Are you worried about overtraining? You shouldn’t be. What you should be more concerned about is under-recovery. Your body has a unique ability to adapt to the stresses placed on it. Given enough recovery, your body is capable of a very high workload.
This is not to say that people don’t feel like they are overtraining. The real issue though is not that they are working out too much, but that other parts of their health program are lacking. An effective weight loss program places equal importance on diet, exercise, and recovery.
The #1 Cause of Under-Recovery is a Poor Diet
A well thought out eating plan is essential to recovery. Many people start off trying to get into shape by dropping their calories and increasing their activity. They have the right idea. Unfortunately, these two variables start veering too far off away from each other. The increased activity is great, however, their diet usually ends up being too low in calories. When you increase your work load, you need to compensate your diet with enough calories, and enough nutrients. Eat a nutrient dense diet, and try to lose no more than 2 pounds per week. There are about 3500 calories in a pound. So aim for a calorie deficit of 500-1000 calories per day.
How many calories should you eat? That’s a tricky one, and it will vary from person to person. There are several variables to consider like your activity level, your age, your sex, and your metabolism to name just a few. There are calorie calculators all over the internet, and they can be used as a general guide, but they will never be perfect. The quick way to figure it out is to eat 10-12 times your body weight in calories, eating the lower number if you have a higher body fat.
Lack of Rest is a Recovery Killer
Your body grows and rebuilds itself while at rest. Give yourself a rest day once or twice a week. Certainly don’t work out every single day. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to do absolutely nothing on those days and sit on the couch all day. While complete rest is good, there are more productive ways to speed up recovery.
So what can you do on these rest days to improve recovery? You can stretch, get a massage, or do some active recovery. You want to get some blood to the muscle. Blood carries all the nutrients needed to recover, and a little extra help will improve recovery. Try some active recovery like walking, yoga, or swimming – basically anything that is low intensity in nature.
Are you getting enough sleep? Important hormones are released while you sleep that help the body rebuild itself. Your body’s growth hormone levels are at their highest after exercise and when you sleep. Both of these times your body is trying to recover. Growth hormone is anabolic to muscle tissue and catabolic to fat tissue. It unfortunately gets lower as you age, so you will need to be even smarter with your weight loss program if you want to make the best use of what you have.
Place just as much importance on recovery as you do with your diet and exercise routine. If you’ve noticed that your progress has stalled, or you feel rundown, under-recovery is probably the problem. Recovery planning is essential for every weight loss program. If you don’t already have a recovery plan in place, you should consider adding one in very soon.