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Q. I’ve been following a new lifting program precisely, but I’m not getting the results I was hoping for. What am I doing wrong?

When you’re training hard but aren’t seeing the results you want, it’s easy to blame your workout program or the genetic lottery. If you’re in the gym for more than an hour almost every day of the week, you reasonably expect some positive visual change. You probably feel like you’re doing everything right, which just leaves you to wonder what’s going wrong.

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Let’s step out of the gym for a moment. Picture this: You work for a new company. You’re amped to be there and go the extra mile every day. You’re efficient and productive, and always take the initiative to go that extra step. Your efforts are recognized by your employer and, because of them, you quickly climb the corporate ladder. You put in the hard work, and it pays off.

Now, imagine overhearing one of your co-workers say he doesn’t understand why you got a promotion and he didn’t. He’s been at the company just as long as you have, he’s put in just as many hours, and he feels like he’s just as deserving. You probably already know what I’m going to say next: Quantity does not spell quality.

While your coworker might have been clocking in and out at the same times as you, it doesn’t mean they put in equal effort. Hard work isn’t defined by how many hours you put in; it’s defined by how productive you are during that time. The same logic holds true whether you’re pushing papers or pumping iron.

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