Many of us try to optimise our body composition by exercising a lot!
Now, when I was working as a CrossFit coach and attempting to be a CrossFit athlete, I was training 8 times a week – with 2 rest days.
I was also coaching 3-4 classes a week and doing a lot of walking.
I had good nutrition and could lose weight whilst eating really decent amounts of food.
There was no need for me to attempt any kind of crash diet.
The problems start when we eat very low calorie and train very hard.
This is a recipe for disaster.
There is actually a condition caused by under eating and overtraining called Relative Energy Deficiency.
This is where the body does not have enough energy to fuel normal body functions.
They have to be shut down in order to keep you alive!
This is when women will lose their menstrual cycle and everyone will find their sleep suffers, they have mood swings, insomnia, agitation, loss of appetite, fatigue, loss of motivation and so on.
In this situation you will not lose weight and you will not gain muscle.
Your body just can’t recover.
Even if you are not under eating, if you are doing more than your body can recover from, you are overtraining.
Take A Break!
I know I talk about breaks – particularly diet breaks – quite a lot.
I know for some who are very committed to exercise, it can seem like a dirty word.
But if you can identify with the symptoms above then I strongly recommend you take a break.
There is a great guide to Overtraining Syndrome on PubMed.
It is by Jeffrey Kreher and Jennifer Schwartz and the link is here;
Drop the ‘go hard or go home’ mindset.
Forget more is better and look at the fact that often less is more.
Especially if you are already stressed.
If you have a really busy life with a job and children and you are skipping sleep to fit in time in the gym, stop!
You would do more for your health by having a decent night’s sleep.
Of course we want periods where we are building volume but this still does not mean hours and hours in the gym.
We often waste time, chatting, warming up, doing unfocussed work – just building volume with junk.
Make sure you periodise your training if you are serious.
Have periods where you focus on cardio and dial back your weights, then flip it.
Not both together.
Do not be pushing yourself to your limits on a daily basis either.
Leave something in the tank.
For most of us, 45 minutes to an hour, 3 – 5 times a week is more than enough time in the gym.
If you are not looking to compete as a serious athlete, why push for more?
You will get better results flipping between blocks of cardiovascular and blocks of weight training
For the rest of your life.