There are various signs and symptoms of overtraining, and it is very important to take into account these factors as you embark on your fitness journey. Overtraining is a serious symptom that affects individuals who engage in very strenuous physical activity without taking sufficient recovery time between exercise bouts. Any person who constantly performs any type of physical activity that involves exhausting exercise must be aware of building up this particular syndrome.
People who typically suffer from overtraining are athletes and those who engage in high intensity styles of training daily, as well as bodybuilders who fail to take into account the benefits of ample rest time and recovery days. However, this being noted, it is important to take into account even general fitness enthusiasts may experience overtraining from time to time and thus it is important to note proper signs and symptoms. Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Fatigue and Tiredness – you may feel weak on a daily basis and have trouble concentrating on daily tasks
- Sleeplessness – difficulty sleeping at night as well as feeling restless during the day
- Joint Pain – one may get frequent pains and aches in their limbs and joints due to overuse; however if this pain subsides after a few days then typically it is only the cause of overtraining
- Poor Stamina – if you observe your workouts are deteriorating because you have to struggle hard to recover between sets this could be an indication of overtraining
- Strength Decreases – this is arguably the number one sign of overtraining. It is assumed that the longer you train the greater your strength should be; however, if ample recovery time is not allotted then it can be assumed that muscle deterioration that occurs during exercise is not recovering and allowing for new cell growth. This lack of cell growth can cause atrophy and limit an individual’s ability to generate new muscle tissue.
Thus, over training can cause various health issues and so one must be careful about exercise and physical training in abundance. Everything in moderation. The best way to moderate and account for overtraining and accomplishing a balanced physical activity regimen is to seek the advice of a trainer or physical fitness professional. They will be able to help guide you in an appropriate direction to allow for proper balance and structure to a routine to stay fit and healthy, as well as guiding you nutritionally to allow for ample protein synthesis and recovery.
It’s true when we see many of our clients in the gym the first time we explain to them that most of the actual gym equipment we have is more for show than anything. The whole idea of functional training has become the focal point of exercise for the last decade, as well it should be.
Without a doubt a dysfunctional core is one of the most common concerns we see with almost every person that comes to see us. Because of chairs, comfortable car seats and the like our body is continually supported throughout the day with very little effort. Comfort does not equal proper alignment.
By now some may be thinking, “it’s time I take that ball to work to sit on,” which is still only partially right. You see the benefit of sitting on a ball is the need to move which in turn forces the core to work, but given enough time you will find ways to sit steady, awkwardly, and nearly as dysfunctional as though you were sitting in a chair.
Your core encompasses more than your abdominal muscles, true function will consider some muscles related to the hips, the muscles that support the spine and I’d even argue the muscles of the shoulder girth.
You see the body is about balance, when one group of muscles falls out of balance the surrounding groups will also be affected. So the solution to the problem is not just strong abdominal muscles in the traditional sense but a holistic approach to exercise in general.
Here’s how you are already a fitness expert when it comes to your own body. Pay attention for this coming week and note the ten most common movements you spend a large amount of your time doing. Pay attention to the range of motion of the movement and the direction of the movement. If you simply completed 2-3 sets of 15-25 repetitions of the opposite of these movements with some form of resistance added you would be leading your body to better balance and function. In addition everyone should learn to perform a proper squat, the proper lift of a heavy object from the floor, a lunge, a shoulder retraction and spinal flexion and extension. Even a couple sessions with a qualified trainer could ensure that you spend many years pain free, happier and healthier as a result of a basic understanding of how to improve the muscular balance of your body.
Someone I recently met directed me to this video, I hope you’ll watch it, straightforward common sense that really puts things into perspective as to just how easy and how important this can be to your life. (Spoiler alert: The guaranteed secret to looking, feeling better, and living longer within and it’s super easy.)
I am going to share with you one of our absolutely most powerful training tools we use with all of our clients at One-to-1 Fitness. This one tool will take up less than 5 seconds of your time on a daily basis and I guarantee you will have an incredibly dramatic impact on your success. Aptly named we call it a Success Chart. If you have a current calendar handy than I you already have a simplified version of our Success Chart at your finger tips. Here’s how it works.
