Is doing more helping or hindering your progress?
You know this whole building lean muscle and losing weight thing is fundamentally simple when you look at what is actually required to achieve said goals. But implementing it around your life is a whole other thing. In many aspects of life we’re told to work harder for better outcomes, do more work for more success, study harder, learn more - just do more and you’ll succeed. But what if I told you one of the best kept secrets for the aforementioned goals, that isn’t sexy enough to get much airtime out there… doing less.
I’ve said it before, but my best physique and strength ever came from doing 3 training sessions a week. Why? Because I striped out the unnecessary bs, and focussed on what mattered - ensuring I was stimulating the muscle enough for growth (volume, exercise selection, frequency and intensity), and my stress was managed better due to spending less time training. Revolutionary.
If I asked you the best way to lose weight, most of you would probably say to do:
- More training
- More cardio
- More steps
- More volume
- More sessions
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not saying these things are inherently bad, but if you’re someone who struggles to fit 5 session in a week, chances are you’re busy, stressed, feeling inadequate and like your goals are impossible. OR if you’re someone working your ass off and seeing no change.. I’d say it’s time to consider doing LESS.
It feels counterintuitive, shouldn’t we do more to overcome a plateau? But the body is clever, it knows when too much is too much and it won’t do the things it’s “meant” to do when you follow the process.
I like to use the analogy of a mobile phone - every time you train, you lose battery, if you don't recharge your battery, you won't be able to operate at your best, with your brightest light (aka get stronger & build lean muscle). The saying, you can only train as hard as you rest is accurate. Because if you’re under recovered, what’s going to happen?
- Your energy will be lower
- Which will lead to your weight lifted decreasing
- Your technique will suffer
- As a result you won’t be improving either metric
- Thus you won’t be building any lean muscle
- You can even go backwards if you’re not repairing the damage done from training your body can burn through muscle in an attempt to recover
Now that you know the importance of resting, let’s chat about what that looks like:
Aim for at least 1-2 days per week for rest days and try implementing some of these habits for optimal recovery in between sessions!
🤎Sleep: you should be aiming to get 7-9 hours of deep sleep for optimal recovery and general health and wellbeing! Try turning your phone off before bed and reading or meditating to ensure you’re winding down before shut-eye. Shift-workers and mums, we see you and know you’re doing the best you can!
🤎Stretching: Try foam rolling or stretching your body pre, intra, and post-session to recover those sore muscles.
🤎Nutrition: It’s important to be fuelling your body all the time, even more so when you’re someone who trains. Ensuring you’re getting sufficient protein to aid recovery and muscle repair, as well as fats for hormone support and carbs for energy. If you’re eating in a deficit recover becomes even more important for you. Magnesium is a great supplement to take to help with recovery too.
🤎Hydration: A simple way to workout how much we should be drinking everyday is your body weight (in kgs) multiplied by 0.033, which is give or take, the following amount- 60kg = 2 litres, 75 = 2.5 litres, 90 = 3 litres, 105 kg = 3.5 litres, etc. This should be increased by 500ml for every hour of exercise.
🤎Active Recovery: If you're someone who struggles to rest, try some active recovery. A yoga flow or a quick walk will get the blood pumping to those sore muscles and aid your recovery in no time!
🤎 Sauna + Massage: If you have the means to, try jumping in the sauna for 15 minutes or taking an ice-cold bath. You could also book a treat-yourself massage or a recovery session with your physio, your body will be thanking you!
Remember you should be resting as much as you should be training, if not more! Make sure you’re listening to your body, rest when you can and never feel guilty for taking a day off the gym, I promise you, your body will be very grateful. The last thing we want is to be overtraining and not making those gains that we want!