Let’s face it.
Most of us don’t have the best genetics.
On top of that, we don’t sleep enough, we don’t always hydrate adequately or eat the right foods, and we’re stressed out 24-7 from our work and home life.
This type of hormonal environment, while quite common in today’s day and age, creates serious problems if you are trying to perform well in the gym, lose body fat, and build muscle.
If you’ve read any of my posts thus far, you’d know that I am big fan of training hard.
When it comes to making any kind of gains in the weight room, intensity is what it’s all about.
Whether you are trying to burn fat or build muscle, the majority of your time spent training should include heavy, compound lifts and intense, short duration cardio.
This type of training —if programmed correctly —will help stimulate the types of hormonal responses we are looking for in the body (increased testosterone and HGH); as well as the physical responses that come along with them (more muscle and less body fat.)
However —and this is a BIG however—if you fail to design or set up your weekly training schedule properly, you will actually illicit the exact opposite of the hormonal responses your are hoping to achieve!
Let me explain:
The majority of people only think about “muscles” when they talk about “recovery” after a strenuous workout.
While muscle recovery is very important; it is definitely not all of the equation when it comes to performing our best and giving our bodies enough time to rest and recuperate.
The Central Nervous System:
Our Central Nervous System, or CNS, is the part of our nervous system consisting or our brain and spinal chord.
It integrates information it receives from, and coordinates and influences the activity of, all parts of the body.
Certain types of training modalities are considered “CNS intensive,” meaning they are extremely stressful on our Central Nervous System.
Jumps or throws for maximal distances
Olympic lifts (Cleans, Snatches, etc.)
Power lifting (Pressing, Squatting, and Deadlifting at 85% or more of your 1 rep max)
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
While our muscles might be recovered enough from one of these bouts and ready to go within 24 hours, our CNS will NOT be for 48 hours after a CNS intensive session.
Therefore, it is best to alternate between “high” intensity and “low” intensity days when designing and implementing your training schedule.
Low intensity training methods include:
Low intensity cardio (walking, hiking, cycling, sled drags/pushes, rowing, swimming, etc.)
Mobility/Flexibility training (Foam rolling, stretching, massage therapy, yoga, etc.)
Body building style “pump” work (staying within the 8-20 rep range)
Ideally, you would never want to have two “high” intensity days back to back, or within 24 hours of each other.
Not following this “High/Low” training philosophy can lead to over-training, or what we call CNS fatigue, over time.
Symptoms of CNS fatigue include:
A general lack of motivation.
Increased/lingering muscle soreness following a workout.
Lack of progress in your training.
General restlessness and loss of focus.
Feeling sluggish throughout the day.
Chronic pains in your joints and limbs.
Depressed immune function (getting sick often)
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms consistently, and you have not been adhering to this “high/low” training principle, take at least 1 full week off from training and make sure you get lots of rest, hydration and high quality nutrition.
Remember, the body cannot differentiate between different kinds of stress.
Whether it’s stress from your job or stress from 12 reps of a standing military press— it all affects your body and CNS the same.
It’s very important that you take the time to plan your training schedule, making sure that you have enough rest between high intensity efforts.
A few months ago, I wrote a post on how to properly design a training schedule based on your fitness level.
You can check that out, here.
At the end of the day, we all want to look and feel good.
Some of us are in such a rush that we forget to rest and recover properly.
While this may lead to accelerated gains in the short term, in the long term you will hinder your progress and risk sickness and/or injury.
Training hard is important, no doubt.
Even more important and crucial to your long term progress and health, however, is training smart.
While sprinting is an amazing exercise—and the only type of cardio I recommend for fat loss—the goal of lifelong fitness and good health is a long endeavor, and should be treated like a marathon.
Take the time to plan your training accordingly; and take into account that rest and recovery are just as if not more important than the actual training.
Most of us may have mediocre genetics, yes; but that doesn’t mean that we still can’t achieve some pretty amazing results if we do things the right way.