“But. . .isn’t your whole view on fitness all about training hard?”
Over the weekend I was referred to a disturbing article about hard training and the dangers of excessive exercising. If you haven’t had a chance to read this article for yourself please visit this link and read the article titled “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret”. I realize that by bringing up this article I have taken a huge risk in pissing off a lot of my Crossfit friends, but rest assured, that is NOT MY INTENT. What I DO want to discuss today are the dangers today of excessive exercise and how you can exercise strategically to avoid injury or other complications from too much exercise. There is method to the hard training madness. Failure to comply to the method will result in some not so fun things, and that’s real talk ya heard?
The article titled “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret” should serve as a point here about how exercise can become some weird sort of obsession about pushing ourselves to the beyond a reasonable limit. My longest workouts from start to finish (warm ups and cool downs included) are no longer than 45 minutes a day. I normally train 3-4 days a week. I focus on mastering my basics such as swings, get ups, and presses while incorporating some fun double kettlebell routines as well as working on my lifts for a future Level Two RKC Certification. I am lucky if I get 4 hours total of exercising in each week, but honestly, that’s all you need. In fact, you’d be better off with less exercise to suit your lifestyle and health goals. Most of my own private clients workout no more than 3 hours per week. That’s it. 3 hours per week, some of them workout even LESS. With that being said, exercise should be about improving our skills, fine tuning our bodies and becoming the strongest version of ourselves. There IS something to be said about over exerting yourself beyond what is reasonable.
Are you training yourself to the point of exhaustion? Are you more sore than ever from your workouts? Ask yourself and answer this honestly…are you on the quest for health? Or are you trying to prove something to someone?
I have read the article “Crossfit’s Dirty Little Secret” about 6 times over now, and my conclusions from this article can be summed up in a few key points.
1.) If you truly feel you must keep up the pace with the pack of your workout buddies just to prove that you can do it, stop. Stop right there and build up your fitness gradually. You will only send yourself towards injury if you are not patient with your progress. Progression is the name of the game. Remember, once you compensate your form in favor for completing as many reps as possible in a given time frame, you are setting yourself up for not just improper exercise technique, but injury as a result of poor form.
2.) Working out hard for 5 days a week is entirely too demanding on the nervous system. The reality is that most people cannot tolerate the stress of exercises that exceeds 3 days a week. That means you should really only be working out 3 days a week. If you MUST workout 5 or 6 days a week, it should be done in a manner where you workout for 20-25 minutes followed up by an additional 20-25 minutes to perform recovery methods. Specific recovery methods can be found here. Failure to recover means a failure to train. Period.
3.) Constantly beating yourself up through workouts has a psychological component to it. Did you know that you can actually become addicted to your own endorphins? Addicted here means just as addicted to your brain chemicals as an addict is addicted to hard drugs. Exercise addiction can be followed by an increased tolerance to your endorphins and withdrawal from your very own runners high or lifting high. The addiction can lead you down a dangerous path towards obsession and then the compulsive desire to exercise over and over again beyond what is normal. NOT COOL! In case you think I am making that up, read this. Not only that, but the constant need to beat yourself up over exercising is pretty psychologically demanding at the end of the day. Are you excising because you want to be strong, leaner, faster, and more powerful? Or are you exercising because you honestly can’t stand the sight of yourself? Be honest. Dig deep into your soul there and give yourself a look in the mirror. Do you love yourself and want what’s best for your health? Or are you willing to go to extremes to reach a goal that may very well harm yourself?
While Crossfit may have gained a bad reputation for it’s intense exercise programs, I believe the problem lies in This whole mantra of pushing yourself so far over the limit where your body begins to catabolize itself is not just unhealthy, but dangerous. I don’t think we can beat around the bush with this anymore. Exercise should build us up, not tear us down. Exercise should be fun, challenging within reason, and a tool to use to get us towards living a healthy life. Ask yourself, and be honest. Do you love yourself? Or are you trying to destroy yourself by reaching for impossible goals? I wonder, I really wonder how many of us are really pushing ourselves to our limit just to prove to the world that we can when really. In reality, the world would be better off with us admitting who we are, where we are at currently, and what we are intelligently doing to move towards a goal over time.
Remember to eat smart, train hard, and enjoy your life!
Janelle Pica, RKC