5 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

5 Reasons You’re Not Seeing Results in the Gym

Read time: 7 minute read

Spinning you wheels and not getting the results you seek in the gym or your lifestyle routine? If so, you are not alone, so I thought I would dedicate this post to all the ladies out there who are busting their butts but can’t work out what’s missing!

Essentially, results come from consistency, adequate training with progressive overload and plenty of recovery, and for most people, really good nutrition.

Let’s start with the first, consistency.

 

  1. You’re not consistent enough

Consistency is key, and the main reason results fall short. This probably comes more under ‘mindset’ but without it, you can’t get results. Building a body is a long-term endeavour, it can’t be fast-tracked or skipped, you just eat and train, train and eat, and be patient.

All professional bodybuilders can attest to the time and dedication it takes to build a physique, particularly one that turns heads. On the plus side though, a body built over the long term is something you get to walk around in.

The reason people fall short on consistency is because they chase the fads – fasting, no carbs, double workouts, HIIT sessions. These things have benefits yes, but when it comes to the long-term results, eating well, and eating a lot of good food, daily and consistently and pairing this with a solid weight training regime is the only way.

There are outliers, yes, those who do this kind of thing and look great, but this is not why they look great. If they look good with these methods it’s their genetics that have allowed it.

 

  1. You’re following poor programming, or have poor program balance

Training should always be a strength-based development program with cardio as a ‘topper’. Cardio should never be the focus – including HIIT. This is not the way to build a strong, lean physique.

Programming should be progressive and not random, so you need to follow a program which is within your capabilities and where you aim to increase strength in each exercise over a period of time. The program that follows that will be more challenging in either exercise order, volume, load or all three, but it won’t be completely different from the first one if your focus is to get results.

I believe the ideal time period for a program is 8 weeks if you’re in the first year of training, as you can progress a lot more quickly within that first year. I even do 4-week blocks for brand new clients. Once established and stronger all over, I find 12-weeks to be a great time-frame to commit to each program.

If you break it down over 12 weeks, it takes around 2-4 weeks to find the ideal weight and learn a new exercise, and then 8-10 weeks following that to really push your capabilities with those exercises. Just as you start to get bored or plateau, it’s time to change in up. This is where patience comes in, changing your program all the time because you’re ‘bored’ or ‘impatient’ will only hinder your long-term progress.

 

  1. Inadequate nutrition

Changes in body composition are even more dependent on food intake than training. If you don’t eat enough you will have inadequate nutrition to recover and build muscle from your sessions, but if you eat too much you will gain body-fat.

You also need to determine what kind of constitution you have – can you handle dairy, processed foods, gluten and wheat, or not? For some people, a whole-foods diet is essential for progress but for others they can be more flexible. You need to work out where you fit here and stick within reasonable boundaries if you want your body to respond positively.

I always try to get my clients eating as much food as they can, whilst still feeling good, and not gaining body-fat. For some women this is 1700 calories, and for others it’s 2300. Everyone is different and unique differences are uncovered not with a calculator, but with consistent tracking, patience, and check-ins where we look at weight, measurements, photos, and strength progression.

This applies even when dieting – you want as much food as you can get away with, and you don’t want to be eliminating food groups unless your body tells you they need to go (and there are professional ways to approach this).

 

  1. Improper technique

Back to training – you can’t build a physique if you don’t have good technique.

I get that is feels good to enter a gym in your first week and put a 60kg barbell on your back, but if you’re not doing it properly all you’re doing is ‘impressing’ the people around you whom also have no idea and sabotaging your results in the long term.

Most women don’t naturally have the structure for weight training, they need to build it. This means developing the glutes, hamstrings, abs and back muscles to a point where your posture is sound, and those muscles are working just as hard as (or harder than), the muscles that are naturally developed like the quads and traps. See my post on the posterior chain here, to dive a little deeper into that.

