Something is better than nothing…
Lately you have been thinking it’s time to “take a break”. You have been doing this thing for a while now, but lately it just doesn’t feel good anymore. There was a time where you used to feel stoked and ready to take on the day, but lately you’ve just been feeling beat up. You have entered a time where this thing you have loved to do for so long has now become more of a hindrance than helpful. What’s the next play? Do you switch it up? Do you just quit and move on? Do you find a way to adapt the training to fit? Truthfully, any of these things will work, but before you abandon it all it’s wise to make sure you’re putting the onus on the right area.
Last week we introduced MED (minimum effective dose) as it relates to training and exercise; and, this week we want to take a closer look into what it looks like when you’re simply doing too much. Yep, it’s one hundred percent a thing and something that takes more people out of nutrition and exercise programs than you would think. See, it’s simply human nature to think that if the dose is doubled then the outcome is reached in half the time. Unfortunately this is not how it works. Doing 5 sets of 10 back squats is good, so then doing 10 sets of 10 will get me to my goal quicker, right? Wrong! Building strength takes time, and with time we also need patience; which, many of us need to embrace. Most, if not all of us need to abandon the “more is better” mindset and replace it with an “a little better each day” mentality if we truly want to see something remarkable happen. There’s really no secret, and to those who tell you otherwise… well, they’re most likely full of shit! We need to understand that when we do too much too soon we are more likely to go backwards, or worse, end up injured... Let’s table this for a future edition….
Here are some things you may notice if you're doing too much:
You are feeling beat up.
You are NOT motivated to go to the gym.
Your performance is slipping.
You have more crappy moods than good ones.
You’re always stressed about exercising and eating.
When/if you start to notice some of these signs it’s time to address them. Although you may feel like you’re doing all the right things, it is possible you are doing too much in one area and not enough in another. Let’s say you have been experiencing abnormal muscle soreness lately. Your nutrition seems to be pretty decent and your water intake is where it should be. What’s the deal then? Consider this… if what you are doing is similar (i.e. training volume), but you’re going HAM (hard as a mofo) every day, and you are sleeping like shit we may want to first start by addressing your recovery. Let’s remember two things…. What you are doing in the gym has very little benefit if you have dog shit nutrition habits and you are not getting adequate sleep. Many times we are quick to place blame on the exercise, when the actual issue is what you are doing the other 23 hours in the day.
So, what do you do if you are feeling beat to hell and your motivation is all but gone?
Let’s start by looking at your approach to each day. Is your mindset harder, heavier and faster for each workout? Do you have that pesky “more is better attitude”? Is your only goal to go in, work hard, sweat like you’re in a sauna, and hurt? Is your only concern around your performance in the gym? This may come as a shock to some, but it’s no wonder you feel beat up and are ready for something different; not even the world’s elite train like this. Working out is supposed to be an expression of what you are capable of, not a punishment for what you cannot do, or worse yet for what you have eaten. Because we want to see people training and kicking ass long into their 80’s and 90’s we suggest a much different approach.
By following these “minimum effective dose” recommendations we believe one million percent that you can stay in it for the long haul, if you choose. Start by taking each day for what it is and apply the appropriate effort to get the dose you desire. This day-by-day approach helps with an understanding that some days are going to be phenomenal and others are going to be just short of dog shit, you will learn to roll with it. When you know what you want to get out of the training for the day this helps so you can give yourself permission to "get after it" or "throttle back" based on where you are at emotionally and physically. Getting after it when you are already a stressed out mess is generally not the best approach.
Finally, be aware of and understand the role of the gym as it pertains to where you are at in your life cycle. Early on it may be a training tool to help you improve in athletics, to work on getting bigger, stronger and faster. As we move on in life we like to look at the gym as a catalyst and support mechanism for a better and more functional life. The key to life-long fitness is having a clear understanding of intent and matching that with what you enjoy and what is important to you. What do you think?