The Truth About How Much Exercise You REALLY Need
By Tom Venuto
What ever happened to, "Get some exercise every day because it's good
for you?" You hardly ever hear that anymore.
Instead, we now hear about "Revolutionary, breakthroughs" that allow
you to train once a week and presto! - overnight muscle and instant
abs! We also hear advice and instruction such as:
"Don't do too much cardio, or you'll lose your muscle and get weaker."
"Watch out for catabolism, and beware of cortisol!"
"Be careful not to overtrain..."
"Train don't strain..."
"Long workouts are out... short workouts are in"
"Train less to gain more..."
"Your muscles don't grow while you're training, they grow while you're
This is all well and good and there's some true and sensible advice in
there, and don't get me wrong - any amount of exercise is better than
no exercise, however...
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO EXERCISING EVERY DAY BECAUSE IT'S A POSITIVE
HABIT THAT'S GOOD FOR YOU?
Do you remember when fitness trainers used to recommend daily
exercise? Have you noticed the "Achieve more by doing less" theme
getting worse these days? (and being taken to ridiculous extremes?)
Have you noticed that a tiny core of fitness professionals still
promote daily exercise, but their voices are seldom heard today amidst
the marketing cries of 21st century Madison Avenue and slick big city
People DO judge a book by its cover and publishers know that. Typical
magazine articles and books in the health and fitness section today
have titles that sound like this:
Massive Muscles in Minutes
Instant Abs! How to sculpt six pack abs in 3 minutes a day
A few minutes in the morning
The busy executive's two-minute workout
"Sprint": The revolutionary program to Lose Fat and get in shape 5
minutes at a time
The "Indulge" Program: Enjoy delicious dishes while losing all the
weight you want, without exercise...
The power of one: How to transform your body and your life with one
workout a week
The 30 minute fitness revolution: How to Achieve your perfect body in
just 30 minutes a week
The 11 minute total body workout
All these pitches appeal to your lazy side. Inside, the authors coddle
you like a helpless infant, saying, "Poor baby, It's not your fault, we
understand... we know you don't have any time... no one does... Don't
worry, it's okay, OF COURSE you don't have to workout for hours and
hours - who ever gave you THAT idea?? Awwwww... there now...Working out
too much is bad for you anyways... breaks down muscle, suppresses your
immune system, causes oxidative damage and releases cortisol... Follow
our easy 5 minute program and you'll be just fine."
Do you think it's a coincidence that obesity is at an all time high,
rising in lockstep with these lackadaisical attitudes?
Even with all these "new" exercise programs, training routines,
scientific "breakthroughs," diets, books, websites, and of course, all
the "cutting edge" supplements, AMERICANS ARE FATTER AND UNHEALTHIER
THAN EVER BEFORE IN HISTORY!!!!
And if you're not from the U.S., don't laugh at us, because your
country is probably not far behind!
I'm not implicating laziness as the sole reason for obesity. That would
be over-simplifying a complex problem with multiple causes. However,
laziness and aversion to exercise are certainly major contributing
Human beings are capable of reaching breathtaking heights, but they
also have a lazy side hard-wired into their natures. We need a push to
overcome inertia. We need motivation. We need to be inspired to look up
and reach for the stars, instead of settling for a little clod of dirt.
And now, the very diet and fitness industries that are supposed to be
helping and motivating are actually making it worse by making silly
promises in the name of getting the sale and appealing to our inherent
BUT WAIT! It goes even deeper! Could it be possible that even the
world's most respected health, fitness and medical organizations are
reducing their recommendations so as not to discourage the public from
even trying? Lyle McDonald, Diet guru and Author of the Ketogenic Diet
thinks so. In Lyle's forum, he wrote:
"From a public policy standpoint, there's that huge tradeoff: Get a
small improvement in health (and presumably decrease health-costs) by
getting folks to do something, or risk a much larger dropout rate by
telling them to work harder. They keep scaling back their
recommendations and they still can't get the majority of people to do
it. Something is going to be better than nothing, I suppose."
Just how far has this down-sizing of exercise trend gone? All the way
to zero in some cases: Some "experts" tell you that you don't need ANY
exercise at all...
