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Are You Exercising Too Much Too Soon?

man catching breath on roadHow much do you exercise? How long do you do it for? Is it an hour a day or more? Do you work out 6 or maybe even 7 days a week? Most importantly though, do you think you can sustain your current exercise routine for the long term?

Are You Exercising Too Much?

Believe it or not, there is a such thing as too much exercise. The general population isn’t doing enough physical activity to be healthy and fit, but for people who are trying to lose weight, they tend to overdo it, especially at the beginning.

They might exercise a lot because they saw someone do it on TV, or because they think they have to in order to lose weight. Whatever the reason, all that exercise usually ends in physical and mental burnout.

Exercise Quality, Not Quantity

Don’t get me wrong, you do need to be active. You should try to get in some form of physical activity 7 days a week. However, many of those days can be leisure activity like walking, biking, or hiking. You can get by taking it easy on those days of the week because the others are very intense workouts.

They include a combination of strength training and/or HIIT cardio. That way your exercise program has everything you need to build and maintain muscle, and improve your cardiovascular system. Most importantly though, it gives you ample time to rest and recover.

This recovery time is an oft-forgotten concept of fitness. You need to give yourself enough time between your workouts to fully recover both physically and mentally. It’s the mental part that people usually don’t recover from, which eventually leads to mental burnout.

Here are 10 muscle recovery tips for improved performance.

How Long Can You Continue Your Current Workout Plan?

Stop and think about your exercise program. Whatever it is you’re doing for exercise right now, do you think you can still be doing it 6 months from now, 1 year, or 5 years from now? Many of you get so motivated (too motivated) to lose weight that you put the afterburners on and think burn baby burn.

It’s going to burn alright – burn your mental health, central nervous system, and muscles right into the ground. You’ll end up with overuse injuries and your motivation will turn to dreading your next workout until you just don’t want to do it anymore. What happens next? You end up reverting back to your old lifestyle.

Pick a Routine You Can Stick with For the Long Haul

There will be times when you can push the intensity and workloads harder for periods of time, and there are very sport-specific training programs which require that. However, for the majority of people that just want to be healthy, fit, and leaner than the average person, the key is finding consistency in your workout program, and that means finding something you can handle long term, then be patient, and let the fat come off over time.

The longer you can stick to your current exercise program, the more successful you will be. Overexercising is not going to get you to your goals any faster.

Find Your Exercise Capacity By Taking Small Steps

Most personal trainers will throw you on their standard exercise program of strength training 3 days a week, and cardio 3 days a week. Hey, this is great – if you can handle it. But for many people just starting out, it will quickly burn them out.

Instead, I like newcomers to focus on their nutrition first and start walking (some can handle more than walking, such as strength training, so individual assessment is key). Everyone can walk. Everyone can handle small dietary changes and a little more walking activity.

Then, you try increasing the pace of your walk or add a little distance, or both. Then you add in a single strength training day every week. What you’ll soon find is that you want more. You see the difference the added activity does for your body, mind, and confidence, so you slowly add in new and more intense exercise days. Exercise becomes a positive association with fitness, and you also begin to see the value in its added health benefits.

The point is, don’t start exercising at 100mph. Don’t run before you can walk. Find your exercise intensity and frequency that you can live with forever – a frequency and intensity that’s going to make you look forward to your workouts.

If you dread your workouts, you will never stick with them, and adherence to your program is priority number one. Do what is necessary for you to stay excited about your program, and the results will never stop showing.

  • Krista Stryker

    Love this. As a former personal trainer, I saw WAY too many people come into the gym and work out like crazy then quickly burn out and stop altogether.

    Exercise should be viewed as a lifestyle – find something that you like and that works for you, then stick with it. That’s the way to stay happy, healthy and fit for a lifetime.

  • Monique

    Great article!

    This thought crossed my mind the other day, and is one of the things that encouraged me to also start adjusting my diet. Right now I spend a lot of time exercising, some for fitness, some out of boredom, some just curiosity of would could happen if I did go at it hard… But that being said, I don’t have a “real” life right now, haha. In the in-between stages of school and the working world, I have a bunch of time on my hands. But I know that I won’t always have this sort of time, or energy, so I know I’d do well to keep that in mind when thinking of my long-term goals.


    (also, I just stumbled across you site about a week ago, I really like it).

  • Tammy Fankhanel

    Thanks for the ‘reinforcement’. I needed in this article. I believe I can be in the over exercising category and hamper my results. I know I have to rest and repair, but find it difficult because as sore as I may be sometimes, once I warm up, here the music, enjoy the company of gym buddies and get into it – I’m happiest. (Addiction?????) I guess I do about 10-12 vigourous hours a week. Age 52. Now I am keen to try CrossFit.

  • Coach Calorie

    Same here. I’ve watched people go hard and go quick only to burn out in no time flat. Then it’s back to their old lifestyle.

  • Coach Calorie

    Glad you like it Monique! And yes, if you can’t see yourself eating this way or exercising this way in 5 years, you’re likely doing the wrong things.

  • Coach Calorie

    Don’t get me wrong Tammy, if you are passionate about it and you have worked up to that workload, there’s nothing wrong with doing it. However, the moment you start dreading your workouts, it’s time to reassess what you’re trying to do. Exercise is meant to be fun and exciting, and nothing something to stress over.

  • Ljay

    This is me exactly 150 miles per hour but I never stick with it.
    I’m going back to the start. I have stopped counting calories and I am getting my pedometer back out while I think about what I want to achieve. Love this site.

    • Coach Calorie

      Sometimes taking a step back and reassessing your program is just what you need. Way to be aware of what needs to be done.

  • Heidi

    I guess Im the exception. I love my workouts! I go intense 5 days a week. I have been doing this for the last 2 years and I believe I can keep going for the rest of my life!

    • Coach Calorie

      If you think it’s sustainable, then by all means continue doing what you love.

  • michelle

    Love this site!! I was wondering why I am always feeling burnt out and tired all the time. I think now it is because I am going at it to hard. I go to the gym at 5:30 am and do 1/2 hr cardio, then I do 30-45 mins weights. I do this 3-4 times a week and then walk 5km 3-4 nights a week. I think this is probably to much stating out only a mth ago.

    • Coach Calorie

      It might be, especially if you did give yourself a chance to build up to that workload. You can try your program with just your gym sessions and see if that makes you feel better.

  • Amber

    This is so true for me. My problem is once I start working out I love how I feel so I over do it, then do not have energy for anything else. I eat about 1300 calories a day. I’m trying to drop about 1lb a week. When I work out do I eat the extra calories I burn? Sometimes I can burn up to 600 calories and have no idea what I should be eating.

  • Coach Calorie

    Basically, it’s calories in minus calories out. I realize you know that, but let’s break down that equation.

    calories in = the food you eat
    calories out = your BMR (basal metabolic rate) + your activity

    You want your calories out to be around 500 more than calories in. You can search for a BMR calculator on the internet, but I prefer the following equation if you know your lean body mass:

    BMR = (21.6 * LBM in kg) + 370

  • Angie

    I am committed to two mornings a week at the gym and eating the foods that make my body feel good! THIS, I can sustain. I even throw in a walk here and there and am finding I desire to be more active all the time.

  • Jess

    I workout every morning at the gym, I take classes. I alternate cardio versus weight training each day and fit one yoga class in per week and take one or two days off. I do spinning, step aerobics, zumba, weight lifting class, yoga, and kickboxing. I love them all, I’m never bored and the classes keep me motivated. I also blend veggies, fruits, flax, whey and almond milk and drink twice a day. Lots of energy!:)

    • Coach Calorie