Exercise Time

Perhaps the most common reason people do not exercise is lack of time. The beauty of resistance training especially when you follow the advice here is exercise doesn’t require much of a time commitment. In the first study, I published participants exercised 3 times per week for about 35-45 minutes per session. Total training time per week was about 2-2.5 hours that resulted in improvements in muscle mass and strength following the 8-week intervention (Thomas & Burns, 2016).  

Keep in mind this study was conducted with trained participants. I have since adapted my recommendations to less strength training per week.

Regarding resistance training prescription there appears to be a minimum dosage needed and this minimum dosage is less than most follow.

Strength training two days per week at 30 minutes per session does produce tremendous improvements in muscle mass and strength.

Further, I have witnessed many individuals improve in strength and muscle mass completing just one total-body strength session weekly with the total training time of that session being less than 30 minutes.

In my training, I exercise twice per week with each session lasting 15-20 minutes. I have been strength training for over 30 years and I have found that less is more.

When you exercise using the basic movements that engage a lot of muscle mass you don’t need much training volume.

We have seen this at my training center over and over. In fact, I haven’t had one client who trained at this frequency not improve in strength and muscle mass in short order.

Stay Strong,



Thomas, M. H., & Burns, S. P. (2016). Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A comparison of high-frequency strength training to lower frequency strength training. International Journal of Exercise Science, 9(2), 159-167.


I get it, we all have excuses for not exercising. Even I find making time to exercise a struggle. I spend a lot of time sitting at a computer, the last thing I want to do is exercise especially when I am exhausted mentally.

The thing is you must find time to exercise and for most exercising before your workday begins maybe your best strategy.

Protect the 30 minutes you have allocated for exercise. I have two rules when it comes to missing a workout.

  1. I never miss workouts
  2. The only time I miss a workout is if there is a family emergency or I am sick.

Very rarely do I get sick and family emergencies are not common.

I would encourage you to protect your exercise time. Exercise is perhaps the most important thing you can do in your limited spare time.

The beauty of following the exercise programs I prescribe is that all programs posted here can be completed in under 30 minutes.

No more excuses, start a plan, and keep it up!

Stay Strong,


Example Week of Exercise

Today I wanted to put together a weekly plan of exercise. The plan includes 4 days of organized exercise and 2 days of extra movement. This is just an example and you can adapt things as you see fit. The 4 days of exercise will require less than 30 minutes of exercise.

Day 1

Resistance Exercise as described on these posts or something similar. Chose one of these two strategies and follow it for 8-12 weeks for the resistance training.

My Current Resistance Training Program – Strength Training For Health and Human Performance (drthomasfitness.com)

Exercise Selection and Routine – Strength Training For Health and Human Performance (drthomasfitness.com)

Day 2

Cardiovascular Exercise following a higher intensity progressive plan similar to this one.

Cardiovascular Exercise – Strength Training For Health and Human Performance (drthomasfitness.com)

Day 3

Resistance Exercise as described in the Day 1 links above.

Day 4

Cardiovascular exercise as described in the Day 2 link.

Day 5

10,000 steps total for the day. Wear a Fitbit or other fitness tracker to track steps.

Day 6

Same as day 5

Day 7


Day 8 : Repeat Day 1

Total Exercise time is under 2 hours not counting the 10,000 step requirement on day 6 and 7.

This is not the only plan to follow but is a great start.

Stay Strong,


Cardiovascular Exercise

Today I wanted to talk about ways to implement more activity in your weekly plan. Resistance training should be completed at least 1 or 2 days per week. I have covered ways to set up that in prior posts.

On the days you are not strength training you should perform some other form of exercise. The plan I would probably follow includes:

Two days of cardiovascular exercise that is progressive.

My choice is to use the elliptical but you can use any mode of cardiovascular exercise you like.

Warm up with some low intensity movement for 3-5 minutes.

Then, complete 15 minutes of exercise at a level that is challenging. I prefer the interval training program on the elliptical.

Record the distance covered in that 15 minutes.

Each time you perform that mode of exercise try to improve the distance covered for the same time (15 minutes) with the same program and intensity.

Therefore, your cardiovascular training program is progressive. Over weeks and months, your intensity should increase as you are working harder but not longer.