Just take this youth-restoring hormone therapy, a once per week
injection, rub on some crème, take a handful of pills, get a nip here
and a tuck there, have some fat suctioned, drink a few specially
formulated shakes three times a day, eat these special foods, staple
the stomach, stick on a patch, and there you have it: A perfect body
without almost no expenditure of energy!
Many people who have been struggling with weight loss want to believe
these claims so desperately, they take the bait every time, even when
it sounds too good to be true and defies common sense.
Remember that classic courtroom scene in the movie "A Few Good Men"
when Jack Nicholson says, "You want the truth? ... YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE
Well, if you can't handle it, then stop reading now because here is the
truth that almost no one else wants to tell you:
Your body is BEGGING for DAILY exercise.
The human body-mind is the most remarkable creation in the universe and
it was designed and engineered to be used often and vigorously. The
mind and body atrophy and weaken if not used frequently.
Your body isn't going to fall apart by getting your heart pumping every
day - YOUR BODY WILL THANK YOU FOR IT!!!!!
In some cases, using material things wears them out faster. Your car
only has a certain number of miles on it, right?
Your body is the opposite: It wears out when it's NOT used.
Have we forgotten all the incredible benefits of REGULAR exercise -
both strength training and aerobic training - to keep us young, vibrant
Have we forgotten that exercise can feel good and give you a natural
high that's better than drugs or alcohol?
Have we become so vain and ignorant that all we want is to look good on
the outside for a short while and do it with the least amount of
effort, using the path of least resistance?
Do you realize that you grow against resistance - physically, mentally,
emotionally and spiritually?
Why not have a helicopter fly you up to the summit and drop you off?
You'd get the same view as those blokes who risked life and limb
lugging 60-pound rucksacks up the steep mountain side for days,
Why do CHAMPIONS climb?
The answer is: There's no personal growth without the journey. Reaching
the top without the climb leaves you unfulfilled. The journey is the
greatest reward, not the destination. Champions understand this. The
other 95% of the world hasn't figured it out yet, so they remain stuck
in self imposed bogs of quiet desperation.
Do you really want to go to the store and just buy the trophy without
the competition? How would you feel seeing it on your mantelpiece? It
would make great conversation at a party, right? Your friends and
family would be so proud of your "bought" trophy... (or would they?)
If you would stop for a minute and think about the great rewards of
training and understand that the training IS the trophy, then the
entire attitude of exercise avoidance would disappear, obesity and
disease would plummet, you would be working out and loving it, and your
health, your body, your attitude, your energy and your outlook on life
would shift so dramatically, your friends and family would hardly
recognize you. They would be inspired by you too, so the "exercise
fever" would spread.
So HOW MUCH exercise do you REALLY need? What are we talking about
I'm not talking about training two hours a day like Jack Lalanne has
for the last ¾ of a century, or doing hours of high intensity weight
training like a competitive bodybuilder, or an hour and a half of
cardio a day like an endurance athlete, unless that's called for to
reach a certain goal, or unless that's what you enjoy.
I'm not talking about lifting weights every day. You need recovery time
from intense forms of training.
I'm not talking about never taking an entire week off for rest and
And I'm not talking about never taking any days off.
What I AM talking about is doing some form of moderate exercise -
enough to break a sweat, get you breathing heavy and bring your heart
rate up - almost every day of the week, most of the year.
It could be the popular six day program alternating weights and cardio
every other day with Sundays off. It could be two days a week of
lifting weights, two days of aerobics classes and two days of hiking or
mountain biking (six days total with one rest day). If it's fat loss
you want, then cardio every day with a few days of strength training
works like magic.
It could be virtually anything! Choose what you love to do - just do
something every day, include both strength training and aerobic
training each week and do it on a regular schedule at the same time
Ultimately, the amount of exercise you REALLY need is the amount it
takes to give you the results you want.
However, there are some very compelling reasons to exercise every
Why every day? Because that makes it a HABIT.
Anything you do repeatedly (especially daily) will eventually become a
habit, and your habits, positive or negative, will control your results
and ultimately, shape your destiny.
