Top 5 Reasons Why Your Workout Isn’t Working
Published Aug 15, 2014, Updated May 24, 2021
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You’re working out every day but not seeing the results you desire? Here I break down common reasons why your workout isn’t working.
It’s Fit Friday! Woo-hoo. Today I’m going to switch things up a bit and talk about getting the results you want from your workouts. I hear from clients all the time that they’re exercising their butts off but not seeing ANY results.
I’ve been in this same position before so I can totally relate. It stinks because you feel like you’re doing everything right, but no progress is being made and your body never changes. What gives? Honestly, there are many reasons why your particular routine may not be working for you, but to keep things simple I’ve put together a little list of the top five common reasons people who work out regularly aren’t seeing the results they desire.
1. You haven’t changed your diet.
I’m a firm believer that 70-80% of body composition (and weight loss) is diet, the remaining 20-30% is split between genetics and exercise. We’ve all heard the phrase, “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” and it’s so true. I know sometimes we feel as though working out means we should be able to eat whatever we want, but it’s simply not the case for most people.
You have to find a balance because here’s the reality — if you overeat you’ll gain weight and if you don’t eat enough you won’t have the energy you need and you may even slow your metabolism. Everyone is different so you have to experiment with how much and what types of foods work for your unique body. A good starting point would be cutting out processed foods, limiting refined sugars, eating more vegetables, switching to smart carbs (vegetables, fruits and whole grains) and getting a good amount of protein and healthy fats.
If you already feel like you’re eating a clean diet, you may want to look at your portion sizes. Overeating healthy foods is still overeating and it can hinder your results. I recommend using a food journal or tracker to record what you’re eating, at least for a few weeks. You don’t have to count calories, just writing down everything will make you more aware of how much you’re actually eating.
2. You’re stuck in a workout rut.
You’ve been doing the same workout routine for months, maybe even years. Yes, it’s great that you’re staying motivated to stick with an exercise routine but you have to switch things up in order to see results. Change = change!
You need a little consistency with your workout program (like sticking with a certain number of cardio sessions and a certain number of strength training sessions per week) but it’s best to switch up your program every four weeks or so. This amount of time gives your body enough time to work hard and make gains but not so much time that your body adapts and the exercises are no longer challenging. Changing up your routine can also be exciting and motivating! Not sure how to switch things up?
- 20 ways to mix up your strength training routine
- 7 new ways to switch up your cardio routine
3. You’re a cardio bunny.
I like zoning out on the treadmill with a magazine just as much as the next lady (and I honestly see nothing wrong with this if you’re using it as a way to be active and de-stress) but you can’t expect to see results if you do this day after day and call it your workout. I’ve worked with many personal trainers (and I’m a trainer myself) and we’ll all tell you that cardio is necessary — it’s great for your heart and it helps burn fat all over but in order to change your physique you have to incorporate resistance training into your routine. Doing workouts that use weights or your body weight for resistance will help you build muscle and create definition.
4. You sit way too much.
This one hit me hard after college when I went from being super active by walking around campus to sitting at a desk on the computer all day. It was so much harder to maintain my weight. Just because you work out for an hour every day doesn’t mean that you can sit at a desk all day and then come home and sit on the couch all night.
After all, sitting is the new smoking.
I still fall into this trap sometimes. Ugh! It’s important to get in as much activity as possible throughout the day — not just during your workouts. Here are some good ways to get in more activity — park in the furthest spot away when going to a store, take the stairs whenever possible, walk/ride your bike to work, get in a quick walk on your lunch break, use a standing desk (I LOVE mine), go for a walk after dinner, clean the house, go out dancing with friends instead of going out drinking, etc. Every little bit helps!
5. You’re not getting enough sleep.
Everyone requires a different amount of sleep to feel their best but most people require somewhere between 7-9 hours. Sleep is known for being one of the most important aspects of balancing your hormones and repairing cells. A lack of sleep can increase ghrelin production (your hunger hormone), which will make you feel hungry even if you’ve eaten enough and are full. I know this is the case for me — if I don’t get enough sleep I’m ravenous the next day!
Sleep loss has also been shown to increase cortisol, the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain. Sleep is also essential for repairing your muscles after a hard workout and replenishing your body with energy. Want to learn more about sleep? Check out this article about why sleep is the number 1 thing for a better body. It’s a good one!
Have you ever hit a plateau or felt like you were doing all the right things but not seeing results? If you’re going through this issue right now, do any of these scenarios resonate with you?