Some women take 12+ months before they can squat 60kg, and others take 3 months. Some need to do months of mobility and postural correction whereas others need minimal. If you want to learn good technique, you need to hire an experienced professional. Just because someone has a gym or 300K followers on Instagram does not indicate experience – it indicates cash in hand and time spend on their phone, posting things that trend and interacting with other accounts.

Research someone’s history and understand the industry is very new, and the more years spent mastering their craft, the more you’re going to get for your money. The overall point here is, good technique will have you burning more calories, and building way more overall muscle (in all the right places) than poor technique will. So don’t skip the fundamentals and again, be patient.

 

  1. You are training too much!

Lastly here we have over-training. It is not that common to over-train in a way that is damaging for athletic performance but it does happen, particularly when there is poor programming or if you aren’t eating enough to fuel your activity.

Where I find it most common is amongst gym people who are trying to change their body composition. Doing ‘more’ is not always the answer. Well, it’s rarely the answer. It is crucial to choose an exercise load that your body can handle, and that you are nourishing for. If you eat as little as you can, and train as much as you can in the hopes that this will ‘speed up’ progress, you are misinformed.

My philosophy with my clientele is always to give them as much food as possible, and as little training as possible, that is needed to get results. I never through extra training in, particularly cardio, in the hopes that they will get more out of it as this just isn’t the case Long story short, over-training can leave you falling behind on your goals and it just isn’t worth it.

 

What to do if you’re doing any of these things…

Stop. Reset. Restructure your approach. Seek professional help if you must but avoid continuing down a path that isn’t working well for you! Send me an email if you want more information about any of these topics.

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Female Training

Jen x

Simple Nutrition Tips for Long-Lasting Results

Simple Nutrition Tips for Long-Lasting Results

Read time: 15 minute read

Over the past 10 years of coaching women in weight loss and body transformation, I see the same mistakes being made over and over again. In todays post you’ll find 5 fundamental nutritional principles that can’t be avoided if you want long-lasting results.

You may have never heard of them, as in 2020 we live amongst a sea of misguided, unregulated, sales-oriented miss-information. Especially in the nutrition space. Accurate information is often overlooked as it doesn’t grab attention like a quick-fix does. We get addicted to extremes and to thinking that in order to make progress we need to go ‘all out’. But guess what? You don’t.

These fundamental principles are really all you need to get started, and I apply them to every client I work with. 

 

1: EAT MORE FOOD, AND EAT OFTEN

I have met only a handful of women over the years who were eating even close to the right amount of calories for their fat loss goals. On average, numbers range from 1100-1500 calories per day, and often with a couple of 2700 calorie days thrown in there. 

Women generally believe that the less they eat, the better their results will be. What they don’t factor in is their body’s physiological needs, most importantly a need for safety, and a need to reproduce. Safe bodies can make babies, unsafe bodies cannot. A ‘safe’ body for most women, is one that has enough body-fat for hormone regulation. If your calories are too low, your body won’t feel safe, and you won’t lose weight. 

Women also fail to take into account their activity levels. Ladies, if you want to train like an athlete, you need to eat like one.

With almost all new clients, I increase the quality of food, the amount of calories eaten on a daily basis, and the size of the individual meals. Often my clients can’t finish the food in the first week, but are surprised to see weight loss at their first check in. That’s about all it takes to realise that eating more, and more often, is key. It’s also not long after that when they find themselves asking when their next calorie increase is! 

How to implement this: 

Firstly, track your food intake for 7 days, including everything you eat. A good calorie tracking app is MyFitnessPal and it’s free. Secondly, calculate your basic metabolic rate, by multiplying your weight in pounds by 12. That is the number you should be eating, on a rest day, to maintain your weight. 

Eg I am 72kg; 72 x 2.2= 158 (weight in pounds). 158 x 12 = 1896. That’s approximately how much I need to eat in a day to maintain my weight, if my metabolism is healthy. 

2: EAT MORE PROTEIN

Protein is the body’s primary building block. It plays an important role in weight management, helping your body repair and build tissue (the key one here being muscle from training). It also makes ‘dieting’ easier as it increases satiety. 

