My teen clients are notorious for asking me “What else can I do on my own?” and “How many more days should I be lifting weights?” And, they are surprised and mostly disgruntled when I advise them not to do more. My newer clients always ask how many more times a week they need to train with me to get results and they, too, are surprised when I tell them none. You see, if you follow my system, you will get results, and my system does not include over doing it, so I do not promote extra exercise until you make the proper progressions, and you prime your body to handle the load. Not until then do I encourage extra workloads. I request that my clients and football players give 100% effort through the workout, and it is impossible to do so if you are sore, tired and broken down. I told an athlete that I would rather be slightly undertrained than overtrained, and I compared it to a steak on the grill: if you remove it too early, you’re safe, and can put it back on, but if you burn it, it’s worthless.
Recovery is key
The same goes for your body. When you work out too much, several things happen: Your chance for injury increases due to weakened and fatigued stabilizers and muscles. You compromise your immune system. You elevate cortisol levels, causing hormonal disruption, and risk muscle depletion. What doesn’t happen is achieving results. Recovery is the key to making gains. You will never reach your goal unless it is becoming skinny, fat, or staying overweight. I see it every day. People at the gym spend hours working out every day and they never look different or move any better because they are there too long, lack rest and burn muscle, causing body fat percentages to sway in an unfavorable direction. Not the most ideal way to spend your time and energy. This is not only due to improper exercise and progression, but also poor nutrition programming.
When I design a nutrition program, I try to stay away from as many processed foods as possible, and try to eliminate wheat all together. I encourage my clients to stay away from those items as well, but if you need to snack on something, go gluten-free. Many times this gets misinterpreted as eat as many gluten-free foods as possible. From pasta to pancakes to corn chips to cereal to brownies, it is still a processed food, and it still needs to be limited, period. Gluten-free foods still have a high glycemic level, still have a lot of empty calories, and can still make you fat. Look what happened in the early 90′s fat-free craze; it made people fatter because they removed something and replaced it with something just as bad or worse–fat for sugar, gluten for other processed flours, etc. Many of these foods lack nutrients and proteins, deeming them useless to the body anyway, so less is better.
In conclusion, there is no magic way to get results. The higher quality food you eat, the better you will feel. The smarter you train, and the more you pay attention and LISTEN to your body, the better you are going to be. Train hard and rest easy!
Matt Espeut is the owner of Fitness Profiles, and has been a personal trainer for over 20 years, helping people from ages 14 to 89 become healthier and stronger. His focus is on overall health, strength, and functional conditioning, with holistic health and nutrition as the cornerstone of his programs.