Working Out but Not Seeing Results? 4 Possible Reasons Why

As a fitness enthusiast, a registered dietitian, and a trainer, I have a lot of empathy for people out there who are working out and not seeing results. Is there anything less motivating than hitting the gym every day but seeing no visible results when you look in the mirror?

I find this is especially common among people who are just starting out, and among athletes with very specific performance and aesthetic goals.

Today, I want to share a few possible reasons why you’re not seeing any change in your body or your performance (yet!), in hopes of providing encouragement and helping you to troubleshoot some things that could be keeping you from the results you want.

Reason 1: Time and Consistency

Whenever someone tells me they’re frustrated by their lack of progress, I usually start by asking two questions: How long have you been doing your routine, and how often do you do it?

Let’s address these questions one at a time.

First, and very importantly, change takes time.  Any trainer that promises you otherwise is either full of shit or is probably hawking something unhealthy and/or unsustainable.

Think of an ice cube when you take it out of the freezer. If you’re watching it melt, it really won’t look much different from one minute to the next. Yet, it’s undeniable that it’s melting as its temperature increases. You don’t stick it back in the freezer if your goal is getting it to melt!

The same goes for changes in your body. Changes will keep happening under the surface, as long as you keep doing the work.

And speaking of doing the work, how often are you training? Are you working out once a week? Do you make good progress for a bit but then go a week or two without training? Unfortunately, that’s not enough consistency to see a lot of change. At our gym, we recommend a minimum of 3 times per week, every single week.

Now, what if you HAVE been doing the work for a bit and still aren’t seeing the results you’d like? First, I’d recommend taking progress photos (front, side, and back) every week. You may not see much difference when you look in the mirror, but also might be blown away when you look at your starting photos.

So, if you’re working out and not seeing results, you may need more patience and/or more consistency.

Reason 2: Your Diet

You’ve been hitting the gym hard, but how’s your diet?

It’s true that we burn fat when we consistently take in fewer calories than we burn, but studies suggest that the calories in part of the equation is more important for weight loss than the calories out.

In fact, whenever a prospective client reaches out to the gym with a primary goal of weight loss, we now recommend that they start with nutrition. You simply get more bang for your buck with nutrition, if you’re trying to lose weight.

Why is this the case? For one, most people overestimate their calorie burn during exercise while at the same time underestimating their calorie intake when they eat. There can also be a subconscious “I earned it” mentality when you feel like you worked out hard and are craving something delicious.

At the other end of the spectrum, some athletes try to follow highly restrictive meal plans they’ve found on the internet, only to binge eat later in the day and stall out their progress.

Either way, it’s never a bad idea to assess your nutrition if you’re frustrated by a lack of progress.  A good nutrition coach can help you identify some opportunities for growth, implement a plan that works with your lifestyle, and modify the plan as needed to keep the needle moving forward.

Reason 3: You’re Doing Too Much

Working out is great for your health, of course, but it is possible to overdo it.

When it comes to body comp and performance, the real changes occur not when we train but when we rest. Training is a stressor to our bodies, and the adaptation (increased muscle mass, better lung capacity, etc.) takes place between our workouts.

You’re not giving your body the chance to make those adaptations if you’re training twice per day, or if you train at high intensity every day but fail to take regular rest days. And, even worse, your setting yourself up for burnout and injury.

From a weight loss perspective, a higher training volume can also increase the appetite and make it more difficult to get into a calorie deficit.

If you want to get stronger and look better, you need to find the minimum effective training dose. In other words, you need to do just enough and not a bit more.

A good personal trainer or well-designed group fitness program (with scheduled rest days!) can help you to find that sweet spot.

Reason 4: Your Programming Doesn’t Match Your Goals

Do you have a big goal of snatching your body weight? There are a few different paths to get you there, and doing mostly body weight metcons isn’t one of them.

Group classes are awesome for people who are looking for a well-rounded fitness plan, and who want to look better and feel healthier with the support of a like-minded community.

But if you have more specific goals, you’d be a much better candidate for personal training, specialty classes (like our Barbell Club or powerlifting classes), or customized programming. Our trainers start by digging deep on your goals, then assess your strengths and limitations to build a program that’s customized to your needs.

Working Out But Not Seeing Results?

Hopefully, this post has given you a few ideas as to why you’re not seeing the results you want from your program. But if you’re still scratching your head about it, I’d love to chat more!

Click here to schedule a free 15-minute call, so we can do some troubleshooting.

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