Exercise: Are You Working Hard Enough?

Ask yourself- Are you are working out hard? Or hardly working?

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” - Anthony Robbins

 After 7 years of working in the fitness world and helping answer people’s questions on weight loss I have noticed one thing – people are not working hard enough.

 Many people are walking 5 times per week for 30 minutes. Health benefits follow such a routine - decreased blood pressure, improved mood, etc. However, I bet you are comfortable walking those 30 minutes 5 times per week. The hardest part of that exercise routine may be finding the time in your day or sticking it out due to the weather. The hardest part of the exercise doesn’t include gasping for air and your legs feeling like noodles.

 The majority of the population believes that there is an exact science or plan that will zap away fat or build muscle. There is no exact science. If you do 3 sets of 12 or 3 sets of 15 there isn’t going to be much of a difference in results. Likewise if you run 3 times per week or swim 3 times per week at the same intensity there isn’t going to be much of a difference in your results.

Unless you are training for a specific sport, race, or event the amount of weights, reps, day, time, treadmill or elliptical, machines or free weights does not matter. It is as simple as these two things: cardiovascular exercise and weight training. You should get at least 30 – 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise in 3 times per week or more and at least 2 days per week of weight training. Whatever cardiovascular exercise you choose, be it running, swimming, the elliptical or cycling- as long as you are working at an intensity that is out of your comfort zone you will see results. The same easy formula applies to weight training.

 What does matter in terms of results and progress is that you are pushing yourself. We are all at different fitness levels which means our “pushing points” will also be different. Maybe my first example of walking 30 mintues is your pushing point and you do feel out of breath after – great! We never grow by being comfortable. We- and our bodies- learn by being challenged and by going through struggles. The body improves only when challenged. During your routine are your muscles burning? Are you sweating? Is your heart rate elevated? At some point during your workout does a voice pop into your head that tells you, “I want to stop. I have to quit now.” If that voice never pops into your head, you are not working hard enough. Get out there and push it. Up the speed, increase the weights, increase the reps, run a little further and when you want to stop don’t.

Erica E. Hirsch, MPH, CPT

Detroit Medical Center

Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan

Ford Community & Performing Arts Center

15801 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, MI 48126 313-943-2350


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cheryl February 20, 2013 at 04:28 PM
I agree. And if you can read a book or a magazine while on the treadmill or the stairstepper or the bike, you're not working hard enough. If you move just barely so that your head stays still enough to read, you're not getting much of a workout. I see this all the time at my gym and those people are the ones who never lose weight and are continually surprised by it.
Erica Hirsch February 26, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Hi Cheryl, Thank you for your feedback. You are right, if you're able to read a book while working out then you most likely are not working hard enough. I must note here, that the point of my article was not to discourage anyone from doing something - anything is always better than nothing, however, if you want to reap the most benefits, you have to put in the diligent effort. -Erica Hirsch


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