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Do you know what DOESN’T make a great motivational poster for a gym wall?

One that tells you to slow down. Don’t work so hard. Do less.

Doesn’t sound very motivational, does it.

The truth?

The biggest thing holding you back from reaching your goals is that you work too hard.

If you run too fast, you’ll hate it. If you spend too long in the gym, you won’t have time. You’ll find excuses not to go. Next thing you know you’ve only done a handful of  workouts.

If you want to make continuous improvements over time, do less. But… do something. There’s a lot of reasons why exercise is like a classic case of the tortoise and the hare:

Too much exercise is like the hare vs. the tortoise

If you do less you will still get the same improvements

Picture this… your car has broken down and you’re trying to push it off the road. It doesn’t move. Someone else comes to give a hand, and next thing you know the car is moving. Awesome. Then another four people come and help. You’re not moving any faster, but you’re in each others’ way. It’s worse.

The same thing applies with exercise. Do just enough to get a benefit. If you’re just starting out, 3 sets of squats may be enough. You won’t be getting anything extra by doing another 3 sets. Then lunges. Then step-ups. It’ll just take longer, and you’ll hate doing it.

Slow and consistent exercise is the key to getting fit
You will be physically able to exercise more often

It’s the 1st of January. You’re keen. You’re motivated. You go the gym. You train hard… and then you can’t move the next day! It takes a week to recover. The following week you play this game again.

Or you could do three shorter, lower intensity sessions each week. It will be more enjoyable. You’ll get more benefit because it’s more sustainable.

You will find less excuses to not exercise

Imagine your program consisted of 500 push-ups. It sounds hard. It’d take a long time. You might be reaching for a beer instead.

What if your plan was a grand total of 3 push-ups? You’d have a hard time coming up with a good reason why you can’t do it. They’re both extreme examples, but I’m sure you get the point.

Less excuses to not exercise

You will have a lower risk of injury

If you do too much too soon you will get hurt. Then you won’t be able to exercise. You will be even further away from your goals. And sore.

You will be fitter if you avoid injury

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for ‘no pain, no gain’. It’s when you’re training for something specific.

If you’re trying to improve your general health and fitness? Work just hard enough to improve. You will find it easier to start, you’ll exercise more often, and you will develop a life-long habit.

Comment below and commit to one tiny change you can make to move you closer to your goals.


This is from a series of articles from the 9-Week Health and Fitness Challenge for Travellers. The program designed for people who have no access to a gym, equipment, or special ingredients… while having clingy kids and an unpredictable schedule!