Are My Workouts Working? The 9 Signs to Watch for…

Have you ever heard the term “beginner gains”?  If not, the term refers to the initial progress you make when starting an exercise program.  Almost anyone working out for the first time, or working out for the first time using a significantly more intense workout program, will realize some sort of initial gains.

The initial payback for your hard work is nice – people make compliments about your figure, you fit into things a little better, and your motivation soars.  Unfortunately, these beginner gains tend to slow down as fast as they started.  After only a few weeks, your progress stops and you begin to feel less confident about the benefit of all that hard work you’ve been doing.

This is where things can get tricky for those of you who aren’t in the know.  Do you continue on?  Do you find another program?  Do you just work out harder?  The answer depends on several factors, none of which are overwhelmingly obvious to the inexperienced exerciser.

I’ve seen far too many people abandon a well-designed workout program or valuable personal trainer because their progress didn’t maintain their initial pace.  On the other hand, I’ve seen others stick with workout programs lacking any sort of direction or goal, simply because they thought they needed more time to see more results.

Today, I’m going to help you decipher exactly what that workout program is doing for you.  If you’ve ever wondered, “Are my workouts working?”, today’s article is just for you.  We’re looking at the nine (not always obvious) signs that will let you know if you’re workout program is effective.  With this knowledge you’ll be better suited to stick to the plan or move on to bigger and better things.

1.  You sleep better at night.  A good workout program will help restore your sleep cycle and you’ll find yourself getting to bed (and rising) at reasonable hours.  If you’re the type that stays up til midnight, wakes at five for work, then repeats….something is wrong with either your workouts, your diet, or both.

2.  You’re hungrier throughout the day.  This can be a good/bad trade off.  On one hand, your growing appetite is a signal that your metabolism is spiking.  On the other hand, if you’re answering that hunger with poor food choices, you’re going to have problems. Either way, an increase in hungry after starting a new workout program is a sign you’re doing good things.

3.  Your resting heart rate drops over time. This one takes a little forethought but can be one of the best measures of the success of your workout program.  Take your resting pulse.  Then go back and re-check your pulse at various points down the road.  If your exercise program is effective, you should notice a gradual decrease in this number.  Low 60’s and below is a good, low 50’s is even better.

4.  Your body measurement decreases.  Again, this one takes a little forethought, but take the circumference of your waist, thigh, and/or neck before starting any workout program.  If you’ve got a little excess fat to lose, return and  re-measure at various intervals  You should notice a decline over time.  While the scale may not change, your body composition absolutely will, and measurements are a great and discerning what’s working and what isn’t.

5.  You have more energy.  Suddenly doing that weekend hike doesn’t seem so daunting.  You aren’t completely dead after a full day of work, picking up the kids, and then hitting the gym. An effective workout program is going to give you more energy, which will let you hit your workouts harder, which will give you more energy…  Take advantage of this effective positive-feedback cycle to use to maximize your results.

6.  Your mood improves.  It’s no secret, exercise is scientifically proven to increase the amount of happy chemicals in your brain.  In turn, this puts you in a happier, more optimistic state.  Pay attention to your daily mood and over time, you’ll find a well-designed workout program will do just as much for you mentally as it does physically.

7.  You make better food choices.  Personally, this is one of the most apparent factors that I’m using a solid workout program.  When your workouts get better, you’re going to be naturally inclined to eat better too.  There’s nothing worse than killing yourself in the gym, then throwing away all of your progress because you lack self control around food.  It’s a curious thing, but your mind will slowly change its cravings and you’ll find yourself more satisfied than ever before with that healthy choice.

8.  You feel more confident.  Not only will you have a better mood, you’re going to feel more confident.  Use your new-found confidence to ask for that raise, talk to the hot girl at the bar, or take on greater challenges in your life.  No matter what you chose to do with it, there’s no denying this positive benefit to an effective workout program.

9.  You look forward to workouts.  Are you dreading workouts?  If you are, it’s probably because your mind/body know the time vs. payoff isn’t that great.  When you’re finally using an effective workout program, something just clicks inside of you.  You suddenly begin looking forward to your workouts, things don’t seem so difficult, and after a while, this healthy lifestyle simply becomes engrained as part of who you are.

After reading through that list, how many apply to you?  If you can’t say more than two or three sound familiar, it may be time to change up what you’re doing.  If you’re looking for a little guidance, check out these three workout programs which are guaranteed to get you back on the right track.

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.