Tip: Slow Gains? 3 Things You Might Be Missing

People will try the weirdest diets and workouts, but many won't do the simple things proven to work. Here are three of them.

1 – Daily Process Goals

These are tiny, bite-sized, manageable goals that will help "supplement" the bigger picture. Revamping one's nutrition or dietary habits is often the first hump to tackle with any fitness goal and can be a daunting task. So daunting that people are quick to abandon ship and get frustrated if they don't look like The Rock within three months.

I work with a lot of guys who are looking to add size. Something I'll tell them to do is to think of 2-3 process goals they can achieve daily that will help them hit their larger goal. Some examples might be:

  • Not skipping breakfast.
  • Making 1-2 protein shakes per day.
  • Eat some freaking carbs, for the love of god.

I'll then tell them to print out a calendar and post it where they'll see it everyday. From there I'll tell them to write down their process goals so that each day they follow through they can place a checkmark or cross them off on the calendar. The idea is to achieve 90% compliance each week.

There's something magical that happens when people are able to see legitimate proof that they're nailing their goals. It helps to keep them accountable and on task. And, after awhile, the law of consistency will take over. Granted, they still won't look like The Rock, but it stands to reason they won't look like Screech either.

2 – A Workout Log

I had a client express frustration that he wasn't seeing the strength gains he'd hoped for. I looked at his program and noticed it was blank. The exercises were listed of course, along with the number of sets and reps requested, but that was it. No creases in the paper, chicken scratch, or even stick figures to remind him what a pull-through was. It was as if I had handed him his program an hour ago.

"So, uh, how much weight did you use for you squats last week?"

(Crickets chirping)

"There's your problem."

He was more or less guessing and going off memory each week. Sound familiar?

Simple Fix: Write your shit down. Track it. Stop playing the guessing game. I know we live in a tech savvy world now and there's an app for everything, but I still find using a regular ol' notebook and pen my preferred way to log workouts.

Along with tracking sets/reps I'll also make note of RPE (rate of perceived exertion) and even write down general observations of how I feel on any given day. All of it provides pertinent information which allows me to gauge progress and make necessary tweaks to programs moving forward. Do it.

3 – Sleep!

Time and time again, the one thing I adjust the most with my athletes, especially when they're not seeing progress in the gym, is their sleep habits. The answer is usually not cryotherapy, submersion baths, rubbing melted cacao nibs on your junk, or whatever kooky modality you can think of.

Sleep is the one thing that'll singlehandedly have the most profound affect on your ability to get shredded, deadlift a bulldozer, beat Jason Bourne in a fist fight, or any other fitness/performance endeavor you can think of.