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8 Reasons Why You’re Exercise Program Isn’t Working

exerciseprogramming strengthtraining weighttraining Feb 22, 2022

We’ve never had more access to different exercise programs than we do right now. There are thousands of exercise programs, videos, plans, and philosophies available instantly at the click of a button. Want yoga sequences on YouTube? You can find that. Want an unlimited list of CrossFit workouts and metcons? A quick Google search will give you more than you can complete in the next 5 years. Whatever you’re looking for, from bodybuilding to powerlifting to powerbuilding to HIIT training to endurance training - it’s all out there.


Yet we talk with people every single day that either can’t stick with an exercise program, can’t get the results they’re looking for on their exercise program, or keep getting hurt on the exercise programs they’re following.


We’ve estimated over 80% of people that we see at our Performance PT Clinic for pain or injury comes from injuries sustained during training. That’s more than a problem - that’s an epidemic. For those that haven’t experienced any pain or injury, it’s usually because they haven’t pushed themselves hard enough, which also means they probably haven’t seen the transformation of their mind and body that they’re hoping for.


With so many exercise programs falling short of their promise and excitement, what do you need to do to get the results you’re after? Let’s talk about why most exercise programs out there don’t work, and what to do instead:


1. It’s Too Advanced


Most exercise programs you find out there are created for advanced individuals that understand proper form and movement, don’t have significant mobility limitations, and are without significant imbalances. Unfortunately for likely 99% of people reading - that’s probably not the case for you based on what we see for most people. 


When you follow a program that’s too advanced, you’re going to get significantly less results with an increased likelihood of getting injured or developing some overuse pain. If you’re following a program that has barbell back squats, bench press, deadlifts, pull ups - yet don’t have the base level of strength, movement, and mobility developed - you are setting yourself up for failure and possible injury.


2. It’s Too Easy


While most people that end up suffering injuries are following an exercise program that’s too advanced, there’s danger in following a program that’s too easy as well. You won’t get results. To build muscle, improve your health, progress your fitness - you have to be continually challenging above the current level you’re at.


We work with too many people that come to us following programs that are way too easy and are not creating the positive change they are looking for. Sometimes they’re fearful of injury, but sometimes they just don’t know how to develop a program that is both challenging and smart. Either way, if you’re not continuing to challenge yourself (in a smart way), you’ll end up with the same results you’ve gotten before.


3. There’s No Progression


Have you been following the same program for more than the past 2-3 months? Or do you find the only things you switch up in your program is the number of reps or the weight? A lack of real progression and periodization is a big reason why many people’s exercise programs don’t get results long-term. Maybe you see some success early on only to plateau your progress and get frustrated.


Instead of switching up your entire program or finding a new one, the answer usually falls in building a program that has proper progressions. Focusing only on weight or reps is not enough for proper progression. You need to progress some combination of the volume, intensity, load, complexity, and type of exercise. If you’re not taking all these variables into account, there’s a good chance you’ll end up frustrated with your progress.


4. It Lacks Appropriate Variety


Similar to lacking proper progression, lacking proper variety can lead to a plateau in your results, imbalances, and injury over time. Does your program address mobility, stability, strength, power, and conditioning? Does it have a good warmup and cooldown in place? Are you training in multiple planes of motion? Do the movements and exercises vary on a regular basis? These are all things you want to consider to get the best results while feeling the best doing it.


Note: adding variety should be strategic and intentional. Simply standing on a bosu ball or following exercises that look cool is only adding variety for the sake of variety - and can actually hurt your progress even more.


5. It Prioritizes Strength Improvements Over Proper Movement


Too many exercise programs focus on numbers over movement. How much weight was moved, how fast did you run, how many sets were done, etc. These are all great things to track, but if these metrics are prioritized over proper movement patterns, your results will suffer and you’ll increase your risk of developing imbalances that can keep you out of training. Good movement form and technique should always come before building your weight or fitness.


6. It Prioritizes Muscles You Can See


Where do most exercise programs focus? On the areas you can see - your chest, your abs, your arms, your thighs. Don’t get us wrong, we love helping people improve their physique as it helps so much with overall confidence. But if your program focuses too much on how your muscles look, but not enough on how they are truly working, then your program is missing the key components that will help you actually look and feel your best.


7. It’s Too Rigid


There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to your exercise program. Too many programs are way too rigid, eventually leading to people getting less results or getting hurt compared to if it was customized. Not everyone needs to be barbell back squatting, deadlifting off the ground, or performing complex exercises to get results.


In addition to the type of exercises being too rigid, most programs also don’t take into account other lifestyle factors that greatly affect your training performance. What is your stress level this week or this month? How is your sleep? What’s hydration and diet been like recently? All of these lifestyle factors need to be taken into account and factored into your program development. 


8. It Lacks Long-Term Progress Tracking and Accountability


What metrics are you tracking long-term, or in other words how are you defining if your program is a success? At Inside Out we have several metrics and things that we think are important for our clients to track, but also take into account what metrics are important to our 1-on-1 clients we work with. There’s no ‘right’ answer, but if you’re not tracking anything and blindly following a program - how do you know if you’re actually getting better?


In addition to tracking the right things, how are you staying accountable? A lack of accountability, both internally and externally, is one of the biggest barriers for people completing their workouts over time and staying on track. The accountability we put in place for our clients is one of the number one reasons our clients see the results they do. Make sure that you have someone in your corner to make sure you’re sticking to the plan.

If any of these points resonated with you, and you want to talk with one of our coaches on how to build a more effective program that keeps you accountable towards your goals, we should talk. Check out all the details on our Pain-Free Performance Programming and follow the instructions on the page to request a call with one of our expert coaches.

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