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How Much Exercise Should I Do?

by | Nov 4, 2020

How many times a week should I work out?  How much is too much?  How much to reach my goals?  What is the right kind of exercise to do?  How many reps?  How much weight?

These are questions I’m asked on a daily basis, and fair call.

The answer as always is, “it depends”.

I was recently asked to write a training programme for a client’s family member to train at the gym.  I hadn’t met them, I didn’t know anything about them.  My answer was this:

Yes I can write a list of exercises for them if you like, and charge you for it, BUT…. the thing is it won’t be a training programme.  Why?  Because I haven’t assessed, monitored, adjusted and progressed it with the person.

The thing with “the right amount” is that it’s very individual.  There is no one size fits all approach, although the fitness industry will try to tell you that there is, for the sake of selling mass products. 

All of my clients’ training programmes will be influenced by:

  • Their time available
  • Their work/lifestyle
  • Their motivation levels
  • Their abilities
  • Their preferences
  • Their recovery time
  • Sleep
  • Stress
  • Nutrition

I could go on…..

While some people will benefit for a time from general exercise, there will come a time when there is a need to progress and this is where training comes in.

What’s the difference?

There is a massive difference between “exercise” for exercise’s sake, and training, IMO.  Most of the people I come across, particularly in summer, request an outcome that is delivered via the process of training – but they want to achieve it via exercise.

Mark Rippetoe has eloquently defined and differentiated both terms as follows:  Exercise is physical activity for the performed for the effect it produces today… each workout has the purpose of producing sweat/burning calories/getting hot/stretching etc. 

Or as I call it, “ticking boxes”.

Training involves a planned process of practice, that will result in metabolic and physical changes over a period of time that will yield physiological adaptations resulting in improved performance such as endurance or strength.  The results can be quantified.

In my opinion and observations there’s a time and a place for both.

Some of my clients get and keep amazing results solely with our fantastic group classes in terms of fitness, physique and strength.  But the trick is they are most consistent (rarely or never miss a booking), and although we can see their results, we can’t exactly track back to which part of their workouts produced the result.  Generally these people also are quite habitual when it comes to other aspects of health, such as nutrition, incidental movement, being organised etc.

Notwithstanding, our choice of group training contains certain elements and movement patterns in formats which are effective at producing particular fitness and strength based outcomes.

However, if you are looking to progress, improve a particular aspect of your body or performance (fitness/strength), or even if you have an injury or are looking for a new way to workout – enter a properly customised training programme. 

At the shed, this is a process of education, support and coaching – in a private training environment.  No need to face the daunting prospect of walking into the gym and not being able to use what you need to, or wonder if you’re doing the right thing.

So when you’re considering your next goal, ask yourself do you need to do exercise or do you need to train?

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