My own stress and recovery management

We currently live in a society where more is more and every one wants to achieve more things at a faster rate. With this framework in mind, we may believe that if one hour of exercise is good, then two must be better, with that same logic four must be even better. It’s an ego filling activity to say that you’re grinding and out working everybody else.

So, I took it upon myself to speed up my training results by training six days a week. I didn’t notice right away, but what was happening was my body was not recovering properly, my lifts weren’t going up and I wasn’t actually getting stronger. I did feel as though I was being productive in the gym and being able to say I worked out six days a week, for a total of 10-12 hours was pretty cool.

Seeing a lack of progress, the next logical conclusion was to start training twice a day a couple of days a week. This is where I really stalled. Keep in mind that, I also work a full time day job and a night job once a week. In my head, more was more and if the Rock can get away with only sleeping five hours a night, I could easily do this with six to seven hours of sleep. Ridiculous plan, I know now, but you can rationalize anything in your own head.

This lasted for about eight weeks and thankfully, nothing crazy detrimental happened. However, this is the list of things that I did notice occur:

  • My main lifts were stalling
  • General lethargy over a day, even with eight hours of sleep
  • Increase in overall soreness and little pains
  • No excitement to train
  • Every workout felt like a struggle
  • I was gaining weight, even though I was also controlling calories

Because I had so many hours in the gym, my training was all over the place, I was rowing for 30+ minutes, doing weighted carries, high volume, heavy weights, hypertrophy style training, whatever I could think of, I did. Definitely another variable to consider, when assessing the negative outcomes.

So I eventually decided to go back to training once a day and within the week, I experienced an overall improvement in mood. Although a week later I caught a cold and had to institute a couple of rest days. About four weeks post-two-a-days and for the last two weeks I’ve been training four days a week.

This looks like a way more reasonable way to train and the great thing is that it’s a night and day difference between two a days and four days a week. I’m looking forward to workouts. I don’t feel as lethargic during the day. Most importantly I’m making improvements in my lifts.

The big difference I have observed that I think has led to the improved performance is the ability to increase my effort within each workout. By reducing the frequency with which I am training, I’ve been able to increase the intensity of each season.

What does this all stem from? The body’s ability to recover. We all have different lives. And our body’s can only cope with so much stress and I think by training twice a day I was putting my body in a high state of chronic stress and wasn’t able to achieve anything other than fatigue. Stress has to be specific and recoverable for it to be productive, as Jordan Feigenbaum likes to say, lighting yourself on fire is a huge amount stress, but will do nothing for your squat max.

This is just another data point in my training that is shaping my training regime. I tried two a days back in my uni days and from what I remember, I had a similar negative experience. What works for me might not work for you, as everybody is different. We all also lead different lives, maybe if I didn’t have 1.1 jobs and had my nutrition on point twice a day workouts would be beneficial. Maybe I’m making excuses for not embracing the grind. Whatever your conclusion may be, mine is that with my current life and training state, two a days just isn’t optimal. Four days a week is a great balance and since my lifts have been increasing, I can’t argue with that.

Maybe this isn’t the most optimal way to improve my training. However, being able to compare not only how I feel, but how my lifts are progressing, I’m concluding that I need more rest and time to recover.

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