We get back to exercise with this week’s blog post where I tell you why you do not need to smash every workout. I do not care what is considered cool or which fitness figures are shouting the loudest. I am interested in the health and fitness practices that are science based and make you fitter and healthier. It is easy to push someone to the point of exhaustion, but is this necessary in the pursuit of health, happiness and a great body? I live and work by the principle that exercise should benefit and not detriment our health.
We live in a no pain no gain society and when you combine this with the current obsession with high intensity training it inevitably leads to an overarching pressure to “smash” every workout and try to break personal records every time we exercise. There are many reasons that going all out and killing yourself with every workout is not a good idea. Let’s focus on the main ones.
1• More does not always mean better
Training to exhaustion and smashing every workout does not guarantee that you will reach your fitness goals. There are many trade-offs such as increased risk of injury and reduced training benefit. This happens through loss of proper technique when training at full speed and especially when very fatigued. It is also completely inappropriate to expect to out-do your previous efforts every time you exercise. This is a sure fire recipe for overtraining, loss of your mojo and injury. A well planned training programme can give you gains and improvements for up to six weeks even if left unchanged, so keep your technique tip top and work effectively instead of ineffectively.
2• High intensity training is high stress
High intensity exercise has a part to play in a well balanced active lifestyle. There is however a point of diminishing returns where smashing every workout leaves you fatigued going into the next workout and therefore unable to exercise effectively. Think long term, consistency is the key to reaching your goals. Training less than 100% in quality sessions over many months will take you to a position of improved health and fitness over a period of consistent improvement. You may be able to smash it for a few weeks, making big initial improvements, but at some point it will catch up with you and your improvements will slow right down and you will fall behind the person who opted for the quality, long term approach. Why smash it at 100% and feel wrecked and useless for two days when you can get just as fit with a little less intensity and be fresh for the next workout? This is perfectly aligned with the principle that exercise should benefit and not detriment our health.
3• Training all-out every time neglects your other energy systems
Hardcore regimes like Spinning, Crossfit and HIIT classes are very attractive with their loud, fast paced classes and a reputation for pain and suffering. Always working close to your max however, only works your sugar dependant anaerobic energy system. This not only fails to adequately develop the aerobic system (your fat burning pathway) and neglects other peripheral systems, but it typically leads to carbohydrate dependancy giving you elevated hunger and cravings for sugars and starches. Worse still, high intensity training coupled with a low fat, low calorie diet wreaks havoc on your hormones and can actually lead to your body storing body fat even though you are in caloric deficit.
High intensity training and all forms of anaerobic and alactic exercise have an important role in many sports and in any well balanced fitness programme. However, the healthiest and most effective way to get fit, stay healthy feel amazing long term is to vary your workouts in intensity, speed and duration throughout the week and throughout the month. This will give you the best, sustainable and longterm results.
Train optimally for fitness, health, happiness and longevity.