Once you can complete 20% greater distance increase the intensity level by one category on that machine.

The key here is accurate record-keeping providing data on the distance covered, time, and intensity of each workout.

The data you will have over weeks of exercise will be motivational as you see your improvements.

Stay Strong,


P.S. Engage in this plan only after you have been medically cleared to engage in high-intensity exercise.


I hope everyone is having a great week. Last week I discussed the concept of progression and I believe this is the most important concept of exercise especially resistance exercise.

If you want to improve your fitness levels and strength progression is the foundation. The simplest way to do this is to measure your performance on just one set per exercise.

Take the example of the pull-up exercise. If today you perform a set of pullups and can only complete one repetition you now have a baseline. Every day you perform the pullup exercise your goal is to increase the number of repetitions completed. This is a very simple example of progression but many people lose sight of this concept. Even advanced trainees get caught up in doing many sets and exercises that they lose sight of progression. Also, measuring progression becomes more difficult the more sets and or variables you add.

Most need to follow a simple linear progressive plan for many months. In the example above your goal may be to complete 8 pull-ups after 6 months of consistent exercise. This would be an 8 fold improvement in performance. Is that possible? Absolutely. I have witnessed this type of progression over and over.

Advanced trainees will likely need more variation but the Large majority are so far from that status that we must stay laser-focused on progressive and linear exercise.

I hope this helps. Stay focused.

Stay strong,



Your number one priority when you engage in strength training is to improve muscular strength through all major muscle groups. This means overtime you should increase strength in the basic exercises.

Chest Press

Pullup, pulldown, or row

Walking lunges or leg press

Calf Raises

These are the basic exercises that engage the major muscle groups of the body safely.

If you are an athlete focus on doubling your strength in these movements over the next six months.

If you double your strength your athletic performance will improve whether that be run faster, jump higher, or throw a ball harder. Of course, assuming you are doing some sport-specific training that includes biomechanical training of technique and form.

In the weight room, your focus must be on getting stronger on these basic exercises.

For athletes, your goal should be to do 20 pullups with your bodyweight and chest press your body weight for at least 10 reps and advanced athletes will need greater strength.

For walking lunges your goal should be to hold your body weight in your hands and complete 6-10 reps per leg. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs you will need to work at holding 75 lb dumbbells in each hand while performing a lunge.

Get to these strength levels and then we can talk about performing other exercises or focusing on other things.

Be intentional when it comes to strength training!

Stay Strong,


My Current Resistance Training Program

Today I wanted to take some time to show you my current resistance training program. Keep in mind I have been strength training regularly for 30 years. My goals are to continue to improve my strength and fitness levels. At this point in my exercise career improving in performance is difficult.

I strength two days per week. I have tried combining the following program into just one day of training but found that program wiped me out. The following program takes me about 15-20 minutes per day to complete. This program balances my work and rest ratios and allows plenty of time for recovery.

Day 1 usually Wednesday

Upper Body

Flat Chest Press 1-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions

Pullups 1-3 sets of as many as possible (usually 15-20 reps)

Dumbbell Lateral Raises 1-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions

Dumbbell Curls, usually seated both arms at the same time 1-3 sets of 6-10 repetitions per set

Bar Dips 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

Day 2 usually Friday

Lower Body

Leg Press or Walking Lunges 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (Leg press) 6-10 reps per leg (lunges)

Back Extensions 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions per set

Standing Calf Raises 1 legged 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions per set

Barbell Shrugs 1-3 sets of 6-10 repetitions per set

Sometimes I add in a few sets of crunches

I usually follow the approach of completing 1 set for all exercises for 3 weeks followed by an increase in the number of sets to 2 sets for all exercises for 2-3 weeks, followed by another block of an increase in sets per exercise to 3 sets.

Basically, this looks like:

3 weeks of 1 set per exercise

2-3 weeks of 2 sets per exercise

2-3 weeks of 3 sets per exercise

Then a reduction in volume back to 1 set per exercise for 3 weeks.

None of this is set in stone and I adapt my training to how I feel but I never sacrifice training volume for intensity. Meaning that if I am working less hard per set by completing 3 sets I reduce the number of sets to 1 or 2.

