Why Do Exercise Needs Vary Between Individuals? (9 Reasons Why It’s Taking You Longer)

How many videos do you see of athletes and their superhuman bodies while working out or in a sauna, and wonder how they got that physique?

And when asked they simply give us a ‘boring’ answer like ”I work hard”.

Then you wonder: ”I work hard too but I don’t have an eight-pack”. (This might be a past moment of my life…not sure).

You see…copying their conditioning routines might not work for you, and that’s because exercise is not a one-size-fits-all solution…

But there is a way to feel as good about your own body…and that’s training according to your needs. Let’s see how!

Key Takeaways

  • Because some bodies can react differently to exercise. It’s the concept of ”Exercise Intolerance”.
  • Age, Goals, Health status, Body Type, Lifestyle, Psychology, Fitness Level, Gender, and Personal Preference all determine your exercise needs and results.
  • There is a way to determine your own needs by a series of factors.
  • The worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others and expect the same results from the same inputs.

So, Why Do Exercise Needs Vary Between Individuals?

Because our bodies react differently to exercises, as simple as that. Take a soccer team for example…Do you think all members who train the same have the same body or fat percentage?

Everybody is different, but you didn’t click on this article for this simple and boring answer.

This article is separated into 2 sections:

  1. A section on the factors that determine exercise needs

  2. A section on how you can determine your own exercise needs

Why do exercise needs vary between individuals? type of people that need exercise needs

Factors that determine exercise needs

Here are the 9 factors that help you understand why exercise needs vary between individuals.

1. Your Age

One of the most obvious reasons for variations in exercise needs is age.

A teenager’s exercise requirements are very different from those of a middle-aged adult or a senior citizen.

Younger individuals may require more vigorous exercise to build muscle and bone density, while older adults might prioritize exercises that improve balance and joint flexibility, as well as having recovery in mind.

2. Fitness Goals

Exercise goals play a pivotal role in determining individual exercise needs.

Some people exercise to lose weight, while others aim to gain muscle, improve endurance, or boost cardiovascular health.

These varying objectives necessitate distinct exercise routines, intensity, and overall fitness demands.

A sports athlete’s physical conditioning and demands are different from that of a bodybuilder.

3. Health Status

Your overall health and medical conditions are also significant determinants of your exercise needs.

If you suffer from any type of health problems or chronic health conditions, then you might be limited on what types of exercise you can perform.

Individuals with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis may require customized exercise programs designed to manage their conditions effectively and safely.

A person recovering from an injury or surgery will also have unique exercise requirements compared to someone in perfect health. They will need to focus more on recovery approaches to safely get back to normal.

4. Body Type and Genetics

Why Do Exercise Needs Vary Between Individual: The 3 Body Compositions

Genetics also play a role in shaping exercise needs.

Different body types react differently to exercise and nutrition.

Here are the three types of bodies:

  • Ectomorphs (thin, tall, and lanky body composition).

  • Mesomorphs (greater than average muscle mass development).

  • Endomorphs (softer bodies with curves, weight distribution in hips and lower abs).

For instance, an ectomorph may struggle to gain muscle and require different training and dietary approaches than a naturally muscular mesomorph.

Related Article

5. Lifestyle and Daily Activity Level

How much exercise is required can vary significantly based on your fitness levels.

A person with a sedentary job such as any office work may need more structured exercise than someone with an active occupation like a construction worker or even a soccer player for that matter.

Think of how you spend most of your days and how much you move throughout it.

6. Psychological Factors

Psychological factors, such as motivation, stress, and mental health, greatly influence exercise needs.

Some individuals find peace and stress relief in daily workouts, while others may struggle with motivation.

Understanding how exercise can improve mental health is crucial when tailoring exercise routines to individual needs. It may even motivate you to exercise more.

Also, people who are going through traumas or difficult times tend to have fitness as the last of their priorities.

Some health experts argue that a person suffering from any mental health such as depression and anxiety may benefit from exercise.

exercise benefits on mental health taken from ncbi.gov
National Library Of Medicine article on exercise and mental health: Full Article

7. Fitness Level

A person’s current fitness level is a crucial factor in determining exercise needs.

Beginners may need to start with low-intensity workouts to avoid injury and gradually progress to more challenging exercises.

Seasoned athletes, on the other hand, require advanced training routines to continue making progress in their conditioning journey.

This is typically why when you start working out for the first time or after a lengthy break, you get more intense and long-lasting muscle soreness.

Don’t worry, that’s just your body adapting to your new and amazing habit!

8. Gender

Gender is also a factor we simply can’t ignore.

Men and women may have differing goals and physical attributes that necessitate different workout routines.

Hormonal differences can influence fat distribution, muscle-building capacity, and more, making it important to adapt exercises accordingly.

Pregnancy is also a factor when we look at exercise needs…we can’t expect a pregnant woman to have the same exercise intensity as an Olympic athlete…

9. Personal Preferences (Or Sports)

Types of exercises that demand more needs

Individual exercise needs are also heavily influenced by personal preferences.

Some people thrive in group fitness classes, while others prefer solitary activities like long-distance running or swimming.

I added sports into it because athletes also vary their exercise programs and fitness needs.

A soccer player may need to build his endurance more than a golf athlete, where the latter would benefit from hip and back strength more.

Tailoring exercise to personal interests and preferences can enhance adherence and overall success.

It all comes down to sports conditioning.

