Training for health…
I will start with a bombshell. Training is a bit of a double edged sword in my opinion. Humans are designed to move so it is essential for health, however, it is like anything - too much of a good thing can start to be a bad thing!
What I see, regularly, both online and in the gym, is people actually hurting themselves with absolutely atrocious attitudes and beliefs when it comes to exercise. More training, at higher intensity, with more savage rep schemes and brutal calorie deficits seem to be the norm rather than the exception for the average person trying to lose weight or get fitter.
Let me explain in a bit more depth. The body adapts to stress, that is the only way to make change in your physical appearance and/or capacity. So getting stronger, losing fat or improving aerobic capacity all require stress to force adaptation within the physical body. That is well accepted.
What is often overlooked is the fact that there are many many other stressors filling up our ‘stress cup’ everyday in normal life and for many people these are taking a heavy toll, upon which a random selection of ball busting exercise is slapped.
This, in the short term, will lead to an acceleration of progress as the body is shocked into action by yet another stressor. However, long term, it will lead to degradation of results, increased inflammation, risk of injury and stagnation of results. You can also put crash diets into this category.
We have all seen the advert for HIIT, seen the crazy workouts people are hitting at 5am before a 12hr day, before a late night spent in front of the telly, running round after kids etc. Trying to complete workouts designed for full time athletes when you have a stressful full time job, two kids, marriage (or ex spouse…), social life, family, mortgage, car and all the attached bills to look after is like suicide for gains and it is also injury/illness’ best friend.
So what to do? How will you make progress without your HIIT and low fat shake diet?
- Find a coach who understands how the body works and doesn’t just encourage mindless suffering every workout. They should provide an individualised programme for you that takes into account your lifestyle. If your coach isn’t asking questions about sleep, stress, sex drive etc then it might be time to look elsewhere.
- If individual design is not an option then find a gym that does not insist on maximum effort every session and that has some structure to its programme design…
- If you train on your own then for every tough workout, make sure you do an easy one. If you train four times a week that’ll mean two tough sessions and two easier session a week.
- Unless you are focusing on a certain sport and/or specific goals eg. Deadlifting 200kg then your training should have underlying structure but with variance day to day. Make sure you do some resistance training following sound principles and remember to get out of breath and sweaty regularly.
- Conditioning work should almost all be much easier than you think, unless you are a competitive athlete. Crushing your soul at the local functional fitness gym every day might be why your lifts aren’t going up and why you can’t shift that extra few kilograms…
Next month I will be delving into some resistance training principles and how to design a simple programme for someone looking to get a bit stronger or build some mass…