Make a Decision
People all to often fail to achieve anything like their potential due to failing to make a decision. In short, these people just go through each workout, or series of workouts without fully understanding why they are doing it, what they will achieve and how to gauge success. To summaries a few of the most common issues:
Decide to get stronger
If you want to get stronger then get stronger by mainly doing the big lifts (squat, deadlift and press). There are some excellent workouts available cheaply or free such as Bill Starr’s 5x5, Starting Strength etc. BUT, if you make that decision don’t also do lots of bicep curls, upright rows or anything that does not serve the purpose of making you stronger. Your workouts should be simple with perhaps only 4-5 lifts per session.
Decide to get bigger
If this is your choice and you decide to do all that isolation stuff then isolate and do it properly. That means if you are isolating your triceps doing a tricep pushdown you do not use your lats to cheat. If you are isolating your lower back during deadlifts then you are not using your glutes or legs to cheat. You should also not be using momentum to cheat either, isolate! If that means you have to reduce the weight then throw your ego in the bin were it belongs and lift a lighter weight.
Decide on doing lots of cardio
If cardio is your love then you probably won’t be persuaded of other, better, ways of getting fit so at least do your cardio properly. Doing 30 mins on the treadmill, 20 minutes on the cross trainer and 10 mins on the stepper 3 times a week is not training. Mix and match the equipment you use, mix and match the duration and intensity and get yourself out of the gym for a run or bike ride once in a while.
If you decide that nutrition timing is essential then be consistent. If you really believe that drinking a protein shake as you leave the gym is all that separates you from Phil Heath then drink a shake after every single workout and see what happens. If you decide that you cannot give up chocolate then acknowledge it and ensure you work your arse off to earn every chunk of Galaxy. If you decide to control your calories then back this up with a food diary otherwise you are just guessing, try myfitnesspal.
Decide, then do, it is that simple.