Strength Training 201: Recovery
Imagine you’ve been working out for a few months...
You feel motivated. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is your motto. Your life is moving along, too. You have a birthday. Work is tough gearing up for tax season (you’re an accountant by the way). You get home late, miss a meal here and there. Lose some sleep. You’re back in the gym the next day though.
These patterns persist for months. Less sleep. Less food. More stress. More exercise (gotta get that 6th day in). Over time, you start to lose your steam. An old elbow injury flares up. Why is this happening now? You were feeling so good!
Does this sound familiar? For those of us who make fitness the priority, this is a shared experience. Great bursts of motivation and progress followed by sharp crashes and frustration.
How can we avoid this? Recovery needs to be prioritized as much as training. This doesn’t mean taking weeks at a time off to “rest,” it just means being smarter about your approach. You can’t run a car for 100,000 miles without getting the oil changed, tires rotated, etc.
Signs you’re burning out:
Loss of motivation: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” changes to, “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Loss of motivation to exercise or eat well.
Injuries crop up: New injuries appear, old injury resurfaces OR an injury or tightness just never seems to go away.
Sickness: Are you sick when you’re usually not? It’s easy to blame allergies, but is there something more?
Exhaustion: When you get home, you need a 5’x5’ spatula to peel you off the couch. The sun comes up and you throw it the middle finger. “10 more… hours,” you mutter.
Mood swings: When you have the “Monday” face on, but it’s Wednesday. Mood swings normally mean low energy.
What can you do?
Respect Rest: Monitor your sleep and plan your days off. Believe it or not, with exercise, more is not always better. The nervous system is king. Stress, poor nutrition and too exercise/not enough recovery is a recipe for burnout. For fat loss, prioritize resistance training 3-4x per week and add in other things if you’re feeling motivated.
Buy a heart rate monitor: Fitbit. Polar. Garmin. MyZone. Pick your poison. At RD, we’ve adopted the MyZone system to help members understand the stress they’re putting their bodies through. To determine your max heart rate, take the number 220 and subtracting your age. That is your 100% max heart rate. Aim to stay between 60% to 80% of that number and you’re staying in an elevated cardiac zone without pushing the limits. Clients are able to track their heart rate through out the workout allowing them to stay in this zone for the best fat loss results.
Eat well and often: We all know the person who eats twice a day. We all know the person who just eats cereal and pizza. Are they healthy? Poor nutrition is an added stressor on the body and so is prolonged hunger. Eat every 2 to 4 hours and have a vegetable with every meal. Follow these two guidelines to avoid skipping meals and to bring your body back to life.