Do you workout too hard? too long? or not enough?

I had a chat today with one of my long-time customers about her struggles with her workouts. Here's the basic problems she feels that she has been having...

She feels as though she's "stressed out" all the time about her workouts and if/when she's going to do them, and if she's doing them with enough intensity or actually overtraining.

Well, she did something for the past week that she hasn't done in a long time... she took the entire week off from all exercise. The interesting thing that she found was that she actually felt better overall, felt less stressed with not having to try to fit her workouts in, and also had a lot of aches and pains go away.

Right away this screams out to me that she was a classic case of overtraining.

So now she's confused as to whether she should keep working out at all or possibly just try to workout with less intensity.

Here was my response to her:

First of all, you definitely should take "off weeks" every couple of months. I do that all the time, although for me, I usually like to make it coincide with some sort of vacation.

When I do it, I usually do about 10 days with no weight training at all. If I get any exercise at all, it's just recreational activities or sports. This really helps not only your body to recover, but also gives your mind a break from intense training.

Also, it sounds like one of your problems is that you're "stressing out" about getting your workouts in. I think that's the wrong mindset, and you should actually be looking forward to your workouts instead. So maybe start thinking about how you can actually look forward to enjoying your workouts instead of stressing out about them or dreading them.

Like I've mentioned before, I actually can't wait to do my workouts I'm so excited about them sometimes. Sounds weird I know, but that's the mindset I have about it.

I love "mixing it up" and it really keeps it interesting... sometimes I like just doing standard weight training routines, sometimes doing all kettlebells, sometimes doing all bodyweight exercises, sometimes doing all outdoor workouts, sometimes doing circuits, sometimes powerlifting, sometimes bodybuilding style training, etc, etc, etc.

There's just so many different ways to train, it certainly never needs to be boring.

Anyway, back to your original question... it sounds like your layoff was much needed since you're feeling better during your week off. However, that doesn't mean that your entire life should be a layoff. You still are going to want to do intense workouts a portion of the time and resistance training should still be a regular part of your routines since it is so important for overall health, strength, and maintaining low body fat levels.

It just sounds like your body and mind needed a break and you might have been a little overtrained.

Also, make sure that you're varying or cycling the intensity of your workouts on a regular basis. Always trying to train at the highest intensity levels is a sure-fire way to overtrain and also make yourself dread the workouts.

I like to think of a cycle (such as a 6 week cycle) as a gradual building of intensity with a "peaking" of intensity towards the end of a cycle... And then within each week should be days that are higher and lower intensity too so that you're not burning out the nervous system.
I'd definitely recommend keeping the resistance training in your workouts on a regular basis, but just find ways to use variety to keep things interesting, and also use different intensity levels regularly, as well as scheduled off-weeks about every 2-3 months for total recovery. I think that's your winning combo.

I think the take away from today's topic is to take a look at how hard you've been training and decide if it's time to step things up a notch or perhaps back off and take a week to 10 days off if you think you've been overtraining.

No doubt that after your time off, you'll have a nice refreshed body as well as a renewed enthusiasm for your workouts. Works every time!

Here's another article of mine on a unique style of workout you've probably never thought of (and it's quite a time saver too!):

I'll be back soon with more Lean-Body Secrets.

Til next ezine,Don't be lazy... be lean.

Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Certified Personal Trainer

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