Hey I’m Jim from jims health and muscle.com and audio fittest.com and in this episode I want to talk about one of the factors that account for small to zero amounts of progress when it comes to fitness results.
I have heard a lot of people say that “they have tried everything to lose weight” or “I’ve been going to the gym for months but I don’t look any different” but recently I joined a new gym that’s a lot more mainstream than I have been used to over the past 10 years and it has highlighted an important factor in the “reasons for slow or no progress”
I have always known that if you work hard for something you will be rewarded. Now it did take me a lot longer to figure out that you also need to work smart however, but hey I’m a slow learner!
Anyway, this philosophy is no different when it comes to fitness. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle increase muscle strength, work on cardio endurance you need to actually work to get the results and the amount of smart work you put in will determine the extent of the reward.
Fitness mindset and a new gym experience.
Here’s an example of what I mean. As I said, recently I had to join another gym as the independent gym that I had been going to for the past ten years sadly closed. This was a great gym that had serious trainers as members, shelves of bodybuilding & figure competition trophies displayed that the members past and present had earned from their efforts at the gym and above all of the mirrors there were rows of photos of each of the guys and girls that had competed on their show day And I was always proud to say that my picture was on that wall too!
So this was an inspirational gym to work out in and the atmosphere was pretty infectious. I guess it did have a reputation as being a serious gym and probably put off a lot of beginners in particular, and attracted the more experienced or motivated trainers. I know if I were a beginner, going into a gym of any kind would be daunting but this one may have been a step too far.
And this is the thing! As a beginner, this is probably the best type of gym to start in if you want to learn what it takes to get the results that you want. I know from experience that if you feel that your doing all the right things but you don’t see the results, it can be very de motivating and motivation is as I’ve said many times before – the single driving force that is responsible for your success, lose that motivation and you lose your way.
So I got a bit off track there, as advertised in the description of the podcast, how about that for a disclaimer. Anyway I had to join a new gym.
This gym is brand new, open 24hr, it’s a big chain, commercial gym that’s very affordable and is marketed for the average joe. Meaning there are no shirtless, ripped, tanned guys with bright white teeth riding unicorns or no Miss world figure models with curves in all the right places on the posters, website or marketing media and likewise there aren’t pictures of gorillas with bloodshot eyes bending steel barbells looking angry, but pumped…At least these gorillas have been working with the right intensity!
Anyway, this gym is not set up to attract the extreme trainers, but I will say it’s a fantastic gym with everything most, knowledgeable, serious trainers need to get where they want to be.
Since training at the new gym I’ve noticed a certain type of trainer, exerciser or however you want to say it. It seems that there are a lot more of this type of trainer at this new gym. I know that there are probably people that will shoot me down for this type of analogy by calling me stereotypical but at the end of the day I’m trying to highlight a mindset that could be holding people back, so I think it’s for the greater good and I think it will help more people than not.
So I go into the gym one morning following 2 ladies through the door, they are chatting away and they both head over to the treadmills, they set the treadmills running at probably the slowest level that there is, this is barley even a walk. I head to the cross trainer, set it to level 5 and do a 5 minute warm up at a moderate pace. By the time I am in the free weight area, my joints are warm, my heart rate is elevated, my blood is flowing and I have a light sweat on.
I look over at the two ladies I followed into the gym, they are still operating the treadmills at the lowest level. These treadmills are side by side so they have even turned their upper bodies slightly to face each other to better obviously for better communication.
I do four sets of barbell shoulder press, 4 sets of lateral raises with the dumbells and four sets of barbell squats. At this point if I added all the kilograms per rep that I lifted together, I had probably lifted several tones. As I am moving over to hit a few rows, the ladies on the treadmill have now moved onto a different piece of cardio equipment, they are on the stationary bikes. Again, side by side chatting away and peddling away with no intensity.
By the time I have finished my resistance, I move back to the cross trainer , get it going, change the resistance to 7 and start my 30min fat burning session. 3 minutes in and I check my heart rate, it’s at 153 bpm, maybe a bit high for me but I’m comfortable and its close to where I want to be for fat burning anyway. So 30 minutes of this and I’m definitely getting my money’s worth from this gym session, literally and metaphorically.
Meanwhile, the two ladies that are sharing this session with me are taking it in turns to do sets on the leg machines. If you’ve been to a gym you will know the adductor and abductor machines, the ones where you sit down and move your legs apart either hitting the inside or outside of the upper leg. In my opinion these machines feel very gimmicky or at best used for rehabilitation as you can do the same exercise with exercise bands.
I did notice that the weight that was being lifted was clearly not challenging them also.
Once my cardio session was finished, I hit the shower, on my way out, I noticed that the two ladies had also finished as they were not in sight.
So some may be listening to this and will be thinking I’m one of those guys digging at people but I’m not at all! Yes its great that they have taken the time to go to a gym to try and get fitter and healthier and sure they may only want to be at the gym for social reasons or whatever, but I’ve been in this game for long enough to know that 90% of people that join a gym are there because they want some kind of physical result.
So my argument is that if you are willing to pay for a gym membership and you are willing to actually take time out of your day to visit the gym for regular hour time slots, you may as well get the most that you can out of it.
