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How much is enough when it comes to exercise?

How much is enough when it comes to exercise? The old saying goes, no pain no gain. But is this true? Could it be that less is actually more?! By Kirsty Nelson, Personal Trainer at...

How much is enough when it comes to exercise?

How much is enough when it comes to exercise?

The old saying goes, no pain no gain. But is this true? Could it be that less is actually more?!
By Kirsty Nelson, Personal Trainer at Bayside Bodyworx

There is a common misconception that you have to work out vigorously all the time to achieve results. Training for longer or harder is not always the answer. This is true ignorance of what health and fitness is all about. It’s time to train smarter not harder – this is the key to long-term, sustainable results.

The body can only handle so much stress physically, mentally and spiritually before it starts to break down. Training for longer or more intensely day in, day out will result in overtraining or, even worse, adrenal fatigue – not fun! Even elite and professional athletes have rest and recovery sessions built into their programs.

While we are training we are in a catabolic state, which means we are breaking down, but it’s during the very important rest periods where we are anabolic that we repair and grow. The ideal conditions for anabolism are rest, good nutrition and hydration. I always recommend one to two days of rest per week for my clients – one day could be an active recovery day where you do something like yoga or go for a walk on the beach.


Firstly, exercise should be part of a healthy lifestyle and actually complement your life, not hinder it. It’s fantastic when exercise is one of your hobbies, however, it shouldn’t be taken to the level where it becomes obsessive. You shouldn’t be saying no to social outings or sacrificing relationships because you ‘need’ to train. Balance is key.

Don’t overlook the importance of incidental exercise – for example, climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift, parking further away at the supermarket and walking, walking to that coffee catch-up or carrying grocery bags, etc. We live in such a sedentary world these days and this is not how our bodies were designed to live. Incorporating these simple things in our day-to-day life will improve our overall activity levels and health.

Exercise should be fun and enjoyable. If you aren’t enjoying what you are doing then you will never stick to it. Some people prefer to play sport; others prefer to run or lift heavy weights. For me, I need a variety of exercise styles each week to keep me interested.

When I train my clients I like to give them the most bang for their buck. I do this by doing a lot of compound or functional movements – exercises that utilise more than one muscle group or involve performing more than one exercise at a time. These are very efficient ways to train and activate big muscle groups, which really boosts your heart rate and metabolism, which helps with fat burning and body sculpting.

The body does require stimulus from using weights/reps/intensity to create a growth response, but you should never sacrifice form for weight, which could result in injury/overtraining. If you cannot perform an exercise with proper form then it is time to regress to progress. This is where you reduce the weights/intensity/reps in order to train properly with a full range of motion. It is normal to feel some muscle tightness or soreness after a training session, but at no point should there be any pain.

Key points while training are to focus on the mind-muscle connection – to actively think and visualise the muscles you are using and to consciously contract/activate those muscles. This in itself will increase the intensity of any workout. Training should be fun and engaging – keep it interesting and add variety to your sessions to prevent plateaus or boredom. There should be enough stimulus/intensity during training to create change in the body without causing pain/injury, but if you are merely going through the motions with very little stimulation then you are just spinning your wheels and will never achieve any significant results. You should walk away from every training session with a sense of achievement. This can be as simple as doing five reps more than normal, running an extra 200m or increasing weights. You should be getting that endorphin and feel-good factor after training and not feeling drained or depleted – if the latter is the case then you need to reassess what you are doing.

Tips for increasing intensity or stimulus:

  • Do sets for time not reps
  • Change order of exercises
  • Change rep range
  • Do drop sets
  • Do giants sets
  • Focus on eccentric/negative phase of exercise – slow, lengthening contractions yield more results, promote lean muscle growth and nerve muscle connection and strengthen joints
  • Full range of motion
  • Circuit train
  • Switch body parts
  • Include HIIT (high intensity interval training) or metabolic conditioning
  • Train with a friend and compete!
  • Get outdoors
  • Try something new

At the end of the day we all want to be looking and feeling great. No two people are the same so learn to tune in to your body and do what is right for you. Your only competition is with yourself.

For more information or help regarding training, feel free to get in touch.

Yours in health and fitness,

Kirsty, Bayside Bodyworx


Kirsty and Bayside Bodyworx are a part of the Nourish Melbourne community of recommended businesses, offering Nourish Melbourne Members great prices for personal training and nutrition programs. Find out more about our partnership here, and more about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member here.


Kirsty from Bayside Bodyworx is extending her offer to all Nourish Melbourne readers and followers after a great response from The Nourish Affair event. Kirsty trains clients in Brighton, and in Elwood for her outdoor sessions.

Gym Based Packages
6 x 1-1 PT sessions $420 ($70 each) + nutrition program - $540 ($90 saving)
12 x 1-1 PT sessions $780 ($65 each) + nutrition program - $880 ($200 saving)
Individual PT sessions - $75

Outdoor Based Packages
6 x 1-1 PT sessions $360 ($60 each) + nutrition program - $480 ($120 saving)
12 x 1-1 PT sessions $720 ($60 each) + nutrition program - $820 ($240 saving)
Individual PT sessions - $75

To take advantage of these offers and to find out more, contact Kirsty via her website, mentioning Nourish Melbourne and The Nourish Affair offer.