The 2 Reasons Most People
Do Not Make Progress

There are many people who go to the gym or work out at home a few times every week like clockwork, yet they don’t seem to make any progress. There are two specific reasons why this can happen.

The first is that they aren’t increasing their intensity from week to week. If you are lifting 100 lbs. for 10 reps on the bench press in January and you’re still lifting 100 lbs. in April, even if you are now performing 15 reps, your body won’t continue to respond to a significant degree. You need to increase intensity to make progress, and poundage lifted is a much greater contributor to intensity than number of reps. Sometimes you can use other techniques to make progress with your fitness such as performing two sets back-to-back with no rest, or performing more reps with the same weight, but nothing works as well as simply increasing the amount of weight you lift. Of course, you must build up to lifting more, and a common way to do that is to increase reps at a given weight for some time before you attempt to lift a heavier weight. The same thing goes for cardio. If you have been running an 8-minute mile and you continue to run at that pace, your body will not change much. You can increase the distance you run, but more importantly for your fitness level, you need to try to increase your speed. No matter what technique you do to increase your poundage lifted and your speed, keep in mind that those techniques are generally just a means to and end, and the ultimate goal is to increase the poundage and the speed.

Some people don’t make these increases out of laziness. They are comfortable doing what they are doing and don’t want to push themselves further. Some people are afraid of injuring themselves. While this is a valid concern, it shouldn’t stop you from increasing your intensity as long as you are smart about it and seek professional advice if necessary. The third reason that many people don’t make a change is because they erroneously believe that if they just keep doing what they have been doing they will progress. However, this isn’t true. It actually takes work simply to maintain your new weight and fitness level! People don’t usually think of it that way, but it’s true. To make progress, you need to increase.

The second reason that people don’t make any progress is that they allow too many things to become an excuse. Every time they feel a little tired, a little run down, a little under the weather, a little too busy with life in general, or simply a little bit sick of working out, they allow themselves to miss workouts, or perform shorter workouts (which is fine, but only if you make the shorter workout more intense!) They tell themselves they work out five times a week, but in reality it is usually more like three. On a similar note, many people have a constant excuse for why they overeat. “Well, last week was so and so’s birthday, and this week we had that huge function at work, and next week we’ll be on vacation,” is the reasoning I hear. These things are all a reality of life, and you should partake in them. However, we need to keep our goals in mind all the time, and not use these events as an excuse. You can compromise. You can have a small piece of cake at the birthday party—or simply tell the people that you would love to have some, but you need to watch your diet for health reasons and you cannot have sugar right now. You always have control, and if people are offended let it be their problem. No one else has to live with your choices other than you, so you have a right to do what you need to do. You also need to develop game plans to deal with situations where you might not have control over diet or getting your workout time in. There is always a solution if you want it badly enough!

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