Enough Is Enough (Exercise That Is)
To some of y'all it might seem strange that as a gym owner and physical prep coach that I would suggest you can get too MUCH exercise, but it's true.
With our next scheduled recovery week coming up, I want you to explore further with me the concept of "enough" in relation to exercise.
It seems counterintuitive - do less, gain more? Well, as the answer to many exercise related questions;
There are two sides to the story. On the one hand some of us don't have the skill (and sometimes will) to push ourselves hard enough to make progress. Skill? How hard can it be to sweat? When I speak of skill I mean being able to cleanly move through an exercise pattern with proper form. You know what I mean. You get a lot more "bang for your buck" when you can do a full range squat than just a little "halfsy" right? That's why we work on cleaning up your movements; so you can do them safely and with maximum effectiveness.
On the other hand some people are just exercise junkies. Seriously. Strenuous exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals that make us feel good. Endorphins are why we can feel so good even though we just got our butts kicked. The downside is they can literally become our "drug". Pushing our bodies to the limit is a high we start to seek.
But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. There is a point of diminishing returns. There comes a point when excessive exercise along with too low of calories will become a vicious cycle of fatigue, injury and even weight gain. UGHHH!
Learning to push harder is good. Exercising hard and pushing it to the max, every so often, is a very beneficial thing to do as we seek to hit new goals and discover what we are capable of.
But there are limits on both the intensity of exercise and the frequency of exercise.
We've talked about the "hierarchy of training" before.
In other words, which type of exercise will give me the most bang for my buck, depending on the number of hours I have to allocate per week?
I absolutely love this graphic from our partners over at Precision Nutrition. It perfectly illustrates this concept.
MORE isn't better, BETTER is better.
Here's the focus points I want you to get.
- Resistance Training comes first
- Intervals or Sprints come second
- Active recovery (swimming, yoga, walking, mobility work) is important, but not above the first two.
- Leave time to do the fun stuff you enjoy.
- There is an upper limit to how much actual training you should do, no matter how many total hours you choose to be active.
We structure our training in the gym around these principles. The big rock is going to be strength training. You see that manifested in dedicated strength training days, and also on other days where we do "metabolic resistance training" - training that uses resistance (all the tools; dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, suspension trainers, etc.) but where we move at a faster pace. Our finishers revolve around the interval and sprint work, and we also get some mobility and flexibility work in there as well, which is part of your active recovery.
And then there is recovery. Training hard and under-recovering is bad mojo. Eventually there is going to be one too many straws on the camels back.
That's why we schedule Recovery Weeks as part of our Training Program. They are not willy-nilly, random, or unnecessary. They are an integral part of each training cycle. (You read last Tuesday's post, right?)
Recovery. It's up to YOU to Make It Happen!