ARE YOU EXERCISING TOO MUCH? Here’s a question we received recently…Can you exercise too much? The answer is not as simple as you might think. More exercise = more weight loss and more strength, right? Wrong! You can absolutely exercise too much! Sounds kind of strange doesn’t it? In actuality there is a science behind working out and you must be mindful of how often you are working your body without giving it the rest it needs. Crossfit coach Kyle J. Smith says that it is important to make sure that the amount of exercise you do does not exceed your body’s ability to recover, because if it does, instead of getting faster and stronger you will actually end up becoming slower and weaker. What happens to your body when you work out? When you are exercising, you are literally breaking down the body. You create little tears in the muscles which, when they heal properly, are able to rejuvenate to become bigger and stronger. Here’s the trick, you must allow yourself proper rest so that your body is able to rebuild. Having days off to rest your muscles, bones and joints are just as important as days on. The most efficient way to do that is to have a day or two of no exercise and follow that with a lighter bout of exercise to ease your way back into action. Kyle J. Smith says, “without proper rest your body will experience chronic fatigue, extremely low levels of energy over a prolonged period of time, and decreased performance from overtraining.” Over-exercising can cause diminished strength and an increase in body fat. This is your body asking you to take it easy. The body responds to stress by elevating the levels of stress hormones, including cortisol. High cortisol levels can cause all kinds of problems including but not limited to: decreased bone density, sleep disruption and slower wound healing. But here’s the zinger…increased abdominal fat! So, if you have been exercising a lot and aren’t seeing results, it could be that you have just been over-training yourself. Step one, be aware of the signs of over-training:
- Notice if it hurts to move and be able to distinguish “good pain” from “bad pain”. Recently in my anatomy class for Yoga Teacher Training we were learning about the difference between the two. Although both are certainly uncomfortable, one is far worse than the other. “Good pain” is when your muscles are fatigued. “Bad pain” is the burning, straining and taring sensations, these are sharp pains.
- Dramatic fluctuations in appetite and weight.
- Disturbed sleeping patterns.
- Lack of progress.
- Mix up your workout regimen. Variety keeps things fresh. Don’t work the same muscle groups multiple days in a row. Work your legs one day, then arms the next day, abs the following. This allows those muscles groups to have time to relax and recover. At the end of the week you allow your whole body to rest.
- Increase intensity carefully and know your boundaries. In a recent post I discussed the importance of warming up.
- We are machines. Give your body proper fuel. I’m sure you are all familiar with the GOLO Diet. There is a method to our madness. Make sure you are getting plenty of protein, carbohydrates, fats and vegetables. These all provide proper nutrition so that your muscles can rebuild. Let me reiterate, we are machines. Think of your car, the more you drive it, the more gas you need to put into it. The same goes for our bodies. The more we exert energy, the more food we will need to compensate. Simply add a combination of extra protein and veggies or protein and carbs to your meal after a good workout.