How Much Exercise Is Too Much?

By Nancy Andrews

Exercise Volume & Recovery

Mar 23rd, 2012 | By Nancy Andrews | Category: Coach Nancy - The Way I See It...

If you are a ‘regular’ here, you know I’m often advising women here to cut back on the exercise volume they are doing. Meanwhile today I end up posting on Facebook that I did the P90X Arms & Shoulders workout followed by a 30 minute Les Mills Pump workout and was even considering a late afternoon abs workout. So what gives???

How much exercise you can and/or should do is based on two factors. The first and more important factor is current fitness level and the second is age. It’s simple, the fitter you are and the younger you are, the more exercise you can do without causing harm. Take Olympic athletes as a great example of a group who typically works out hours a day. Olympic athletes are typically young adults who have been training for years. When they started out as youngsters they didn’t workout that much but as they grew they added more and more training in the schedule. In their late teens and early twenties, their bodies are now at their physical peak with high levels of hormones and the years of training has provided a basis that makes the daily hours of training possible.

But as we age, hormone levels go down (men and women) and that coupled with inactivity causes us to lose muscle and what we have is now less able to respond to the stresses of exercise. As an older person (I’m 53 now), I had to work up to the levels I can now tolerate. It’s taken me nearly 3 years. I couldn’t do what I can do now back when I was 50, fat, and out of shape. And trying would lead to higher probability of injury and could end up chronically elevating my cortisol levels.

So when I’m advising a woman (or man) who’s more than 20% over-fat and who has not been working out for years to just do the workouts as prescribed in the program they choose, it’s because they are just not ready for higher volumes of exercise. Complete one round of P90X and then consider ’2-a-days’. Or consider doing more intense hybrid workouts.

Finally, as you do add more exercise volume, be sure you’ve built in enough recovery time. I often take 2 days of recovery a week. I see too many people trying to work out intensely 6 or 7 days a week which leaves the body overtaxed.

So in the beginning…. Just do what’s asked by the program. Do it consistently. Don’t find excuses to skip. Don’t find excuses to eat less than optimally. Do the program, do it well and results will come!


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