By Stephanie Van Ness, CSCS
You’ve heard it before. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This applies to fitness as well. Crushing yourself in the gym every day puts you on the fast track to burnout and injury. To succeed over the long haul, moderation and consistency are key.
That doesn’t mean you should take it easy. Of course you should push yourself to excel, always giving your best. That’s what will drive improvement and help you become stronger, faster, fitter.
What it means is that you need the perspective to realize that “your best” varies day to day and you shouldn’t get down on yourself if you deliver what you might consider a sub par performance on occasion. Many of our clients work out five or six days a week without a rest day. Some even do two-a-days, following up an ARX class with a sport practice or competition, or a traditional cardio session. Maybe you do too. If so, it is natural that you’ll feel better – stronger, more spring in your step – on some days than others. On a low-stress day – one when you’ve enjoyed a good night’s sleep, family life is humming along smoothly and work life is calm – your tank is full so you might have 100% to give at the gym. Good for you. Go all out.
But if you’re tired, upset, overwhelmed, overscheduled, injured or otherwise stressed more than usual you might only have 70% to give when you walk through the doors at Athletic Republic on a particular day. That’s fine. Give 100% of that 70%. Sure you probably won’t lift as much weight, run as fast or complete as many reps as usual. So what? You gave all you had. Call that workout a victory.
You need to figure out what works for you in terms of exercise frequency and volume. Don’t compare yourself with your friends. Some people do well with fewer sessions each week, perhaps a M-W-F-type schedule. This way each time they hit the gym they are fresh and can really kill it. Others prefer fewer rest days. I’m one of them. I get cranky on days I don’t work out. (Those days require a lock on the refrigerator!) But I can’t go full throttle every day without risking injury. To build moderation into my training program I don’t do the same type of exercise every day. I lift only twice a week. On other days you can find me hitting the heavy bag, sparring, playing ice hockey or doing back flips – all without a dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell in sight. This schedule offers me the consistency to improve at each of my pursuits, as well the recovery time to allow me to give my all at every workout.
I’m not telling you to come to fewer ARX classes. Not at all! We offer variety in our programming to keep you fresh and healthy. But, understand that you might feel invincible on some days and merely mortal on others.
Life is dynamic. Ever changing. Fluid. Some days you have it. Other days, well, not so much. Don’t beat yourself up. Find a workout schedule that optimizes your performance rather than drains your resolve. This way you’ll feel refreshed rather than disappointed when you head back to your car, eager to return for the next one.