If you’re not hitting your fit goals, there’s probably a good reason. Our resident PTs share the habits they really want you to ditch.

You’re putting in the hours at the gym, but you’re not seeing the tiniest bit of difference. Yep, we’ve all been there, and it sucks – but if you’re looking for answers, the experts have a few home truths they’d like to share.

Turns out, if you’ve hit a fitness plateau, it could be that you’ve developed some not-so-great habits that are holding you back. Whether it’s your inability to regularly get out of bed for a workout or an unintentionally negative mindset when you hit the gym, your approach to exercise is probably due for a shake-up.

So what do the people who spend their days helping others get fit really think? We asked our resident personal trainers, Blake Worrall-Thompson and Libby Babet, to ’fess up about all the little things they wish we’d stop doing. Heed their no-nonsense advice and get ready to bring home the results you’ve been chasing…

1. You always stick to the same old workout

Blake says: “We all get comfortable with the same routine but you really must change up your workouts for progress’ sake. Whether it’s an increase in weight, mixing up the rep range or fitting more volume into less time, in order to keep moving forward you need to keep challenging your body. If you aren’t pushing yourself, your results will slow down and possibly, come to a complete halt. The same goes for group training. If you always stick to the same group exercise class, you could be missing
out on the benefits of variety. Most traditional class formats only change their routines every three months or so and that’s probably not often enough. For the best results, mix up your group training with your own workouts to ensure you’ve got varied challenges.”

2. You can’t stay consistent

Libby says: “Consistency is the most important exercise you’ll ever learn how to do. And it really is an exercise in itself. You’ve got to train your brain if you want to properly train your body. I can assure you that two workouts every week for a year will make much more of an impact than 20 workouts in one month and then none for the next 11 months!”

3. You’re not paying attention to your technique

Libby says: “Poor form doesn’t just increase your risk of injury, it can also contribute to incorrect posture and stall your results. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it the right way. If you’re not quite sure how to perform an exercise, just ask!

4. You train when your mind is elsewhere

Blake says: “This is a big one and it happens a lot. I’ll often ask my clients where they’re at and what they’re thinking about to get their mind back and focused. For many of us, training is a form of therapy. In the same way that focusing on your breathing while meditating clears the mind, focusing on what you are doing in the gym can clear your mind from other distractions that life brings. Leave your worries at the door and get to work.”

5. You always skip the warm-up

Libby says: “Do you really want to get injured and be out for weeks at a time? No? Then warm up. End of story. It doesn’t have to be complicated; a slow, five-minute jog or a few minutes of skipping rope and a few dynamic stretches are enough to hydrate your connective tissue, limber up your muscles and fire up your mind-body connection so you’re more coordinated.”

6. Or you never cool down

Blake says: “We’ve all skipped the cool-down – but, truth is, both the warm-up and cool-down are extremely important to the body when it comes to injury prevention, reducing pain and optimising your performance. A lot of people skip the cool-down because they don’t have injuries, but you should think of it as ‘prehab’ rather than ‘rehab’.”

7. You treat yourself with food after every workout

Libby says: “You aren’t a puppy, so you shouldn’t need a chocolate treat every time you do something ‘good’. Make your workout the reward and fuel up on plenty of water, veggies and a little protein post-sesh. I promise, it will feel really good when you stop using food as your reward and begin seeing it as the quality fuel that helps fire up your energy and passion for life.” 

Blake says: “You tell yourself you’ve earned it – and I have no doubt you did! – but if you really want to move forward, you’re going to have to change what you’re doing. For many people, that doesn’t need to be a huge amount of change, but you need to start by stopping the ‘reward’ system every time you work out. If you want serious results, your reward or treat should come once or twice a week.”

8. You show up to your workout – but you’re half awake

Libby says: “Working out is important but sleep is more important. You won’t get the results you want without it, because sleep is where your body creates the hormones that help you burn fat and feel good! Be strict with yourself, turn off the TV and computer a little earlier than usual and make an effort to climb into bed for at least six to eight hours of sleep.”

9. You view exercise as punishment

Blake says: “Whether it’s seeing exercise as a punishment or just the wrong mindset, your approach plays a big role in getting the results you want. A focused, positive mindset is the difference between where you are now and where you want to be.”

Libby says: “Instead of saying, ‘I really need to work out today’, switch just one word and make it, ‘I really want to work out today’. This one tiny change creates waves and will totally revolutionise your approach to working out. Be strict with yourself and don’t let that ‘N’ word sneak back in! Exercise can be the reward in your day, if you let it.”

This story originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Women’s Fitness. 

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