In discussing less exercise, we need to be very mindful of what we are referring to because there are two different variables involved.
Less exercise could mean rest periods, of about 2 per week, which is needed for recovery from training and allows for the growth and repair of muscles.
When you believe that less training is only a couple of training sessions per week, this isn’t ideal. If you want to reach a certain point in your practice, and change your body shape, you have to make an effort to train at least four times a week.
The dangers of overtraining
Overtraining can affect blood levels of essential neurotransmitters, like glutamine, dopamine and 5-HTO, which can lead to depression and develop into chronic fatigue. There is also a possibility of developing hypothyroidism, which is an environment for weight gain.
Another symptom of overtraining is a compromised immune system, leading to constant colds, flu and infections that persist over time. When the body is under stress, it cannot fend off any pathogens, which can affect the quality of your life.
Other forms of acute cortisol responses, due to excessive exercise, can be sleep disturbances, digestive issues, weight gain and brain fog.
Please also note that excessive cortisol is a fat accumulator, and it’s known to encourage more fat stores in the abdomen. This tends to be a massive problem among many people.
Four ways to avoid overtraining, and get the most out of your workouts
- Get enough rest. Try your best to sleep 7–8 hours a night, sit down when you are tired, have a nap if you can. Sleep disturbances alone can cause mental fog, moodiness and inability to focus. It also makes the day go by slower, making you more prone to depression and anger. Take some magnesium to relax your muscles and try to spend at least an hour winding down before you embark on sleep.
- Reduce the frequency and duration of your training. Training for more extended periods, every day or twice a day, will not assist you in weight loss or bodybuilding goals. HIIT is great for fat loss, only a couple of times a week, for 20–30 minutes. Forty-five minutes to 1-hour training is optimal. More will be counterproductive and result in muscle loss.
- Alternate between high and low-intensity exercise. If you are feeling somewhat tired, why not walk instead of forcing yourself to run. If you feel energised, try some circuit training. Mix it between exercises such as yoga, Pilates, or even some meditation. These are perfect recovery type exercises that are not too intense, and allow you to do some form of activity that will increase your happiness and body awareness.
- Keeping carbs low is fine, but you do need to cycle them regularly. Low carb too often leads to increases in cortisol levels and negatively impacts your immune system. If you are not sure which carbs to have, fill up on organic oats in the morning, and sweet potato as well as basmati rice during the day. Have a “one day on, one day off” strategy. When you train intensely, eat your carbs, when not, take all the carbs you need from vegetables only. This is an outstanding balance that provides your body with what it needs, while also eliminating cravings and lethargy (which results from lack of carbs long term)
You will be surprised at your results when you exercise less, and rest more, allowing your diet to do all the work for you. Exercise should enhance your life, your physique and energy, not hinder it.
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