If some exercise is good, more is better….right?

By Jennifer Sage On June 21, 2012 Under General Fitness and Health

First, an analogy. My husband loves garlic. Sometimes when he’s making dinner, he’ll chop up twelve cloves for a recipe that calls for two. I guess we all have our own garlic-threshold (his is higher than mine), but sometimes the meal is ruined (or at least, is less yummy) with too much garlic. But I would still say that two cloves is not enough, four or five would be more like it! (This analogy is at the forefront of my mind due to experiencing this recently. I looked at him and said, “why do you believe that if some is good, more is better?”)

Can exercise be compared to garlic? I bet with some skill, you can compare almost anything to garlic! 😉

Those of us who love to exercise don’t need an excuse to exercise, and we have a higher tolerance for it (a high garlic threshold, to follow my analogy). But we all know those who hate it. They would rather have a root canal. They fear the “pain”, the sweat, the hard breathing during and the discomfort afterwards. They don’t even make it to the point where they are no longer sore, they give up too soon.

Well, this article in ACE Fitness online magazine describes a recent study that says you don’t have to kill yourself to get the benefits of exercise. Like the garlic, a little is good, some more is better, but too much may be overkill. Like ultramarathons and stuff.

But the best message is this one:

ACE advocates people vary their workout routines – whatever they may be – on a regular basis for maximum health benefits and to ensure you keep physical activity a priority long-term. That may mean occasionally boosting your intensity, or putting moderate effort into different types of workouts – like strength training, cross training or group fitness.

I’ve been preaching that for a long time, even in the face of the fitness industry’s common theme lately that “HIT is the only way to train.” I’ve had debates with some instructors who only ever teach intervals. I love intervals*, but if that is all you ever do, you are keeping some students away from the joys of your indoor cycling classes.

Variety baby. It’s not only the spice (or garlic) of life, it keeps you healthier (hey, so does garlic!) and prevents boredom and staleness.

So do your high intensity classes*, but also include some longer work at threshold, climb some hills, pedal fast on flat roads, enjoy the scenery on less intense aerobic days, and mix it up in everything you do, whether in your cycling class and outside of it. Share this ACE article with your clients, friends or family members who think that they have to kill themselves to get a benefit from exercise. If that’s their belief, they often prefer to simply opt out.

My analogy falls apart if you bring up the fact that some people are allergic to garlic! No one is allergic to exercise, they just haven’t established the mental strength to overcome the physical challenges it presents. But that’s another topic…


*ICA has been running a 3-month series on HIT that will expand your knowledge of every high intensity effort from threshold, to VO2 max, to lactate tolerance to explosive power sprints. Don’t miss it! (For variety, we have many articles on how to teach endurance classes too.)



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