Why is Your Exercise Program Not Working?


Why Is Your Exercise Program Not Working?

Have you been doing the same exercise program for longer than about 8 weeks? Then chances are it’s no longer working.

If you’re a consistent and conscious exerciser (IE you exercise to make progress, not just to say you did it), you know that after a certain period of doing the same exercise program, you reach a point where you no longer make progress on that program. That’s called a plateau.

The biggest problem is when people see initial progress on a program, and then continue on that same program for months, years, sometimes even decades, not realizing that the program has run its course a long time ago.


But first of all, how do you know when you’ve reached a plateau? This comes back to a point I’ve mentioned many times throughout my newsletters, and that’s the importance of regular assessments. I personally assess clients every 2 weeks to figure out if they’re still making progress. The moment they stop making progress with a given exercise program (or nutrition/supplementation program), we change things. After all, why stick with a program that’s no longer effective? At the same time, let’s say that 8 weeks pass, and they’re still making progress on a given program, why arbitrarily cut off a program that’s still working just because 8 weeks passed?

Furthermore, how quickly you reach a plateau depends on a number of factors:


  • Your training age. The longer that you’ve been training consistently and correctly, the less time it takes you to reach a plateau.
  • The fitness qualitythat you’re trying to develop.
    • Aerobic endurance takes much longer to plateau than reaction time, for instance.
  • The intensityof your training.
    • Generally speaking, the higher the intensity of your training, the faster you plateau.
    • The strict definition of “intensity” from a weight training perspective is how much weight you’re lifting relative to what you can lift (for the techies, that’s your percentage of 1 repetition maximum). It has very little to do with how many sets, exercises or repetitions you perform. So according to that definition, performing 100 repetitions of something, the intensity would be very low. But performing 1 all-out repetition would be 100% intensity.
    • The strict definition of “intensity” from an aerobic training perspective is at what percentage of your maximal heart rate you’re working. According to that definition, sprint an all-out 400 metres would have a higher intensity than running a marathon.
  • Your hormonal status
  • Your nutritional status
  • How well you recover from workouts

So the simple answer to “what do you do when your exercise program stops working?” is “change it.” The more complex answer is evaluate your progress. If you’ve reached your goal with that program, there is usually no harm in continuing to do it. However, if you do follow the same program, you will sometimes regress slightly (although not all the way back to square one). Paradoxical? Yep. But I’ve seen it dozens of times. If, however, you’ve reached a plateau and you haven’t reached your goal yet, definitely change your program.

Like It? Share it!

If you liked this newsletter, please share it on facebook using the buttons below.


Short Summary


  • A plateau is when a certain exercise program stops working.
  • How long it takes you to reach a plateau depends on:
    • Your training age.
    • The fitness quality you’re training.
    • The intensity of your training
    • Your hormonal status
    • Your nutritional status
    • How well you recover from workouts
  • To assess when you’ve reached a plateau, perform regular assessments.
  • As soon as you’ve reached a plateau change your exercise program.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top