How longer & intense workouts affect your body.
Training variation is an advantage for anyone, and something I do not see a lot of in the gym.
Most people get stuck in a rut regarding their training regime, implementing the same thing day in and day out.
Varying your intensity as well as your workout duration is a great strategy. When our bodies begin to plateau, throwing in a few sessions per week of either, can help make that necessary shift.
The lowdown on intensive training
Intense training is a terrific way to see fast, visible results with strength and body composition.
This training also helps you to get leaner while increasing your muscle mass at the same time.
The bad news about this kind of training is that taking it too far is also quite easy!
This leads to overtraining, and injury.
I went through this for years as a figure competitor.
The extremely intensive workouts, coupled with the low-calorie eating, sent my body into burnout.
Fortunately, these phases don’t last a long time, but they can interfere with your emotional and mental state.
Sometimes you can go from loving to train every day, and relishing in the intensity of the workouts — to completely hating the gym and becoming somewhat depressed and withdrawn. It’s a sign to take a well-needed break and permit yourself to recover for as long as needed.
Not every one of us will experience these states, but it’s important to note that intense training for long periods can increase your cortisol levels and decrease your chances of putting on any muscle.
To bypass this, aim for an intensive workout only once per week, BUT always ensure you are up to date with your nutrition. That means eating the right amount of protein, fats, and carbs while allowing for rest periods.
Don’t skip carbs as you will need them. I was always bypassing any carbohydrates for fear of becoming bloated and putting on weight. Our bodies need these nutrients to repair and recuperate the muscles and skeletal system.
We must weigh the pros and cons of nutrition and our goals.
Be aware of prolonged muscle soreness.
I want to touch on the potential of intense training that produces ongoing muscle soreness and inflammation.
Sometimes you might find that the soreness’s intensity does not go away for a week or more.
It’s something to pay close attention to!
When you keep inflammatory factors building up, it keeps tissue from regenerating and adapting. Instead of your body becoming stronger and more muscular in shape, you just become weaker, and your performance drops off.
Extended workouts are best for strength-building.
Because you are lifting very heavyweight during a set, you will need an optimum time to recover and repeat that for your chosen set number.
This training can take 1–2 hours, and again, as high intensity should be limited to once or twice a week.
Adequate recovery time is needed too because heavy loads can increase your susceptibility to injury. Therefore proper nutrition is also a key factor.
I like to make sure I’m always well hydrated with a nutritional backing behind me. You will need as much energy as you can muster. Sleeping well and eating right is key to getting results from this training.
I’m quite time poor with my workouts, and during peak hour in the gym, it’s sometimes hard to allow that much time for any piece of equipment.
Therefore, I save these sessions after a day of high-calorie consumption. This is usually after a public holiday (yes, I get to the gym before, during and after these times lol).
When you are on holidays, things tend to be more relaxed; you may indulge in some extra food and get a bit more rest.
That means more intense and focused sessions in the gym. Use up this time effectively!
When it’s time to return to the office, I will be subject to brain drain, late nights and perhaps lots of overtime and stress. These factors can inhibit my energy levels, so I play it by ear and do what I can.
One last point
Men and women recover differently from training.
Women have a slower recovery of muscle after training and do not regain strength to the same degree as men do.
Women can also experience muscle swelling and inflammation that persists longer.
Men, on the other hand, have a higher inflammatory response than women. They can recover a lot faster than women.
This is partly due to men being familiar with resistant training and applying more muscle force than women in physical activity.
They have already accumulated a degree of muscle mass, whereas women may not.
As women progress and become more consistent with training, they will find it’s surpassed.
The takeaway is that women may need more time than men to recover from strength training.
My best touchpoint here is to always listen to your own body, and be the detective. Are you exhausted today?
Can you skip the gym and have a nice, long walk in the park instead?
If we listen to our bodies a lot more, then they will make our homecoming wonderful.
What is your favourite kind of workout? Please feel free to comment below.