By Nate Gilbert–
I have a challenge for you: Make 2016 the year you exercise less for your fitness and fat loss goals. Yes, you heard me correctly.
Exercising is hard, it can be painful and often leaves you sore the next day. Yet, the Center for Disease Control recommends resistance training at least twice per week and at least an hour and 15 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity. In addition to the discomfort that exercise often brings, the traditional recommendations for how much you should exercise are really hard to schedule.
Last year, I decided I was sick of exercising. Between school, planning a business and maintaining personal relationships, I found was nearly impossible to get the three to five hours per week in the gym that I was supposed to get. So I decreased all training and did a strength circuit once per week. No cardio, no intervals, no split routines.
How did my body respond to my once per week strength program?
I actually improved my strength, body composition and lost several pounds, all the while spending 1,500 percent less time exercising. I went from approximately five hours per week in the gym to about 20 minutes.
I felt great, clothes were fitting better, I had more time and energy to spend on relationships, work, business and on having fun. Exercise should be focused on improving life, not consuming life. The quality of exercise is far more important than the quantity.
In my personal experience, experience with clients and also in some research studies, your body will self regulate to a healthy body composition if you are providing an appropriate exercise stimulus that encourages lean tissue grown and are eating a diet composed of foods types that support lean tissue growth and encourage fat release.
I cannot underestimate the importance of food quality. You cannot out-exercise a poor diet. Counting calories works for a short period of time but is not sustainable and often leads to lack of energy, which leads to less exercising.
Eating the correct types of food is important because they regulate the hormonal environment in your body. Consuming correct types of foods in the right ratios control fat storing and releasing hormones. Exercise, in no amount or intensity can change the hormonal response of food all the other hours of the day.
Spending less time in the gym will also give you more time to research new recipes, shop for groceries and prepare healthy meals that encourage a healthy body composition. Aside from gaining time to learn how to eat healthy, exercising just once per week is a much more sustainable.
B.J. Fogg, a behavior researcher at Stanford University, has found that one of the keys in building new habits is to start small and then slowly build the foundation for a new habit. If you want to change your life, you need to change your habits. According to Fogg, the trick in habit formation is small change. Start with the small habit of once per week and then slowly build on this foundation.
When working with new clients or consulting with others, I always pose the following question, “At the end of this year, what will lead to a leaner, happier person who is more able to enjoy all that life has to offer: exercising several times per week for a couple of months and then stopping because you are unable to sustain the program? Or, performing one quality exercise session per week for 52 weeks and using a small portion of the saved time to learn how to eat healthy?” The answer is always the same.
Which would you pick?
If 2016 is the year you are going to get fit, I challenge you to focus on exercising less. This will help you sustain the habit and leave more time to improve other areas of your life. I was amazed at what happened when I started exercising less. I promise you’ll be amazed, too. Starting a small achievable habit leaves room for growth as you gain momentum with your new habits.