You've heard me talk before about sticking to a program and how that brings about success in the gym. But what happens if you feel you're not seeing results in the first month, or two months, or three months! Is it time to switch? Am I doing something wrong? Let's answer these questions.
As we know, there are multiple ways to achieve the same results. If you want bigger legs, you would focus on doing lower body workouts, but those workouts could consist of lifting heavy weight, moderate weight, light weight, doing back squats, leg press, lunges, leg curls, and you could use a number of modalities such as body weight, barbells, machines, or dumbbells - to name a few.
So is it imperative that we stick to one type of modality? Absolutely not.
Are some modalities more effective at achieving the goals you want than others? Of course.
So what happens when we choose a program and don't see results immediately? We usually assume we picked the program and there is one that can do the job more effectively. Correct? Incorrect.
If you're smart and have done your research, or reached out to someone who knows more than you about the gym, chances are that the program you are on is designed for your needs.
In short, you first have to give a program time. I would say unless the program is causing you physical pain (and not just huffing and puffing/sore muscle pain), isn't suited to the training environment you're currently in and/or is beyond your scope of training - that is grounds to stop the program immediately and find a new one. Beyond those prerequisites, trust your program.
The reason for sticking to a program is muscular adaptation.
The body is a fickle beast. It doesn't enjoy change. About 95% of everything we do is unconscious and that unconsciousness occurs due to habitual patterning. This is why it's so hard to break and make habits.
It goes without saying that if habit training is hard and are body/mind is a product of habits, then changing the body is difficult (no one said the gym journey was an easy one). You have to create repetitive movements over a length of time to make the change an unconscious behaviour.
Muscular adaptation is your bodies response to the change. This can look like many things:
Increased capillary density
Stored energy pathways
Increased aerobic/anaerobic power
But again, this is only achieved through repetitive practice.
Training an area of the body - making slight alterations to different movements - is fine but when we go from, let's say, a powerlifting program to a CrossFit program and then to a cardio program, then you're asking for trouble.
To be honest, not many people are making those drastic types of alterations to their program but even going from doing back squats 2 times a week to dropping it down to once and then focusing more on upper body movements can take away from any leg progress you were hoping to achieve.
This sounds like a no brainer. Ask yourself this though, have you ever done a week of training, been frustrated from not seeing results and then come up with the brilliant idea that maybe its the wrong method of training and you should now do that funky exercise you saw some instafamous model do on social media because they look ripped and hot so they know all the answers? I know I have. I use to do that all the time. In fact, it was kinda my thing in my early years at the gym.
Where does that get you? Absolutely nowhere. All I ended up doing was running around in circles.
Sometimes less is more. As Malcolm Gladwell has famously coined The 10,000 hour rule, states that you need to complete 10,000 hours at a specific task to be considered an expert in your field. This need to be an expert may not apply to you but the rule is a testament that time, repetition, and perfecting your craft is necessary to see results.
If your'e confused about what you should do in the gym or if the style/adaptation of the program is the proper fit for your goals then adhere to these few simple rules to help you out:
Pick a program that has the right sets and reps for what you want
Muscle growth = around 8-12 reps per set
Strength = around 1-6 reps per set
Endurance = around 12-15 per set
Aerobic = around 15+ per set
Make sure there are exercises in the program that you enjoy.
The program has a description of what its main objectives are (this will usually be in the description section and hopefully go over a few body parts and aim of the program).
Find the regression and progressions for each exercise. Almost every exercise has these.
Select programs from sites or individuals that align with your values and aesthetic appeal.
Don't be afraid to ask an avid gym goer or professional with help. If they are truly for health and wellness they won't sell you on anything unless they truly feel you need it.
These are just some simple first steps to help you get the ball rolling. There is more that goes into program design and selection but remember, everyone is different and will need different processes to choose what's best for them.
Until next time gym warriors,