You might feel great at first, but as the days and weeks chug on, your energy levels may drop off, niggling injuries start appearing, you’re feeling hungry all the time, or you just plain can’t keep it up and drop your program all together.
Now don’t get us wrong, exercise has a positive effect on body composition, confidence, energy, as well as overall health and fitness. But if you go extreme, especially too quickly, it can do more harm than good.
Understanding the difference between an optimal training regimen that will supercharge your fitness, keep you lean and boost energy levels and a counterproductive one can save you a lot of wasted time and trouble.
When it comes to how your BUF trainers approach their session structure, to make sure we all stay healthy and full of beans, we like to use the ABCBA theory.
- A = super intense session (HIIT, sprint intervals, heavy weights, metabolic circuits, or a super long run)
- B = workout of medium intensity (boxing, ass ‘n’ abs, medium intensity circuits and middle distance runs, or just not pushing too hard in regular sessions)
- C = remedial activity (yoga, long walk, slow jog, surf/swim, or a big stretch in the comfort of your lounge room)
We were let in on this cool little concept by one of BUF’s fave mentors (his name is Craig and while he likes to keep a low profile he trains some of the world’s top athletes) and we LOVE it because it helps us stay in perfect health, nice ‘n’ balanced, both body and mind.
Before I was introduced to the ABCBA plan of attack, I spent months going hard at training ALL the time. My session structure looked a bit more like AAABA! Too many hours spent at the gym, good ol’ excessive chronic cardio and constant high-intensity routines meant constant pain had become my daily companion.
In this state, my immunity was compromised and I was tired and stressed out a lot of the time. For others I knew who’d been bitten by the “too much sweat” bug, other negative effects included hormonal issues, digestive problems, sleep disruption, and mood swings. Another common side effect is a surge in cortisol, a stress hormone that can encourage fat gain around the middle (add coffee to the mix and that affect can be amplified).
After I reigned in my routine and started getting proper recovery time I started to see some big improvements. For me, less really was more!
Now, I’m not saying everyone who works out daily is over-training. It all depends on your individual genes, how quickly your body fights inflammation and what’s going on in the rest of your lifestyle. But it’s certainly worth asking yourself a few direct questions about your schedule.
How do your workouts make you feel? Are you exhausted for days? Tired, but wired at night? Are you struggling to lose weight? Or do you feel pretty darn great with the level of physical work you’re doing?
Consider what your responses might mean for your training schedule and if you think it’s worth shaking things up, try one or more of the below.
Decrease the Frequency
Going hard out during sessions isn’t the problem (in fact it’s great for you!), it’s how often you’re doing it that you need to consider. It might be an idea to limit your high intensity exercise, those ‘A’ training days, to 2-3 times per week.
Learn to Rest
We harp on about the importance of sleep regularly at BUF HQ, because it really is vital for optimum health. Quality sleep is essential for your bod to recover from intense exercise, especially on big training days. And every now and then, take a week off from super hard sessions, or try something new!
Variety is Key
Here is where those ‘C’ sessions come into play. Find and take part in a style of exercise that can help regulate your cortisol levels. Embrace yoga and/or meditation for their ability to help you reduce cortisol and aid recovery from more intense sessions. If you’re not into a weekly OM, maybe try a long, slow walk around your favourite park, or a cruisy dip in the pool or ocean. A light jog, followed by a home-stretching sesh works well here, too.
Now that we’ve let you in on our little training secret, we’d love to hear about how you structure your training week. Do you already have a balanced program in place that’s similar to the ABCBA model? Do you have a regular remedial practice?
Enjoy your exercise, BUFettes. It can be one of the happiest routines in your life if you approach it in the right way. Just make sure you don’t obsess over it.
As mum always said, “everything in moderation!”