So many of us jump into weight loss with an iron-clad determination that this is it, this is the time we will lose that weight for good. We join a gym, start working out for an hour, maybe even a few hours a day. We push our body to the limit… often the same body that hasn’t been for so much as a 15 minute walk in the last month is now being forced into some rather brutal workouts.
So what’s the problem with this?
Our bodies are designed to deal with stress, it’s true. In fact that’s how our muscles grow, get stronger. There is a small amount of damage that occurs within muscles when you exercise (which is a form of stress), and your body then repairs itself and plus some.
In order for muscles to do this, however, they need both the fuel in the form of carbohydrate and protein to use as building blocks for repair, as well as time to heal.
Training for too long, or too frequently, can cause more damage than the body is able to cope with, and instead of muscle getting stronger and fitter, it goes the other way and starts to deteriorate.
So how can you keep up a challenging workout schedule and make serious progress without putting yourself at risk of the overtraining effect? It all comes down to a little trick, in the form of a “rest” week.
Rather than a rest week being one where you drop down to zero workouts, instead a rest week is where instead of increasing the duration/resistance/intensity of your workout like you did last two weeks, you drop back to the duration/resistance/intensity of the week before.
The total stress, or load on muscles is less and so repair and regeneration can occur, and you will be ready to up your game again the next week. A typical 12 week cycle might be…
Week 1: 5kg
Week 2: 6kg
Week 3: 7kg
Week 4: 6kg
Week 5: 7kg
Week 6: 8kg
Week 7: 9kg
Week 8 : 8kg
Week 9: 9kg
Week 10: 10kg
Week 11: 11kg
Week 12: 10kg
While this is deliberately simplistic, it shows the basic idea of how to structure your training schedules. It’s always a good idea to get medical clearance before starting any new exercise routine, and start off gently at first and make gradual increases that your body can handle. You might be surprised just how fit you can get in a relatively short amount of time!