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Top 10 reasons you're not as lean as you want to be

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You work hard in the gym, you watch what you eat, you go running every morning, but you're still not as lean as you want to be. What gives? It could be one of many things according to strength and conditioning coach Nick Mitchell, who was recently named London's Best Personal Trainer 2010 in Time Out magazine.

The founder of Ultimate Performance Personal Training says: "With all the good will in the world, your training may not be enough to get yourself into shape. If you're committing any one of these sins, you'll never be as lean as you want to be."

Here are the top 10 suggestions as to why you may not be as lean as you'd hope to be.

You Eat Too Much Fruit

"Fruit is healthy," I hear you cry! Sure it is, but that doesn’t mean it does diddly squat for your fat loss efforts. In a nutshell, the sugar from fruit (fructose) does a very bad job at raising insulin levels. Insulin is required to shove fructose into the muscle as stored energy (glycogen).

Instead, it just lingers around reaping metabolic havoc via a process known as glycation, whereby the fructose binds to amino acids leading to such lovely things as fat gain and metabolic aging. Renowned clinical nutritionist Robert Crayhon has said that “Fructose is the guest that won’t go home once the party is over.”

You Are Lazy

You have been sold the story that a few easy jogs and some low-calorie meals are all you need to be lean. Get real.

If you are aspiring to become a Men’s Health cover model, then you need to graft and work at it -- every single day. Three-times-a-week sessions in the gym just won’t cut it, and some of you may even need twice-a-day training. To look extreme, you have to train extreme.

You Obsess Too Much

There is a fine line between dedication and obsession. The former is necessary to transform your physique; the latter will ultimately lead to burn out, elevated cortisol levels and poorer overall condition.

Take a leaf out of the book of men who maybe knew a thing or two about getting in ridiculous shape, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman. Two totally different characters united by their ability to focus completely on the task at hand, and then switch off and relax outside of the gym.

You Don’t Lift Heavy Enough Weights

Heavy weights build muscular physiques. Yes, I know that Olympic gymnasts look great but they are genetically elite midgets who are in fact capable of astounding feats of strength. Don’t pump out sets of 25 reps in the gym; instead, strive to always get stronger and spread out your repetition ranges.

Do workouts of 6 reps per set one week, then 12 reps the next, then 5, 8, 4, and back to 6. Trust me, when I tell you that this is one of the very best ways to develop an impressive body.

You Have No Knowledge of Hormone Control

If you are overstressed, under sleeping, eating too much sugar, and never have any downtime, then chances are that you are not looking too hot right now. If you can’t get a handle on your own hormones, then good intentions and hard gym work will be for naught.

Educate yourself on insulin, cortisol, growth hormone, and testosterone, and the best ways to optimise your own natural production. Better yet, seek out the advice of someone who has taught Charles Poliquin’s BioSignature Modulation theories -- this can really fast-track you down the path of physical excellence.

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You Think Fortified Cereals Are “Health Foods”

If you really think you’ll get lean eating cereal, then I have some swampland I’d like to sell you:
Cereal is bad in pretty much every way, bar the taste of course. All the studies from the 1980s that espoused the health benefits of cereal were sponsored by one very large, very well-known cereal manufacturer. Instead, have eggs and steak for breakfast, and go and buy the excellent Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes.

You Do Too Much Regular Cardio

We have all seen them, the cardio bunnies toiling away on their treadmills. What we usually don’t see, however, is any change in their physical appearance. This is because the body is a very clever organism and adapts to most forms of cardio in a matter of weeks.

Sure, you will still be working hard, but your metabolism shifts a gear and goes into cruise control rather than working too hard. So, instead of wasting too much time worrying about cardio, simply lift a few more weights, sprint a few more hills and eat a few less carbs.

You Party Too Much

We all need a quick lifestyle check once in a while. If your physique goals are not progressing the way you want them to, then it often pays to examine what is going on in your social life. Just because your buddy is ripped and can get away with a few brews every Saturday night doesn’t mean that you can. In fact, he is the exception and the only thing that counts is you and how different factors impact upon your body.

Late nights, drinking, smoking -- all of these will substantively negate your otherwise hard work in the gym and in the kitchen. If a great physique is your goal for the summer, then it’s time to knock the vices on the head for a little while. And then, when you do party, think how much fun it will be sporting a new six pack.

You Think Abdominal Training Is Easy

No, it’s not. If done correctly, abdominal training can be excruciating. The concept of banging out 50 quick sit-ups disappeared along with the ozone layer in the 1980s.

Abdominals are actually fast-twitch muscles and this means that relatively low (40 seconds) time under tension is optimal for development and muscular growth. This means 15 reps max.

You Believe the Myth of Discipline

There is no such thing as discipline, all we have is love. Either you love being lean and ripped, or you love burgers, fries and donuts. Stop making excuses about having a “lack of discipline” and man up -- what do you love the most?