One of the most common questions we get - and we get about our program in general - "Is that really all you do?" "How is it possible to see good results with these short workouts?" "Don't I need to do more."
The answer is simple.
The only reasons why you should be doing any extra training or programming would be because you want to, you have time to, and/or you enjoy it. Not because you think you need to in order to see results!!
“But I’m working out every day, twice a day, doing endurance, strength and the class workout and I’m still not losing weight or seeing the results I want. Why isn’t that working for me?”
Results are not an outcome of “more.” Your results will come from consistency and pushing intensity, pushing YOUR physical and psychological tolerances, and what that means for you, personally.
So, what does all of that mean? How do you know you’re working out with enough intensity?
Intensity is relative to the person. Let’s use an example of running. Let’s say your PR mile time is ﬁve minutes, and my PR mile time is seven minutes. If you go on a seven-minute mile run but have the ability to run a ﬁve-minute mile, that seven-minute mile is not going to make you ﬁtter. It’s super comfortable for you, it’s slower than what you’re capable of, it’s not pushing your physical and psychological boundaries. It’s not going to make YOU better. If I go out on a run and do a seven-minute mile and my best effort is a seven-minute mile, that’s pushing my boundaries and what I’m capable of. That ﬁve-minute mile may be higher up on the leaderboard than the seven-minute mile - but here you can see why that doesn’t matter. What matters is if you gave an effort that pushed YOUR physical and psychological boundaries.
What we see from people doing multiple sessions a day is that they come nowhere near those physical or psychological boundaries. If your plan for the day is to do an endurance workout, then a regular workout, followed by strength programming, you’re going to hold back and not give 100% during each session because you’ll be thinking about the next thing you need to have energy for. During that endurance workout (unless you have an insane ability to compartmentalize) you’ll be thinking, “I can’t go too hard right now or I’m going to be wrecked for the workout after this.” So, you’ll back off. Then, when you’re doing the regular workout and things start getting tough a few minutes in you’ll think, “Well I just did all that endurance training before this so it’s not a big deal if I slow down.” So, you’ll back off. You’re training at a lower percentage effort across multiple sessions rather than at 100% intensity for one session.
“100% intensity…. but don’t I need to spend more time at a lower heart rate in my “fat burning zone” to burn more fat and calories?”
It’s true that while you’re at a lower heart rate you’ll burn more fat stores WHILE participating in the actual exercise than you would in a shorter, higher intensity workout. But, after the workout is over, the fat burning stops almost immediately and there is no increase in your metabolism throughout the day. A higher intensity workout, on the other hand, is going to keep your metabolism going all day. Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (or EPOC) is the scientiﬁc term for the amount of time and effort the body needs to recover from workouts with a higher intensity effort. The more intensity you put into the workout, the higher your metabolism will be for up to 24 hours after depending on the person and the speciﬁc work out.
Also, the more ﬁt you get, the harder you can go, the more results that will come. So, consistency pays off. The more in shape you are - the more you can push - the better the results!
“But what’s the deal with all the volume that the CrossFit Games or other professional athletes get in? They train for HOURS every day!”
What people don’t realize is that these athletes are not training at this volume to get stronger. This is actually the worst way to get stronger. These athletes are training their body’s ability to recover and do multiple sessions a day because that is their speciﬁc sport. That means that they also aren't training for hours a day to lose a little body fat either. They need their body to speciﬁcally go at intensity - recover - and go again. So they MUST train that way.
You need to REST to get stronger. Gaining muscle requires you to eat enough and to recover and chill and allow your body to build. If you don’t, you’ll never give your body a chance to build more muscle that can BURN MORE CALORIES for you and give you the results you’re looking for. You need to allow your body to recover both physically and mentally so that you can put out a good effort again and again! "How do other factors like STRESS, SLEEP, and WATER play a role??"
Exercise causes physiological stress no different from a job, a relationship, or your kids. If you train too much, stressing your body over and over again without allowing that stress to lower, your insulin and cortisol levels will rise and that puts your body in a state where you’ll crave sugar.
You see, when you are under a lot of stress - from work, your kids, your relationship, not getting enough sleep or WHATEVER life is throwing at you cortisol raises. Cortisol is the "ﬁght or ﬂight" hormone that was originally designed to help us ﬂee dangerous situations (think running away from a tiger). Cortisol's job is to give you a huge uptick in blood sugar by releasing stored glucose into the bloodstream. This surge in blood sugar is meant to give you the energy you needed for that dangerous predicament. Once the stressful situation is over - insulin is released as it's job is to lower elevated blood sugar. You see, the problem is - we aren't being chased by tigers - so we don't actually USE the blood sugar when we are at work - which means it's still there when cortisol is gone. So insulin comes in. And it comes in OVER and OVER again throughout our stressful day.
Also - when we are sleep deprived, our body NEEDS energy from SOMEWHERE. Our brain and body KNOW that sugar is the most easily accessible source of sugar. This is why we crave it. However, when we eat a sugary meal and aren't active immediately after, once again we have a huge surge in blood sugar - followed by a massive dump of insulin. Over and over again - this can lead to the development of insulin resistance and chronically elevated insulin levels.
When you have chronically elevated insulin levels in your blood it is next to impossible for your body to burn fat as fuel. So, if your body is stressed all the time from. LIFE or even from working out too much trying to just do MORE, it can make it harder for you to burn fat. All that extra work and no results. Your focus should be to drink more water so your body can function properly, get more sleep, spend more time with family, do some journaling, work on any relationship problems you may have, ﬁnd time to chill. Lower the stress. The return on that investment is so much more valuable than what just training MORE would do.
We need to remember when seeking results that we can’t expect our body is going to just ﬂip a switch after a couple weeks of stress relief, healthy eating, consistency and intensity, and show us results. You need to give your body and hormones time to regulate and reverse any prior damage. You didn’t get the body that you have right now in two weeks so you’re not going to achieve the body and results that you do want in two weeks. We need to give ourselves time. We need to do less, go harder, be consistent, and be patient.
Do less better!
- Article by Miranda Alcaraz