Monday, March 19, 2018

4 reasons why your exercise plan might not be working

If you're exercise plan isn't working, it likely isn't your fault!
We all know we should be exercising, but when it comes to what exactly we should be doing, that's not always so clear. In the vast sea of internet workout plans, it's easy to drown in misinformation, and that misinformation usually hinders your fitness goals instead of helping.

Here are a few reasons your current workout might not be helping you achieve the goals you've set out for yourself. 

1. You're focusing on "cardio"

This might sound a little bit strange, but there really is no such thing as "cardiovascular" exercise. Also known as "aerobic" exercise, this modality got popular in the 1960s, and is often seen as being separate from strength training. The problem is your heart doesn't know the difference.

Your heart's job is to deliver blood and nutrients to your muscles when they do mechanical work. The harder you work, the faster your heart pumps. Whether that mechanical work is jogging down the street, throwing a rock or lifting heavy weights, your heart doesn't know the difference, nor does it care. Properly performed resistance exercise can give you all the benefits of steady-state cardio in a fraction of the time — and without the sore knees, busted ankles or other repetitive-use injuries associated with pounding the pavement. It also improves vital components of your fitness, like increased lean tissue, something steady-state cardio can actually eat away.

2. You're trying to burn calories

If your goal is to lose weight, the first rule to remember is no one can out-run a bad diet. That little calorie counter on the treadmill is wildly inaccurate, and shouldn't be relied on to give you any useful information.

Instead, make sure you dial in your nutrition first. While properly performed resistance training can be a great complimentary tool in your weight loss journey, exercise and fat loss need to be separated in your mind. Properly performed resistance exercise is a stimulus to make your muscles grow, and no amount of appropriate exercise is going to burn any meaningful amount of calories. It's much more efficient and a better use of your time to eat real, nutrient-dense foods that are satiating, and stay away from the nutrient-void, high energy processed foods that won't fill you up.

3. You're exercising too much

One of the biggest reasons why people fail at their exercise programs year in and year out is they simply workout too much. When they embark on the journey, they are excited about the new protocol. They hit the gym four, five or six days a week, thinking that more is better, when actually less can be more. This can lead to overtraining, getting burnt out and even injury, not to mention frustration.

One thing people don't realize is the exercise doesn't make you strong, that happens in the recovery period after the exercise. The exercise is just a stimulus you are sending to your body to let it know that it needs to improve. The real work starts later, when your body is properly fed and rested over 48-96 hours.

If you're hitting the weights on a daily basis, or supplementing the strength training too much with strenuous activity like sprinting, hiking, etc... you simply aren't allowing your body to recover before your next workout. Everyone has different recovery periods, but if you aren't seeing a gradual improvement in your workout-to-workout performance, try cutting your exercise program in half and see if that helps in your recovery.

Note: Now just because you shouldn't be "exercising" every day, doesn't mean you shouldn't be active. Moving around during your day to day life is extremely important, and daily walks and other light movement is very good for you. Just maybe don't climb the Manastash Ridge the day before leg day, or do a strenuous lifting session the same day as your big softball game.

4. You're not working out hard enough

When it comes to properly performed exercise, effort is king. Building muscle and making physical adaptations is a very expensive metabolic process, and your body does NOT want to do it. Only training with a high degree of effort can send a loud enough signal to your body, telling it to get ready for the next time it comes across that stimulus. 

At Efficient Fitness, all exercises are done to Momentary Muscular Failure (MMF). This means that the weight is moved up and down slowly until all the muscle fibers have reached complete exhaustion, and the trainee can't complete another positive repetition. This creates an extremely powerful stimulus that the body cannot ignore, forcing it to grow stronger over the recovery period.

While this might sound a little scary and dangerous, it's quite the opposite. The controlled movements and the use of weight machines eliminate dangerous forces like momentum, putting all of the weight on your skeletal muscle, allowing you to perform the exercises without endangering your joints. The further along in the exercise you get, the safer it becomes. With your muscles maximally fatigued, you become literally too weak to hurt yourself!

Efficient Exercise is opening its doors in Ellensburg in April 2018. To be one of the first to experience evidence-based exercise in the Kittitas Valley, send an email to or call 425-214-2251 to reserve your free introductory session.