Monday, September 26, 2016

Intensity is Key!

Intensity. It's a word thrown around in fitness that many people have gotten wrong. When I say intensity what you do think of? Many people it depends on your sport of choice. For a runner, that might mean interval sprint work. For an olympic weightlifter it is how much weight for 1 rep. In bodybuilding, intensity is the contraction on the muscle. CrossFit hones in on Intensity, as force x distance / time. In other words, how much real work did you do and in what time period.
So as you can see this, you need to be specific on your goals first and then determine your intensity for that sport. There is one common misconception about intensity and that is when to push it and when form and skill is in place. There is this vision of intensity leading to over training, so people tend to steer clear of feeling the slightest fatigue.
Sadly, many of us are NOT elite athletes or at risk of over training. Compare these two (partial) lists of symptoms and decide for yourself:
Overtraining Syndrome
Insomnia
Loss of motivation
Fatigue
Weakened immune system
Joint Pain
Adrenal Fatigue
Insomnia
Loss of motivation
Fatigue
Weakened immune system
Joint Pain
Hmmm. looks rather similar doesn't it? Facts don't lie, more than 2 cups of coffee on average are American's consuming a day and this included energy drinks as well. Combined with stress and lack of sleep, it's no wonder you think you are over doing it. But are you?
Whether you train for hypertrophy, strength gains, body composition changes, or improvements in speed or endurance, you can rely on a simple formula for that improvement:
Sufficient Stress + Sufficient Recovery = Improvement
If your body is stressed you go though 3 phases:
-Alarm: the body recognizes stress for the first time
-Resistance: Repair what is broken (your muscles)
-Recovery or exhaustion: if you gave your body what it needs to repair it will come back stronger, however, failure to do this will result to exhaustion. The exhaustion stage can lead to over training if tapped into too many times.
So how do you get stronger without over training? There is a thing called over reaching. Placing enough of a stressor on the body along with repair and recovery, will lead to you coming back stronger thus pushing a little harder next time. Your body will only change when there is stress applied. The body is a beautiful LAZY machine. Yes it would rather do it the easy way and conserve energy than push itself all the time.
Fixing ongoing stress is a little more complicated than taking it easy. You should plan an intelligent de-load combined with a strong plan for recovery and maintenance. During any deload, your training intensity and volume both slow down for a few days. You keep your caloric intake where it was during the days you trained. Spend some of the extra time on additional recovery, from ice baths to contrast showers to massage and meditation.
Your body can handle a lot, but over reaching too often is where you can get into a lot of trouble. You are NOT as fragile as you think you are. Every person that is a high caliber athlete is made up of the same thing you are. The difference in capacity between you and the pinnacle of humanity is measured in inches, not miles. Adaptation happens when we have to respond to threats to our survival. Use some intelligent planning you’re going to make better progress than you’re making now. Train, eat, sleep,repeat.

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