1) Set a monthly goal. We all know how goals are important but if you even doubt it for a second I just want you to envision having 15 minutes to get somewhere in down town Toronto, you know it’s not far but you don’t have a road map. Without monthly goals you are as likely to reach your fitness objectives as you are to reach your Toronto destination on time, not very. Make your monthly goal realistic and attainable, something like losing 5-6 lbs or one pant/dress size.
2) Set a daily exercise and nutrition goal for each week. Again these small goals are critical, but only if they are simple and realistic. So don’t plan to change everything tomorrow, rather simply look at your current lifestyle habits right now and decide what small steps you could make this week. An example might be if you always skip breakfast and then go out for a big lunch your weekly nutrition goal might be to always have something, anything, for breakfast and to pack a lunch a minimum of three days this week. Fitness might be to meet with a personal trainer 1-2 times or complete 3-4 different classes as well as going for a walk at least four days this week.
3) X’s but not O’s! Here’s the magic. Your Success Chart is one of the simplest and most effective types of journals. Each day you meet your nutritional goal for that day/week you draw a line diagonally through the day. If on that same day you exercise as you’ve outlined for that week then you draw the other line to make the X. At the end of each week if you’re not making progress simply look at how many X’s you have on your chart. We often don’t realize when we are off course until it’s staring us right in the face.
I know this doesn’t sound like the answer to that missing link in your nutrition, it’s not that magic tummy tucking exercise, heck it’s not even a direct plan. Though the Success Chart may be none of those things it can easily outperform them all by providing the most important component of any fitness and weight loss program, rigid, trackable, consistency.
Don’t doubt the power of this tool, trust me and try it, 3-4 weeks of mainly X’s and there is absolutely no way you will not have modified your lifestyle and experienced physical change.
In order to achieve long-term, permanent weight loss, the caloric burning effects of cardiovascular exercise are king! This is not entirely true. While cardiovascular exercise has a wide range of health benefits, it has much less effect on permanent weight control than weight-bearing or resistance exercise. Cardiovascular exercise burns calories while it is being performed as well as for a limited amount of time upon completion of the activity. Resistance training has a much more pronounced effect on the burning of calories and raising the metabolism for extended periods of time. Research has shown that load-bearing exercise can increase metabolic function for as much as 12 to 24 hours.
One of the most well understood benefits of resistance training is the fact that it can increase lean muscle mass as well as strength. As the body is put under the stress of resistance training, it adapts to this strain by increasing its capacity to do work. This can be accomplished by increasing its energy storage capacity (storing more energy inside the cells) or by increasing the amount of lean body mass or muscle tissue present. Either of these methods of compensation allows the body to be better suited to handle greater levels of physical stress. These adaptations increase the level of activity at the cellular level, burning more calories and in turn, increasing the metabolism. Simplified, the more living tissue is present in the body, the more calories the body burns in a 24 hour period.
Another significant benefit of resistance training comes in the form of increasing bone density. The human body is constantly in a state of breaking itself down and re-building itself. Our cells are always dying off as the body creates new cells and tissue. However, as we age, the hormones responsible for the growth of new tissue decline and our bodies become less prone to building new cells. As a result, bone mineral deposits decrease and bone density starts to drop, making bones weaker, more brittle and prone to breaks and fractures. It has been proven that the stress placed on the skeletal system during resistance or strength training helps stimulate the body to increase bone concentration and bone mass.
An area of resistance training which we focus on greatly with our clients is Functional Training. We tend not to focus greatly on making our clients “stronger” for the 60 minutes that we are working with them. Rather, our focus is to make our clients more functional for everyday life. We train our clients so that their bodies are more apt to facilitate every day functions like lifting, climbing, squatting, throwing, running, yard work, shoveling the walk, bending over without strain etc. This is accomplished by training our clients in a state of “un-balance” in the gym. Remember that it is impossible to train for balance unless the body is OFF-balance. Performing exercises incorporating exercise balls, stability balls, balance boards, gymnastics rings and other pieces of functional training equipment, we are able to train our clients’ bodies to be more responsive to the ever-changing stimulus of everyday life.
Strength training has also shown to be beneficial for the heart as it decreases blood pressure and lowers resting heart rate, reducing the risk for heart disease. Regular resistance training will actually help stimulate the liver to produce more HDL (good) cholesterol. It helps decrease stress levels and can help promote regular sleeping patterns.
