Three Reasons Why Your Training Isn’t Working for You
People exercise for a lot of great reasons. Some people simply do it for the enjoyment of moving their body and working up a good sweat. Other people exercise with specific goals in mind, ranging from improving work capacity for a specific sport, getting stronger to compete in an event, or to lose body fat.
For the purpose of this post, I want to talk to specifically to those that are using exercise as a tool to change the shape of their body.
Out-training Your Diet
This is easily the most common mistake that I see people – women, in particular – make when it comes to exercise. They are exercising so hard and for so long that their hunger and appetite take over.
I know all about this because I experienced it firsthand. Back in my Cardio Queen days, I was teaching 13+ group fitness classes, running on my lunch break, and doing a 90 minute high-intensity cardio kick box class several evenings per
week. My levels of hunger were absolutely off the charts. I would get home each night and devour damn near everything in the kitchen. Sandwiches (plural), granola bars, cookies, and spoonfuls of nut butter (all of which were also plural)… I was a bottomless bit.
I was also living in a perpetual state of exhaustion and soreness from the unnecessary amounts of exercise, which made it even harder for me to differentiate what was true hunger, and what was my eating out of appetite entitlement:
“I worked out for hours today, so I deserve to eat truckloads of snacks.”
When it comes to exercise with the goal of changing the shape of your body, it’s important to find your sweet spot. This is especially important for anyone that is still working hard to get a handle on their hunger signals, and satiety signals.
I like to see people doing just enough exercise to get the job done, and still allow them to remain in control of their eating. If you notice a seemingly uncontrollable uptick in your hunger and appetite that seems to be correlated with how often and intensely you’re exercising, I encourage you to back your exercise down a touch. Decrease the duration and frequency of your training, and see how you feel. It’s amazing how much more control I had over food once I dialed back the frequency and the duration of my workouts.
It Should be Hard
Now that you know you don’t have to exercise for 90+ minutes, seven days per week in order to benefit from exercise, I do want to emphasize something that’s important: your training should be tough.
Our bodies adapt (to a certain degree) quite quickly to things. If you want to change the shape of your body, going to the gym and sitting in the leg press machine to do three easy sets over the course of 20 minutes while you post selfies on Snapchat isn’t going to cut it. Sure, that movement is better than no movement, absolutely. But aga
in, if you are talking about body change, you’re gonna have to work for it. This means you need to continue to challenge yourself with either more volume, more weight, or less rest time, but not necessarily with longer workouts.
Training Hard, but Still Sedentary
Many people that train hard several days per week are still quite sedentary. Outside of a bit of exercise, most people (myself included) spend about 8 – 10 hours most days in a seated position.
While you may not need more exercise, almost everybody could benefit from more non-exercise movement. Take a walk, throw the ball for your dog, dance while your food cooks, or take a five minute break during the day to do some mobility work. By incorporating more non-exercise movement, you are contributing to your bottomline in terms of energy expenditure, but without the negative effects of increasing hunger and appetite entitlement.
In order to get the most out of exercise when it comes to changing the shape of your body, it should be short and intense to keep hunger and appetite under control. You need to be working hard, and challenging yourself. And don’t forget to move your body a whole lot outside of your training sessions.