10 Fixable Reasons Your Personal Training Isn’t Working

Hiring a personal trainer can be seriously expensive, and it’s no quick fix, it can take weeks or even months to start seeing any results at all.

So what if after several months of training you still aren’t seeing any improvements?

In this article, I’m going to break down the top ten reasons why your personal training isn’t working, and what you can do to fix them.

Sound good?

Let’s go…

I would consider myself a pretty good personal trainer, I had a ton of clients that made fantastic progress training with me, but there were always a few people who just seemed to make little to no progress no matter what we did in the sessions.

Of course, this had me asking questions about my training and if I was missing something, how could the rest of my clients by making such great progress, but others were making little to none? I was wondering why personal training doesn’t work for some people.

I knew something was wrong somewhere, so I set out to find out why it was happening.

If you’re finding that your training isn’t getting you the results you were looking for, have a look through some of the reasons I discovered and see if anything sounds familiar.

Top Ten Reasons Your Personal Training isn’t Working

You aren’t doing any homework

personal tying their shoes

Even if you have three sessions a week booked in with a trainer, you need to be doing additional work on your own too.

Hopefully, your trainer has given you additional workouts to do outside of your sessions together and some nutritional advice to help you along your way, but it’s incredibly important that you don’t solely rely on the one or two training sessions a week you have with a trainer to get you all the results you are looking for.

Realistically, you should be looking to do at least two to three training sessions each week in addition to the workouts with your trainer.

If you’re not sure of what to do, ask your trainer to write up exercise programs for you. Any decent trainer should have no problem with doing this, so don’t feel bad about asking.

You aren’t tracking your calories properly

Over the years you’ve probably heard a bunch of different times that counting calories “isn’t important”.

This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain weight, become a powerlifter or just “stay in shape”, you need to count how many calories you are eating. If you don’t, you’re completely guessing as to whether or not you are making any progress.

For losing weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn each day, to gain, you need to eat more than you burn each day. So if you are hiring a trainer to help you lose weight, but each day you are eating even 50 calories more than you are burning each, you’ll make no progress, it’s the exact same thing for weight gain (but, the complete opposite, if you get what I mean?)

I would actually be pretty concerned by any trainer that didn’t make it very clear how important keeping accurate track of your calories is to your progress. You can keep check of things pretty easily by downloading an app called myfitnesspal, it’ll really help you know what you’ve eaten each day, and it’s free!

Click below to be taken to the website so you can decide if the app is for you.


Your trainer isn’t working you hard enough

Your personal trainer isn't working you hard enough

I’ve seen plenty of trainers that let their clients lift weights that are too easy, give too long rest periods and spend far too much of the session chatting.

I understand that you want your sessions with a trainer to be fun, but remember you are paying for them to train you, and more importantly, you’re paying them to help you get results.

You should have no more than 1 minute’s rest (unless you’re powerlifting) between sets, and you can use that time to chat about anything you want, but when that time is up, you should be straight back to the next one.

Your trainer should be constantly pushing you to train to your maximum potential. Your body will only adapt if it needs to, so lifting weights that feel easy might feel more pleasant than struggling with heavier weights, but you can do it for months without making any progress at all.

If you’re cool with wasting all the money you spend on training, then that’s fine, but if you actually want to see your body changing, you need to start working hard. If your trainer is letting you get away with easy workouts, have a polite word with them, and if they still don’t push you, maybe look for a new trainer.

Your trainer is giving you a “cookie-cutter” workout

This can be difficult to spot for new clients, you might go along with any old workout your trainer gives you (because how are you supposed to know if it’s good, right?), but there are some trainers out there that are pretty lazy when it comes to writing up tailored workout programs for you.

Your trainer should always write up programs specifically catered to you and no one else, that’s one of the main points that makes personal training “personal”.

So what is a “cookie-cutter” workout?

It’s a workout that is so basic that almost any client will be able to do it, and they use it for not just your sessions, but several more people after you too. This is lazy and not the way training should be done.

Red flags for cookie-cutter workouts:

  • Lots of very basic exercises for non-beginner clients
  • Lots of exercises using machines
  • Exercises that don’t seem to fit with your goals (eg. biceps curls in weight loss programs)
  • Workouts that are no more in-depth than what you get from a standard gym induction session.

You’re sneaking in snacks

snacking is ruining your personal training results

Losing weight isn’t easy, and after a hard day or after weeks of training, it’s pretty tempting to have a few of your favorite snacks here and there. The problem is, you’d be amazed at just what a negative impact this can have on your success.

It’s easy to have a chocolate bar and forget to add it to your calories for the day because it’s “only one little chocolate bar”, right? Well, even a small chocolate bar can easily be 120 calories, and again, if you are even a few calories over your limit for the day, you’ll not be making any progress.