Also very importantly, adequate protein intake ensures you don’t lose too much muscle when losing fat. When you diet, and are on a calorie deficit, your body burns your fat stores, but it also taps into your muscle stores. Ensuring you have enough protein, and are lifting weights, is the best way to ensure that the majority of your weight loss comes from body fat. 

I personally recommend animal protein as a priority. It is the most anabolic, meaning your body uses it more efficiently than plant protein in building and sparing muscle. You want to eat around 1.5-2x your bodyweight per day. I personally prescribe 2x bodyweight for most clients, unless they’re not used to eating protein, or have trouble digesting it, in which case I start them off with the lower target.

How to implement this:

Track your food for 7 days (as above), and check how much protein you’re eating. Use the example below to calculate an ideal amount of protein for you. 

Eg I am 72kg; 72 x 1.5 = 108. 72 x 2 = 144. I need to eat between 108-144gms per day for best results.  

3: TRACK YOUR FOOD

 

If you’re not tracking your food intake, and you have no idea how much you’re eating, you’re kind of like a Powerlifter without a barbell. You can’t do anything

You may lose weight simply by removing large amounts of food, or food groups (such as carbs, animal products, sugar, etc), or exercising like a maniac for a period of time but once this progress stops, you have got nothing to work with. And that’s assuming you can keep the restriction up long term. 

In order to optimize your fat loss or muscle building, you need to learn how much fuel your body requires, what foods work best for you, what nutrients different foods contain, etc. The more you learn about food, and how your body uses it, the better your success will be. Body transformation is all about finding a calorie target that works for you, and then manipulating it over time. 

Don’t mistake what you see on social media with real life. ALL body transformations that stick, or involve considerable muscle gains, require consistent food tracking, followed by adjustments where necessary, followed by more consistent food tracking. This also applies to the women taking performance enhancing drugs. There are no exceptions

Food tracking is a time consuming practice, which involves planning, organizing, and making sacrifices. This is a practice that can be difficult to learn, but becomes easy over time with great reward. 

How to implement this:

Download a calorie-tracking app, such as MyFitnessPal, and start entering all your food (as above). See how much you are eating. Eat that much consistently (or using the calculation from the first point), and track your progress with weight and measurements. 

4: EAT MORE FIBRE

Fibre is a carbohydrate (‘carb’), but it is not digested in the small intestine thus it acts differently to your most-loved carbohydrate friends, starch and sugar. Starch and sugar provide us with glycogen (fuel), whereas fibre makes its way all the way to your large intestine, bulking up your stool (poo), and feeding your good bacteria. 

If you don’t eat enough fibre, not only do your good bacteria starve (and in some cases resort to eating your own gut lining), you also risk constipation, as the food in your bowel can’t move through properly. When you are constipated, your body can’t eliminate waste efficiently, thus leaving you feeling tired, bloated, and sometimes, in pain. 

How to implement this:

Include fibrous foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. A typical fibre target that works well for most people is 20-30gms per day, more if you’re heavier, and less if you’re lighter. Again, you can track this on a calorie app. 

5: EAT MORE VARIETY 

When I came up in the bodybuilding world, there was a lot of emphasis on eating ‘clean’. Specifically, our diets consisted of, and were limited to, the following foods; beef, chicken, fish, eggs, oats, rice, sweet potato, rice cakes, apples, broccoli, peanut butter, whey protein, and Udo’s oil (a horrid tasting omega 3-6-9 fatty-acid blend). All other foods were ‘bad’. 

I basically choke of the thought of eating like that again, and also cannot believe we were that stupid, as it turns out you can achieve amazing results, and in most cases better results (if you factor in health, vibrancy, and sustainability), by eating almost any food, provided that, you can track it (point 3). 

These ‘clean’ diets work well because there is little variation, thus getting to peak condition (lowest body-fat possible for you) is easier. However, this is not an approach that’s required for your every day competitor, or a woman who just wants to get the most out of her body. 

