Wellbeing

A Personal Trainer Tells Us When You Should Skip A Workout

I have a real love/hate relationship with exercise.

I love the idea of it but hate the reality of squeezing into my active wear and slugging it out on the treadmill next to lean legged supermodels, feeling utterly intimidated by their fitness levels.

I dream of the day Tim Tams repulse me and my one pack turns into a six pack, but I’m the queen of excuses when it comes to exercise. I get a little sniffle and I’m all, “Oh my god, I’m dying and can’t possibly exercise today”. Or I say to myself, “I just don’t have 3 hours to work up a sweat, a 20 minute sesh is so pointless”.

But are those excuses valid? We chatted to Luke Heath, fitness expert and Director at Luke Heath Fitness about when we need to suck it up and get sweating, and when we can skip it.

Excuse #1: “I don’t have time today”

Luke hears this excuse all the time. “For some reason, people think to have a beneficial work out you need to spend at least an hour exercising. In fact the American College of Sports Medicine recommends only 20 minutes of continuous, moderate intensity exercise is necessary for good health. That’s less than 2% of our day – we all have time for that.” Luke says.

He suggests mixing up your 20 minutes with cardio and strength based training in order to get your heart rate up. An elevated heart rate is what we need for health benefits. As for the strength component, no need to purchase weight – use your body. “Exercises like burpees, lunges, push ups and planks are all fantastic, especially if you cut out the rest period between sets.”

VALID EXCUSE? NO.

Excuse #2: “I’m too sore from yesterday. I need a rest.”

This is one of my faves. I’ve always equated sore muscles with the fact I went particularly hard and that’s a great excuse for a lazy day in front of Netflix. While Luke suggests pulling back a little if you’re sore he says this is also a prime time for a different type of workout.

“This post workout discomfort you may experience is called Delayed On-Set Muscle Soreness. It can increase from 24-72 hours afterwards which is great for the metabolism. Do a ‘recovery workout’ instead with lighter exercises to combat the aches,” he says

VALID EXCUSE? MAYBE, BUT CONSIDER LIGHTER MOVEMENT.

Excuse #3: “I’m away with work a lot, it’s pointless having a gym membership.”

You don’t need to belong to a gym to exercise, so we can’t use the working away excuse to get out of a work out.

“Using your own body weight is effective exercise and you can even do it in your hotel room,” Luke tells us. “You only need a 1m space for athletic lunges which serves as your cardio followed by push ups and dips off the hotel bed which are a great work out for your arms.”

Over half of Luke’s tailor-made short workouts can be done in the backyard or in the home – stock up here for the next time you travel.

VALID EXCUSE? NO.

Excuse #4: “I’ve just eaten”

This one comes down to the type of exercise and the intensity of training. Luke wouldn’t suggest a massive cardio sesh within 2 hours of eating or you’ll be in danger of cramping, but it’s OK to do low to moderate intensity exercise.

“Cramping usually happens when you’re dehydrated and your muscles stores are depleted. So remember to drink plenty and also remember to eat within 2 hours of finishing a prolonged workout.”

VALID EXCUSE? MAYBE, OR TAILOR YOUR WORKOUT.

Excuse #5: “I’m too hungover”

Luke’s motto? If you can’t drive a car, you definitely shouldn’t exercise! He says while many people get away with exercise following a big night out, it can have serious implications on your heart.

“I don’t recommend hangover workouts. There is increased pressure on your vital organs due to thinning of the blood as well as an increased risk of dehydration.”

If you’re hell-bent on risking it, Luke suggests drinking lots of water on your night out and making sure you have a good breakfast before the EASY workout.

VALID EXCUSE? YES!

Excuse #6: “I’m sick”

This one really depends on the severity of the illness, so use common sense.

“If you go hard when you’re not 100 percent, ask yourself what the repercussions could be for tomorrow. You may start with a cold and end up with bronchitis by pushing your body when it needs rest.”

However Luke does say that if we stop exercising because of every sniffle we’ll never achieve our goals so be realistic.

“Don’t be too soft on yourself but also know when to pull back a bit through illness,” he says.

VALID EXCUSE? MAYBE.

Excuse #7: I’m too depressed”

As someone who suffers with depression, exercise (when I do drag myself kicking and screaming) always leaves me elevated. But for some reason, getting to the gym is the last thing you feel like doing when in that hole.

“When you exercise,” Luke explains, “your body releases feel good chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals react with the receptors in the brain which reduce your perception of pain and trigger positive feelings throughout the body. So no matter how you feel at the beginning, know you will feel so much better about yourself at the end.”

VALID EXCUSE? NO.

Excuse #8: “I’m tired and unmotivated.”

We all feel a little exhausted and run down sometimes but again, those endorphins will kick into action when you exercise. For me, I find it’s getting to the gym when I’m tired that’s the problem. As soon as I start, I get into it; before long what I thought was going to be ten minutes of useless, half-hearted exercise turns into a sound session.

Luke says motivation can be a real issue so it’s important to keep in interesting.

“Exercise comes in many forms so mix it up. Try 1-2 high intensity interval training workouts a week coupled with 2-3 strength days and then a few days of recovery training.”

As for energy solutions he finds a simple apple can give you a similar hit to a shot of caffeine. “Quality dark chocolate is also a great pre-training snack, as the cocoa acts to elevate your energy levels as well as having great cardio benefits for your heart – just don’t smash the whole block in one sitting!” he says.

VALID EXCUSE? NO.

So there it is. Looks like I’ll be pouring myself into my overly tight active wear for many years to come.


A published freelance writer from print to online, Katy’s passion is honest authentic writing. From the mundane experience to a sensational observation, Katy always finds a way to voice what she sees. Relatable and quirky, she writes with warmth and familiarity. She also loves lists, matching socks and edamame beans. You can find her on Twitter @whatktdidnextfw and Facebook.