How Much Do You Need To Exercise?

How much do you really need to do to see results?

Man climbing mountain w/ backpack

How much do you put in to accomplish your goals?

If you follow newspapers and magazines, you see advertisements for 5 min, 7 min,  15 min workouts, etc., the less the better. In our world of busy schedules, hurried lunches, breakfasts in the car, etc. this looks enticing and we want to buy into the concept of minimal movement even though we might feel inside that it is not enough.

So what is your “ROI”, your return of investment?

It depends on how in shape you are, and how much time & effort you invest.

What shape are you in?

This is crucial. Someone who has not worked out in years, is used to sitting on the couch, does not move more than absolutely necessary, is severely overweight…this person will gain a lot from doing relatively little. Their body is so deconditioned that even the slightest increase in movement is a stimulus for the body to adapt. If the person is severely obese then the next factor, effort, comes into play as well. It is much harder to move 285 or 340 lbs than moving 185 lbs. As you improve you will have to work harder and longer to provide a stimulus for your body to improve.

What is your effort level?

Like mentioned above, effort level is a big factor in your success. You might have seen people in the gym picking up a 3 lb dumbbell and curl it 30 times without breaking a sweat. The effort level is low and the effect of it mirrors that. The person weighing 325 lbs and simply standing up off a bench just squatted 325 lbs. That is most likely a huge effort for that person. Results will happen if he or she persists.

Now, you don’t have to lift that heavy. Each person’s intensity level differs. The long time powerlifter might deadlift 225 lbs as a warm up, for you it might be your next PR. A good way to judge your effort level: if you rate the effort as an 8-9/10 by the end of the set/run/etc., you were working hard. If you are lifting weights, please don’t go beyond 15 repetitions, just increase the resistance/weight.

How much time do you commit?

This often is a problem. I have seen people spend 2 hours and more in the gym but really effectively train only 20-30 min. I understand that there is a social factor involved but spending that long in the gym does not mean you are actually training that much.

On the other hand we have people who do something for 5 min and that is it. They actually work hard during those five minutes but overall the stimulus to change is not enough either.

One thing is for sure: Something is better than nothing and research seems to support that. There is a but! If you are aiming for more than just healthful goals, if you are striving for that six-pack, a model-figure, etc. then you need to put in more time. You don’t have to become a fanatic necessarily but someone who wants to improve their weight loss or fat loss reaches a peak at around 5 hours per week. You can do more, the improvements just don’t go up linearly with the increase in time.

How does this look like in a practical setting?

Let’s say Paul came to us to lose weight. He has a busy schedule and is always pressed for time. His schedule might look like something like this:

  • Monday: Personal Training: 15 min of core and warm up exercises 30 min of weights, whole body
  • Tuesday: 5-10 min warm up, 20-30 min of high intensity interval training
  • Wednesday: Personal Training: 15 min of core and warm up exercises 30 min of weights, whole body
  • Thursday: 30-40 min steady cardiovascular training
  • Friday: Personal Training or alone, 15 min of core and warm up exercises 30 min of weights, whole body
  • Saturday: 5-10 min warm up, 20-30 min of high intensity interval training
  • Sunday: Rest day, preferably active rest, like walks, hikes, etc.

This adds up to 4-5 hours a week. It only takes up a fraction of your day and you will have some awesome results.

Training is great, but not everything. It needs to be supported with healthy food choices.

Now go out there and kick some butt. Remember it does not take that much in order to have phenomenal results.

Let me help you achieve your goals,



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