There is a monster out there destroying people’s ability to reach their fitness goals. It is ugly, scary and in disguise. It drains the lifeblood out of your training. It forces you to overeat. And it messes with your mind causing you to do things you know are wrong.
Do you want to know what this horrible monster is? Are you sure you are ready for it? Ok, here it is. ENTHUSIASM!!!!! Yup, petrifying isn’t it?
No, I haven’t lost my marbles….well, in regards to this anyways.
See, enthusiasm causes you to do too much too soon. There is a training metric that says you should not increase training volume by more than 1%-3% per week. 3% is for elite athletes. 1% is for average Joe’s like You and me.
So, let’s say you are starting a brand new running program from scratch. In other words, you are going from not exercising at all to beginning a running program. And, you decide to run a mile the first week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And let’s say you completed that. What do you usually do in week two? Most people try to “bump it up a bit.” So, they might run 1.5 miles the second week. Does that sound reasonable to you?
That is a 50% increase in training volume!!!!! And I just told you that the metric is 1%-3%, right? Dude, that is way too much! Even if you did 1.25 miles it would still be a 25% increase in training volume.
Why is the metric only 1%-3%? Because it has been shown that injuries and overtraining increase dramatically when you go above 3%.
Overtraining causes many symptoms; no zip during training, early fatigue, trouble sleeping, decrease in drive, increase in hunger etc. So, although you can physically “survive” these workouts they will eventually (usually within a couple of weeks) cause a change in your hormonal system. This change will cause you to eat everything in sight and make you despise exercise.
Why? Because it is your body’s way of protecting you from yourself. If you are eating too little and exercising too much your body will protect you by sending signals to your brain telling you to eat more and rest more. We should be thankful to our bodies for the protective services but we need to understand this when designing a training and eating protocol.
This is exactly where MOST personal trainers earn their meddle.
And it is the cure to that two headed monster, Enthusiasm.
I find that most times I need to “pull the reigns in” on my clients. Their enthusiasm and desire to reach their goals pushes them into that overtraining and under eating cycle. They want it “yesterday.”
So today’s lesson is to avoid overtraining at all costs, progress at the right speed so your body will adapt willingly and eat enough fuel to prevent your body from going into survival mode. Be enthusiastic while training……just not when designing your training plan.