How hard should I train today?

If you are anything like me, you believed the myths "no excuses" or "push harder, go longer" as the way to get leaner or fitter. I definitely bought into the mentality that the more exercising I did, the healthier and fitter I was. But really all I did was create injuries and screwed up my hormones.

Did you know that over-exercising can lead to hormonal imbalances? Hormones like testosterone and cortisol (our stress hormone) can be changed and lead to overeating and driving the body to burn muscle instead of fat. You might also notice an increase in abdominal fat, which can just create a cycle of over-exercising and under-eating.

We begin to wonder why the things we did in the past aren't working for us anymore so we add more exercise or take away more food, further creating discontent and frustration with our bodies.

In addition, not giving your body a chance to rest and recover, skipping stretching, or working the same muscle groups daily can lead to muscle strain or stress fractures. This is the story I have seen time and again from myself and others who participated in Crossfit or other high-intensity workouts.

Consistency in the gym is important to see results. Following a well-designed hypertrophy, strength, or endurance program that gradually overloads your body will give it time to adapt preventing injury or overuse. Your program should also ensure that you are training in a way that minimizes imbalances within the body.

In my Beyond Mom program, a year-long hypertrophy program for busy moms who want a sculpted physique without restriction or wasting time, there is an optional HITT (high-intensity interval training) at the end of each day. It is optional because the focus of the program is strength training which is necessary for building lean muscle and burning fat.

But HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. According to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, just two weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as six to eight weeks of endurance training.

How do you know how much HIIT you should do? If you are truly doing HIIT correctly, you are putting significant stress on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. For that reason, you can’t do it every day. How many HIIT workouts a week you can handle varies based on your current fitness level and goals, it’s generally a good rule of thumb to have at least one day of low-intensity exercise between two HIIT days.

When you approach a training session, a couple of things to keep in mind when deciding how much intensity to give is:

  1. Am I well rested or recovered from the previous training session?

  2. Have I fueled my body appropriately with food and water?

  3. Have I been sleeping well?

  4. How much stress do I have in my life and how am I coping?

  5. Are my hormones wacky? A good barometer for this is a consistent menstrual cycle.

I have created a quick quiz you can use to determine whether to add a HIIT session to your workout. Click HERE to take the quiz.

Now you are ready to sweat it out!

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