STOP WORKING OUT!! Yes you! You over-caffeinated, push-yourself-to-the-limit, closet A-type personality, fitness disaster-in-waiting. Stop it!
Is this a weird thing for a personal trainer to say? Not really, and here’s why…
We all love to push ourselves to the limit, in life, in fitness and in the gym. But we seem to forget about the body maintenance that goes along with the thrill of pushing it to the edge and chasing fitness goals. Pushing your exercise limit every day without upkeep is going to lead to injury. Period. Maybe not tomorrow, the next day, or even a year from now… but that major, or nagging, injury will come to haunt you. Unless you are one of those freak individuals (you’re not) who never seems to get injured, you can be left with a nagging injury.
The best ways avoid injury (and keep progressing) when it comes to your fitness:
- Have a solid fitness plan with rest periods
- Yoga or stretch 2-4 days a week
- Foam Rolling
- Cross Training
- Sleep and recovery
Let’s break down all these points below…
Periodized Training (Have a plan and chart your plan)
- Progress things harder every week… gradually. Whether you are a cardio sweat master or a weight lifting fiend, progression is the key!
- Have an ‘off week’ every four-five weeks. This off week is goal dependent, of course, and does not mean you do nothing. It just means you dial it back a notch. After this down week is over you progress through another 4 hard weeks again — just slightly more intense this time.
- Have recovery days as well as hard training days put into your plan every week. I have put some suggestions below (yoga, massage and foam rolling) in regards to what I mean by a recovery day. These are days where the heart rate stays low!
- Getting personal training is a great way to have a strict plan with hard weeks and easier weeks… it is their job to know your limits and have a plan in place for you! (If you are in Vancouver stop by Rep1 Fitness, we can take care of this for you!)
Yoga (stretch): Plan these days as part of your periodization. Can yoga be a training day? Why not?? If you are so OCD that you can’t take a rest day, then go to a yoga class. This will not only force you to stretch, but you might actually breathe and slow down for an hour.
Massage: Let your local RMT find those trigger points or dig into those large muscles. There is nothing quite like being wrung out by a professional after several weeks of hard training… so go get one! I give you permission. You need it and deserve it! OR…
Foam Rolling: The poor man’s massage. Buy a foam roller and read this Foam Rolling article to know what to do with. Use it pre-workout or post. It’ll hurt but you’ll love it after! (note to you A-types… you have to relax into it and be gentle applying pressure)
Cross-training: Cycle,cycle, cycle; run, run, run; and lift, lift, lift. We do what we like and we keep doing what we like. Your body needs change. Not only to keep from over-training (a very nasty word, this one) but to shock the body and progress. It also gives those overused, beat-down muscle groups a chance to rally because you are using them in a different way. After several months of doing your favorite sport/training, switch to something new for a short period. Cycling season is over and you still have the cardio itch? Go hit the Grouse Grind… that’ll scratch that itch for you!
Sleep and recover: There is a reason that major sports teams chart all their players’ sleep patterns: the studies on recovery and performance have been backed up a million times. So you’ve done three awesome workouts this week but you are getting less than six hours sleep a night? Well, we all know that isn’t enough. Your results will not progress and quite possibly will regress if you don’t sleep. Your ride time up Cypress isn’t improving but you’re training hills like a mountain goat? Check your recovery and sleep times. Also, if you want to really dive into the affect sleep has on performance and on athletes (everyone is an athlete!), there is a great article by Fatigue Science:
At the end of day it comes down to balancing the fine line of fitness and living the rest of your life without injury. If you choose to be the manic fitness person and just ignore the preservation of your body it will catch up with you. Honestly, this is the hardest advice to follow. It seems tough to do but personally I stretch at least 4 days a week and I get a massage at least once a month. Schedule the time and stick to it… your body will thank you with results.