This flu season is like none I remember. Looking at the news feed on Facebook reads like a tragic stock ticker displaying all the people who are or are afraid of catching the latest super flu. If you are not sick, you know someone who is or are bombarded with the risks and fears of the latest epidemic. As a personal trainer in Red Deer I am deeply bothered by the escalation of flu pandemics in recent years, from H1N1 and beyond to all the mass public paranoia. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way down playing the severity of the situation but sometimes our fears begin to supersede logic and some times even common sense.
In a time such as this one thing is certainly clear, as a society we’re not taking very good care of ourselves. Our body, the miraculous machine that it is, is designed to protect itself. Due to lack of maintenance many bodies are not meeting this task very well at the moment. Much like our cars we need to provide the proper fuels and regular tune ups.
With all the hoopla surrounding the flu in the world of fitness professionals we are seeing plenty of information re-circulate citing
studies demonstrating the link between moderate exercise and immune system strength and enhancement. Physorg.com began a recent article with the following, “It appears as though exercise pain does have plenty of gain when it comes to
fighting off the severe effects of the flu.”
The studies of five Iowa researches that were discussed in this article explained the results of testing in a group of mice exposed to the influenza virus. Mice that ran on a treadmill regularly for three and a half months had greatly diminished amounts of the virus within their bodies as opposed to the test group. Even a group that exercised for 45 minutes only on the day of infection still experienced diminished effects of the flu.
Another article on sportsmedicine.about.com explained how studies have shown recreational exercisers to report fewer colds once they began exercising. As quoted from the article, “Moderate exercise has been linked to a positive immune system response and a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria. It is believed that regular, consistent exercise can lead to substantial benefits in immune system health over the long-term.”
The article went on to explain that even more studies have shown the link between moderate exercise and the immune system. It is believed that exercise allows the immune cells to circulate more rapidly and kill bacteria faster. Once exercise ends the immune system generally returns to normal within a few hours, but when performed on a near daily basis there appears to be a cumulative effect to the immune system.
Now with all this being said I think it’s important to clarify what exactly this means when it comes to exercising the immune system, as the wrong exercise can have the completely opposite effect.
Generally for immune-enhancement the activity performed should be cardiovascular activity performed at a steady pace for the duration. On an effort scale of 1-10 (10 being the most difficult) it should be moderately difficult to a maximum of about a 6-7. Resistance training often has the opposite effect once you are feeling the symptoms of illness or are actually sick. Though resistance training is a very key component of good health when we are otherwise healthy, it will not be of any benefit in boosting our compromised immune system when we are sick. In fact when sick the resources required for recovery of tissues naturally damaged in resistance training may worsen symptoms or further compromise the immune system.
The moral of this story is: maintain good habits and provide regular body maintenance to live a long healthy life. (And yes guys even we need to do cardio on a regular basis.)
If you haven’t already you should try Hot Yoga. I know you don’t like stretching and I know you don’t stretch nearly enough. No I am not psychic it’s just a very obvious fact that very few of us enjoy stretching or even come close to stretching enough to maintain good muscle balance, tone and function.
Shauna Clark at the Amaryllis Centre was kind enough to provide us with a staff and family class night to introduce many of us to the benefits of Hot Yoga. I’m sure you’ve heard of Hot Yoga by now as it’s become a fairly common buzz word these last few years.
Hot Yoga is just as it sounds, Yoga in a very warm room, usually in the neighbourhood of 37-40 degrees Celsius. Now if the thought of doing any kind of exercise in a room that warm frightens you you’re not alone, both my wife and I don’t generally function well for extended periods in a hot environment. However the heat of the Yoga studio didn’t bother me at all and I am sure you will find the same as long as you drink ample amounts of water prior to your class.
As a fitness professional I’ve referred many clients to Yoga classes throughout the years to compensate for the missing stretching from our North American lifestyles. You see the average adult should really be stretching for 20-30 minutes per day to maintain normal muscle balance and tone. If we did I suspect both Advil and Tylenol would teeter on the verge of bankruptcy. Our lifestyles thanks to chairs, computers, ergonomic everything and long work hours have made pain a normal part of life. Our body is built with opposing pair muscle groups that allow us to perform all of our movement miracles. But as time goes on technology continues to reduce movement in trade for efficiency and we find ourselves only performing a few movement patterns day in and day out. Less but more repetitive movements leads ultimately to pain, exercise and stretching are critical if you wish to enjoy a long, healthy pain free life.
