5 Reasons You’re Not Progressing In The Gym

If you go to a gym in Bakewell or a gym in Wilmslow and your body is not changing here are 5 reasons why and what to do about it

There is nothing more frustrating than busting a gut in the gym for your body to stay the same. Here are 5 reasons you might not be progressing quite how you might like.

#1 Lifting the same weights every time

Your body is clever - it adapts according to a fancy sports science principle called 'SAID', which stands for 'Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands'. Or in other words you are a reflection of the things you consistently do. If you run 5 times per week every week you will likely become good at running. If you squat 5 times per week, every week you will likely get good at squatting etc. When you send the right signals to your body it will adapt in your favour but send the wrong signals or no singles at all and it won't. When it comes to training this means in order to encourage your body to adapt aka build muscle or increase calorie expenditure you've got keep challenging it. In the gym you do this by adding more weight, more reps, more sets and/or less rest. Do this progressively week in week out and you will start to see you body adapt for the better. The alternative is to keep your weights that same and, you guessed it... Never change.

#2 Never tracking your weights

A huge mistake I see people make is not knowing what weights they lift. Simply writing down your weights, the date you lifted them and have that there for reference next time to step into the gym takes the guess work out of what weights you should be lifting. And more to the point what weights to lift to ensure your weights are going up each week to benefit from the principles of progressive overload (a principle I explain in mistake 5).

#3 Training in one plane of motion

The third mistake I see people make in the gym is that they train in one direction - backwards, forwards, up and down. This direction is called the sagittal plane. However, there are 2 more planes of motion that should be considered. The first is the frontal plane - side to side. And the second is the transverse plane - twisting. The reason it is important to build your training around all three planes of motion is to achieve structural balance throughout your body. Some of the benefits associated with a well balanced programme considering all three planes of motion include healthier joints, increased functional strength, increase range of motion, reduced risk of injury and improved posture.  

#4 Too many isolation exercises

Isolation exercises include bicep curls, tricep push downs, calf raises, should shrugs, lateral raises, stomach crunches to name a few. I am a big believer that a bad exercise doesn't exist, however there is a classification of exercises that will give you more bang for your buck if you lift 3-4 times or less per week. The exercises I'm referring to are called compound movements - aka those that use two joints or more to produce movement. These include deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull ups and overhead press to name a few. The reason compound exercises are superior is because they recruit more muscle fibres, demand a lot more effort and impose a lot more stress (in a good way) to your body. Thus encouraging your body to adapt more so than if you performed an isolation exercise. Having said that isolation exercises still have a place in a well balanced routine. So if you lift an average 3-4 times per week or less my recommendation is to make sure 85-90% of your workouts consist of compound lifts over and above isolation movements.

#5 Random workouts

Random workouts get random/no results. Your body responds according to a principle called progressive overload. Simply put if you consistently challenge yourself to perform the same lifts consistently over many weeks your body will respond and adapt. If all you do is perform random workouts each week with no consistency your body will never benefit from the principle of progressive overload. In order for your body to change try following a the same weekly weights routine for 4-6 weeks. Aim to add more weight, reps, sets and/or lower your rest period progressively each week and your body will respond by getting stronger, leaner and fitter.

I hope this blog has given you some useful tools to make some breakthroughs in the gym.

Good luck,


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