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How To Dramatically Improve Your Fitness Results

By Mike Symons

Do you feel like you aren't making progress in the gym? Do you feel that you aren't reaching your physical goals such as lower body fat or increased muscle, even though you consistently "eat right" and get your workout in?

What if I told you that you only need two things to get the results that you deserve and that these items are readily available in your home or office right now?

Before you get all hyped up thinking that this is some miracle drug or new-fangled piece of exercise equipment, it isn't. There is absolutely no substitute for hard work and commitment towards your goals.

So what are these two things?

Wait for it"

Paper and pencil.

No, I'm not joking. Let me explain and give some examples.

Your body is highly adaptable. It will adapt and change so that it can meet the challenges that it faces day in and day out. This is great in some regards, but not so great in others. Let's take lifting weights (with building muscle as a goal) as an example. If you go to the gym and do bench press with 135 pounds every week and never strive to increase the weight you lift, your body will adapt just enough to make you good at benching 135 pounds. Your central nervous system will adapt slightly, and you might even grow some muscle. Eventually with no new challenges, your body will remain the same, and you will no longer grow or get stronger.

Another example would be walking. People walk a lot (or should) every day. If the only physical activity that these people do is walking, their legs will not get bigger after a certain point. The body adapts to the stress of walking, and then once it gets "comfortable", it will remain the same.

So how does the paper and pencil fit in?

Simple. If you are striving to reach a goal, whether it be gaining muscle or losing fat, you must strive to improve from week to week, and month to month. To me, it is amazing how few people actually keep track of their workouts at the gym. If you aren't writing what you do down, you won't have any way of tracking progress.

As a general rule, you should strive to either increase the weight that you use or increase reps for each exercise you do.

For example, let's say that last week, you did two sets of barbell military press. The weight used was 95 pounds, and you did two sets of ten repetitions. This week, when you do that exercise, you should increase the weight by five pounds, and attempt the same number of reps. Let's say that for the first set, you got all ten reps, but for the second set, you only got eight. Next week, in order to improve, keep the weight the same, but strive to get ten reps for both sets. Rinse, and repeat.

The other side of this coin is tracking your nutrition. Whether your goal is to gain muscle or lose fat, keeping a food log is the absolute best way to maintain steady progress.

If you start struggling to lose fat, keep track of everything you eat on a daily basis, including total calories and fat, protein and carbohydrates. Armed with this information, you can start analyzing your diet to see where the problems are. If you fail to lose weight, take the daily calories that you were getting before and subtract 200 per day from that amount. Continue this until you are losing the amount of fat each week that you desire (keeping in mind that a weight loss in excess of two pounds a week can be unhealthy).

If you are struggling to put on muscle weight, keeping track of total calories will give also assist you. Follow the same idea for losing fat, but instead of subtracting calories, add them.

Reaching your goals is very simple (don't confuse the word simple with easy). If you strive to improve each and every workout session, and keep track of your nutrition using some form of tracking, you will see results.

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