How To Sabotage Your Fitness Program Part 1

How To Sabotage Your Fitness Program Part 1

by Coachjon

When it comes to achieving success in anything, one of the key things to do is to find out the common causes for failure and avoid them. In fitness, there are several common problems which come up over and over again.

In our personal training and fitness bootcamp programs, there are the 10 things that our Singapore clients most commonly do that have stopped them from getting good results in the past.

Most people need to get over these hurdles before they achieve their fitness goals. This week, I will cover the first three.

1. Too little sleep, and poor sleep quality.

Don't underestimate the power of high quality sleep. Ask Garfield

Sleep is important! Ask Garfield

From our consultation records, about 75 per cent of people come in with what I would consider poor sleep quality. The key indicator of this is good energy in the morning. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your morning energy, with 10 being happy and energetic and one being grouchy and sluggish.

If you rate lower than seven for more than about two days per week, improving your sleep will improve your fat burning and muscle building.


  • Sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Sleep in a dark room or wear an eye mask (If you can see your hand in front of your face, its not dark enough)
  • Turn off all lights and electronic equipment such as phones, laptops, wifi routers
  • Sleep slightly hungry, not starving, but certainly not after three roti-pratas.
  • Take a magnesium supplement that contains multiple forms of magnesium. The one I use with my clients is “Uber mag” because it contains different forms of magnesium, which are very well absorbed. Three capsules of that at dinner and three before bed helps many people boost their sleep quality. Magnesium is depleted by stress and even hard exercise, so its great for most people.

2. Concern with weight loss and not fat loss.

Most clients come in with a “target weight”. While being of the correct weight is ok, it is not nearly as important as being of a good level of body fat.

We try to get “regular” people with jobs, families and other commitments down to 10-12 percent fat for men, and 16-19 percent for women. For most people this means a nice flat stomach and probably visible abs.

A lady can be 57kg and 16 percent bodyfat and be in great health, but another lady who weighs 57kg at 35 percent fat is in horrible shape.

They may be the same height and the same weight, but their health markers will be very different. Overall inflammation, brain function, blood fats, etc, will be much improved at a low body fat level.

Women (sorry ladies, its just an observation, nothing personal!) in particular have trouble making the distinction between weight and fat. So the key point I like to teach is that (depending on which studies you read) a kilo of muscle burns an extra 100+ calories per day while you do … nothing!

It is like investing your money in a sure-fire growth fund. It pays you back while you sleep (literally!). In addition it looks lean, feels firm and is attractive.

So, taking regular body fat readings is critical to success! It is a much more objective indicator than weight which fluctuates with time of day, hydration status (i.e. did you pee?), hormonal fluctuations especially in ladies, water retention from illness or allergy etc.

3. Too much cardio, not enough strength training

I am a big believer in having  a healthy heart — and who isn’t. But the common misconception is that an hour on the treadmill is the best way to give you one.

A nice walk with your family or loved ones is a great idea which lowers stress and is thus good for you, and going for a cycle with your buddies is fun….

All these are not the best way for training!

But using walks, jogs or cycling as your main form of exercise is not the best use of your time if you are trying to maximise your health within a busy schedule.

Assuming you do them with correct technique and progressive increments, strength training and interval training give far better benefits per minute of training than long slow cardio. They can boost metabolism for up to 36 hours after exercise.

Using the investment analogy again, jogging for an hour only burns calories for an hour plus a bit more, but a properly designed strength training workout is like investing in something that pays you back a return of up to 36 times on your time!

As for the heart health issue, strength training benefits your heart because cardio does not have a monopoly on heart benefits. The cardiovascular system and heart, are not directly “trained” i.e. you don’t stick a mini gym in your chest and train your heart…

The heart responds to demands of the body. In the case of exercise, the demands of the muscular system. The heart does not care if you’re lifting weights, playing basketball or swimming. If the amount of training is high, or the basketball game is tough, or the swim is fast, your heart will get a positive training effect.

Everybody wants the best benefits in the least amount of time so here are some guidelines:

  • If you have limited time (3 hours per week or less) do purely strength training with short rest periods.
  • If you have a bit more time (3-5 hours) add a bit of interval cardio into your exercise program.
  • If you have more than 5 hours per week to exercise (quite rare in super busy Singapore), then add in 1-2 longer brisk walks if you want to.

There we have it! Avoid these three mistakes and you will make certain progress towards your fitness goals.

Coach Jonathan Wong is a Singapore personal trainer and performance expert. He is also a fitness author and a member of Singapore Men’s Health Advisory Panel.

For the best personal training and fitness boot camp program in Singapore visit



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