So you have been training your ass off at the gym. You are making good gains, you have gained muscle, are stronger and look better. The twenty-something year old chick at the food store can’t get her eyes out of you despite you wear your wedding ring highly visible. Your other areas of life are going pretty good too. Life could not be better.
Then one day you go as usual to the gym. You are jacked, wanting to continue with the progress you are making hitting the weights. You start your first exercise, it doesn’t go very well. You chalk it up to not being concentrated enough and move to the second exercise yet you get two reps less than scheduled for that exercise. You start worrying. Do the third exercise and you get 4 reps less than you expected. Your back suddenly starts hurting because you really had to kill yourself to do those less than optimal reps. What the deuce? You decide to call it a day and head off home. Thing is, next time you go and workout, the exact same happens and by now not only your back is aching but your elbows and knees too.You also feel tired, despite sleeping 10 hours per day, and you find yourself with chronic low mood.
At one time or another, if you are training hard and making improvements in the gym, you will go through this scenario. The body can only continue adapting to the imposed physical stress of weight training for so long and, once it gets to that stage, it will then need extra time to be allowed to recover. This is why you should not be training everyday and why you should schedule days off intelligently when you are on the verge of hitting a stage like the one previously mentioned. If you are following my Manly Strength training program, then you have your rest periods already scheduled and described for you but if you are following other workout programs, you are best off learning to listen to your body so as to be able to hint when more rest is needed.
Continuously squatting heavy will do wonders for your body but will require taking breaks from training as suited
If you any have any of the first three anomalies from the following list (1-3), take a whole week off from any training (including cardiovascular exercise). If, instead, you have only one from 4-10, take three days off but if you have more than one from the same range, take a week off.
1) You haven’t progressed in your workouts for three consecutive weeks.
2) You have pain, with or without inflammation, which makes performing an exercise painful (see a doctor too).
3) You have lost an inexplicable amount of body weight without purposely intending to (when accompanied by inexplicable nervousness).
4) You have been sleeping over eight hours each night for a whole week and you are feeling fatigued.
5) After a week of not looking forward to your workouts, you continue with the loss of motivation and drive.
6) Your joints are aching (not painful) when you are not exercising.
7) You feel more soreness than usual which makes lifting much more difficult than you would otherwise expect (except if the soreness is from resuming your training from taking days off).
8) You are having to rely, more than usual, on using stimulants such as coffee or energy drinks to be able to train with intensity.
9) You have been losing sleep for a whole week despite nothing in your life has changed (e.g increased job or family demands).
10) You haven’t felt mentally good after finishing each workout day for the last 6 consecutive workouts.
I am all for training with intensity and training outside of one’s comfort zone. Heck, that is the way any serious weight trainer has to lift. However, other than training hard, one must train smart, which means backing off when necessary. Learn to know when your body needs some rest and I can assure you that you will be milking progress long-term.
All the best,