If you dislike stretching as much as the rest of us than Hot Yoga can provide many benefits for you. The heated room really enhances circulation, super circulation leads to much faster progress in developing flexibility and muscle balance. Additionally the elevated body temperature will lead to swift and effective detoxification as well as a major metabolic boost, among other benefits.
As a final word the detail oriented personal trainer side of me feels it’s critical to mention the one drawback to Yoga like most exercise disciplines is that it doesn’t consider you as an individual or you specific movement patterns, though I do find it to be nicely well rounded. Also remember like any discipline not all instructors are equal, we really have a great relationship with Shauna and endorse her facility fully but make sure you feel comfortable with who you’re working with. Besides we know you’re not going to stretch anyways so the best program is the one you will actually do. I don’t believe Hot Yoga should be the only form of exercise you do but do recommend you give it worthy consideration to become a regular part of your total exercise program. You never know you might even see me in a class or two because I don’t like stretching either.
The key to success at just about anything in life is consistency. You do just about anything often enough you are either going to get better at it or achieve the desired result. This is very much one of the core values of exercise and nutrition to reach any goal. For example let’s take weight loss. A common misconception amongst those trying to achieve substantial weight loss is the idea of burning calories. It’s fairly common knowledge that a pound of bodyfat is equivalent to about 3500 calories. Now our keen sense of logic kicks in and makes us rationalize that if we were to burn an additional 3500 calories through exercise than we should lose a pound of fat. Accordingly the same logic would apply to nutritional restriction; if we restrict our bodies from 3500 calories over the course of a week logic would suggest that we would lose an additional pound of fat. Unfortunately our body does not work on such simplistic mechanics.
Major increases in energy expenditure and nutritional restriction may at first produce good results when it comes to weight loss but it’s almost certain that these results will not be lasting. As fitness professionals we will attempt to teach you that it’s not about the immediate action you take but rather about the cumulative effect. Let’s take exercise for example. When we complete a cardiovascular exercise with a sustained elevated heart rate for a period of time after a while our body responds with a cascade of hormones that elevates our metabolic rate. Once this occurs continuing to exercise at the same intensity will burn more calories but not have significant further effect on metabolism. This elevated state of metabolism slowly begins to decrease back to the previous but over a span of hours. (This period of elevated metabolism can also be further lengthened with the addition of an effective weight training program completed on a regular basis. The effective use of weight training creates a further complimentary hormonal cascade that provides additional enhancement to your metabolism.)
So the key to weight loss is consistency. It’s common for us to have someone explain that they diligently complete long cardio sessions but only a couple times of week. We’re always busy so it makes sense that on certain days you would just make a bigger commitment and get it out of the way, unfortunately this is not nearly as effective. If you are someone routinely completing 60 minutes of exercise 3 days per week I can guarantee that your results will be dramatically increased by reducing to 20-30 minutes per day for 6 days per week. Mathematically you could burn the exact same number of calories but it’s not about the number but rather the cumulative effect.
When it comes to exercise I can say with a great deal of certainty we all need to do it. Our bodies are designed to move and increasing our fitness level will ensure we look younger, live longer and feel better through the duration of life. The second thing that is certain is that life is full of many commitments that usually prevent us from allotting time and energy to some of the things we need to do. This is a common excuse I hear for a lack of regular exercise. I believe that we are all creatures seeking instant gratification and with that lies some of the frustration of an exercise program. As a consumer we are faced with a lot of options. These options usually come with promises and guarantees, and yet sometimes they still don’t deliver. If you’ve experienced this maybe it’s because there wasn’t a good fit between you and the program. Or maybe it’s that most programs lack the ability to address individuals concerns rather than a group concern.
When it comes to living a long healthy life that includes regular activity we all go through three different stages:
Activity – Regular movement is just becoming part of your life, it’s painful and un-enjoyable at best but you know it needs to be done. This is the activity stage, where any activity will do, a walk around the block, a slight jog, a few push ups or pretty much any form of movement. Generally in this stage the individual just needs to have control of the time and intensity of the activity as you may or may not be capable of a lot.
Fitness – In this stage it’s about more than regular activity, it’s about an increased challenge or output that produces a greater feeling of well being. Upon entering the fitness stage you will feel physical improvement regularly from exercise.
