Exercise programs don’t “fail” and neither do the people who try them. What happens, however, is that many people don’t understand what it takes for them to be successful with any exercise program.

The five main reasons that most people are not successful with their exercise program are these:

1. They try to do much too soon.

2. They have inaccurate or inappropriate expectations.

3. They get bored.

4. They lose their motivation.

5. They quit too soon.

Since these are the main reasons that many exercise programs don’t seem to do the job, then addressing them may make us more successful with the exercise side of our fitness and weight loss plans. So, let’s take a look at each in turn and see if we can figure out what to do.

The dangers of overdoing exercise.

A factor that figures into all five issues is simply ignorance. I don’t mean that as an insult, it’s just that people go out and buy a piece of equipment or a Richard Simmons DVD and jump in with both feet. Even if they read the directions, those are normally written from the viewpoint of “this is what you should be doing” rather than “this is how you get to the point where you can do what you should be doing”. Since most people don’t really know much about exercise or how it works, and I was once one of those people, they tend to make a lot of mistakes, even though they have the best of intentions.

One of these mistakes is to try to do too much too soon.

Let’s say your new barbell set says, that for maximum effect, you should be able to three sets of ten reps a certain exercise with the weight set at one-fourth of your body weight. So, you figure you weigh 160 lbs, set the bar at 40 lbs, and do ten reps. You’re a little winded. It was a bit hard, but you were able to do it. You rest a minute, and try again. It’s harder, but you’re still able to get through it. You take another short rest and do the third set. Wow! You had to squeeze out the last couple of reps, but you did it! You feel good. You’ve got what it takes, and you can’t wait until the next exercise day.

What has happened is that you have produced a large amount of damage to muscle tissue that your body will now have to spend the next couple of days fixing. Since you are out of shape (even if you were able to do all three sets), your body is going to have a hard time getting that work done. I can tell you that this is certainly going to impact almost every physical, emotional, and mental event or episode in your life over the next several hours or even days.

The next day, what happens? You hurt like hell! That’s what happens. Even if you can convince yourself that this is a good sign, continuing on in this manner will eventually either produce a real injury, or will set you up mentally and physically to begin wanting to avoid your workouts, whether you are doing aerobics, lifting weights, running, swimming, bicycling, or working in your garden.