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When more can actually be too much

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Warning: I’m about to go off on a rant here.

So, I made the mistake of watching a dreadful episode of The Bigger Loser a while back. Ugh. Those marathon gym sessions that these so-called celebrity trainers push on those contestants is just ridiculous. And unnecessary.

Look, the show does a lot of good as far as opening the public’s eyes to living a healthier lifestyle, to stop being so sedentary and how to ditch the standard american diet to break away from obesity. I applaud them for doing that and perhaps helping some viewers get off the couch. But, this approach of locking these peeps in a room and forcing them to do long, slow, boring cardio until they puke is enough to make me blow chunks out of frustration.

And then from there, it was on to never-ending strength-training sessions with poor form and practicing movements to failure.

I’m tired of seeing these marathon gym sessions being glorified as the end-all to curing your fat loss woes. It’s got us thinking we should be spending all day, everyday in the gym. Or running, hitting the treadmill or whatever other form of cardio you desire until the cows come home.

And it’s simply not the case.  

Who the hell would want to do that anyway? And who the hell has time for all of that?

I’m all about efficiency, whether that be in life, in business, in training clients or in just working out in general. You’d actually be surprised how little exercise we really need to see results.

Meanwhile, you’d also be surprised just how much can actually be too much for our bodies to take.

Overtraining is a serious issue. It can lead to injury or sickness. It can just stall or even reverse your progress altogether. Unfortunately, too many of us out there are potentially overtraining without even knowing it.

A few symptoms of overtraining, aside from the usual sore muscles, include:

  • Decreased performance (or loss of strength or endurance)
  • Increased muscle fatigue
  • Depression (or feeling irritable or moody all of the time)
  • Insomnia
  • Joint Pain
  • Injury/sickness

No thanks. Not for me. So, here are a few ways to prevent this:

Take a week off – I encourage all of my clients to take at least one week off after eight solid weeks of an intense workout regimen. Some clients may benefit from a recovery week after as little as four weeks of training. Let’s put it this way: even pro football players have an off season. If it works for them, why wouldn’t this approach work for you?

Get some rest – Adequate rest is important. I’m not here to preach to you that you need to get a solid eight hours every night. Although, you do need to find a way to get a solid eight hours of sleep every night. Seriously. All that said, you also need to focus on getting a solid, peaceful, restful night’s sleep every single night (put the Androids and iPhones and tablets down an hour before shut-eye).

This is not just about sleep, though. We shouldn’t be in the gym seven days a week. Period. Take at least one day off from training per week. My general rule of thumb for a solid fitness regimen is to perform three intense, full-body workouts coupled with two or three lower-intensity workouts per week. This leaves one or two days to let my body recover. Trust me, less is more in this case.

Spend less time in the gym – In other words, rethink your current workouts and revamp them accordingly because you could probably spend less time training with more effective exercises/routines. Research shows that as little as four minutes of exercise could be enough to help us build muscle and burn fat. I’m going to push for more than this, as the workouts I develop in my coaching program are generally 30-45 minutes in nature. But, you get the point.

Challenging yourself is good. Overdoing it during these challenges is not. Be ultra-conservative in your approach and train safely. You’re in this for the long-haul, so don’t try to get a washboard stomach all in one day at the gym.

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Pete
Pete
Pete Cataldo is a former television sports anchor that has taken his passion for fitness and turned it into his career. As a Certified Fitness Trainer, Certified Turbulence Trainer and Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Pete is an expert in helping clients burn fat, lose weight and get in the best shape of their lives.
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