Training – Very closely related to the fitness stage this is where it becomes confusing. Once people start feeling reasonably well they expect to be able to participate in a regular exercise program and attain a specific outcome and this is what I call the training stage.
It’s between the fitness and training stage where I see a lot of individuals are stuck. It’s in this stage that we are often attracted to consumer exercise programs, gadgets and ultimately fads. Maybe you find yourself in this situation now where you are looking for the exercise program to take you to that specific result. (ie. Weight loss, cardio fitness, less aches and pains, more flexibility, etc) There is certainly lot’s to choose from ranging from things like: pilates, yoga, aerobics, boot camps, spin classes, cardio kickboxing to new fads like cross fit and kettle bells. You name it and it’s out there and it may or may not produce the results you are looking for. This column is for all the people that fall into the “these fad programs have not produced the result I was looking for” category.
In order to provide specific results an exercise program must be tailored to an individual by addressing the different aspects of our lifestyle. For instance aches, pains, and inflexibility are largely related to repetitive activity and the wonders of modern life such as chairs, computers, keyboards, mice and other things that put us in similar stationary body positions for long periods of time. Body fat is a result of too much processed foods, too little water, poor sleeping habits and a misunderstanding of the importance of macronutrient balance. But all of these things vary greatly from individual to individual. So much so that using the same exercise program that provided excellent results for your best friend might wind up creating more problems for you. When looking at an exercise program consider not the difficulty or frequency of the program but how much time and attention is given to assess you as an individual. We all need to stretch, we don’t all need to stretch the same things, we should all perform resistance exercise to improve posture and bone density but you will need different exercises than I do. Your nutritional needs are likely different than your neighbours. Considering these options will ensure far less disappointment and time wasted on an exercise program that doesn’t produce the result you are looking for. It may also cross a number of options off the list.
Not always but quite commonly over the years when I’ve had clients that experienced frequent headaches or shoulder pain their posture has been a strong contributor. If you stand normally with your profile to the mirror and glance to your side you might notice a few things. You might notice that your chin seems to stick a little forward of your body, or perhaps appears to be tucked in. You might notice your ear seems to sit significantly forward of the boney tip of your shoulder, that your shoulders appear to be quite rounded forward and maybe your upper back may have a slight hunched appearance to it. Until reading this you may never have noticed this before and now that you are aware you may notice these same instances pretty commonly in the people around you.
These physical cues describe a common posture type called Kyphodic posture. Now there is no such thing as perfect posture, there is only the constant effort and awareness to improve or maintain a more ideal posture. It’s amazing that we walk around upright for decades, gravity providing a constant force on our bodies attempting to pull us closer to the earth. You might not notice its effects each day but much like the story of the tortoise and the hare over time the forces of gravity overcome our ability to stand tall the way we did as a child or in younger years.
Kyphodic postural development is greatly influenced by our typical lifestyle. Our life is full of forward motion, full of activity and resistance in front and ahead of us. By completing movements and patterns so much in one direction or in one plane we upset the delicate balance of our muscles. Each time a muscle is used (even for the sake of movement without any significant effort or exertion) it must contract. Each time a muscle contracts it shortens and, unless special attention is given to extending it fully after to the point of stretch, it eventually doesn’t return to its original length.
Short, tight muscles with the assistance of gravity then lead us to the different posture types and those aches, pains and injuries that many assume are an unavoidable by-product of activities of yesteryear.
The truth is most chronic pain is avoidable, and if you are currently experiencing pain (such as regular headaches and shoulder pain) it can quite possibly be eliminated with an effective exercise plan. The simple explanation of how to exercise for these situations is to again look in the mirror. If the ear is forward of the shoulder we need to work to pull it back. You may notice by pulling the shoulders back, lifting the chest, tucking the butt in a little and lastly just slightly elevating the chin that your overall profile improves. You likely also notice that it’s not very comfortable to stand like that for long. Take note of the specific areas that you felt discomfort, that feeling is quite likely your body attempting to fire some very weak muscles. By completing movements for those joints with resistance in the same direction you needed to adjust your profile you can begin to strengthen or shorten the weak muscles. At the same time by completing these patterns you will begin to stretch the muscles you have been shortening daily for years. Hopefully this helps you gain an understanding as to why you might experience headaches, shoulder pain or even pain in other areas. A qualified personal trainer can help you further evaluate and recommend specific exercises to help you improve your posture and eliminate pain.