When exercise doesn’t work

People often turn to exercise in the hope of improving their health, but most studies show that it doesn’t work. What are some alternatives?

If you are exercising and it isn’t working, the what to do if exercise doesn t work is a blog that will give you some solutions.

I’m not going to give you a flowery introduction this week. I don’t have a “journalistic hook.” I had a “ah ha” experience lately that I just had to share with you. Here it is…

Exercise is ineffective.

That may seem surprising coming from a man with huge biceps and 8% body fat; from a guy who advises at least 5 hours of exercise each week. So, if this all sounds contradictory, I suppose I should qualify the previous remark. I suppose I should have said something like:

Exercise by itself is ineffective.

My admonition

It wasn’t simple for me to come to this conclusion. I’ve been working with clients for over 15 years, and while I’ve always understood that diet is an important part of the training equation, I’ve also always had a nagging feeling that if I worked my clients hard enough, their lack of dietary effort would be compensated for by my super-effective training programs.

Yes, I desired that they eat well. But even if they didn’t (or rather, wouldn’t), it felt fine deep down. In the fight of training vs. diet, I thought training would come out on top. Now, I’ve never stated this out loud before. But I’m sure I sensed it someplace. So it wasn’t until I was confronted with some cold, hard, objective facts that I realized I’d been completely incorrect.

The Texas research

The information comes from a research I just completed at the University of Texas.


Nearly 100 initially sedentary individuals in this research either remained inactive (approximately half) or started exercising (the other half). The exercisers were given a 12-week regimen to follow that included approximately 5 1/2 to 6 hours of activity each week. During the 12-week period, the non-exercisers did nothing except show up for measurement sessions.

As previously mentioned, these participants did not exercise prior to the start of the research. They had between 35 and 40 percent body fat as a consequence of their sedentary lifestyle (according to DEXA scans).

The training group met three times a week for weight training and twice a week for group exercise / interval sessions after the research started. All of the workouts were developed by myself and supervised by a weightlifting and group exercise coach. As a result, there was a strong degree of quality control in place.

It’s essential to emphasize that we didn’t change the participants’ eating habits in any way. We did that on purpose, too. We wanted to see how exercise – not nutrition – affected the results. To put it another way, the question became:

Can exercise alone change a person’s physique without a nutritional intervention?

We received our response at the conclusion of the 12-week study:

“Not at all…”

That’s correct, after reviewing the data, I was surprised to discover that even 3+ hours of weekly training with a weightlifting coach and 2+ hours of weekly training with a body-weight circuit teacher weren’t enough. The individuals who had previously been sedentary fared no better than their couch-sitting peers.

Without nutritional management, 12 weeks of high intensity exercise resulted in a dismal 1% body fat reduction. In terms of raw statistics, compared to the placebo group, the individuals shed just 1 pound of fat and gained 2 pounds of lean. That, to be honest, irritates me.

The machete’s point of view

Consider this: you’re overweight (around 38 percent body fat) and you’ve decided to employ a personal trainer to help you get in shape for the first time in your life. So you decide to purchase a training package with 60 sessions (5 sessions per week for 12 weeks). The fee each session is $50, which is standard. So you shell up $3,000 and begin your 12-week fitness adventure.

You don’t anticipate huge things… All you want is to get going in the correct way. So you’re a patient person. You attend all of your training sessions and spend over 60 hours with your trainer getting to know him or her. You avoid stepping on the scale because you don’t want to jinx yourself. Then you weigh in at the conclusion of the 12 weeks.


Body mass index To begin with, you were overweight, if not obese. So, if you only exercised (without altering your diet or following the aforementioned procedure), you’ve gained one pound! Your trainer talks you down from the edge of the cliff when you’re about to lose it. He or she believes you developed a lot of muscle while shedding a lot of fat. So it’s time to conduct a body composition analysis.

Weight gain due to obesity Now it’s time for the truth to be revealed. There must have been some weight loss, right? Please start the drums… You’ve lost one boring, unnoticeable pound of fat if you followed the following procedure. “What the hell is going on here!? Is it possible for me to feel angry RIGHT NOW?”

Weight loss Because you gained one pound of lean mass and shed one pound of fat, your formerly inactive butt gained two pounds of lean mass. That’s all well and good. But that wasn’t the intention! You want to lose weight. This is when your rage takes over.

So you spent $3000 and 60 hours at the gym working your arse off. And your arse hasn’t changed at all! Is it time to pull out a machete and shave that worthless trainer’s head off?

It’s not a coincidence.

When I initially noticed these figures, I assumed they were a coincidence. I gathered the research team over the phone and yelled at them. There has to be some kind of data blunder. Seriously, 12 weeks of intense exercise and just one pound of fat loss compared. no training. Was this some kind of prank? Did they make a blunder with the data collection? Did any of the study participants miss any sessions? What was going on?!?

Despite my protests, there were no mistakes. The contestants arrived on time. They put forth a lot of effort in their training. The information was correctly gathered. The participants just did not make any progress. And, for the first time, I began honestly asking the question.

Is it possible to become in excellent condition only by following a good workout program?

Note I used the word “solid” to describe the training program. In the past, I assumed that individuals didn’t achieve results because their exercise regimen and/or nutrition were both bad. However, the answer seemed to be no as a consequence of this new research, a study in which the training methodology was sound. A good workout regimen wasn’t enough to get individuals in good condition.

Other study backs it up.

I began delving into the research with a renewed feeling of purpose. And I immediately discovered another recent research that said the same thing. This research, published in the April 2008 edition of Nutrition and Metabolism, found that 38 previously overweight, inactive individuals showed little changes in body composition following 10 weeks of exercise (3 endurance sessions and 2 strength sessions per week – the inverse of our study).