The negative side of ‘clean’ eating, is it’s hard to maintain, it’s socially isolating, and falls short nutritionally in the long run. For my friends and I who ate that way, relentless cravings for other foods lead to binge eating, and punishing ourselves for eating ‘non-optimal’ foods (I’m talking things like strawberries and avocados). So, this kind of eating comes a set of problems. 

I have never recommended this kind of strict approach (with the exception of two or three week periods, right before a competition for my clients with more stubborn bodies), though many coaches still do as it’s the bodybuilding way. I am strict on the total calories and macronutrients, but not their source. I have had countless clients make it to the comp stage, and win, without adopting this kind of strict ‘clean food’ eating regimen. Variety is key in long-term success. 

How to implement this:

Eat a variety of foods. When it comes to meats, mix it up, eat the rainbow when it comes to vegetables and fruits, understand that different foods come with different nutritional profiles. If you love chocolate, include it. If you love ice cream, include that too. SO LONG as your macros/calories are accounted for, you will still lose body fat. 

So that’s it ladies, my top 5 nutritional tips. Notice that supplements, fad diets, intermittent fasting, and heavy calorie/nutrient restriction, don’t make an appearance here. They aren’t required, nor are they healthy and sustainable long term. 

If you want me to expand further on any of these points in upcoming posts, let me know!

For nutritional consultations, contact me for more information 🙂

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Nutrition

Jen x

Fat vs Muscle – Which Weighs More?

Fat vs Muscle – Which Weighs More?

Read time: 2 minute read

Trying to lose weight? Here are a few examples of why you need to monitor your progress with more than just checking the scales, ESPECIALLY when weight training

When it comes to body composition it’s important to note the difference between the density and appearance of fat and muscle. 1kg of fat is soft, lumpy and sits right under the skin, and it takes up more space on the body as 1kg of muscle, which is tightly packed and close to the bone.

I get the women I work with to take measurements along the way as well and pictures and bodyweight, as your weight will fluctuate constantly throughout the process. When it does, it can seriously mess with your head! You also want to build and/or maintain as much muscle as possible in the process, so measurements and visual changes are more significant than scale weight

So here are some of the girls results over the past 8 weeks just as an example – you can see that the ‘cms’ lost are a lot higher than you would think for the ‘kgs’ lost. You can also see that one girl has actually ‘gained’ weight

2.2kg lost > 20cm down, 4.5kg lost > 34cm down, 1.8kg lost > 20cm down, 4.5kg lost > 34cm down, 4.1kg lost > 35cm down, 2.5kg lost > 19cm down, 3.1kg lost > 22cm down, 700gms gained > 15cm down, 2kg lost > 14.5cm down, 4kg lost > 23.5cm down

Preserving muscle and strength is achieved by keeping a good balance between training and calorie consumption, and it will also leave you with more sustainable changes in the long run

*Please note that the attached image is not an EXACT representation of size, it is merely being used as an example

Same Weight, Different Body – Lisa’a Transformation

Same Weight, Different Body – Lisa’a Transformation

Read time: 3 minute read

This is a perfect example of what happens when you approach fitness goals with health as a top priority, and also why you can’t rely on scale weight to track progress. On the left she is 58kgs, on the right she is 70kgs

In 2014, Lisa was eating about 900 calories per day with almost ZERO carbs, and her training routine involved weights AND cardio sessions daily. On the right in 2017, Lisa is doing 5 weights sessions, three cardio and her calories are (on average) 1800 per day. Carbs are around 170gms per day.

Physical changes aside, Lisa is healthier, stronger and happier in her fitness journey compared to when she started. She is also an awesome, very dedicated personal trainer….

Can’t wait for her to hit the stage for a second time this April!

Whether your goals are strength, health, or body composition focused, it is ESPECIALLY important for women to focus on training balance and a healthy metabolism for sustainable results. Patience, consistency and optimal health are key

9 Benefits to Bodybuilding That Are Rarely Talked About

9 Benefits to Bodybuilding That Are Rarely Talked About

Read time: 4 minute read

Quite often i read posts that complain about bodybuilding competitions, usually from ex-competitors who didn’t enjoy it for one reason or another, or from people who don’t have much knowledge or experience in the sport. Recently I saw a study connecting it to Narcissism! Whilst this is true for some people, its far from true for the women i work with.