This is what works for me right now and if you are not an advanced trainee you will probably be better served to perform 2-3 sets per exercise.

You may also complete this workout in one day. I have just found that I do better splitting the program in half.

There are times that I complete two total-body sessions per week following the same format and the same exercises.

Understand that I have arrived at this after years of training and experimentation. You can learn from these principles and know that more exercise is probably not the answer but rather a laser-focused approach to strength training with no wasted effort.

Stay Strong,


Perceived Exertion and Progression

I had a great conversation today with a friend and the topic of perceived exertion came up. I hope everyone has had a chance to read some of the content I wrote the last few weeks on basic resistance exercise. The first step is to follow a resistance training program that is practical and effective. See the following link.

The second step is to train progressively. This means that over time you must either increase the number of repetitions per set with a given load or increase the load. During the initial weeks of commencing a resistance training routine, your focus is to establish a baseline of resistance and repetitions per set. After a few resistance training sessions, you must begin pushing yourself on each set. Each set should be taken to or very close to volitional fatigue. Meaning that you complete the maximum number of repetitions you can per set. Of course, this advice is for an orthopedically sound individual that has no underlying injuries.

For an advanced trainee, you may want to stop a set 1-2 repetitions short of failure. I would take more days of recovery if progression does not occur or if you find you cannot exert maximal effort. Ensuring optimal recovery is one reason I suggest resistance training just one or two days per week. Resistance exercise is a high-intensity exercise where progression is the foundation.

Nutrition For Fat Loss

I receive emails weekly about dieting for fat loss. Go to any book store and you will see hundreds of books devoted to some method that is the “magic” diet sure to help you lose 50 lbs with no work. If only those methods were true.

To achieve fat loss you must be in a calorie deficit for a period of time. There is no “diet” that holds the key to your long term fat loss success. The only thing you should be concerned with is consuming fewer calories than you burn daily. Diets that eliminate one of the three macronutrients are an effort to provide a plan to place you in a lower calorie environment. Diets that eliminate fats or carbohydrates are not balanced and I do not recommend them!

So how do you achieve fat loss?

You do the opposite of what you did to gain weight.

You eat less and exercise more!

Keep in mind the message I posted last week about balance. Do not cut your calories too low or exercise too much.

Start tracking all the foods you consume and make specific notes of how many calories you consume daily. I like the use of nutrition apps that allow you to enter foods right from your smartphone. Track everything that you consume for 30 days and you will be well on your way to lasting weight loss.

After a few weeks of nutrition recording work at consuming foods that are lower-calorie and nutrient-dense. Foods such as fruits and vegetables should be prevalent. You may find that certain foods provide more satiety. Start consuming more of those to manage lower calorie intake with hunger. Foods good for satiety are fruits and vegetables and high protein low-fat foods such as chicken breast or other lean proteins.

Do not limit foods that you enjoy but rather consume them in smaller amounts and record everything.

So if one of your goals is to lose bodyfat start recording everything you consume in an app and work at keeping your calories below those suggested. The apps do a nice job of providing you a baseline of calories needed to meet your goals. You may need to adjust slightly up or down as the days and weeks pass but the key is to start journaling.

Stay Strong,


Resistance Training and Weight Management

The potential for resistance training to improve all health outcomes is evident. Resistance exercise improves and or maintains muscle mass as we age.  Without resistance exercise, we lose muscle mass and that results in a slower metabolic rate.  The key to effective weight management is to maintain muscle mass while we lose body fat. If we diet without resistance exercise we lose both muscle and fat resulting in a slower metabolism.  This results in the eventual reacquisition of body fat.  

The solution is a modest exercise program of 1-3 days per week of resistance exercise and 3-5 days of cardiovascular exercise, all sessions at about 30 minutes.  Combine this exercise program with modest reductions in calorie consumption and you are on your way to long-term body composition changes.  Extreme calorie reduction coupled with excessive exercise of several hours per week is not the best approach.  This extreme approach may also result in loss of muscle mass and a reduction in metabolic rate.  

The take-home message here is Balance.  Develop and follow an exercise and nutrition program with the concept of balance at the forefront.  

Stay Strong,