The Truth About How Much Exercise You REALLY Need

What ever happened to, “Get some exercise every day because it’s good for you?” You hardly ever hear that anymore. Instead, we now hear about “Revolutionary, breakthroughs” that allow you to train once a week and presto! – overnight muscle and instant abs! We also hear advice and instruction such as: “Don’t do too much cardio, or you’ll lose your muscle and get weaker.”

“Watch out for catabolism, and beware of cortisol!”

“Be careful not to overtrain…

“Train don’t strain…

“Long workouts are out… short workouts are in”

“Train less to gain more…”

“Your muscles don’t grow while you’re training, they grow while you’re resting”

This is all well and good and there’s some true and sensible advice in there, and don’t get me wrong – any amount of exercise is better than no exercise, however….


Do you remember when fitness professionals used to recommend daily exercise? Have you noticed the “Achieve more by doing less” theme getting worse these days? (and being taken to ridiculous extremes?)

Have you noticed that a tiny core of fitness professionals still promote daily exercise, but their voices are seldom heard today amidst the marketing cries of 21st century Madison Avenue and slick big city publishers?

People DO judge a book by its cover and publishers know that. Typical magazine articles and books in the health and fitness section today have titles that sound like this:

Massive Muscles in Minutes

Instant Abs! How to sculpt six pack abs in 3 minutes a day

A few minutes in the morning

The busy executive’s two-minute workout

“Sprint”: The revolutionary program to Lose Fat and get in shape 5 minutes at a time

The “Indulge” Program: Enjoy delicious dishes while losing all the weight you want, without exercise!

The power of one: How to transform your body and your life with one workout a week

The 30 minute fitness revolution: How to Achieve your perfect body in just 30 minutes a week

The 11 minute total body workout

All these pitches appeal to your lazy side. Inside, the authors coddle you like a helpless infant, saying, “Poor baby, It’s not your fault, we understand…we know you don’t have any time…no one does…Don’t worry, it’s okay, OF COURSE you don’t have to workout for hours and hours – who ever gave you THAT idea?? Awwwww… there now…Working out too much is bad for you anyways… breaks down muscle, suppresses your immune system, causes oxidative damage and releases cortisol…. Follow our easy 5 minute program and you’ll be just fine…”

Do you think it’s a coincidence that obesity is at an all time high, rising in lockstep with these lackadaisical attitudes?

Even with all these “new” exercise programs, training routines, scientific “breakthroughs,” diets, books, websites, and of course, all the “cutting edge” supplements, AMERICANS ARE FATTER AND UNHEALTHIER THAN EVER BEFORE IN HISTORY!!!!

And if you’re not from the U.S., don’t laugh at us, because your country is probably not far behind!

I’m not implicating laziness as the sole reason for obesity. That would be over-simplifying a complex problem with multiple causes. However, laziness and aversion to exercise are certainly major contributing factors.

Human beings are capable of reaching breathtaking heights, but they also have a lazy side hard-wired into their natures. We need a push to overcome inertia. We need motivation. We need to be inspired to look up and reach for the stars, instead of settling for a little clod of dirt.

And now, the very diet and fitness industries that are supposed to be helping and motivating are actually making it worse by making silly promises in the name of getting the sale and appealing to our inherent slothfulness.

BUT WAIT! It goes even deeper! Could it be possible that even the world’s most respected health, fitness and medical organizations are reducing their recommendations so as not to discourage the public from even trying? Lyle McDonald, Diet guru and Author of the Ketogenic Diet thinks so. In Lyle’s forum, he wrote:

“From a public policy standpoint, there’s that huge tradeoff: Get a small improvement in health (and presumably decrease health-costs) by getting folks to do something, or risk a much larger dropout rate by telling them to work harder. They keep scaling back their recommendations and they still can’t get the majority of people to do it. Something is going to be better than nothing, I suppose.”

Just how far has this down-sizing of exercise trend gone? All the way to zero in some cases: Some “experts” tell you that you don’t need ANY exercise at all…

Just take this youth-restoring hormone therapy, a once per week injection, rub on some crème, take a handful of pills, get a nip here and a tuck there, have some fat suctioned, drink a few specially formulated shakes three times a day, eat these special foods, staple the stomach, stick on a patch, and there you have it: A perfect body without almost no expenditure of energy!