Habits can be harnessed to your advantage, propelling you downstream
towards your desired destination, or they can become your worst enemy,
forcing you to paddle fruitlessly upstream against their powerful
Ninety-nine percent of the things you do each day are done on
"automatic pilot" - without consciously thinking, deciding, choosing or
exerting willpower. That is the power of habit and exercise is one of
the most positive habits you will ever develop.
Why else is daily exercise a good idea? Because you develop METABOLIC
Your metabolism is like a spinning top. You twist the top and it starts
spinning at maximum velocity, but not long after your fingers leave
contact with the top, it's already slowing down.
Eventually, the revolutions decrease and the top starts to wobble. You
have to spin it again before it loses all its momentum and topples
over. By spinning it more frequently, the average rpm's stay higher and
the top never slows to a wobble.
Your metabolism is the same way. Exercise "spins" your metabolic rate.
Many factors affect metabolism, but nothing else cranks up and
maintains your metabolic speed like frequent exercise of sufficient
In Dr. Michael Colgan's book, "The New Nutrition", Dr. Colgan writes,
"At The Colgan Institute, we have found that for fat loss, five days
a week for 30 minutes is much superior to three days weekly at 70
minutes even though the total weekly time of the three day people is an
hour longer. In order to keep the metabolic rate churning, frequent
exercise is the key."
In "The Metabolism System For Weight Loss" Exercise Physiologist Greg
Landry of www.greglandry.com writes:
"You won't find many people telling you to exercise daily. In fact,
most "diet" programs or weight loss books you read will not emphasize
exercise and that's simply because so many people have a negative
reaction to exercise. You have to start thinking differently about it.
Exercise can be fun. The key is finding something you can enjoy doing
on a daily basis. Many people think an hour of exercise every day is
more than their body can handle, but keep in mind that our bodies were
made for and are capable of many hours of physical activity a day.
DAILY exercise is absolutely critical to losing weight! DAILY exercise
is also very effective at changing a sluggish metabolism into a
Yes, I hear the grumbles and groans from the peanut gallery... "You
mean 3 days a week isn't enough?" But how am I supposed to find time to
exercise every day? That's impossible because I have kids, a job and a
life, you know!
Here's a novel idea: Get your butt out of bed 30 minutes earlier!
Are you really concerned about quality time with your family? If so,
then you OWE IT TO THEM to take the time to take care of yourself so
you'll be around long enough to enjoy their company.
We live in a society with more demands on our time than ever before.
But if you don't make time for exercise now, you'll lose time to
sickness and immobility later.
Psychologists tell us that most people will almost never take action to
PREVENT a problem, only take action to GET RID OF a problem after it
has already occurred. So true isn't it? Unfortunately for many, that
may be too late.
Your body is remarkably forgiving, but there's only so much abuse it
can take. Abuse includes negative actions like smoking, drinking, drug
use and eating refined junk food. But sometimes that abuse comes in the
simple form of neglect - it's what you don't do that hurts you the
Can you exercise too much? Certainly. Is there a point where you become
overtained? Of course. Is there a point of diminishing returns? Sure
is. Can training become an unhealthy obsession? Absolutely. Do you need
to take time off for recovery and renewal? Most definitely! Should you
maximize your workout efficiency to get the most benefit in the least
time? A resounding YES!
However, if I were you, I'd be far more concerned about getting too
little activity than getting too much.
So, my friend, if you want to go on believing in the hype you read in
the magazines and best selling books these days about minimalist
training, once per week workouts, (or less), or the diet that doesn't
require ANY exercise, just eat these special food combinations, take
these supplements or cut out all the carbs and get the body of your
dreams, that's your choice... it's your body, your health and your
life... let your results be your guide.
But when you're unhappy with your results, and when you stand in front
of the mirror scratching your head trying to figure out why you don't
look and feel the way you want to look and feel... and when you start
to feel the downward pull of gravity and body parts are sagging... and
when the aches and pains strike, and the doctor's visits become more
..AND, when you see that there are others the same age as you, in the
same circumstances as you, with the same number of hours in the day
that you have, who have remained lean, healthy, and muscular...
..THEN GET OFF YOUR GLUTEUS MAXIMUS AND GET SOME EXERCISE EVERY SINGLE
DAY. YOUR BODY WANTS IT, NEEDS IT AND IS LITERALLY BEGGING FOR IT.
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