As a personal trainer, I get quite a few clients who initially come to me with those complaints. Setting aside nutrition, the main reason for their issues is either:
1. They're doing the same few workouts, over and over again, or
2. They're never doing the same thing, haphazardly working out
Here's how you can start achieving the changes you're working toward.
Follow a Program
In my opinion and expertise, one of the biggest contributors to seeing results from your training is proper programming. This starts with an actual program, written for you or for someone with your goals in mind, that's written in a focus that matches yours.
Following a program (even better, one that's customized to your goals, limitations, schedule, etc.) will allow you to see results and improvements from week to week. On the flip side, working out in a way where there are different movements, working different muscle groups in a haphazard and not cohesive manner, while MUCH better than nothing, makes it hard for you to make concrete improvements in a single area.
Progress a Program
Additionally, following a solid program should also make progressions to the movements or intensity when needed. If you're working with a coach or trainer, he or she will help you progress your program in a periodized fashion (moving through different parts of a training program during a specific period of time). But if you're working out on your own, how do you know if you're working hard enough to push it a little harder?
First, let's talk about some of the ways to push yourself via workout progressions. There are a number of ways to progress your workouts, some of which include:
- Adding load (increasing weight)
- Increasing speed (either traditionally, i.e. sprinting, rowing, cycling, etc. or through power training)
- Increasing range of motion (becoming more flexible)
- Progressing the movements — from bodyweight squat, to front squat, to back squat, etc.
- Decreasing stability — via single leg movements, TRX, etc. for gym work, or via trails for running
- Changing implements — dumbbells, kettlebell, barbells, etc.
- Increasing volume — adding more sets and reps for weights, or sprint sets for running, etc.
- Decreasing rest time
- Increasing frequency
- Manipulating tempo — via time under tension for strength training, or tempo running for running/biking, etc.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to progress your training while following a periodized program. No matter what type of program you're following, make sure its focus is on reaching your goals and progressing according to your fitness level and adaptations.
Check out these other training tips to keep you moving:
3 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer
Healthy Body, Happy Trails Workout
How To: Create Your Own Training Plan
3 Simple Yoga Poses for Post-Workout Recovery