One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.
If you have been reading my posts than you have heard terms such as intensity, HIIT, Tabata, DOM. Terms that are synonymous with working hard when you train. Well, I think it’s time I spend some time writing about what I mean by training hard and intensity and the other words.
Let’s throw some other words out there such as balance, feedback, rest. These words are just as important as the ones above. In fact, they could be even more important as they are words that can be applied also outside of our world of fitness. Put them under the category of health. They are things that tend to get forgotten about as we rush through life trying to get everything done. We avoid doing what these words mean and then we wonder why we are always getting colds, why we are lethargic, and why by Friday we are run down and feel like shit. Ok, that was a little harsh, but I’m trying to make a point.
The worst of it too is as time goes on, months, maybe years, we continue to wonder why we haven’t met our goals, why we haven’t put on the muscle that we have been working so hard to do, or your cardio hasn’t improved as much as it should.
So let me spend a little bit of time explaining what we can do to elevate our quality of life and to get us back on track to meeting those goals.
More than working out
Let me start with the first word, balance. Just like the saying, too much of a good thing can be bad. There is a point where if you tax your body continuously through working out, you will pay the price if you are not maintaining the balance of rest and eating. An extreme but possible scenario of training too much and not getting the rest needed is Rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber into the blood, then being filtered by the kidneys, causing kidney damage. This is an extreme case but it is possible.
If you are finding that you lack the enthusiasm you had before when going to exercise or workout, or you are not making the gains you should be even though you are working out hard, then take some time off. Relax. Let the body catch up.
We need to listen to our body more. Our body tells us when things are not right. Muscle pain 3 days after a hard leg workout? That’s your body telling you that it was too hard and the muscles need a break. Any muscle soreness after 2 days should not be interpreted as you are going to make great gains. In fact, you may lose gains you made. Severe muscle pain (you are having a hard time walking) day 3 after a leg workout as an example means you have stressed your muscles too much. If it’s a really bad case you can actually cause scar tissue to form on your muscles.
Do not work these muscles until they have fully recovered and the pain is gone. To avoid this from happening again, when you have been away from working out for a while, let’s say about 2 weeks, go into it easy. This way you won’t over stress the muscles.
Are you eating adequately? The quantity and quality of food is very important especially for someone who is active. If you have doubled your activity level than you need to increase your caloric intake. It’s what our bodies use to create energy and to rebuild our bodies. Protein, fat, complex carbohydrates are all things our bodies need for fuel, and for rebuilding. Think of it as a bonus! You get to eat more because your body is consuming a higher level of calories. This is especially important if you workout in the high intensity zone. Remember, if you are not providing an adequate amount of calories your body could result to metabolizing your muscle tissue for energy. I know. No one wants that.
Feedback from our body is important as it’s our body telling us when things are good, or when things are not so good. Feedback can also be actively thinking of the muscles you are working out while working them. Think of the muscles contracting and they will actually engage more than if you didn’t.
If you are getting sick more often than you usually do that could be a sign again of over training. When we over train we are negatively impacting our immune system that makes it harder to defend against viruses, etc. Listen to this feedback and take some time off from working out and evaluate your training. It may be time to step it back a bit.
Lastly, rest. This can be a tough one to get a handle on. We are busy, have stuff to do and really, who likes to go to bed early. That’s when all the fun stuff is happening. But our body needs that sleep. Otherwise it cannot repair the damage we have done. The brain wont’ get the chance to create wild scenarios that allow us to deal with stress through dreams. Keep in mind it’s not just getting the required hours of sleep, it also has to be quality sleep. Studies are showing that even a source of light that is on while sleeping may impair your quality of sleep. So turn off the TV, the laptop, the phone, all that stuff. If you find that you are lying down for 7 or 8 hours but you are still tired, you may not be sleeping well. Talk to your doctor and see if they can help.
Just the messenger
I know it’s not easy, balance, rest. We have priorities in our lives, and most times things like balance, sleep take a back seat. That’s understandable. But if you are looking for answers to help you with the things I outlined than it’s up to you.
Will you take the red pill, or keep taking the blue pill?
Yours in health,