How Can You Determine Your Exercise Needs?

Now that you understand why do exercise needs vary between individuals , let us assess how we can determine our exercise to properly dive into physical activity.

Determining your own exercise needs is a critical step in creating an individualized exercise program that suits your goals and circumstances.

Always remember to approach exercise safely, and to include a recovery system such as cold therapy or hot therapy (sauna).

How to determine your exercise needs

1. Set Clear Goals

Start by defining your fitness objectives. What do you want to achieve through exercise?

Whether it’s weight loss (calories), muscle gain, improved cardiovascular health, stress reduction, or a combination of these, having clear goals will help you determine the type, intensity, and duration of exercise needed.

If you aim to lose weight, then you can orient yourself to more regular weight training and fitness.

However, if your goal is to recover from an injury, then your exercise routine might be less intense, and your focus will be on slow and controlled movements paired with recovery techniques.

2. Assess Your Current Fitness Level

It’s important to recognize that you are at point A and that this point varies between individuals. As we saw earlier, genetics and other factors can play a role.

Look at how much exercise you can handle in a week, what types of exercise work for you, and what doesn’t.

The hardest exercises will tell you which muscles need work.

Assessing your current fitness levels means determining your physical health, your weight, muscle mass, and your personal ability.

When you have noted all that, you can start sailing the boat and orient it toward your goals, whatever they may be. You are the captain of your fitness journey…or you can hire a personal trainer to be your navigator.

How to know your fitness level to understand why do exercise needs vary between individuals

Mayo Clinic has a detailed article on how to take tests to determine your current fitness level.

3. Consider Your Health and Medical History

Take into account any existing medical conditions, injuries, or physical limitations.

If you have heart issues, then maybe fitness and conditioning aren’t the best idea for you.

Consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health concerns, to make sure that your exercise plan is safe and appropriate for your specific goals.

Personally, I have issues with my hip (1 quarter labrum tear) which requires extra stretching and mobility to work around it.

4. Understand Your Body Type and Genetics

Recognize your body type and genetic predispositions.

This understanding can help you choose exercises and nutrition strategies that align with your natural tendencies and goals.

For example, if you have a genetic predisposition for muscle gain, you might focus on strength training.

Oftentimes we tend to blame our lack of fitness success to our genetics or body types. I would say use it to your advantage.

How, you may ask?

As previously mentioned, there are different body composition and types. Once you identified yours, you can customize workout plans where you will thrive.

Treat yourself like an athlete (you are one), and follow a specific conditioning plan tailored to your body and genetics.

Each body type has different ways to physically improve. For example, endomorph bodies need cardio mixed with weight training to lose weight, and they also suffer when overtraining.

There is definitely a way for you to overcome your goals, all you need is to play by your strengths and not focus on your weaknesses too much.

5. Assess Your Lifestyle

How to asses your lifestyle to understand your exercise needs

Consider your daily routine and commitments.

Are you predominantly sedentary due to work or other responsibilities?

If you spend your days sitting, then you would benefit from back and leg workouts. On the other hand, if you spend them lifting heavy objects, then a calmer exercise approach is key (to not get too sore).

Factor in the amount of movement you do throughout the day. This will help you determine the amount of structured exercise you need. Generally, the more you move, the less extra exercise you need.

Notice how I said need. That means that you can work out as much as you want, but remember to satisfy your bodily needs first, and to never, ever overtrain!

6. Start Gradually and Listen to Your Body

It’s important to start slowly, especially if you’re a beginner.

Gradual progression reduces the risk of injury and helps your body adapt. The concept of progressive resilience is preached in the fitness world.

Start low, and gradually increase stress and difficulty (safely).

As you exercise, listen to your body. Pay attention to signs of fatigue, soreness, or discomfort. Revoer in between workouts with sauna or ice baths, or even both, to get back fresh and less sore.

This feedback will guide you in adjusting the intensity and duration of your workouts.

7. Experiment and Adapt

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of exercise.

Try various activities like cardio, strength training, yoga, or group classes to discover what you enjoy and what works best for you.

As you gain experience, be open to adjusting your routine based on your changing goals and needs.

People need to realize that exercise is not only gym and running. There are so many ways to engage in movement.

An underrated way to exercise that personal trainers always recommend for people who don’t enjoy traditional workouts is…dancing. How fun is that?

There are many ways to work out, and there is certainly a way for you!

10. Regularly Review and Adjust

Your exercise needs can change over time due to factors like age, lifestyle changes, or evolving fitness goals.

Your body is always changing, evolving, and adapting. Sticking with the same workout plan won’t always work…

Unless your goal is to simply get yourself to move, regardless of the exercise program…then by all means you are doing the right thing.

Regularly review your exercise plan and make necessary adjustments to ensure it aligns with your current conditioning needs and objectives.

The key here is to work around your goals. Consistency is a goal, do not forget it.


Exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The exercise needs of individuals vary based on factors such as age, fitness goals, health status, genetics, lifestyle, psychological factors, fitness level, and personal preferences.

Recognizing these differences and customizing exercise programs accordingly can lead to better results and a higher likelihood of long-term good habits.

So many of us (I included) often forget that exercising is very personal, in the sense that there isn’t one way to achieve our goals, but many ways. Some ways don’t suit us, and that’s okay.

Ultimately, the key to success is understanding your unique exercise needs and crafting a fitness plan that suits you best.

Once you understand that, then you will be on another level!

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