10 Ways More Exercise Isn’t Better
In our culture we have a tendency to think if something is good, more of it will be even better. But we all know it’s not really true.
Too much water can kill you. Too much sun causes cancer. And too much exercise… well, that can be bad in many ways.
Here are 10 examples:
1. More Strict
When you haven’t gotten sustained results from exercise, the answer is rarely to double down and get more strict.
If you couldn’t manage 4 workouts a week at 30 minutes each, you’re not going to magically be ready for an hour long workout EVERY day.
Master the basics first.
A couple short exercise sessions a week and going for regular walks can be a great place to start. (Or try our ebook “Home Workout for Beginners.”)
You have to keep up the habit of being active before you can try out something more demanding.
2. More Weight
When you fail on a lift from using too much weight, you cause undue stress on your body that steals life not only from the rest of your workout, but potentially the next one, too.
If you’re doing fitness right, you’re in it for the long haul, which means there’s plenty of time to progress.
Once the weight at a particular rep scheme gets too easy, move up just a bit — even if it’s just 5 pounds, that’s more than you were doing before.
You’re always better off going too light rather than too heavy.
3. More Reps
Let’s say you’re shooting for 15 reps on a certain exercise. But when you get to rep 8, you know you’re in trouble.
You make it to 12 reps just barely, and then decide to eke out 3 more. It takes a little momentum, a little shift in stance, and a little adjusting halfway through each rep.
OK, let’s just call it like it is: Your form went to shit.
You would have been better off stopping at around 10 reps to spare your muscles and not risk injury.
It could be that you used too much weight, but sometimes the lighter weight is just too light. I know I said too light is better than too heavy, but sometimes the answer lies in between, by using the heavier option and doing less reps.
The best option depends on the purpose of each exercise, but more reps at the expense of proper form doesn’t count as more reps at all.
4. More Time
There’s no sense spending more time exercising if you don’t have time for recovery.
That means getting at least 7 hours of sleep. (Personally, I need no less than 8 to feel my best.) The more time you spend exercising, the more sleep you’ll need — potentially as much as 10 hours.
And don’t forget to do things for active recovery like taking walks, or doing easy mobility exercises on your off days.
It sounds like a lot, and it is. Which is why you should start conservatively with your time, and build up your resilience before taking on too much.
5. More Pain
There are three ways to move forward if a workout gets you hurt:
Fix any weaknesses or bad form that cause pain.
Work around it so you aren’t doing the exercises that cause pain.
Do nothing until you feel better and then go right back to what causes pain.
Most people do number 3, which means you lose all your progress while doing nothing, only to jump right back into the same exercise that’s bound to get you hurt again, perpetuating the cycle.
You don’t have to stop working out, but there’s a fine line between active recovery and ignoring pain signals. Address the problem and avoid taking the route of more pain.
6. More Exercise
Sometimes your activity level isn’t the issue, and adding more exercise doesn’t address the real problem. One word:
When your diet hasn’t changed, exercise can only do so much (read why Exercise Burns Zero Calories).
If you’re already consistent about staying active and still aren’t losing fat, start tackling the diet. Just don’t go overboard with that either. Start with one change at a time, like prioritizing protein at each meal. For more ideas, download our ebook “Forever Fat Loss.”
7. More Supplements
I realize this isn’t strictly under the title category of “more exercise.” But so many people use it to make up for irrational and inconsistent exercise habits, I had to include it.
Here’s the long and the short of it:
If you aren’t seeing the results you want, a supplement is rarely the answer.
Supplements can only complement a good diet and workout program, not fix a bad one.
8. More Lazy
People like to sound impressive talking about their 90 minute workout sessions, but what I see is excessive rest time, extra trips to the water fountain, and 72 attempts at a selfie worth posting on Instagram (#nofiltermyass).
Sometimes spending more time in the gym just means an opportunity to be more lazy.
If you could (safely) get an entire hour-long workout done in just 45 minutes, not only is that better for your schedule, it’s better for your body because it keeps your heart rate up.
9. More Wrong
If the way you exercise now is wrong for your goals, doing more of it won’t get you there either.
For example, if you want to be lean and toned, more running isn’t the answer. You need some resistance training (like lifting weights or bodyweight exercises).
Whatever your goal, don’t blindly work your butt off trying to get there. Figure out the best path so your hard work pays off.
10. More Flawed
Even the right type of exercise, when done poorly, can be a recipe for disaster.
Squats are a great exercise, but the more you do them with bad form, the more likely you are to blow out your knees.
Running can be good exercise, but if you keep doing more of the exact same route, distance, and speed, you’re more likely to have a repetitive stress injury.
Bench presses are a foundational lift. But if you add more chest work without having enough back exercises in your program, you’re more likely to become imbalanced and get hurt.
These are all examples of flawed training, or doing the right thing the wrong way.
The best way to avoid this, and any of the other mistakes I talked about, is by hiring a competent trainer. Or at least talking to one. I’m happy to answer any of your questions and you can email me here.