I've been reading the Facebook posts of some of my friends and fellow health nuts and I still can't get over the volume of physical activity some of them are undertaking nearly every day of the week. Interspersed between their postings of a zillion supersets of this and a bazillion reps of that are complaints about how tired they always feel...how their joints hurt...how they just can't seem to get enough REST. Well, duh.
Now, I used to subscribe to the same program. I sweated my ass off, running mile after mile of sprint intervals; I did speed rope sessions combined with various plyometrics - and this was all DURING a strength training session. But, no matter how many miles I logged or how fast I ran or jumped rope or did box jumps or all of the above simultaneously, I wasn't getting anywhere. In fact, I was only getting fatter and softer.
It wasn't until I stumbled on Leangains this past January when I discovered my problem, well, problems.
First off, my diet sucked. I ate constantly, trying to "maintain constant blood sugar" and a "humming metabolism." Little did I know that if I never went without a meal, my body would never - and I mean EVER - burn what fat it had accumulated. Do you know why?
BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE TO.
If you're constantly eating, your body will never need to look for an alternate source of energy; i.e. FAT.
So, problem #1 was rectified by intermittent fasting. I generally eat all calories between noon/1 pm and 8/9 pm and I try to stay in a set amount of calories - a deficit for now so I can enjoy the benefits of fat loss.
My SECOND problem was a combination of overtraining and wasting my time. Since I began Leangains, I've stopped all cardio (and for those of you out there who I think my heart is going to shrink up and stop working, try deadlifting 160 lbs five times when you weigh 116 and tell me how long your heart stays elevated). Then follow that with three more sets with slightly decreased increments. With 5 minutes rest between sets, my heart is elevated for more than 20 minutes on one movement alone.
But I digress...
I cut out the BS HIIT routine (while on restricted calories and high weight/low volume training) and have seen personal records EVERY week since I started. I'm going on two months now and here's how far I've come...
Then 128.....now 117
I do walking lunges with 90 lbs on my back and I can do leg extensions at 115 lbs. Oh, my standing military press is at 65 lbs last time I checked...but it's been a couple of weeks.
Anyway, here's my point. I workout less than I ever have and I have lost weight, I'm getting muscle definition in my arms, shoulders, chest, obliques, back, legs and the very beginning of my abs. I've gone from near 30% bodyfat to low 20% (no accurate method to check except my tanita scale)...
Generally, when I rest 5-7 days before repeating an exercise, I add weight with no problem. When I get antsy and push for more, I lose reps. You do the math.
So, for all of you out there trying to exercise your way out of your crappy diets, I have just two words for you:
That's right. REST. RECOVER. GROW.
When it comes to exercise, more does not necessarily mean better and your body doesn't distinguish from the stress in exercise and the stress you might feel after a bad day at the office.