty foods, and drinking alcohol.
Abstaining from beer, intermittent fasting and a high-protein, high-fibre whole foods based diet is a good way to help shift some of this persistent fat weight, but you should also take active steps to reduce your stress such as mindfulness meditation. And, of course, regular exercise.
You’re not getting enough sleep
It’s not just an important part of getting the most from your workouts. It’s an essential part of maintaining good overall health. Yet so few of us give enough care and attention to our sleeping schedules.
While we’re asleep, our bodies carry out all kinds of repairs and maintenance including rebuilding the muscle tissue that’s damaged in exercise so that it can grow back leaner and stronger. So you’ll miss out on the metabolic boost that you should be getting as a benefit of getting stronger.
Lack of sleep can also also makes you more likely to produce an excess of the stress hormone cortisol which will prevent you from burning fat as efficiently as you’d like.
Furthermore, if you’re waking up every morning feeling groggy and lacking in energy, you may find yourself chugging coffee after coffee to stay awake and alert. And this may actually exacerbate stress and anxiety, resulting in more cortisol production.
So, make sure you’re taking the time to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. There are lots of supplements that you can take to help with this, but never underestimate the power of a hot bath. It can lower your core temperature and prevent restless summer nights of overheating and fighting with your covers.
You’re not dressing properly for your workouts
The way you dress at the gym isn’t just about looking like a badass. It’s about ensuring that you have the right combination of support where you need it and a full range of motion where that’s necessary.
Without this combination, you will inevitably find that your goals are compromised. This doesn’t just mean investing in good men’s sportswear, it also means forking out for a good quality weight belt.
If you’re wearing loungewear at the gym, you may not be able to engage your joints and muscles properly for correct technique. And without a weight belt, you run the risk of hyperextension.
This combination can lead to bad habits and sloppy technique at best. At worst, they may result in a debilitating injury that puts even more distance between you and your goals.
You’re getting bored with your workouts
Finally… If you’re serious about achieving your goals, you need to turn up to the gym motivated and ready to fight through pain and strain to get the body of your dreams.
But while you may show up with this mindset for your regimen on day one, you may struggle to maintain that same vim and vigour by day 30. And by day 90 you’ll inevitably get bored.
When this happens, you’ll develop the nasty habit of coasting your way through your workouts. You’ll always feel like you’ve had a great workout.
But in reality you simply won’t be getting the most out of your time at the gym. This is why it’s so important to shake things up and try out a new exercise regimen every couple of months to shake things up, challenge your body and keep yourself motivated and engaged in your workouts.
Talk to a member of staff at the gym or book in for a personal training session if your workouts have started to feel boring or like a chore.