When it comes to building muscle and burning fat, there are no shortcuts. Why? Because if you want to get stronger, faster, leaner—or just look better naked—you’ve got to put in the work says Alex Gierbolini. But since nobody has endless time (believe me; I know), it’s helpful when workout programs at least make us feel like we’re getting somewhere. Today I’d like to talk about some of the more disheartening scenarios too many folks deal with at one point or another during their training:
1. You’re not seeing any progress at all, despite consistent effort and intensity.
2. Your neck is sore (or worse), and you can’t figure out why.
3. You feel like crap after your workouts, yet you keep showing up day-in and day-out with the same lackluster results to show for it.
4. You start a new workout plan, but you’re not sure if what you’re doing is actually making a difference in how you look/feel/perform—and even though it seems like the right program for your goals, something just feels…off.
With that said, here are four signs that may indicate your workout regimen is actually making you weaker!
1) The scale isn’t budging.
If you’ve been exercising consistently and working hard, but your weight is stuck…you might be eating too much! It’s true: When we begin a new exercise program, we often feel great about our milestone and so we celebrate with some extra deliciousness. But remember: increased food intake equals greater caloric expenditure, which in most cases results in weight gain rather than loss says Alex Gierbolini. To lose fat—and not muscle—consume around 300-400 fewer calories per day (without feeling like crap) via clean, nutritious foods. If that means less wine (or whatever vice), then do it! And if the scale remains unchanged for three weeks despite your best efforts, then it’s time to reevaluate your plan of attack along with your calorie intake. If you’re not losing weight (or gaining), then the drawback to working out maybe that it’s actually making you heavier!
2) You fell and now you can’t get up.
I’m talking about feeling “frozen” either right before, during or after a workout—like something is holding you back and preventing you from moving onto the next rep or finishing strong. We all experience this sensation every now and again, but if it becomes more frequent, don’t ignore it: one possible reason for such weakness is an injury that just won’t heal explains Alex Gierbolini. Whether it’s a sudden strain that appears as the result of overtraining or something less obvious like recurring pain in your neck or lower back, whatever the originating cause, it has the potential to affect how you look and feel—and more significantly, your future progress.
If you are experiencing pain or injury, seek help from a health care professional familiar with training so that they can determine what’s causing the problem. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, they’ll be able to write an appropriate rehabilitative program for you based on your specific issues. Just remember: getting out of shape isn’t worth risking your health in the process!
3) Your neck/upper back is sore…but not in a good way.
Here’s something interesting about muscles: they work in pairs—a prime mover (“agonist”) followed by an opposing muscle (“antagonist”). The anterior (front) deltoids, for example, are the prime movers in forward flexion (bending your arm)—and as a result, they’re responsible for the onset of pain referred to as “deltoid head syndrome.” The same holds true for muscles in your upper back and neck. For example, what you might refer to as a “kink” or “pain” in your neck is actually a strain occurring from over-activity of the cervical erector spinae—which are primarily responsible for extension (think: pushing something up above you).
Your body’s natural reaction is to protect itself from further damage by bracing itself. In this case, that means restricting movement and creating tension—which leads to pain. Whether it’s because you’re sleeping on your arm at night, sitting in a chair with poor posture or even the strain from holding up your head all day long—whatever the cause, if these aches and pains don’t go away within a couple of days, you may need to take some time off.
4) Your belly/butt/hips are getting bigger.
Maybe it’s a guy that’s been around since high school…or maybe it’s an increasing “booty,” hereto referred to as “gluteal amnesia.” Whatever the case may be, increased body fat can potentially obscure what’s really going on underneath (i.e., muscle loss). This is not only true for women but men as well; however, if it’s men, they typically don’t have the excess fat on top of their muscles like many women do say Alex Gierbolini. For example, it’s not uncommon for me (a male) to see a woman who comes in with “skinny arms” even though she weighs over 150 lbs.
And while some might think that more body fat would result in bigger muscles. And that may be true if you’re building muscle while gaining weight—it doesn’t work the other way around. More fat just means less muscle definition! Fat is made up of adipose cells filled with triglycerides, which are stored energy. Muscle, on the other hand, contains large amounts of water and protein. This is why your strength decreases so much after only one week without proper nutrition. The good news is once your nutrition is corrected; those muscles can come back quickly!
If you are having any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek help from a health care professional familiar with training.