High Intensity Training; it’s all the rage. Bootcamps, Crossfit, HIIT Class, Group X Classes with Plyo Box Jumps for 60 year old ladies…
There is nothing inherently wrong with it, rather the approach may be the biggest problem.
Even your more bodybuilding types can be prone to too much high intensity. When you hit the gym day after day, working at high intensity 95% 1RM sets that you have to crank up the Metallica to 11 for, slap your chest and huff and puff – (this was me) – day after day…
What about endurance athletes? Thats not high intensity! While it may not be high intensity in the form of an all out sprint, I would argue that it still is because of the duration of the activity.
See fancy graph:
So what’s the problem?
You spend all your time doing HIIT, or balls to the wall workouts – because that burns fat faster, right? Not always.
Truth is; the body has a finite amount of intensity that it can endure until somethings gotta give.
Let’s think about this:
High Intensity not only places stress on the physical musculature of the body, but also the central nervous system. What also places stress on the body and the CNS?
- Lack of sleep
- Poor nutrition
- Watching the news
- Frequent travel
So how many of you High Intensity 5x per week go getters are perfect in all of the above categories? Probably not many.
In that overstressed environment, your body releases chronically high levels of cortisol, a hormone that causes you to lose muscle, retain fat, and lower your ability to fight off illness and injury.
So what do you do???
Am I saying stop doing HIIT all together? NO
Be aware of your volume. If you aren’t sleeping and eating like crap, doing HIIT stuff wont help you 5 times per week – it will probably do the opposite. Get your diet in check and try to sleep more, and limit your high intensity training to 1-2 times per week.
Self monitor. Here’s a novel idea – listen to your body. If you are dragging ass and feeling extra bloated and weak, it’s probably not the best idea to go all out crazy at the gym. Reflect on why you are feeling this way, fix that problem, and then dial it back for the day and do some lower intensity pump work.
Work to Recover. When we talk recovery from training, it’s usually in the form of eat better, sleep better, and do your foam rolling and stretching. How many of us do that?
If you can’t sleep more, and don’t want to change your nutrition habits, then you can at least make an effort to do a solid recovery session 1-2x per week.
What would this include?
- Breathing exercises
- Mobility drills
- Soft tissue work
- Range of motion work
- Light cardio
Essentially 30 minutes dedicated to leaving the gym feeling better than when you got there.
By focussing just a little bit on recovery, listening to your body, and dialing back a bit on the crazy 50 box jump workouts, you can actually improve your bodies ability to burn fat, grow muscle, and feel a whole heck of a lot better.
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Stay healthy my friends,