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Hit the Wall with your Training Routine?

Get Personal with Genetic Testing

Written by Dr. Erik Boudreau, ND FABNO

Go ahead--pat yourself on the back. While the rest of the world is hitting the snooze button at 6am, you’re there in the gym--sweat pouring and heart pounding as you force that last rep or run that last mile. Or, perhaps you prefer to take care of business after hours, lifting and pushing and spinning late into the night. Whatever your desired path to success, the destination remains constant: the endless pursuit of physical fitness.

You live the life, twenty-four hours a day (or at least a solid 23)-- eschewing the temptations of “taking it easy” in favour of ever-greater heights: a new personal-best bench press or elliptical session, hitting a number on the scale you haven’t seen since high school, or simply seeing a fitter, leaner, meaner version of yourself in the mirror. At first, when your journey just began, it felt like every workout brought you one lengthy stride closer to that ultimate vision. And since that time, you’ve dutifully embroidered your training into the very fabric of your life, rarely missing a session while gradually turning up the intensity. Unfortunately, the past few days/weeks/months (years?) appear to be exemplifying the law of diminishing returns. Despite working harder than ever to continue making gains, the “you” of today has the same looks, strength and stamina as the “you” from last week/month (year?). What gives?

First of all, it’s important to look into the workouts themselves. If you’re over-training, then you’re not giving your muscles and joints the time or nutrients needed to recover before the next session. Eventually, your body will in all likelihood force you to give it the rest it needs (ie. via an injury).

Under-training, on the other hand, can happen when you’re not gradually ramping up the frequency/duration/intensity of your workouts. You may be convincing yourself that you’re going “all-out” because you’re doing exactly what used to constitute an “all-out” session--but your body knows better. In a similar vein is the notion of exercise variability--essentially, keeping your body (and mind) a little off-balance at all times (figuratively--not literally!). Simply put, humans are lazy (yes, even you). We’re designed to work just as hard as we need to in order to get the job done. This applies to the data entry clerk who spends 6.5 hours each day on Facebook before blistering through 1.5 hours of actual data entry, and it equally applies to our bodies when we exercise.