Fitness Articles

8 Reasons Why Your Workout Isn't Working

Sneaky Reasons Why You're Not Getting Results

13SHARES
We all know how fantastic working out is for your health. But what happens when your workouts aren't delivering the results you want? Or you're not getting the results you think you should be getting? While any kind of physical activity is good, some workout plans are better than others and—as you might suspect—a lot of other factors come into play when trying to lose weight and tone up. So if your workout isn't working for you, one of the following eight reasons could be to blame. Find out how to turn that around and get the results you deserve!

1. You're not working hard enough.
If you have been exercising consistently for several weeks, months or years, it's definitely time to increase the intensity and start pushing yourself. As you work out more and more, your body adapts and becomes more efficient at doing that certain activity. This means that over time, the 30-minute workout that was challenging for you three months ago doesn't provide the same results. In fact, you're actually burning fewer calories and your body is no longer changing if you're still doing the same old thing.
Get-Results Remedy: In order to get results from exercise, you have to regularly push yourself beyond your fitness comfort zone. Whether you increase the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts, you have to switch it up. Not sure where to start? Try adding an extra day of cardio onto your routine, testing out a new group exercise class at the gym, adding another loop around your walking track, or bumping up the incline and speed on the treadmill. Remember, when it comes to exercise, change is good—and that change should be challenging!
2. You're working too hard.
Yes, you can actually work out too hard and too much. If you're someone who goes all out in every workout, or rarely to never takes a day off to rest, you could actually be breaking your muscles down instead of building them. If you always feel tired and sore, have unexplained headaches, insomnia or just a general lack of motivation and an inability to complete your workouts, you may be overtraining.
Get-Results Remedy: Take three to five days off of exercise altogether. It may be hard for you to do this, but know that you must allow your body the time it needs to rest and recover. Get plenty of sleep each night and fill up on nutritious foods. Then slowly ease back into your routine, making shorter, less intense workouts part of your workout plan. And remember to always take one to two rest or easy active recovery days a week!
3. You haven't changed your diet.
Exercise is awesome, but if you're not eating a nutritious diet with the appropriate number of calories for weight management, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Proper nutrition fuels your workouts, but eat too much and you could gain weight (or hurt your weight-loss efforts), and eat too little, and you won't have enough energy to exercise.
Get-Results Remedy: If you can't seem to see those muscles you're trying to build, start logging your foods to see how many calories you're eating a day. If you're regularly eating more than you should (it just takes an extra 100 calories a day to gain an extra pound a month), then try choosing lower-calorie versions of your favorite foods and slowly decreasing your caloric intake until you're at the right level! On the flip side of that, if you find that you're eating too few calories, that can also slow your metabolism and leave you drained at the gym. Find out how many calories you need to manage your weight by visiting your SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker.
4. You're only doing cardio. Yes, cardio is important for calorie burning, but a proper exercise plan includes cardio, strength training and flexibility. If you're just doing cardio, then you will be burning calories and strengthening your cardiovascular system, but you won't be really changing your body composition by building more muscle. For that you need strength training!
Get-Results Remedy: Lift weights or do body-weight exercises, such as lunges and push-ups, at least twice a week to reap the amazing benefits of resistance training; including decreased body fat, increased muscle mass and stronger bone density. For hardcore cardio fans, you can also try kettlebell training or circuit training, which is like getting a strength and cardio workout at the same time!
5. You reward yourself with food.
Do you allow yourself to have that extra piece of pizza or order that dessert when dining out because you "went to the gym" earlier? If so, you may be undoing all of that good calorie-burning with too many treats.
Get-Results Remedy: Familiarize yourself with the calorie contents of your favorite foods—and find out how many calories you're really burning through exercise. (SparkPeople's Nutrition Tracker and Fitness Tracker will help you learn!) Remember that while you may have run 3 miles at the gym, that only burned 300 calories, which isn't nearly equivalent to the calorie count in that brownie sundae you ate later. Focus on how good exercise makes you feel rather than what it allows you to eat after; and choose foods that fuel your workouts, rather than the other way around.
6. You're doing too much too soon.
Unfortunately, results don't happen overnight. It takes time and consistency to get in shape over the long haul. But how many of us decide that we're going to get in shape and then get totally gung-ho, spending hours at the gym only to find ourselves tired, sore and no thinner after a week or two?
Get-Results Remedy: Be patient. Remember that you're creating a lifestyle change that you can sustain for the rest of your life. While there's temptation to start off doing extra long and hard workouts, don't. Build up to doing those tough workouts gradually as the weeks go by. Not only will this prevent injury and give your body more time to adapt and change, it will also give your life and habits time to change—permanently!
7. You're trading sleep for workouts.
We're all so busy these days, and sometimes the only time to work out seems to be early in the morning—even if you were up late the night before working or with a child that couldn't sleep. But regularly swapping sleep for workouts can seriously hinder your weight-loss, as sleep triggers a number of hormones that influence cravings and a tendency for weight gain. In addition, too many sleepless nights will leave you tired and unfocused for your workouts, which means that you won't get much from your efforts. And did you know that sleep is a much needed part of a fitness plan, since a lot of recovery and repair happens while you rest each night? Skimp on the shut-eye, and it could also lead to symptoms of overtraining.
Get-Results Remedy: Start scheduling both your sleep and your workouts—and treat both as unbreakable appointments. Then follow SparkPeople's 4-week Better Sleep Challenge to make the most of those Z's! Exercising after an occasional sleepless night shouldn't pose too many problems. But if you're regularly swapping sleep for a sweat session, you could be doing more long-term harm than good. Sleep should come first—even before working out.
8. You sit all day.
Sure, you work out regularly, but what you do the rest of the day matters, too! If you put in a solid exercise session only to sit at a desk all day and lounge in a recliner watching TV at night, you may be undoing all of your hard work at the gym. Plus, there are a number of new studies that say too much sitting can be bad for our health and our waistlines—even if you exercise during the day.
Get-Results Remedy: Try to work more activity into all areas of your life by going for a walk after dinner, choosing to stand whenever possible, taking the stairs, parking your car further away and replacing your TV time for more active relaxation (like playing with your dog). Also, if your job requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, set a timer to beep every half hour or hour to remind you to stand up, stretch and do a quick lap around the office.