Many people who have been struggling with weight loss want to believe these claims so desperately, they take the bait every time, even when it sounds too good to be true and defies common sense.

Remember that classic courtroom scene in the movie “A Few Good Men” when Jack Nicholson says,

“You want the truth? … YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!”

Well, if you can’t handle it, then stop reading now because here is the truth that almost no one else wants to tell you:

Your body is BEGGING for DAILY exercise!

The human body-mind is the most remarkable creation in the universe and it was designed and engineered to be used often and vigorously. The mind and body atrophy and weaken if not used frequently.

Your body isn’t going to fall apart by getting your heart pumping every day– YOUR BODY WILL THANK YOU FOR IT!!!!!

In some cases, using material things wears them out faster. Your car only has a certain number of miles on it, right?

Your body is the opposite: It wears out when it’s NOT used.

Have we forgotten all the incredible benefits of REGULAR exercise – both strength training and aerobic training – to keep us young, vibrant and healthy?

Have we forgotten that exercise can feel good and give you a natural high that’s better than drugs or alcohol?

Have we become so vain and ignorant that all we want is to look good on the outside for a short while and do it with the least amount of effort, using the path of least resistance?

Do you realize that you grow against resistance – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?

Why not have a helicopter fly you up to the summit and drop you off? You’d get the same view as those blokes who risked life and limb lugging 60-pound rucksacks up the steep mountain side for days, wouldn’t you?

Why do CHAMPIONS climb?

The answer is: There’s no personal growth without the journey. Reaching the top without the climb leaves you unfulfilled. The journey is the greatest reward, not the destination. Champions understand this. The other 95% of the world hasn’t figured it out yet, so they remain stuck in self imposed bogs of quiet desperation.

Do you really want to go to the store and just buy the trophy without the competition? How would you feel seeing it on your mantelpiece? It would make great conversation at a party, right? Your friends and family would be so proud of your “bought” trophy… (or would they?)

If you would stop for a minute and think about the great rewards of training and understand thatthe training IS the trophy, then the entire attitude of exercise avoidance would disappear, obesity and disease would plummet, you would be working out and loving it, and your health, your body, your attitude, your energy and your outlook on life would shift so dramatically, your friends and family would hardly recognize you. They would be inspired by you too, so the “exercise fever” would spread.

So HOW MUCH exercise do you REALLY need? What are we talking about here?

I’m not talking about training two hours a day like Jack Lalanne has for the last ¾ of a century, or doing hours of high intensity weight training like a competitive bodybuilder, or an hour and a half of cardio a day like an endurance athlete, unless that’s called for to reach a certain goal, or unless that’s what you enjoy.

I’m not talking about lifting weights every day. You need recovery time from intense forms of training.

I’m not talking about never taking an entire week off for rest and renewal.

And I’m not talking about never taking any days off.

What I AM talking about is doing some form of moderate exercise – enough to break a sweat, get you breathing heavy and bring your heart rate up – almost every day of the week, most of the year.

It could be the popular six day program alternating weights and cardio every other day with Sundays off. It could be two days a week of lifting weights, two days of aerobics classes and two days of hiking or mountain biking (six days total with one rest day). If it’s fat loss you want, then cardio every day with a few days of strength training works like magic.

It could be virtually anything! Choose what you love to do – just do something every day, include both strength training and aerobic training each week and do it on a regular schedule at the same time each day.

Ultimately, the amount of exercise you REALLY need is the amount it takes to give you the results you want.

However, there are some very compelling reasons to exercise every day…

Why every day? Because that makes it a HABIT.

Anything you do repeatedly (especially daily) will eventually become a habit, and your habits, positive or negative, will control your results and ultimately, shape your destiny.

Habits can be harnessed to your advantage, propelling you downstream towards your desired destination, or they can become your worst enemy, forcing you to paddle fruitlessly upstream against their powerful currents.

