WHY IS MY GYM PERFORMANCE SO BAD?
Nov 08, 23 | News | 0 Comments
Are you feeling frustrated because your gym performance is not up to par? You're not alone. Many people struggle with this issue, and it can be disheartening to see others making progress while you feel stuck in a rut. However, there are several factors that could be causing your gym performance to suffer. Understanding these factors can help you make the necessary adjustments and improve your overall fitness level.
Whether you're a dedicated fitness enthusiast or just beginning your journey, understanding these factors is crucial to achieving your workout goals. From the role of nutrition and the impact of consistency to the often-overlooked effects of insufficient warm-up and mobility routines, we'll help you on your way to improving your gym performance and enhancing your overall fitness experience. If you’re eager to break through those physical and mental barriers that are holding you back, read on to see how you can transform your workouts from lacklustre to legendary.
1. Lack of Proper Nutrition
One of the most overlooked aspects affecting gym performance is nutrition. If your food intake is inadequate, such as skipping meals or eating junk food before hitting the gym, your body won’t have the necessary nutrients to perform at its best and it’ll show in your performance. A lack of proper nutrition can result in fatigue, poor concentration, muscle weakness, and even injury.
Consuming a balanced diet rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals is essential for optimal energy levels and muscle recovery. Too little carbs or fats before training will end up leading to early exhaustion, this is because of a lack of glycogen stores in the body. Glycogen is used as fuel for the muscles, and if there is a depleted store, the muscles will not have as much stamina.
A study from the University of Queensland¹ put subjects under a glycogen depletion protocol by limiting their carb intake for two days. When tested before and after, it was found that there was a significant decrease in the number of reps they could perform in the barbell squat compared to their normal performance.
Ideally, you need to eat a well-balanced meal about three to four hours prior to working out. A well balanced meal includes a protein source, such as Critical Whey, a veggie source like Critical Greens, and complex carbs, which are found in Critical Oats.
2. Inadequate Rest and Recovery
Another common reason for poor gym performance is inadequate rest and recovery time. Did you know that during a workout you tear your muscle fibres? Your body needs time to repair itself after a workout session; this is when muscle growth happens. If you're constantly pushing yourself without giving your body enough time to recover, it can lead to decreased performance, increased injury risk, and persistent fatigue among other symptoms.
Getting a good night's sleep is also vital for gym performance as it helps restore energy levels and repair muscle tissues. If you’re not sleeping for a solid 7-8 hours nightly, your workouts will be negatively affected. Research from Charest and Grandner² shows that sleep loss and/or poor sleep quality can impair muscular strength, speed, and other aspects of physical performance. Sleep issues can also increase risk of concussions and other injuries, and impair recovery following injury.
Multiple studies from Souissi et al³ have found that being sleep-deprived causes the body to give up when it would otherwise normally be physically capable of pushing further. Therefore, you should do what it takes to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you aren’t recovering fully, you are less likely to be able to get the most out of your muscles and your workout, making your workout feel more difficult and affecting your progress in the long run.
3. Lack of Consistency
The most important ingredient for fitness success is consistency. Consistency is key when it comes to improving gym performance. If you're only hitting the gym sporadically or changing up your workout routine too often, you're not giving your body the chance to adapt and improve. Consistency keeps you focused on your goals and allows you to make daily, weekly and monthly progress, which is key to getting the results you’ve been dreaming of.
Working out needs to be something you look forward to, not something you dread or a boring chore. It's important to stick with a well-structured training program that progressively increases in intensity over time. This allows your body to gradually adapt to the increased demands, leading to improvements in strength, endurance, and overall performance.
Prioritise exercise by scheduling it into your daily or weekly routine. Treat it as an essential appointment with yourself that you wouldn’t cancel. Remember, taking small steps each day eventually leads to you walking miles! If you’re wanting an extra boost to get you racing to the gym, why not try our ABE Ultimate Pre-Workout? ABE delivers a unique blend of the most vital and researched active ingredients known to help increase physical performance, reduce tiredness and fatigue and provide continual focus throughout your training, maximising your body's potential.
4. Insufficient Warm-Up and Mobility
Warming up before exercise prepares your cardiovascular system for physical activity. It increases blood flow to your muscles, raises your core body temperature and also helps lower the risk of getting injured. When your muscles are adequately warmed up, the movements, stretches and strain you put them under during your workout is less severe. This minimises muscle soreness.
