Reposted from the Fitness Compass blog.
We at Fitness Compass have always emphasized the importance of smart training, and part of that is knowing when you need to push yourself and when you need to modify your training to let your body have enough recovery time.
One mistake that most gym-goers often make is assuming that you will always be making linear, upward progress, but most of the time the progress that we make will look more like periodic peaks and dips. After all, the human body isn’t a machine, so we shouldn’t expect it to perform like one. A smart training program will always factor in intense blocks followed by a recovery period, but if you haven’t been doing so, here are some clues that might have you thinking about whether you should take it up another level or back off and give your body time to refuel.
3 Signs You Aren’t Training Hard Enough
Lack of motivation is the most commonly covered topic in most health and fitness articles. The key to finding that motivation is a whole other topic altogether, but if any of the following sound familiar to you, then it should set your alarm bells ringing and give you a wake-up call as to whether you are putting in enough work at the gym!
Make no mistake, though, our definition of working hard doesn’t necessarily mean pushing to the point of being lightheaded and nauseous at the end of the session. While you still want to include intensity in your training, you should also consider whether you are working out right in terms of your goals. Giving it all you’ve got doesn’t mean throwing awareness and good form out the window. Perfecting your form and body control means that you will be training your muscles and as a result revving up your metabolism, instead of just pointlessly jumping around just to break out a sweat. This is one reason why it’s good keep a workout buddy with a critical eye or an educated trainer close by, both to push you and to make sure you aren’t cheating!
1.You Still Have Time to Multitask
Even the most talented athletes need to dedicate all of their attention towards pushing themselves to work hard and use the right technique at their sport, so what makes the average gym-goer think that they can multitask during their training sessions? And yes, we would say that watching the television, scrolling through your phone, or chitchatting while working out counts as multitasking. If you have the energy and the attention span to talk while exercising, then you clearly aren’t paying enough attention to your workout!
Our solution? Put the distractions away and give your one hour’s training the respect it deserves, otherwise, why do it at all?
2.You Have No Idea What Your Limit Is
Now, don’t take this as us advocating testing your 1RM every other day, but if every session feels like a walk in a park, then you aren’t stimulating your body to the point where it has to grow stronger, build more endurance or burn stored body fat in order to adapt to the challenge.
Sticking to the same workouts every time means that your body won’t have to change because it is used to the same level of activity. While you should have some easy sessions to let your body recover, the focus should generally be on pushing closer rather than farther to your limit every time. If you haven’t tested your limits, then how will you know how far to push?
3.Lack of Progress
While this might seem like an obvious sign, it is common to hear this lack of progress put aside for another day with excuses like ‘I’m too busy, I don’t have time with work’ or ‘I try my best but I just don’t feel motivated’. While we don’t deny that these are valid reasons, this doesn’t mean that you should give up at the first hint of an obstacle. If so many other people manage to make time in their days (and notice that we say make instead of find) to improve their fitness and health, you can try giving it another go too!
Do something concrete like writing it down in your schedule or giving yourself a set block of time per workout program, such as four or five weeks, in order to make it a routine. After a while you might find that it feels better to exercise rather than not!
3 Signs You Are Training Too Hard
The ‘go hard or go home’ aspect of training is always the main focus in the fitness industry. While working your body hard is what prompts it to change and develop, giving it time to actually adapt and grow is equally as important, even if it might not get as much love from the industry.
We’ve mentioned before that intelligent programming means knowing when to give your body time to recover. While we applaud your drive and motivation, if you find yourself with any of the following signs, then it might be time to change up your routine or find a knowledgeable professional who can design a sound program for you which takes your wellbeing into account. Not only will it give your hard-worked body the rest that it deserves, the recovery period will also prevent you from overtraining, which is just as bad as it sounds: increase in cortisol levels, which not only results in hormonal problems but also causes your body to store more fat.
It might be difficult, but take some time to ask yourself why you are training the way you do, whether this aligns with your goals, and whether the consequences are worth the damage you are doing to your body. We doubt there would be many people who would answer that with a yes.
1.Your Body Doesn’t Feel Good
We often don’t give our body the attention it deserves. In our fast-paced modern societies, most of us have learned to bulldoze through our body’s warning flags, when in fact our biology is what has kept us alive as a species all this time. Try listening to what your body is telling you and trusting what you feel instead of what you think once in a while.
Warning flags can come in the form of aching joints or chronic muscle soreness. Despite what some gym ‘Bros’ might tell you, feeling persistent, dull pains or pinching in your joints is not normal and is a sign that you need to balance your strength or high-impact workouts with some mobility and recovery sessions.
Another sign is if you find yourself always feeling sick or under the weather in one form or another. This might be because your intense workouts have overloaded your CNS, which in turn affects your immune system.
It takes a lot to concentrate and you often feel like you are a walking zombie. It is a rare day that you don’t feel exhausted, and you often feel that you aren’t performing at your best during training sessions no matter how hard you try.
If that sounds like you, then we would say that you are experiencing chronic fatigue. As well as looking at your sleeping patterns and giving yourself some downtime, take a good hard look at your training schedule or, better yet, have someone else look it over for you and see what you can prune from it. The most efficient planning comes from prioritizing what is important and knowing when to cut out what is not absolutely necessary from your program.
Even if you might be eager to try out all the classes at your gym or include every new exercise you come across in your routine, simplifying your training will be beneficial in the long run. You can still include variety by changing it up in, say, one month cycles. If you don’t have the time or knowledge to plan carefully, then outsourcing your training to a friend or a trainer might be a smarter choice.
3.Lack of Progress
Ironically, this is one of the very same signs that you get from not training enough, but not being able to progress is a less discussed consequence of training too much. To make a long story short, the heightened stress you put your body through will cause it to go through all sorts of hormonal changes that signal your metabolism to slow down. What does this mean? Decreased levels of performance at the gym, the feelings of fatigue we previously mentioned, and increased storage of fat as your body’s attempt to preserve itself in the face of this perceived threat.