The Two Types of Exercise Failures

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50% of the people who join health clubs quit within six months, according to statistics reported in fitness industry trade journals, and it is even worse than it looks. My experience with traditional health clubs is that most of those left are not getting results that match their expectations. We have a nation full of exercise failures. What is going wrong? There are two categories of fitness failures: exercise burnouts and comfort zoners.

Exercise Burnouts

Exercise burnouts are people who begin their programs with exercise that is too hard, long, or frequent. They do not realize that it takes time and training for their bodies to learn to recover from the exercise. Exercise progress depends upon a balance of stimulation and recovery. Your body doesn’t get more fit during the workout, it happens in the days after. You stimulate the progress with the exercise, then recover and progress in between workouts. Exercise burnouts, in flights of ill-directed enthusiasm, overdo the stimulation aspect and don’t balance it with recovery. They haven’t learned to gradually increase the intensity and workload of a program, conserving their energy to maintain enthusiasm and motivation to train.

Comfort Zoners

People who get into a comfort zone with their exercise haven’t learned how to continually add new and different stresses to their bodies to maintain consistent progress. After doing the same workout for a while, your body adjusts to it and quits changing.

What comfort zoners miss is your body doesn’t progress by doing the same routine over and over again. Instead, it adapts to change in exercise. Something different has to happen. Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”? Well, it is never more relevant than in exercise. Your body quickly learns to do a certain routine, a certain level of work, and a certain way of training. Something in your body says “Hey, I already know how to do this, why change?” You won’t see progress unless you introduce something different.

Effective exercise means perceived progress per unit effort. So, the art of exercise is a having a rainbow of continually changing variables in your program. You always have to be asking the question, “How many different ways can I introduce change into my exercise program?”

Changing your program constantly is not a natural habit to most. It has to be a condition enforced by constant attention. The minute your routine sinks into a rut is when your progress stalls. Suddenly, you don’t see the week-to-week progress anymore. Now, you feel like you are putting in a lot of effort and not getting enough results in exchange. Exercise should never feel that way. You should always notice results that are motivating and that stimulate you to continue.

Given that, you still have to keep a balance between change and continuity. You should have a standard repertoire of key exercises you do consistently enough to set goals and track your progress. Strive to balance continuity (for tracking progress over a timeline) and change (for stimulating your body to new results).

Chris McNeil

fitmenu_logoChris McNeil’s Pensarc Software was recognized as an “Innovator 2008” by the Charleston Regional Business Journal for developing . Chris has also won two national awards for innovation for web-based fitness software. Follow fitmenu on twitter at You can reach Chris at

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