Summer is coming up and it’s time to show off those beach bods. But what if you’re struggling to get the physique you want? These 5 reasons may be why:
You don’t actually want it
What a way to start an article right? But I think it’s important that we address the obvious elephant in the room before we move on to other potential causes. For some folks, the idea of being “jacked and tan”, “lean”, “fit” or whatever phrase they use to describe the ideal look that they would like is just that, an idea. Much like wanting to make a million dollars but not being willing to invest your life savings and work 60 hours a week to make it happen, wanting to look like you work out hard and eat right without actually working out hard and eating right is the reason people can become millionaires selling bogus fitness products on late night television. So, if you’re someone who happens to fit this mold, you have two solid options: 1) Stop wasting time and energy worrying about something that isn’t important to you. You can still be healthy without looking like a fitness model (health being a relative term, you can’t really be healthy and 500 lbs) so do what you enjoy and don’t worry about the rest. 2) Realize that if you really want something, you have to act on it. In the words of our great green leader Yoda “There is no try, do or do not.”
You’re kinda dumb
Seriously, who starts off an article with these two points? I do. Because some people really do want it, they just do really dumb stuff to try and make it happen. Ever thought a juice cleanse was the ticket to flat abs? Ever purchased a piece of home exercise equipment that got sold in a garage sale? Ever taken exercise advice from someone who gets paid to post pictures of their butt on instagram? If you’ve answered yes to this question or a thousand questions similar to it, you in fact may be dumb. Thankfully, this is an easy fix. First, you’re reading this article which means you’ve at least taken a step away from the fitness scam marketing and started getting information for a quality company that is focussed on a no bullshit approach to fitness. Second, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to join a gym that is focused on producing results instead of offering cheap, no commitment memberships that they know you’ll never use (may I suggest NBS Fitness). Third, you need to get around some folks who know what they’re doing. Look for people with a college degree, a decent certification, years of experience, and lots of success (for themselves and others). Some combination of the above or even better, all the above, will put you in the best possible position to actually make progress and reach a new level in your physique (again, let me suggest NBS Fitness. Our trainers and members fit all the criteria).
You don’t have enough muscle
Regardless of the exact physique you are going for, a quality physique is going to be characterized by two things: muscularity and lower levels of body fat. Increasing your muscularity gives the “look” of someone who trains. Why do powerlifters and strongman with higher body fat levels in the 15-20% range look so much different than the average Joe carrying around the same body fat percentage? Simple, they have significantly more muscle. More muscle also improves your insulin sensitivity which allows your body to better utilize the carbohydrates that you intake. So when you eat that rice krispy treat it’s more likely to get used up for energy or stored as glycogen instead of converted into more body fat. Muscle does improve your resting metabolism but not by a significant amount. However, if you were to exchange 10 lbs of fat for 10 lbs of muscle, you would be more likely to utilize the food that you did eat in a more ideal way (the whole insulin sensitivity thing). Of course decreasing body fat levels is a major concern but if you’re someone who has to take their clothes off to look like they work out and instead just look “skinny”, you may want to dedicate some time to building muscle.
Your metabolism is jacked up
I don’t think metabolisms are quite as frail as some people make them out to be but I can’t deny the fact that some people seem to lose fat quite easily without much effort while others seem to gain fat on almost no food at all. Whatever the case, losing body fat can be tricky if you don’t have a high caloric need. To give a bit of an example, let’s take two people both with a resting metabolic rate of 10 calories per lb of body fat, one is a 120 lb female and the other is a 250 lb male. The 120 lb female would need 1,200 calories a day to maintain her current weight and the male would need 2,500. If we were wanting to lose half a lb of fat (1750 calories) a week, we would want to be in a caloric deficit of 250 calories a day. Well this would put the female at a caloric intake of 950 calories a day and the guy at 2,250. What happens if they halt progress and you need to make another cut? The female is already at really tiny amount of food where as the guy still has a decent food intake. Now, this scenario doesn’t take into all the other potential parts of the equation but is a basic outline of how having a higher caloric need can help. So, how can you alter your metabolism? Good question. Outside of thyroid medication, your best bet it is to exercise, get quality sleep, eat a balanced diet and make very small adjustments either way. If you’re weight isn’t moving in the right direction, it’s better to make a small change, measure, and adjust than to cut all your carbs and double your cardio. Also realize that the body can only take a beating for so long. So sometime to two steps forward, once step back approach may be best to keep from hitting a plateau.
Your hormones are out of whack
Training hard? Check! Eating right? Check! Been doing both for a while (i.e. months)? Check! Still kinda looking the same? Yeah, what gives? Well you may have some hormones that are out of whack. Hormones are the signals throughout your body that tell certain organs to do certain jobs. This could be everything from telling your body to uptake glucose into the cell, to release stored lipids (fat) into the bloodstream to be used for fuel, to telling your bladder to release all it’s contents because you were frightened. If the hormones aren’t being produced in a high enough quantity or the cells aren’t responding to the hormones, you could have some serious trouble getting your body to do what you want it to do. When it comes to physique improvement, the main hormones you will be concerned with are your sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen), your thyroid hormones (T3, T4, and TSH), and how well your body handles carbohydrate intake (insulin, AIC, fasting glucose levels). If you’re concerned, consult with a physician to get your levels checked. If you do have something that is out of whack, then bring it back into it’s proper range can make a huge difference.
There you have it! 5 reasons you may be struggling to get the physique you’re after. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.