There are a number of benefits that come with regular exercise and physical activity, but let’s be honest - most people exercise for one reason: to see results. However, daily exercise does not necessarily guarantee results. Whether your goal is to improve your physique or your physical fitness, if you want to see results, your workouts must be purposeful and tailored to your individual needs, which will change as you progress. This is why the most valuable thing that anyone can invest in if they want to see results is an individualized program, designed by a professional.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a knowledgeable professional. In this case, it’s important to at least have a basic understanding of the primary considerations that go into designing a workout program. If you aren’t getting what you want out of your workout, there’s a good chance that it is missing one of these key principles of an effective workout design.
Any physical adaptations you experience from exercise (fat loss, increased strength) will be specific to the type of training you perform. Training type is determined by volume, intensity and joint range of motion. In other words, performing squats will not help you to improve your upper body strength. Likewise, jogging long distance intervals will not improve your sprint speed. Even if you are training for aesthetic purposes (e.g. “tone up”), there are specific types of training which will benefit you more than others. If you aren't seeing results, the first thing you should do is have a qualified professional look over your exercise program to make sure your workout is specifically targeted to address your goals.
To improve at anything in life, you have to step outside your comfort zone a bit. The same is true with exercise. Many people see rapid changes when they first start a workout program, but these changes quickly diminish, causing a lot of frustration. This is because your workout is not keeping up with you! If you want to continue seeing results, you must be able to effectively progress your workouts so that they push you beyond your previous physical capacity.
If you’ve chosen the best type of training for your goals and you've been progressing your workouts, but the results are still lagging, chances are you’re trying to do too much. Allowing your body to recover between workouts is key. Exercise is a very stressful event for the body - you’re literally breaking your body down. For the next 48-72 hours after your workout, your body is busy at work, trying to build your muscles back up and get rid of metabolic byproducts so that it's prepared to handle the next session. If you don’t give your body enough time to recover, you're exercising on less than a full tank, which leaves you open to injury and prevents physical changes.
This last principle is simple – if you don’t use it, you lose it. This is an important one for the folks who have reached their goals and think it’s now okay to stop exercising altogether. Not so fast! Once you get to where you want to be, you’ll need to implement a maintenance program if you don’t want to fall back to where you were. Maintenance programs are essentially the same as your current training program, but without progressive overload and with more recovery in between sessions.
Many people underestimate the importance of an exercise program tailored to their specific needs. As a result, many people fail to see any return on their hard work in the gym. With this information, you should be able to address the weak spots in your workout program, and hopefully see some improvement. Nonetheless, to get the most out of your time in the gym, it’s always best to consult with a professional. Five Seasons offers one-on-one training with certified personal trainers at all locations. Visit the club nearest you to set up a session.
Mahony Brogan is an intern at Five Seasons Family Sports Club Indianapolis and is currently working on his Exercise Science degree from IUPUI.