“How do I know if I'm training too little?” is a question we get asked a lot. It may seem like a pretty straight forward question.
The answers are a bit more complicated than you might expect.
In today’s article, we’re going to analyze what training is, how we set objectives for our training goals.
Last, but not least, we’re going to answer the age-old question – how do you know if you trained too little?
What is considered "training"?
It may seem like a silly question at first, but consider this – what Dwayne the Rock Johnson may view as a “normal” training regime is completely different from what your grandma might.
For some people, training may refer to preparing for their local 5k run, whilst others are preparing for a weightlifting competition.
If we check the word in the dictionary, we get the following definition:
The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior.
The action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.
Therefore, one thing is clear – in order to define what training is, we need to ask ourselves “what am I even training for?”.
Here are some examples of training:
Endurance (or aerobic) activities increase your breathing and heart rate. You will often hear people refer to them as “cardio”.
They keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy and improve your overall fitness. Building your endurance makes it easier to carry out many of your everyday activities.
Endurance exercises include:
Strength exercises are the ones that challenge and build your muscles.
They are the ones that we usually refer to when saying someone is “strong” – meaning, they have enough strength to carry out strenuous activities.
These exercises also are called “strength training” or “resistance training.” Strength exercises include:
- Push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, leg squats, etc.;
- Using machines at the gym.
Balance exercises are designed to improve or maintain stability. They are especially common with older people.
Nevertheless, these types of exercises can be beneficial for younger people as well, contributing to overall muscle strength. Balance exercises include:
- Tai Chi;
Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Being flexible gives you more freedom of movement for other exercises as well as for your everyday activities.
Moreover, a flexible body may face less risk of becoming injured. Flexibility exercises include:
Therefore, one thing is clear – in order to define training, we need to define objectives
In order to define your fitness objectives, you should first determine what goal you want to reach.
It’s important to set an approachable one, divided into several easier ones – it’s better to have 10 smaller goals than a huge one.
The reasoning is simple – those small goals, also known as milestones, will keep you motivated, proud and allow you to adjust along the way.
When we set a crazy goal, such as dropping 20 kilos right off the bat, we tend to get demotivated when facing that huge number – especially if the progress is not as fast as we’d hoped it would be. (It never is, really)
In order to make sure that your objectives are... sane, try using the SMART method:
- Specific: What do you want to accomplish?
- Measurable: How are you going to determine if you meet your goal?
- Achievable or actionable: Do you have the tools to make this happen? Also, is the goal written in a way that requires you to take action?
- Relevant or realistic: Does the goal focus on something that's important to you?
- Time-bound: Do you have a realistic timeline for achieving your goal?
The hardest part here is, to be honest with yourself – if you’ve never been to the gym, you’re not going to suddenly go five times a week.
Take that into consideration and find activities, diets, and objectives that relate to who you are as a person – with a slight shift outside of your comfort zone.
What to take in consideration when defining objectives
Here’s where the majority of people get it wrong: the most important factor in setting an objective is the why.
Whether you want to get buff, lose weight or become more flexible, you must have a good reason for doing it.
And most people will reply with “isn’t it obvious? I want to look good!”
See, here’s the problem: this is a weak motivation.
The truth of the matter is, looking good will not help you abstain from a delicious Big Mac. Looking good will not motivate you to wake up at 7 am to work out.
If it did, everyone would do it effortlessly.
What lays behind your motivation?
A great exercise is to try to look further within: what is it that lays behind your first motivation?
For example – you want to look good. Why? What for?
Maybe, reserving some moments for self-reflection, you’ll realize that the real reason behind your motive is the fact that you’ve been bullied in your childhood.
So now, you want to look good in some sort of revenge towards those people who hurt you.
This won’t do. Motivations that come from a place of pain and negativity usually have a short life span.
Try thinking of something positive and empowering to motivate you.
For example, being healthy for your family. Or, being an example for your kids. Something that is bigger than yourself– that’s the secret to a great “why”.
What are the signs that you trained too little?
There are multiple signs to determine if you’ve trained too little, depending on your goals, experience, and effort put in. In general, you can start to question yourself when:
- You’re not seeing any results;
- Your workouts seem too easy;
- You never experience sore muscles;
- You no longer feel challenged by your training sessions;
- You’re reading this article.
Keep in mind that “working out too little” may not be what you expect. For instance, “too little” may mean:
- Going to the gym, doing cardio, but setting the machine at a very low level – therefore, even if you train for a whole hour, your body will not be burning that many calories;
- You challenge yourself to “give it your all” in a short span of time (say, 10 minutes) and then crash, not allowing your body to enter its fat-burning stage;
- You choose the wrong type of exercise for your body type, objectives or experience.
See, working out too little has more to do with the quality of your training session than the quantity.
Depending on your goals and body type, 30 minutes can be more than enough to see proper results.
As Dorian Yates said, more than 45 minutes sessions, 3 times a week might be the perfect balance to lose fat, grow muscles and see visible gains.
How to correct your behavior to achieve maximum results
Now that we’ve determined the reasons why you might be feeling like you’re working out too little, here’s some solutions to feel more determined and fulfilled in your fitness.
Firstly, make sure you complete the objectives step. Be SMART about it, be honest with yourself, consult with a fitness coach.
A trained professional can really help you put things into perspective and explain what is doable and what is not.
Secondly, dedicate time in your schedule to actually work out. And this doesn’t mean just being at the gym.
It means actually silencing your gadgets, being present, pushing yourself more and more each day.
Remember, it’s not about how much time you spend in the gym, but how well you take advantage of your time there.
Help your body see results with the right supplements. However, make sure you don’t overdo it: no supplements can compensate for the lack of training.
Consult with a professional or check out specialized blogs to figure out what is best for your body.
Lastly, listen to your body. If you are, indeed, working out too little, try to figure out what it is that is holding you back.
Sport is a fun, dynamic, and motivating hobby. So, the fact that you’re not working out enough might be a symptom of a deeper issue. Find activities that are suited for your likes and schedule, and actually commit to them.
So, here you go. Not only do you now know if you work out too little but also what to do about it.