If you fail to warm up and stretch insufficiently, especially if you are undertaking an intense workout, such as incorporating squats, deadlifts or running, this can put you at an increased risk of muscle injury. Warming up will not only help your body prepare for your workout, but it will also help your brain dial into the job it is about to do. This increased focus can help you improve your technique, coordination and skill.
Stretching and mobility exercises are performed to increase the range of motion of the joints, and are effective for the maintenance and enhancement of exercise performance and flexibility. A 2014 study from Adelsberger and Tröster⁴ showed that stretching resulted in an improvement in stability and balance on those who performed a range of challenging movements like front-squats and deadlifts.
Your warm-up and stretching routine should correlate to the type of exercise you are about to perform. For instance, preparing your body with specific movements which mimic the movements you will be doing in your workout; jogging on a treadmill for 5 minutes does not sufficiently prepare the body for squats or deadlifts, whilst bodyweight squats and stretches that prepare the hamstrings and posterior chain can go a long way.
5. Mental Factors
Stress, lack of motivation, low self-esteem - all these can hinder your ability to perform at your best in the gym. Stress of all kinds can be brought on by so many different things, such as job and finance worries and problems with relationships and family members. This can cause your brain to be less focused on the task at hand and therefore can have an impact on the quality of your workout. It’s hard to put in your best efforts during your training sessions when you start your workout with a half-empty tank.
Research from MacMahon et al.⁵ has shown that cognitive fatigue (or brain tiredness) brought on by stress can make you think you’re working out harder and more effectively than you actually are. It is no surprise that fatigue contributes to feeling distracted quickly, having insufficient concentration levels, memory deficiencies, and slower reaction times. When stressed, you may find you're making a few more mistakes than usual as well.
Practising mindfulness techniques like meditation or yoga can help manage stress levels and improve focus. Setting realistic fitness goals and celebrating small victories along the way can also boost motivation and self-confidence.
If you’re feeling stressed and are looking for a natural supplement to help you manage your stress levels, the following products may be able to help you:
6. The Menstrual Cycle
If you are someone who menstruates, your cycle could be having a profound effect on your performance in the gym. Changing hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may mean you may have higher or lower energy levels than usual.
A 2021 study into the Impact of the Phases of the Menstrual Cycle Upon the Performance of Athletes⁶ showed that there was a significant increase in dominant handgrip strength in the late follicular phase (around the week before ovulation) and there were significant differences between phases in non-dominant hand grip strength. The same study showed that performance outcomes were relatively reduced in the late luteal phase (around the week before your period) than any other phase. This indicates that premenstrual syndrome, menstrual symptoms prior to menstruation or the declining female sex hormones may have a role in reducing performance.
Oestrogen levels may also play a role in your workout performance. From the late follicular to mid-luteal phase, oestrogen is higher, which is thought to have a positive effect on your mood. This not only affects your motivation to train but there is evidence from Enns and Tiidus⁷ to suggest that the ability to recover from training is improved. This is due to the fact that oestrogen is thought to have a protective function against muscle damage.
In the mid to late luteal phase, the body’s basal body temperature is higher, and research from the University of Sidney⁸ has demonstrated that this phase has a negative effect on prolonged exercise performance. This is because of elevated body temperature and potentially increased cardiovascular strain, which can cause your body to fatigue faster.
Therefore, when you have elevated oestrogen levels, you may find you are stronger and are much more able to lift heavy and run for longer - this is the time to be hitting PBs! However, if you’re suffering from PMS symptoms which can make you feel sluggish and bloated, it’s okay to listen to your body and take it easier if you need to.
When your gym performance consistently falls short of your expectations, it's crucial to identify and address the underlying issues.There are many factors that could be contributing to poor gym performance, from nutrition to mental factors, and if you menstruate, this could have an impact on the quality of your workout too. In addition to the previously mentioned factors, you should also consider factors like hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, and medication side effects.
By pinpointing the obstacles hindering your progress and implementing the appropriate solutions, you can revitalise your gym performance and work effectively towards your fitness goals. Applied Nutrition is here to provide the nutritional support you need on your journey, offering supplements tailored to your specific needs. With dedication, consistency, and the right approach, you can overcome these challenges and finally experience the results you've been striving for in the gym.
Remember that progress takes time; don't be too hard on yourself if things don't change overnight. Stay consistent with healthy habits, keep a positive mindset, seek professional guidance when needed - soon enough, you'll see improvements not just in your gym performance but also in overall health and well-being.
By Shannon Gaskell
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