Workouts Not Working? These 7 Reasons May Be Why

You might think your fitness routine is flawless — you take the time to get to the gym for an hour a day, five days a week, and you feel like at this point, you should be making major gains. Even with your busy schedule of work, family, and friends, you’re still making the effort to hop onto that treadmill or elliptical whenever you can, but when you look in the mirror and jump on the scale, nothing seems to have changed.

If you’re wondering why it seems like no matter what you do your workouts don’t seem to be changing your physique, it’s time to take a closer look at your exercise routine and lifestyle. Exercise has amazing benefits for your mind as well as your body, and it certainly takes time to get the results you’re looking for, but you also need to make sure that your fitness plan is catered to you and your needs — what’s working for the girl on the treadmill next to you is not necessarily what’s best for yourself. It’s time to take a look at the top seven reasons as to why your workouts don’t seem to be making a difference.

1. You’re not bringing the intensity

It's important to bring intensity to every workout

It’s important to bring intensity to every workout. |

If you spend the entirety of your day sitting in an office, and then when you hit the gym, you hop on the elliptical for an hour and leave, then your lax workout routine might be to blame. While this sort of low-intensity training is fine if you’re just beginning a routine, you should work to increase the intensity as you become more comfortable. The elliptical is an excellent training tool if you’re looking for a cardio workout that’s low-impact, but try doing faster intervals with the resistance set to high for one minute followed by 30 seconds of recovery to get your blood pumping. If you can read a book or have an easy conversation with your friend next to you, you’re probably not working hard enough.

2. You’re not lifting weights

Lifting weight is key to seeing results

Lifting weight is key to seeing results. |

You might feel great after a long run on the treadmill, but if you’re skipping out on strength training, you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for. According to, strength training is a vital component for revving your metabolism, and you’ll also increase your strength and improve your balance and coordination. Most people think it’s the hour of cardio that’ll get them in perfect health, but it’s actually lifting weights that’s going to give you serious results. Always incorporate some strength training to maximize your workout.

3. You’re spot-targeting for fat loss

close-up of a man measuring his waist with a tape measure

Spot-targeting fat doesn’t work. |

If you’re doing 100 crunches every hour, and you’re still wondering why you can’t see those rock-hard abs peeking through, then you might be tempted to give up your workout routine entirely. Though it’s important to target specific muscle groups during training to build strength, you won’t necessarily see these muscles form unless you reduce your body fat percentage, explains Buzzfeed.

If you have extra body fat around your midsection, for example, those crunches are still strengthening your abs and doing great things for your core muscles, you just won’t be able to tell until weight loss occurs. It’s imperative to incorporate cardio, all-over strength training, and a healthy diet to see a reduction in body fat before you can see those hard-earned muscles. Don’t try to reduce weight in one area and ignore the rest of your body — aim to strengthen and tone in all areas, then you’ll see results.

4. You’re not changing your routine

woman exercising crunches

Sticking with the same routine can lead to your workouts becoming less effective. |

Our bodies are incredible at adapting to stress, which means what may have seemed like a tough workout last month may feel incredibly easy for you this month. If you started to see a difference in your physique when you first began your routine and now you haven’t seen any changes in awhile, this could be because you haven’t changed your routine. It may be tempting to go to the gym and fall into the same pattern each day, but if you find that you’re losing enthusiasm for your workout out of boredom, or your results have halted altogether, it’s time to change it up a bit.

A Workout Routine explains changing up your workout each day is unnecessary, but once you’ve stopped seeing results from your current workload, it’s important to try something new. Try increasing your reps, adding more weight, or trying new moves to target those muscles in a different way.

5. You’re working out too much

Exhausted man lying on the ground after a brutal CrossFit workout

You could be sabotaging yourself. |

If you get excited about hitting the gym and exhausting certain muscle groups every day without resting, then stop right here. It may feel unnatural to condemn hard work, but you could be sabotaging your own results by doing this. According to Chris Kesser, overtraining can seriously put your health in peril, as it can push your body’s stress limits too far and cause damage. Exercising very intensely and not giving yourself a rest day or two can also lead to hypothyroidism, which can cause depression, weight gain, and digestive disorders. You might think it’s great for your body to be getting all of that exercise, but lower the intensity on your rest days. Opt for a light walk instead of the heavy weights, and you’ll get back to seeing results from your workouts.

6. You’re not getting enough sleep

Asian man in a deep exhausted sleep

Sleep is key in seeing results from your workouts. | Photography

You could have the most perfect workout routine out of every person at the gym, but if you’re not well-rested, you won’t be able to put your best foot forward with your workouts. It may seem like your workouts aren’t working when you haven’t slept because you aren’t able to put your maximum effort into your exercise routine — and, when you get home from the gym, you’re more likely to plop down on the couch for the rest of the evening instead of staying lightly active, which can also halt your progress.

The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School explains sleep deprivation is also associated with weight gain, as sleep helps regulate the metabolism and control your appetite. To up your intensity at the gym and help your body get into the best shape possible, make sure you’re getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

7. You’re not properly fueling your body

Fried foods are not sufficient fuel

Fried foods are not sufficient fuel. |

Sugary sports drinks and protein bars might seem like the perfect snacks to help you feel energized and gain muscle, but you need to nourish your body with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to fuel your body for workouts. SFGate explains that if you’re trying to make strides in your cardio endurance, strength, or flexibility, your muscles are relying on the nutrients in food to fuel them. You need to be eating the proper foods before your workout begins and after your workout ends to ensure that you’re going to get the most out of your exercise.

Make sure to get protein after your workout has ended to help repair tissue and eat carbs before your workout begins for quick energy. And don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated, as this can make a huge difference in your performance.