If you're not seeing the results you want, you may be guilty of more than one of the mistakes above. Follow these tips to feel better, have more energy and get the workout results you want and deserve!

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Member Comments

  • Thank you for all the tips and help.
  • The one thing I have found about articles like these is to take what you can use and discard the rest. I had an exercise class with a trainer last night and I was probably the oldest and most out of shape person in the room. The thing I loved about her was that she showed modifications for every exercise and she encouraged every person in the room to do what they could. That's my new motto: "Do what you can." Of course, I expect to be able to do more as I continue on this journey...to lift more weight, to walk longer on the treadmill or even start jogging, to gain more flexibility...but those things are "eventually." Right now, I'm doing what I can and slowly but surely, I am seeing some results.
  • Yeah I try these tips but it works only for some time then lose the motivation to do it :(
  • Great post. Quite helpful. You wonder why it is even more difficult to get rid of the last few pounds in your lower belly or love handles that are hindering you from getting your dream body. Sometimes, you do not have to work out harder, but you just have to workout smarter.Working too hard will activate your stress hormone, the cortisol and that makes weight loss even more difficult. About changing diet too, I agree. You can not be doing the same thing everytime and still expect different result.
  • I cant take a break not from walking anyways cause I wont do it anymore. walk 6 days a week. tone 2 or 3 days a week. cant stop. I wont get up again.
  • Get "Burn the Fat and Feed the Muscle" by Tom Venuto. It has changed my life! Do everything he says even if you don't understand it. You will lose bodyfat, inches and change your body composition.
  • BOOKREADER8
    Moderate exercise is essential for health but please dont think of it as a way to lose weight
    unless you are able to really sweat for hours each week. I have found that working out in the gym increases my appetite significantly!
    Just be more active generally and stop eating so much.
  • I was also at my wits end about weight loss. I was going to the gym regularly but nothing seemed to happen. First key was changing my diet. I am not dieting, I am just making better choices. Now that I have tweaked what is working for my body right now, I am ready to start exercising again. I talked to several trainers as well as friends that are doing well with their weight loss. Just about all of them said that making sure that your body is more flexible is what has helped them. A lot of them are incorporating yoga or pilates in their workout and having great success. I have lupus and my joints and muscles are not the strongest. I have started doing yoga as a form of strength training. I have not started seeing any results (just started) but in just a few days I have noticed that my joints and muscles don't ache as much and I am more relaxed. I am learning that as my body changes my exercise must change as well. Keep up the good work. Don't give up. Just try new things and see what works for you. It did not take a few months to get to where we are and it will take several months or maybe years to get to where we are at our best. The trick is to keep going. Slow and steady always wins the race.
  • DTOWNELADY
    I agree with @Lexie05. I have done everything I can think of, including seeing a nutritionist once a month since March 2015. I still stay the same weight +/- 1 pound. I'm giving it until the end of the year, and I'm just going to have to live with where I'm at right now and accept my weight for what it is.
  • "I don't work hard enough." Yes, I know I don't, but that is because I can't work any harder than I already am. I have back problems, so walking for more than 15-20 is out. Treadmills are too hard on the back. So by the article's standards, I'll never lose weight because "I'm not working hard enough". Thanks a lot for the non-encouragement
    .
  • I like many people have become frustrated about not seeing changes in weight and my clothes are tight. I bought a flex band 3 months ago and have started about 2 weeks tracking calories eaten on my fitbit app. I eat right, exercise -cardiovascular and weights at home, but I can't lose a pound in 3 months. I've lost 1/2nd on waist and hips, but pants are still snug. I am 59, but metabolism is pretty high and I never sit still very long. I do 10-17,000 steps per day, but why won't any pounds come off????

    I am not heavy, but feel better and clothes shouldn't be as snug as they are with all that I have been doing lately. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you
  • SMATSCH
    My biggest challenge is changing my diet. I feel like I'm hungry a large part of the day, but I know I am getting way more calories than I need.
  • SYNDIGRACE
    Just what I needed to keep on track!. Logging and consistency in what we put in our mouths and exercise is so important. I, unfortunately work real hard for a day or two in the gym and then become unmotivated because I hurt so much.
    Thanks so much!
  • JEANHADDAWAY
    wow this was really enlightening and am happy my friend told me about your website. Everything is broken down so you can understand and follow and sooo many suggestions. Thanks for being here!!
  • Good stuff, learned a lot thanks for posting this :)

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

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