Why I Plan to Exercise Less, Not More This Year

Closeup image of a woman sitting at gym with dumbbells, shaker and weight



For many years, I could Zumba away the calories

of a cheesecake. Not anymore!


Anyone else grow up in a world of step aerobics

and long cardio workouts with the goal of burning

more calories?


I guess calories in/calories out was never really the

right answer.  However; age, hormones, career,

habits, and two babies have made a big difference

in how my body responds to exercise.


The two hours I used to spend in the gym 6 days

a week, left me energized and motivated.  Now, I

just feel tired and hungry. In addition, hours in the

gym everyday is not sustainable when you have a

career, kids, and are interested in a social life.


My goal this year is to keep things sane and simple.

I plan to focus on quality over quantity in all areas

of my life.


My Problem with Over Training


I have learned this year that over training can

actually be counterproductive to weight loss and

fitness goals.  Exercise that takes your body to a

state of physical exhaustion on a regular basis, can

do more harm than good.  For me, the increased

stress response just added to other stress in my



Frequently living in a state where your body is

stressed leads to depression, weight gain, and

sluggish digestion.  Your body increases cortisol

release, which encourages abdominal fat storage

and may even contribute to the development of

autoimmune disease.


I’m not willing to shut down my business or get rid

of my kids, so the stress of exercise seems the

easiest to eliminate.


The Science Behind Exercising Less


Dr. Doug McGuff in his book Body By Science,

advocates for a high intensity low volume training.

The goal of the workout is muscle breakdown, in

order that the most muscle growth can occur

during your recovery days.


The exercise you do, does not directly produce

a physical changes.  Rather, it stimulates your

body to produce an adaptation to perform

better in your next workout.


Some call this the Minimum Effective Dose – the

smallest amount of exercise that will produce

your desired outcome.  It is believed that any

work you do beyond this is wasteful.


The example often given is boiling water.  If

you increase the temperature of boiling water,

is the water more boiled? If we continue to work

out beyond our “boiling point”, we are using up

energy and resources that could be used elsewhere

. . . maybe for something more fun!


So if more isn’t necessary to achieve the results

I want, why do more?


For the next year I am interested in both getting

stronger and finding more margin in my schedule.

It looks like less hours in the gym will help both

of these goals.


My plan:

One set of exercises per body part, done with

perfect, slow form until I am unable to do anymore.

I plan to work each large muscle group in three

sessions a week.  I’m not going to multi taks, but put

100% into every exercise.


My goal:

To have a body fully capable to perform any activity

I ask of it without injury, and have the energy to

achieve more in my everyday life.


Now this doesn’t mean I am going to just sit around

the rest of the week. I am not equating “exercise”

with movement.


I am going to maintain a very active lifestyle, just

not long formal exercise sessions.  This could include

walking the dog or playing tag with my kids.


So this is the game plan to start out 2017.  The

science seems to back it up, so I’m going to give it go.


But, honestly it scares me.


How can this little exercise possibly maintain my

strength and endurance?


Will it completely undo all the hard work I have put

into having a strong, healthy body?


Well, we will see and I will report back to you how it

goes. I hope to not have to return to step aerobics. . .

I was never coordinated enough for that anyway.


Have you been able to find balance between exercise

intensity and recovery?


Is the exercise regimen that used to yield awesome

results not working for you anymore?


Share with us your secrets and experiences in the

comments below or e-mail me at


I would love to hear from you!