Fitness tips to make your training more efficient.
Here are some rules that I would like to put forward if you are a beginner or have been training for a while but not getting results.
#1 Plan your workout – Make sure you know what you are going to be doing in the gym before you get there. This can save you a lot of time once you get in the gym. One thing that I have always done is to run through what I’m going to do in the gym when I am on my journey to the gym. I’ve biked to the gym for a long time now and this gave me a lot of thinking time, so I always run through my training routine before I get there.
Ill think about the muscle groups that I will be training, the exercises that I will be performing and the weight range I’ll be lifting. It may also help to think about the form of the exercises too. If you are particularly weak on an exercise and you know you could improve, this thinking time will benefit you. If you’ve never done this before, you will be surprised at how the thinking time can focus you ready for the workout.
#2 Know your heart rate zones – If you are aware of where your body needs to be in relation to heart rate zones and your training result, you have a massive advantage. I know that my optimal heart rate for burning fat is around 135 – 140 beats per minute, so as long as my heart rate is here, I am fat burning!
I also know that if I get up to the 160 beats per minute range that my heart rate is a bit high and I should slow things down if I want to optimise burning fat and maintaining muscle mass.
So how do you find this out? There are a few ways to do this and in my opinion they are all just good starting points and a good way of getting an estimate only. The best and most accurate way of doing this to my knowledge is to take a Vo2 max test. This is actually out of reach for most people so a simple calculation is a good start. If Id not had a vo2 max test before and wanted a quick idea of where my optimum fat burning zone was, I’d just do the calculation – 220 – my age (this gives you an idea of your max heart rate) Once you have this figure, if you are looking for your optimum fat burning range you should try working out at 60 percent of it.
But like I said, there’s no definitive answer for everyone as everyone’s body, metabolism and makeup is different but this is a great starting point!
#3 Understand your goals – Understanding your goals is a big one that surprisingly often gets overlooked. Here is an example of what I mean – Lets imagine that some dude joins a gym with building big muscles in mind, this is his main goal and he knows that lifting big weights, using compound movements and keeping the rep range on the low side is a good starting point.
He starts off with this but once in the gym realises that he is stronger than he thought so he increases the rep range per exercise from 6 -8 to 10 -12 reps per movement.
Can you see the mistake here? If his main goal was to build big muscles and he knew that he should be lifting heavy with a lower rep range, would it not have been better to remember the goal and increase the weight rather than the rep range? This also skirts back to the idea of training smart as well as training hard.
So whatever your goal is, it’s always worth revisiting it and making sure that you are training in the best way you should be in order to achieve it. Obviously goals can often change as your training habits evolve but still it’s always good to remember where you want to be and act accordingly.
#4 – Challenge yourself – “No one ever achieved their fitness goals by being comfortable in a gym”… I hope someone quotes me on that one some day J . In my opinion, this is one of the biggest barriers in the way of success for a lot of people.
So many people don’t train even close to their limits and by doing this they are missing out on progression with their journey.
Yeah it’s not advisable to go to the gym and on every session, lift weights and run until you pass out but by the same token it’s not advisable to go to the gym and train at a level that doesn’t even challenge your body.
I would say that it’s a good goal to hit at least 60% of effort when you train though. In my experience however many peoples perceived 60% is actually 30% or even less.
So how do you challenge yourself and find your limits? When it comes to resistance training, you will probably have an idea of a working weight range in your mind for most exercises. That’s great for a starting point but you should always try to increase this weight throughout your sets.
I know mrs jims health and muscle doesn’t listen to this so I’ll use her as an example! When I train her in the gym, she will always go for dumbbells on the lighter side and is very reluctant to try a heavier set, I always seem to be the one to suggest maybe going to the next weight up for the next set if her form is good and she is completing the set easily with the weight that she is using.
This is very common and I think it’s down to the fear of failure. I actually don’t care if I pick up a set of dumbbells that are too heavy and only manage a few reps. I’ll just get a lighter weight and restart the set making a note to try again next time.
If you are in the gym and want to push yourself a bit harder but are scared you might drop the weight or something, just wait until someone who looks capable has finished one of their sets and ask if they mind spotting you for a set. I’ve trained in gyms for years and have never once seen someone say no to this.
It’s the same with cardio training – most people will perceive of a set amount of time that they “Can” do on a piece of cardio equipment. I had a client once tell me that they would not be able to do more than 10 minutes on an exercise bike with their heart rate at 120bpm. I covered the clock on the bike, set it for 30 minutes and kept the client talking for the full 30 mins without her noticing the time.
She was over the moon that she had found a 30 minute fat burning session so much easier than she ever believed. This was life changing for her.
So always look to push yourself and make sure that your gym sessions are worth doing!
Ok I’m going to wrap it up there but I hope this has helped and as always I would love for you to buy all my fitness audio books, kindle versions and paperbacks and also it means the world to me if you leave honest reviews of all my work on the Amazon and the Audible market place. I am self-published and these things are so hard to get but are also extremely important for me to continue to grow
Anyway, thanks again for sticking around and listening, I really hope these chats help you even a little! If you have any questions / comments or just want to say hi, I always like to hear from any readers/ listeners and will do my best to help where I can.
Until next time, all the best