Personally I love bodybuilding and I think much can be gained and learned in the process of stepping onstage. So, I thought it was about time to put out some of the GREAT things about competing. When done properly the benefits far outweigh the ‘negatives’. So these are the reasons I love training women for competition;

1/ It can help to improve your body image and self-esteem 

This one is massive, which is why i put it first. Truth be told, it could flip either way, but that completely depends on your mindset. If you compete with the intention of seeing what you are capable of, and bringing YOUR best body forward, you will walk away feeling pretty amazing about your achievements. Going into it with the intention of winning, or looking like someone else will leave you feeling completely the opposite. Competing can be a really great way of learning to love and appreciate your body for what it is, in a whole new way.

2/ It teaches you about what your body needs and how healthy it is

When you compete, it is crucial that you are on a healthy eating plan. IIFYM works for some, but not most women. Your body stores fat out of stress, so if your organs aren’t healthy, if your mindset isn’t right, you will have toxins running through your system and hit a few roadblocks along the way to losing body-fat. This may sound ‘bad’, but overcoming these obstacles will improve your overall health, leaving you with a clean slate to work with in the future once you’re done

3/ It shows you what it feels like to be running on good fuel

When right in the middle of your prep, if you are doing it properly (i.e. not starving yourself or smashing yourself on cardio), then you will reach a point where you feel ridiculously healthy, light, and clear-minded. It really teaches you what optimal health feels like, and it’s pretty eye-opening. It gives you something to strive for in everyday life as you will have a new baseline goal from there-on out.

4/ It teaches you some insane will-power

Competing makes you realise how much of our lives revolve around food and drink. Its your birthday? have some cake. Just got a promotion? Go out for drinks. Feeling sad? Go buy a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and sit in bed eating the whole tub. Getting through these situations without ‘caving in’ gives you a chance to actually reflect on these habits which leaves you feeling strong, empowered and in control.

5/ It brings your vulnerabilities to the surface so you can understand yourself better

Competing also makes you realise how much food and drink is used as a way of stuffing down your emotions. This is a pretty big one. Many women have an emotional connection to food, and when feeling low, we overindulge. When you are competing and you don’t squash your feelings down with food, it forces you to learn to understand yourself better – your patterns, your insecurities, and your vulnerabilities. The more you know yourself, the stronger you will be both inside and out.

6/ When you step off stage, you feel like you could conquer anything 

Usually when you set this goal of competing, you aren’t 100% sure if you will be able to do it. You are also not aware of the challenging journey ahead until you’re right in the middle of it. Once you get off that stage, and you think back about all the obstacles you had to overcome to achieve it, you seriously feel like you can conquer anything.

7/ You get to wear sparkly things and essentially, perform on stage 

This one is superficial but, its one of the reasons I did it. If you have a dance background, you love to perform, and you LOVE going to the gym, this is an awesome way to express yourself and all your hard work in the most feminine way.

8/ You can make great friends

If you find yourself in a great team, you will make friends for life. You share struggles and triumphs and these are the key to building great friendships. Most of the people competing will have the same motivations as you; self-improvements, empowerment, a love for good food and physical fitness. Who doesn’t want friends like that??

9/ It’s practically an art-form – a way of expressing yourself

So this one is why i did it. I am creative by nature and i loved the idea of using the body as a canvas and sculpting it how i wanted it to be. So, it’s art. Weight lifting has countless benefits, and being able to create a shape you love can seriously improve your body-confidence and self-expression.

So there you have it. This isn’t to say that I don’t think there are a lot of things that could be improved, things that could go wrong, or that there aren’t certain things to be considered before you take the leap, but that is a different post altogether. The trick to making it a great experience is to find the right guidance and a good team fit for you. Then you will walk away from the experience a happier, stronger, and more empowered woman

Jen 🙂

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Female Training

 

 

 

 

 

 

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