Ninety-nine percent of the things you do each day are done on “automatic pilot” – without consciously thinking, deciding, choosing or exerting willpower. That is the power of habit and exercise is one of the most positive habits you will ever develop.

Why else is daily exercise a good idea? Because you develop METABOLIC MOMENTUM.

Your metabolism is like a spinning top. You twist the top and it starts spinning at maximum velocity, but not long after your fingers leave contact with the top, it’s already slowing down.

Eventually, the revolutions decrease and the top starts to wobble. You have to spin it again before it loses all its momentum and topples over. By spinning it more frequently, the average rpm’s stay higher and the top never slows to a wobble.

Your metabolism is the same way. Exercise “spins” your metabolic rate. Many factors affect metabolism, but nothing else cranks up and maintains your metabolic speed like frequent exercise of sufficient intensity.

In Dr. Michael Colgan’s book, “The New Nutrition”, Dr. Colgan writes,

“At The Colgan Institute, we have found that for fat loss, five days a week for 30 minutes is much superior to three days weekly at 70 minutes even though the total weekly time of the three day people is an hour longer. In order to keep the metabolic rate churning, frequent exercise is the key.”

Amen Michael.

In “The Metabolism System For Weight Loss” Exercise Physiologist Greg Landry of writes:

“You won’t find many people telling you to exercise daily. In fact, most “diet” programs or weight loss books you read will not emphasize exercise and that’s simply because so many people have a negative reaction to exercise. You have to start thinking differently about it. Exercise can be fun. The key is finding something you can enjoy doing on a daily basis. Many people think an hour of exercise every day is more than their body can handle, but keep in mind that our bodies were made for and are capable of many hours of physical activity a day. DAILY exercise is absolutely critical to losing weight! DAILY exercise is also very effective at changing a sluggish metabolism into a super-charged metabolism!”

Bravo Greg.

Yes, I hear the grumbles and groans from the peanut gallery… “You mean 3 days a week isn’t enough?” But how am I supposed to find time to exercise every day? That’s impossible because I have kids, a job and a life, you know!


Here’s a novel idea: Get your butt out of bed 30 minutes earlier!

Are you really concerned about quality time with your family? If so, then you OWE IT TO THEM to take the time to take care of yourself so you’ll be around long enough to enjoy their company.

We live in a society with more demands on our time than ever before. But if you don’tmake time for exercise now, you’lllose time to sickness and immobility later.

Psychologists tell us that most people will almost never take action to PREVENT a problem, only take action to GET RID OF a problem after it has already occurred. So true isn’t it? Unfortunately for many, that may be too late.

Your body is remarkably forgiving, but there’s only so much abuse it can take. Abuse includes negative actions like smoking, drinking, drug use and eating refined junk food. But sometimes that abuse comes in the simple form of neglect – it’s what you don’t do that hurts you the most.

Can you exercise too much? Certainly. Is there a point where you become overtained? Of course. Is there a point of diminishing returns? Sure is. Can training become an unhealthy obsession? Absolutely. Do you need to take time off for recovery and renewal? Most definitely! Should you maximize your workout efficiency to get the most benefit in the least time? A resounding YES!

However, if I were you, I’d be far more concerned about getting too little activity than getting too much.

So, my friend, if you want to go on believing in the hype you read in the magazines and best selling books these days about minimalist training, once per week workouts, (or less), or the diet that doesn’t require ANY exercise, just eat these special food combinations, take these supplements or cut out all the carbs and get the body of your dreams, that’s your choice… it’s your body, your health and your life…let your results be your guide.

But when you’re unhappy with your results, and when you stand in front of the mirror scratching your head trying to figure out why you don’t look and feel the way you want to look and feel… and when you start to feel the downward pull of gravity and body parts are sagging…. and when the aches and pains strike, and the doctor’s visits become more frequent…

…AND, when you see that there are others the same age as you, in the same circumstances as you, with the same number of hours in the day that you have, who have remained lean, healthy, and muscular…


Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle
For Tom Venuto’s Complete Muscle Building,
Fat Burning System CLICK HERE!

Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer and author of Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 140 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom is the Fat Loss Expert for and the nutrition editor for and his articles are featured regularly on literally dozens of other websites.