Overtraining Happens More Easily with No Game Plan
Some of us, if not most of us, treat our bodies like it’s the enemy. We want to beat our bodies into submission to get the result we want. We tend to be easier on other people than we are on ourselves. For instance, if it’s a friend or colleague who feels they are falling short in any avenue of life, we tend to give them perspective and motivate them to see the brighter side. However when we turn the guns on ourselves, we are not so nice. We don’t see perspective and we don’t treat ourselves like we are our best friend. So with that said, be your own best friend to your body.
I can speak from experience to this. Many of us may be able to relate.
I used to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu four times per week, 2 to 3 hours at a time.
I would weight train three or four days per week, an hour and a half at a time and I would go for distance runs one or two times per week. If you add up the training hours and different demands I was putting on my body, it was unrealistic to have my body endure much of this.
If you read last month’s article, I talk a little about the body and what I call up-regulating. There was a time within this crazy workout phase that I would argue that I was in the best shape of my life. I had muscle, strength, endurance and skill sets out the wazoo. However, that was short lived. My body up-regulated to keep up with demands and for a while I was a god in my own mind. Then things started to deteriorate. My joints got sore, I couldn’t sleep as well, and my mind was foggy. I lost muscle mass, strength, and endurance. The crazy part is, I didn’t even really see it happening. I thought my body just needed to push through it or I could just eat a little more and things would be okay. It is so easy from a distance to recognize the problem, but as the person going through it, we cannot see it.
Finally, after about a year of damaging my body, I decided to take a step back and reorganize my expectations and approach. I had to decide, who did I want to be? What made me happy? What were my strengths and weaknesses? I wasn’t training to be a professional athlete, so I didn’t have to force myself to run 5 or 6 miles twice per week. I hated running and I never felt like it benefited me any more than doing sprint work and lifting circuits. I ran because “industry” tells me running is good and I should do it. So, if I wanted to do martial arts, I needed to make a training schedule to enhance that. If I wanted to be as strong as I could be, then lifting had to take precedence. If I wanted to stay competitive in basketball then another approach had to be taken. But I was a ping-pong ball.
This isn’t to say I couldn’t still incorporate any of the other activities that I enjoy doing into my lifestyle. I just needed to understand which ones I was focused on. So now maybe I do martial arts once or twice a week for 1 hour at a time, so I can weight train more often if weight training is more of my goal.
So, I am not saying “baby” your body, just the opposite in fact. You have to force yourself outside of your comfort zone, push hard, try new workout variations etc. But what I am preaching is to understand your goals, be friends with your body, and don’t beat the snot out of it to get what you want from it. That approach does not work with anything in life and it certainly will not work with your body. Use rest and recovery to your advantage. Decide what you want and allow the program to reflect that. Definitely leave room for just fun at the park with friends and family, and other types of activities. If your body is not thanking you all the time, then you are treating it wrong.
On a side note to overtraining, keep in mind that doing too many different variations of exercises can also detract from a goal. One of the things I love about this industry is that it has exploded with so many directions and there are so many great small gyms which offer different experiences and innovations. However, that very positive thing can also be a negative. I speak all the time to people who ask why they are not reaching their goals. I ask what their routine is and they tell me they do so many different workout types and sometimes at many different gyms. I understand that mentally we feel like the work is being put in but there is just no structure.
Take this for an example: If you were to build a house, do you hire the guy who understands where the vision of the your house needs to go, draws up a game plan, works 8 hours a day and executes, or do you go with the guy who just does it as he goes and figures if he works 12 hours days he will get the job done? To me it’s insane that people work out with no game plan or goal in mind because, if planned correctly, your success markers are all accounted for. So get out there, work and work hard, but keep it fun and do what you love.