It’s easy to forget you’ve eaten these kinds of quick snacks, but that’s all it takes to spoil a perfectly good diet. If you want to snack, that’s fine, but make sure you add it to your calories for the day so you know how much you need to exercise to burn it off.

You hired a trainer as a “quick fix”

Personal trainers are like teachers, they can’t do the exercise for you, and hiring one won’t guarantee you immediate results.

I know PTs can be very expensive and you’ve heard that all the celebrities that have made fantastic body transformations had help from a trainer, but it will still take time, you’ll still have to work your butt off and pay close attention to what you’re eating.

What you don’t see with the celebrity body transformations, is that they’re working for a trainer for several hours every day and have a nutritionist watching everything they eat. They can afford to do this, and they will have to follow all the advice or they might not get the part they are going for, so their motivation is sky-high.

Hiring a trainer is not a quick fix, so please don’t be disappointed if after a month you aren’t seeing the results you’d hoped for. If you follow the advice you’re given, work as hard as you can and don’t spoil your diet, you will make progress, just be patient with it.

Your trainer isn’t taking measurements

Your personal trainer should be taking measurements

Are you getting anything out of your training? Do you know?

Your personal trainer should be taking measurements to make sure the training is getting you the results you’re paying for, and it should be your trainer doing this.

If after several weeks of your new training schedule your trainer hasn’t mentioned taking any measurements, I would ask them if they could. They certainly don’t need to be grabbing the tape measure every session, but taking measurements is so important that you really should be having them taken every four to five weeks.

This way, if you aren’t making the progress that you thought you would have, you have the opportunity to address it, but if they ignore this and carry on regardless with the assumption that results will just appear at some point, you might be wasting your time and money.

So the tip here is, make sure your trainer is taking frequent measurements and keeping a record of them so you can compare each test to the last. This way you will always be able to see if you are heading in the right direction, or need your trainer to make changes to your program.

Your trainer hasn’t explained the importance of diet

I’ve seen plenty of trainers who do this (or don’t do this as the case may be).

Results are made in the kitchen, is a phrase that holds true to matter your goals.

Do you want to pack on muscle? You need to eat right, you want to lose weight, you need to eat right.

The problem is that so many people don’t know what “eating right” really means. Your trainer might tell you that you need to eat more protein, but what foods are high protein, and how much of them do you need to eat?

PTs aren’t always allowed to give your strict diet advice, but they certainly can explain the relationship between diet and results and show you how to make sure you are eating enough. There are tons of apps these days that make this really simple, so if your trainer never even mentions diet to you or doesn’t suggest using any apps to help you monitor what you’re eating, ask them for advice or look for another trainer.

Again I would suggest using myfitnesspal as it lets you input your daily calorie goals and tells you exactly how much of everything you should be eating. Click below to be taken to the site, I’ve been using this free app for years and I love it!


You’re cancelling sessions

I’ll keep this one really short and to the point because it’s so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people think that hiring a personal trainer is all they need to do, they seem to forget that they actually need to attend the sessions too.

Everyone cancels now and then, it’s fine, people get ill, stuff comes up, it’s totally cool, but when you are canceling sessions because you want to go to the pub with the guys from work or because you “don’t fancy it that evening”, you really can’t be surprised when you get less than optimal results.

If you are only doing one session a week, you really can’t afford to be canceling sessions and still expecting to get results. If you really have to, because you’re ill, then at least reschedule the session to later in the week and remember to train yourself to make up for the lost time.

You’re drinking your calories

you're drinking your calories

A little understood fact about your favorite alcoholic beverages is that they contain a ton of calories!

Even a small glass of white wine has 82 calories, with a typical workout with a personal trainer burning around 300-400 calories per hour, you will be drinking back nearly a third of the calories you burnt (if you burnt 300 calories) from one tiny glass of wine.

If you’re drinking a pint of lager, you’re looking at about 180 calories per pint, so two of three of these and your workout has essentially been a waste of time.

The reason I make this point is that I used to work in London, and I know all too well how well a few drinks after a hard day’s work goes down, but even doing this once or twice a week can massively increase your weekly calorie intake, making it really hard to lose weight, and that’s without getting into the finer details of the hormonal imbalances, etc that alcohol can cause.

If you’re looking to lose body fat or gain (good) weight, I would seriously suggest laying off the booze either entirely, or keeping it to one or two drinks a week, any more than this and you will be seriously hurting your chances of making good progress, even with the help of your expensive personal trainer.


Personal training doesn’t always get people the results they want, but it’s usually down to the trainer, the client, or a mixture of the two.

Hopefully, in this article, you have seen that there are pretty common reasons for personal training not working, so if you read through the above points and see any that you can relate to, make the changes suggested to start seeing something for the money you’re spending.

If you need to talk to your trainer, talk to them, don’t be scared into doing the same thing over and over whilst expecting different results, if they aren’t getting you results and it’s definitely not your fault, have a word with them or look for another trainer.

Go get ’em!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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