Training Vs. Straining… How To Achieve…

For the past week I’ve been talking to my clients about a critical factor that slows down or even prevents us from progressing towards our health and fitness goals – And that is….

Over Training. Or more specifically, not recovering from your visits to the gym.

In the fitness industry, there’s often this obsession with “more”.

More cardio. More fatigue. More squats. More days at the gym.

If you’re not strategic, though, “more” can lead to overtraining, extra stress in your life, injury, depression, and illness.

You see, your body needs an appropriate amount of recovery to balance the hard work you’re doing. And, if you don’t plan that recovery, your body will force it by making you sick or injured.

So, in today’s article, I’ll help you discover the right balance of hard work, active rest, and pure rest. Of training vs. straining.

*If you’re a veteran exerciser*, this article will confirm some of what you already know while prompting a deeper look at recovery.

*If you’re new to regular exercise,* it’ll help you avoid a lot of workout mistakes and save you so much trial and error.

I’ve been coaching clients for 3 decades and I’ve seen many of them treat their bodies like teenagers learning to drive a car.


Full speed ahead on killer workouts! Max effort each time! Add another hour of cardio!


Get hurt. Get sick. Feel discouraged.

Vroom. Cut calories! Weigh and measure everything!


Lose control. Feel even more discouraged.

I’ve seen this cycle of slamming the accelerator, then brake, then accelerator, then brake with many people training in gyms.

When they decide to get moving, they go hard.

They throw everything — energy, time, resources — at their weight loss, strength gain, or health goals. They feel invigorated and energized, high on their new workout drug.

Have you tried Workout X? They ask their co-workers.

Feel my quads, it’s amazing!

This full throttle approach seems to work for a little while.

Until… it doesn’t.

One day it’s hard to get out of bed. Shoulders and knees ache a bit. They get a bit of a cough or feel run down.

A week later they miss an easy lift. They reach for the ice pack. No big deal.

The week after, they’re calling the local physio.

What happened? Where did it all go wrong?

The problem isn’t the exercise, or even the intensity.

The problem is not balancing stress with recovery.

Training vs. Straining.

Exercise is a stressor. Usually a good one. But a stressor nonetheless.

If you exercise intensely and/or often, you add stress to a body that may already be stressed from other life stuff like work, relationships, travel, late nights, etc.

This isn’t a bad thing. Exercise can indeed help relieve stress.

But in terms of a physical demand, we still need to help our bodies recover from all the stress we experience.

How well you’ll recover (and how much extra recovery you might need) depends … i.e. how much total stress you’re under at any given moment.

In other words, on those days when you were late for work and your boss yelled at you and you spilled curry on your favourite shirt and you were up all night caring for a sick child — and then you went to the gym and tried to ‘PUSH IT’?

You better plan for some serious recovery time.

On the other hand, if you slept well, woke up to sunshine, had a terrific breakfast, and strutted into the gym feeling like a rock star, your body will likely recover faster and better from your workout.

The right amount of exercise, at the right intensity, and the right time:

We train. We learn. We get healthier and stronger.

Too much exercise, with too high an intensity, too often:

We strain. We stress. We shut down. And break down.

I think you’ve got the message now. So, here’s my suggestions if you feel you fall into the above category:

1. Do a little self-assessment.

For some of us, skipping a workout is no biggie.

For others, taking a day off requires effort. Doing less can make you feel uneasy.

If spending more time away from your self-imposed bootcamp freaks you out, ask yourself:
• What am I doing this for? What are my goals, and why do I have them?
• How do I feel? Am I constantly in pain, tired but wired, hungry, etc.?
• How is what I’m doing working for me? What kind of results am I seeing?

If you’re beating yourself up and not getting anywhere, maybe it’s time to take a different approach.

2. Trust your body — and listen to it.

What’s really going on under the bonnet?

Do a mind-body scan: Lie quietly for a few minutes and bring your focus slowly from your feet to your head. What do you feel?

Practice becoming more aware of your body cues.

What does your body feel like when it’s well-rested? How do you know when it needs a break?

If you’re feeling:
• achy and creaky
• run-down
• un-motivated
• anxious or depressed
• Fatigued or annoyingly sleepless…

…consider changing up your workout routine.

3. Make time for recovery.

Recovery won’t happen by accident. Plan it, prepare for it and hunt it down.

Schedule that massage. Block off Sunday afternoon for guilt-free time in-front of the TV or read.

Whatever you do, remember that your recovery — what you do between workouts — is just as important as training.

4. Achieve the balance.

There’s time for tough workouts and time for taking it easy. There’s time for long runs, and there’s time for throwing a frisbee around.

Doing the same thing over and over again isn’t doing your body any good. Mix up your exercises, and the intensity.

If you’re not sure how much of each you’re getting, try keeping a workout journal for a week or two.

What could you use a little more of?

Where could you ease back?

Find some new ways to get active without being in the gym.

5. Get Driving Lessons

The only message you’ve likely ever gotten about staying fit is: put the pedal to the metal. Now it turns out you’re actually in overdrive?

If you’re feeling frustrated or confused (or exhausted or stressed) — team up with someone.

My Guidance

Are you feeling somewhat overwhelmed with your training and unsure of what direction to take? Simply call me on 0437 314 920 to discuss your goals and potentially book a face-to-face PT session.

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