Body mass index Neither the control (no activity) nor the training groups substantially altered their body weight in this research. On average, both groups lost approximately 0.6 pounds of body weight. Neither adjustment, however, was substantial.

a large amount of fat The exercise group dropped 2.4 pounds of fat mass, whereas the control group lost 0.9 pounds. In comparison to doing nothing, the 50 exercise sessions result in a modest 1.5 pound fat reduction. I suppose it’s better than a kick in the teeth. However, it isn’t perfect.

Lean muscle mass The exercise group gained 1.7 pounds of lean mass, whereas the control group only gained 0.2 pounds. This implies that compared to doing nothing, the 50 exercise sessions resulted in a 1.5-pound increase in lean mass. Not terrible at all. But it’s not fantastic.

Important vs. different

Yes, the differences were “statistically significant” in both investigations. In other words, when individuals trained vs. did not exercise, they lost more fat and gained more lean mass. Let us not, however, conflate difference with significant. After all, these modifications are minor, to say the least. And, in my opinion, unimportant.

Come on, individuals workout in order to alter their bodies in observable and quantifiable ways. They want to be more comfortable in their clothing. They wish to lose weight and return to a healthy weight. They want to be able to climb the stairs without becoming out of breath. They want to reduce their cholesterol levels.

They’re not interested in spending a lot of money and effort on something that just results in a one-pound fat reduction, in my opinion, and it might just be me. Seriously, it isn’t very good.

No, the lesson isn’t to quit exercising!

You may be wondering whether I’m advising you to quit exercising at this point. Certainly not! Every day, exercise is essential for looking better, feeling better, and performing better. And don’t forget about it!

However, my argument is that exercise by itself is insufficient. What you actually need is exercise along with a healthy eating plan. That’s exactly what the doctor prescribed. Consider what occurs when individuals eat healthily…

The average fat reduction for all of our participants in our last Body Transformation Challenge was 1/2 percent (or 1 pound) each week! Remember, people dropped 1 to 1.5 pounds in 10-12 weeks in the research above!

When individuals incorporated the strategy to their training system, their effectiveness almost doubled.

Our finalists (the best performers) also witnessed the following outcomes:

  • Finalist #1 dropped approximately 30 pounds in 16 weeks, including 23 pounds of fat, or about 1.4 pounds per week.
  • Finalist #2 – shed about 16 pounds in 16 weeks: 23 pounds of fat, or roughly 1.4 pounds per week.
  • Finalist #3 – dropped 37 pounds in 16 weeks, including 27 pounds of fat, or approximately 1.7 pounds per week.
  • Finalist #4 – dropped 25 pounds in 16 weeks, totaling 35 pounds of fat, or approximately 2.2 pounds per week.
  • Finalist #5 dropped 37 pounds in 16 weeks, including 31 pounds of fat (or approximately 1.9 pounds).

Note that each of our finalists followed one of the System’s training regimens and dietary recommendations.

Consider the above-mentioned research paper, which was published in Nutrition and Metabolism. There was really a third group in this research. In addition to exercising, this group took two nutrient-dense meal replacement supplements each day. Each supplement included 300 calories, 5 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 40 grams of protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. While the exercise-only group showed little fat reduction and muscle growth, the exercise plus supplement group had a completely different tale.

Body mass index The exercise+supplement group dropped 4 pounds overall. In comparison, the exercise alone group dropped 0.6 pounds.

a large amount of fat In addition, the exercise+supplement group shed 6 pounds of total body fat. In comparison, the exercise alone group dropped 2.4 pounds.

Lean muscle mass The exercise+supplement group increased their overall lean body mass by approximately 1.8 pounds. In comparison, the exercise alone group gained 1.7 pounds.

As you can see, even something as easy as adding a high-quality protein drink or MRP to your diet may help you lose weight faster than just exercising. But, once again, nothing beats a well-balanced diet plan combined with regular exercise.

Take notice, trainers.

I need to notify the trainers at this stage. It’s a serious issue if you don’t provide dietary recommendations to your customers. A trainer who just sells an exercise to a client is like to a car salesperson who only sells a vehicle with no motor. The item simply won’t go, as you’ve previously witnessed.

Now, I don’t want to come off as if I’m slamming all trainers; I appreciate the service that many of them give. I do, however, offer some advice for trainers who don’t have a dietary plan in place.

Follow my advise… Nutritional integration isn’t a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have.” Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Begin planning how you can encourage your customers to work out hard and eat healthier straight now.

Take notice, too, exercisers.

For those of you who aren’t currently trainers but want to look better, feel better, and perform at your best, the lesson should be self-evident. You are free to work out as hard as you desire. However, you can’t anticipate inspiring, visible outcomes unless you pay attention to your dietary intake.


With this free special report, we’ll help you make sense of it all.

It will teach you the most effective diet, exercise, and lifestyle methods – all of which are unique to you.

To get a free copy of the special report, please click here.

The exercise doesn’t help depression is a common problem that many people face. It may be that exercise just isn’t the answer for these individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true that exercise doesnt make you lose weight?

It is true that exercise does not make you lose weight, but it will help you maintain your current weight.

Why am I not getting exercise results?

It is possible that your game may be set to Off in the settings menu. You can check by opening the settings, then going into the Game tab and selecting On.

Why exercise alone wont help you lose weight?

Exercise alone wont help you lose weight. You need to change your diet and exercise habits in order to see results.

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