QUESTION: Do I need to train hard to get results?
ANSWER: It depends.
Figuring out your goals and nailing your reason why helps; also having an idea of where you want to be in the future. One of the key reasons people don’t reach their fitness goals is a lack of consistency. So how do you need to change your training in order to continue being consistent – not just now, but in the long term so you don’t end up back at square one?
There are many ways to exercise
For example, if your goal is weight loss and/or to improve your fitness, you could:
Train hard most days – you will get results faster but MAY end up burned out in the process if you don’t recover adequately or do a split programme. This could affect mood/hormones/energy levels/injury potential/immunity etc.
Train hard some days – This is what most people do when they get into the gym. You can get results from this and it allows better for recovery, but these workouts still often take a hit when you get sick or injured and because you’re not training every day, there’s not a daily routine in place for habit creation so it’s easier to skip workouts or hit a plateau.
Train less intensely most days – your results will likely happen slowly and you’re more likely to hit a plateau, but you’re also more likely to show up and do the workout even if you’re low on energy or feeling average.
Do a mix of workouts that are difficult on some days and less intense on others – for weight loss it can really help to get into a ‘being regularly active’ mindset. If you’ve got energy to give, use it! If you have no energy, be kind to yourself and do something gentle like restorative yoga to help you recover while still moving your body.
Then other things come into the mix. Whenever we exercise there’s some degree of injury risk. Low impact obviously comes with less risk than high impact/intense training. If you do high impact activity all the time for exercise, what would you do tomorrow if you got injured? This has happened to a number of my clients in the past who were runners and they’ve struggled to find their alternative exercise.
Training hard can give you a huge sense of achievement and if you’re doing resistance training you can burn calories for up to 8 hours after a short kick-arse workout. For lower impact training you might have to do a longer session to impact your results, but your recovery time will be quicker so your body will be ready to do it more often.
So what should you do?
Try to aim for a mix of different exercise options across the board – some resistance to strengthen bones and tone muscle, some cardio to strengthen the heart and the lungs, and a low energy option like slow flow yoga or stretches for the days in between/recovery. Give it what you’ve got when you have energy, actively aim to build your energy up when you have none. Oh yeah – and make sure it’s exercise you enjoy or you won’t stick to it (bonus points if it’s social as it will be more fun and interactive!)