People from all walks of life come to the gym seeking fitness guidance for different reasons. They all want to “get in shape,” but have different ideas of what that means to them. They may want to burn fat, tone up, see their abs, perform better at a sport, or fit into their skinny jeans. The bottom line is most just want to look better, feel better, be strong and function with more energy.
The problem for many though, is they often fall at either end of the fitness spectrum. They are either couch potatoes eating junk and doing nothing or they try to be exercise nuts and burn themselves out in hopes of obtaining extreme fitness goals. It’s very popular and trendy right now to be “extreme.” It can be very intimidating and confusing to those that want to begin a fitness program but don’t know where to start.
I find many people who are currently doing nothing find it hard to believe they can make dramatic results with small changes in their lifestyles. The simpler, less extreme programs are often the most successful in the long run. No matter how successful your program is now, if it’s not progressive and balanced with moderate, appropriate intensity and rest, it will be unsustainable and it will fail.
It’s not just about causing yourself some discomfort. If you do things too extreme you can sustain an injury. There is a rare condition known as rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdo (as it’s nicknamed) is brought on by extreme exercise that causes muscle breakdown that can lead to kidney damage. As stated, this is a very rare condition and brought on less by what you’re doing and more about how hard you’re doing it.
Overtraining, or improperly training, will set you up for failure no matter what your fitness pursuit may be. If you adhere to a smart strength training plan, and focus on quality over quantity, there’s no reason you can’t stay injury free. Here are four warning signs your workout may be taking you down the wrong path.
You Can’t Maintain Good Form
Pushing yourself is often needed in order to continue to progress. Pushing past your limits however, is not smart. You should know the correct technique for ever exercise you perform and stop when you can’t perform another rep in perfect form. When you compromise correct technique to hit a prescribed number of reps you set yourself up for injury.
Your Joints Are Sore
A little muscle soreness can be a good thing and is sometimes inevitable. Soreness that disrupts your day to day functioning or soreness in your joints is not a good sign. You can expect your muscles to be a little sore the next day but never your joints. That’s a sign that you were doing the movement wrong, or that you are trying to progress your reps or weight too quickly. Keep in mind, sometimes your muscles will progress faster than your tendons and attachments. Don’t ignore pain. It may seem like an oversimplification, but if something hurts, stop. While a little soreness is fine, if you can’t get up and down out of your chair or do your normal activities the next day, you should scale back your routine.
You Try to Progress Too Quickly
There are three variables to consider when progressing. These include frequency of your workouts, intensity (such as speed or amount of weight lifted) and duration of your workout. You should never increase more than one variable at a time and by no more than 10 percent each week. You have to give your muscles time to adapt.
You Work Out Every Day
When it comes to strength training, you shouldn’t lift more than three to four times a week. High intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts should best be done one to two times per week, very maximum three times. Although it’s fine to do some light cardio or stretching on the other days, your body needs time to recover. Working out at an extremely intense pace more than three days a week is a surefire way to end up with an injury.
Don’t beat yourself up for past failures and buying in to the latest fad. Consider it a learning experience so that now that you have figured it out, you can finally make sustainable progress in your health and fitness quest.
Perry Buchanan, owner of PT Gym, is certified as a Health Fitness Specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.