No pain, no gain?

In these days where high intensity workouts seem to be all the rage there are many who seem to think that exercise is about suffering and should hurt, otherwise it’s not effective. Instructors telling people that ‘if you don’t feel sick you’ve not worked hard enough’ and the like. 

Now, I’m not denying that you do need train hard from time to time to get the best results. However, I really don’t buy into this idea that the body needs to be battered and bullied into submission in every single workout. This will inevitably lead to injury or illness sooner or later. Everybody needs recovery and it’s during these periods of rest that adaptation takes place and we get fitter. Low intensity training where the heart rate remains less than 75% of max can be used very effectively to speed up recovery also. Walking, swimming and LIGHT jogging are excellent examples of this. Proper nutrition will also promote good recovery and adaptation.

An elite athlete may be able to recover more quickly from intense training but for the average amateur recreational athlete or keep fit enthusiast without a long exercise history, it is unlikely that they would be able to tolerate more than 2-3 intense sessions per week and recover adequately to ensure progression and not regression through overtraining. Two hard sessions per week is probably the optimum for most.

This being the case, why do I hear instructors telling people to always work harder and treat exercise as necessary pain so that they can eat more chocolate or drink more wine etc? This is just total bullshit and frankly irresponsible. 

We should instead be working WITH our bodies (and minds) to encourage gradual, sustainable adaptation, with a mix of intense targeted training which is specific to our goals and a majority of sessions that promote gentle recovery.

There you go, rant over!

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