We all start working out for different reasons. Sometimes we’re faced with health complications that snap us out of our complacency and motivate us to take control of our health. For others, just being strong or wanting to look good naked is enough to ignite that spark of motivation. No matter the reason, if we workout it’s because we want to see results. Making the commitment to workout on a regular basis is a great first step but ultimately it’s making progress that keeps us coming back for more. If you want to see real results, these are some of the all too common pitfalls that you will need to avoid.

1. You don’t have a plan.

People expect to improve so long as they keep going to the gym or keep doing the same things they’ve been doing up to that point. Sure, anything is better than nothing but if you have specific goals, you need to have a specific plan in order to reach them. If one of your goals is to get your first kipping muscle up, you’re going to need to work on progression movements to get you there. You can’t expect to flail around on the rings and magically appear above the rings after your 40th try. Good luck, floppy fishy. 

Write down your goals, make a plan and stick to it.

2. Your goals aren’t realistic.

The harsh truth is that some of us have unrealistic goals and when we don’t achieve them, we feel defeated and beat ourselves up over it. Thoughts of “Why didn’t I work harder?” or “Maybe I should’ve worked on so and so a little more during the week” or “Wow, I suck” start creeping into our heads. Make sure you distinguish your long-term goals from your short-term goals. You want to be able to kick into a handstand? This might take 6 weeks. You want to go to Regionals? This might take years.

Remember that to get to step 10, you have to go through steps 1 to 9. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Be patient. If you’re not sure whether your goals are realistic or not, sit down and have a chat with your coach. 

3. You work on things you like and neglect the things you don’t like.

CrossFit programming is meant to cover a broad scope of physical skills and as a result most elite CrossFitters are well-rounded athletes. That’s why they are the best of the best. Of course we’re not trying to compare the average athlete to a Games athlete but there’s a lot to be said here. Being able to continuously improve is all about balance and knowing when you need to take a step back and work on things you’re not good at.


The only way to get better at something is to keep doing it until you hate it a little less… that in itself is progress. 

4. You don’t train with people who are better than you.

I can’t stress how important this is. Most of us have that person at the gym that keeps us motivated; that person we “chase” during the metcons or that person we continually learn from just by sharing a bar with them. If you don’t have a person like that when you train, you’ve got a problem. Not to say you’re a crummy athlete but there’s always going to be someone out there who is a little better than you at something. This is a good thing. For example, if you see someone snatching a lot more than you, instead of asking, “What’s your max?” or “How much is that?”, ask them what their training is like, how often they train or if they have any advice that could help you improve your lifts. You might just unearth a little gem that helps you take that next step.

You can’t get better unless you train with people who are better than you. They are the people that will push you and motivate you. Learn from them.

5. You train with people who always tell you what you want to hear.

It’s important to have fun and train with friends but it’s just as important to get constructive criticism. Compliments are nice but sometimes it’s an empty compliment that leads to false hope. Your friend’s intentions are good and supportive and we love them for that but we also need those blunt and honest people in our lives and especially in the gym. 

Let’s say you’ve been attempting some kipping muscle ups for a while now but you’re still not able to get that turnover. You’ve tried 39 times. You’ll have a few people that will say, “You’re so close! Keep trying! I’m sure the next one is it! 40th time’s a charm!”. You thank them for the encouragement and go on to fail your 40th attempt. Damn it. What you needed was someone to say, “You know, you’re a trooper for not giving up but to be honest, you’re making the same mistake every single time. I think it’s time to ditch all that flailing around and do some progressions from the ground for the next few weeks.” Hallelujah. There’s the one comment that will lead you to your first muscle up.

Constructive criticism is a good thing. Seek it out and learn from it.

6. You’re always injured.

If you find that you’re getting injured all the time or you’re always having to deal with nagging injuries, perhaps you should take heed. Injuries and pain should NEVER be the norm. If you’re frequently hurt, take it as your body telling you that you need to rethink your training. If a certain movement causes pain, stop doing it. Sometimes it’s best to scale a movement way down and take the time (sometimes months) to build it back up. Remember why you’re training in the first place. Nobody outside of your gym is going to care what your time was that day or how many reps you did.

You have to live with the body you’ve got for the rest of your life. Treat it with respect. In the long run you’ll be healthier, happier and stronger for it.

7. You don’t have a coach… or need a different coach.

If you have big goals and you don’t have a coach, maybe it’s time to get one. Even coaches need coaches sometimes. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need someone to tell you what to do and program all of your workouts for you but it’s as simple as being able to bounce ideas off of someone who knows what they’re doing and learning from them. It’s pretty hard to correct your own movements when you can’t see yourself doing them.

If you have don’t have a coach, it might be time to get one. On the other hand, If you do have a coach and you’ve been putting in the work but still haven’t made any progress, it might be time to seek out a new one. There are a lot of different coaching styles out there and some styles just don’t work for certain athletes.

8. You don’t prioritize nutrition.

This is an area that many people have a really hard time with. You’ve made the commitment to workout on a regular basis, you’re getting plenty of rest but you seem to be stuck when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. Eating inconsistently, skipping meals and making poor food choices all have dramatic effects not only on your strength and body composition but on your energy and willpower as well. 

You can have a bulletproof training plan and the greatest of intentions but if you’re skipping lunch and wolfing down a couple of Big Macs on the way home from work every day, you’re going to fall victim to a vicious cycle of sluggishness and mediocre results. All those hours that you’re putting in at the gym are essentially being wasted because you’re lacking the fuel for your fire. 

Weekends are a great time to cook large batches of food that you can portion out into some ready to go meals. It may take you a an hour or two (less with some practice) but it will save a ton of time during the week and you’ll be well on your way towards achieving your goals in record time.

9. You’re not having fun.

This should not to be confused with the fact that we all have bad days. Because we have goals and have to work hard to achieve them, we all have training days that suck and this is a completely normal part of the process. However, when your workouts become a chore or they make you unhappy almost 100% of the time, then you’ve got a problem. This is especially true when it affects your happiness outside of the gym. More often than not, you should feel good after your workouts. You’ve shown up and given it your all. That in itself is an accomplishment. After all, you are at the gym to make yourself a better version of you. 

Whether it’s the gym environment, the people, or you getting into your own mind, when your training makes you unhappy, something needs to change ASAP. Take a step back and re-evaluate your goals, your training schedule and your training methods. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from your regular routine to explore new activities. A little break could be exactly what you need to re-ignite that fire.

10. You make terrible excuses.

No explanation needed. If you want something bad enough, you’ll do what it takes. Push yourself!