You train a few times a week, you make an effort, you give everything - and despite it all, you're not seeing much success? That's frustrating. But you're not alone.
Training is no guarantee of results. Which factors should you pay more attention to in the future? Find out here.
What does success in training even mean?
Achievement is as individual as you are. For person A, it's an achievement to make it to training at all. Person B celebrates getting faster or doing more weight on the bench press. Person C is excited about doing a pull-up for the first time. But in order to realize success, you need goals.
Set your goals
"A man without a goal is like an arrow without a point." (Native American proverb)Defining and formulating a goal is the first step on the road to success. Without a sense of what you're working toward, it will be difficult to keep up the motivation.
“I want to lose weight.” “I want to get fitter." "I want to get better.” Overarching goals like these are a good start, but you can get more specific.
Setting a goal to lose weight is like wanting a car that drives. To make this wish come true, you could simply go to the nearest dealer and buy a car.
Sounds unrealistic, right? Because normally before you buy a car, you'd have a precise idea of the budget, color, model, and horsepower you want. So define your goals just as meticulously as you would prepare to invest in a car:
The goal must neither under nor overwhelm you. If you set yourself unrealistic (unattainable) goals, this will have a negative impact on your success. For example, it is unrealistic for a 25-year-old, untrained man who is 20kg overweight to achieve his vision of a six-pack within three months.
Make your goals clear and concise. That way, you can check if you're on the right track along the way. The "how" is crucial, as is the time frame in which you want to achieve your goal.
Example: I want to do my first pull-up in three months. For this, I have to complete the program that I got from my coach three times a week.
Don't make other people's goals your goals. Your goals should relate to your own ability to perform and they should fit your circumstances.
The best way to increase your motivation is through visible success. This must be objectively measurable — for example, by achieving your first pull-up.
A long-term goal has a driving force. For example, set yourself the goal of completing your training program each week (short-term goal), in order to be able to do your first pull-up after three months (medium-term goal), and after 16 months the first muscle-up (long-term goal).
These principles all put you in control of your path to success.Tip: Make a verbal or written contract with your best training buddy. Agree on one subject of the contract that all parties must comply with:
I [name] hereby certify in writing that I will go running with my training buddy Max Muster on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The contract will be considered fulfilled when I run 5km in under 30 minutes.
Anabolic or catabolic?
Is your body getting stronger, faster, or better in training? If so, that means it's reacting to the set training stimuli and adapting to the load. This phenomenon is based on the "principle of biological adaptation" (supercompensation*).It states that our organism perceives every planned or unplanned load that exceeds a critical stimulus threshold as a disturbance of balance and reacts with a reduction in performance.
In the regeneration phase, the organism not only reacts by restoring itself to its old state, but also super-compensates in order to be better equipped for the next load requirement. A performance improvement — an adaptation — has taken place.
Warning: There are certain conditions that prevent the body from adapting:
- too little sleep
- chronic daily stress
- relationship difficulties
- financial problems
- a stressful job
Your body reacts to these circumstances by ensuring an adequate supply of energy, so that you're in a state of constant readiness to run away or defend yourself.Over the course of evolution, the stressors have changed, but not the way the body reacts. It used to be the saber-toothed tiger you had to flee from or fight, and today it is chronic stress or a fight with your partner.
Your body wants to ensure you can handle these stressors at all times. This occurs via the catabolic process, in which your body burns high-energy substrates in muscle cells.
It's bad news for anyone trying to build muscle or strength: your body's metabolism (anabolism) is responsible for this part. With daily stress and inadequate sleep, your body reacts as described above.
So, what can you do about it? Either eliminate stressors or keep them to a minimum. Consciously use your free time to switch off, including take a break from screens and social media.
How to set the right conditions for your body
Back to the car example: Imagine getting into your car every day and putting the pedal to the floor immediately. Imagine that you sometimes you fill up with super, sometimes with diesel. And you haven't changed the car's oil in who knows how long.What's going to happen? Your car is going to conk out, no longer able to fulfill its function of getting you from point A to B.
But of course you don't treat your car like that. What about your body? Are you pushing yourself to your limits every day, rushing from one appointment to the next and eating irregularly and unhealthfully?
If so, your body cannot perform as well as you expect or hope. Recovery periods and a healthy diet are at least as important as the training itself.
Resting and recovery doesn't necessarily mean taking supplements, doing ice baths, or getting a massage. All of that has positive effects, but there are other adjustments that you can make immediately:
Chronic lack of sleep has a negative impact on fat burning and inhibits muscle growth. Seven to eight hours of sleep is enough to give your body the regeneration it needs.More than eight hours of sleep is optimal: Studies of tennis players, basketball players, and swimmers showed that they were able to increase their performance many times over.
On average, the test subjects slept nine to ten hours. Aspects such as reaction time and target accuracy also improved because the athletes were mentally in better shape.
Conclusion: Treat yourself to a good night's sleep if you want to see more success in training.
Are you getting enough macro and micro nutrients? A balanced diet is one of the keys to success. Protein is an important building block that helps you regenerate and build muscle whether you want to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain your weight.Protein has several important functions in the body:
- Building material: Protein provides the material for the construction and renewal of cells and tissues. No other food can perform this function.
- Transport function: Proteins serve as a means of transport in the blood plasma for various substances (e.g. cholesterol, vitamins, iron)
- Structural function: Proteins are components of membranes (e.g. keratin, collagen, etc.)
- Contractile function: Specific proteins play an essential role in the structure and function of muscles.
- Protection and defense: Antibodies are made up of proteins. Proteins also play an important role in wound healing.
- Proteins (e.g. enzymes) are components of bodily fluids and secretions, including blood and digestive secretions, with important functions.
In order to build up somatic cells and to be able to regenerate dead cells, the body needs protein, since this is the basic building block of every cell in your body.
Various factors influence each individual's daily protein requirement:
Body weight influences the number of dying cells and the number of cells that will be regenerated
- Age: Those still growing will gain body mass and have a correspondingly higher need for new somatic cells.
- Physical activity influences muscle development, creating an increased need for protein.
Tip: Calculate 0.8g to approximately 2g of protein per kilogram of body weight, depending on your age, size, weight, type of sport, training phase, and performance intensity.
When choosing a protein source, opt for lean options (poultry, filets, low-fat dairy) to avoid high intakes of fat, cholesterol, and purines.Always make sure you drink enough fluids. The by-product of protein, urea, can only be excreted through the kidneys if there is sufficient fluid intake.
Animal sources of protein are meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Vegetable sources of protein are legumes, nuts, oilseeds/seeds, soy products (e.g. tofu), etc.
Chronic stress disrupts your system. It also ensures that your muscles cannot recover. Stressed people take twice as long to recover from strenuous exercise, and they also build strength more slowly.
Methods: meditation, yoga, a walk in fresh air.
Conclusion: success in training is what you make of it
You want your training to bear fruit and to be able to see your achievements? Start now by putting these tips into practice:
- Set yourself concrete goals and formulate them according to the following principles: your goals must be realistic, concise, personal, visible, and come with a deadline.
- Eliminate stressors in your everyday life or get them down to a minimum.
- Get enough sleep: eight hours or more is ideal.
- Give your body the best fuel you can: regeneration and a balanced diet are both key.
*The "model of supercompensation" is based on research by Jakovlev (1977) on muscle and liver glycogen after stress in animals (Nikolaj Nikolaevich Jakovlev: Sportbiochemie. Barth, Leipzig 1977. At the same time: Sports medicine series of publications of the German University for Physical Culture. Leipzig 1977, volume 14)