This article is being published in February for a specific reason: I deplore fitness articles geared towards the New Year resolutionists in January. The true test of a person’s perseverance comes after the initial onslaught of spring break motivation dies out and they realize that working out requires more than 6 weeks of hard work and incessant soreness in order to produce results.
There are a variety of reasons why your training methods hasn’t given you the results you’re looking for over time. As a strength coach, this is my best attempt at pinpointing the issue. Chances are, you’re making one of these mistakes, and your dad bod remains as a result.
1. You Eat Like You’re 19 But You’re 39
You can’t out-train a bad diet. It’s an adage you’ve likely heard before if you’ve been in and around the gym for any period of time. This subheading is dedicated to the guys who eat clean 60% of the time, but crush fast food for dinner and go out for beers and wings with the guys to watch Sunday night football.
It doesn’t hurt to have a cheat meal, or even three. But when bad food is entering your system on the daily, it’s going to cumulatively come back to bite you. Imagine what you’d look like if you didn’t have 300 bad meals over the course of the year?!
Again, I’m not saying you’re going to have to eliminate them completely. But reducing that total by even 100 would have a huge imprint on your body’s composition. By extension, controlling the portion size of the remaining 200 will not only satisfy your cravings for that kind of food, but further decrease the reach of its negative effects.
If you want your body to reflect your training, it’s going to have to take making clean eating a bit more of a habit than you currently are. It’ll get easier over time.
2. Athlete or Weekend Warrior?
If you want to look like an athlete, you’ve got to train like one. Athletes get paid to perform well at their sport and in order to do that, they train extensively for it. Outside of sport specific practice, training is their full time job. Their bodies look the way they do largely because they spend upwards of 20 hours per week doing some type of intense physical activity. That’s a lot.
And it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to quit your job (and your life) to match those numbers. But now it’s time to consider reality: if you’re lucky, you’re spending three hours per week pursuing a similar body. Bittersweet, but sadly it’s probably true.
When you add in other factors like insufficient rest, poor nutrition (discussed above), and general life stress from a job or family, you’ve got an environment that’s not geared toward success.
If you’re really determined to take a step beyond the mediocre physique of the average North American male, it’s time to make the time to train more frequently each week. Try to fit in 4-5 sessions per week for 6 weeks, and then take a step back to reassess your results.
3. You’re All Show and No Go
If you’re reading this website, you likely already know that I don’t mean general weight training here. I mean training for actual strength. It’s the essential factor you’re probably missing out on in favor of isolation training, and focusing on “show” muscles.
Simply put – if you don’t have a foundation of strength, changing your physique is going to be an uphill battle. When one has a higher proportion of lean body mass, it’s much easier to generate kinesthetic awareness and motor control to get the most out of your isolation movements. Training in such an efficient manner will only help you build more muscle.
Plus, the benefits of performing the big compound lifts like squats, pull ups, deadlifts, and overhead presses go a step further when you think about the hormone release they elicit. Increasing your levels of HGH and Testosterone can lower estrogen levels, decrease body fat, and potentiate more muscle growth.
4. Just Grip It and Rip It Bro…Right?
You can train as much as you want but you won’t get all of the ample benefits if you’re technique looks like a fish out of water. Quarter reps on the bench press and squat followed by turtle back deadlifts won’t do much to develop your chest, legs, or back respectively.
Sure, you’ll still be exerting yourself and working hard, but you’re only making the risk for injury higher as you get stronger. Utilizing correct technique is just as essential for seeing physical results as it is for getting stronger.
5. Tracy Anderson Trains Harder Than You
No one said this was going to be easy, where ever did you get that idea?
If you’re not willing to work hard or you shy away from the intense burning sensation during an extended set, then you’re in for a long road ahead.
I’m the last person that would tell you to squat until you puke, then wake up 3 minutes later in a puddle of sweat seeing stars. But it goes without saying that intention and maximal effort are definitely required to produce an effective workout.
However, that might mean the effort comes by way of connecting your mind to your muscles with submaximal loads and getting the most out of each rep. Get engaged with the set, take out your headphones, and learn what it means to actually push yourself every session.
Half the battle is showing up, the other half is what actually occurs once you get a bar on your back. Don’t just go through the motions and “get through your workout”.
Dad Bod Domination
Training and nutrition can come across as complex and almost impossible at times. But the main takeaways from this article are pretty straightforward:
- Eat like you train, you can’t stuff your face if you’re not training for it
- Consistency is the name of the game
- No one got huge from lateral raises and leg extensions
- Technique trumps everything
- Hard work exists outside your comfort zone, get comfortable being uncomfortable
Using the KISS (keep it simple, stupid!) method can be the saving grace for your gains. Remember that a physical change requires a lifestyle change.
It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the things you used to – it just means the ratios need to be skewed, and you have to be a better moderator if you really want sustainable results this year.
But, in the end, it’s up to you. I’ll let you decide.