I really enjoying training, and feed off the momentum of a disciplined regiment, but sometimes I do it too much. Usually excessive intensity without sufficient recovery.

Here’s some strategies and tactics I use to to accommodate this addiction..

My favourite room in the house.

Shorter workouts, with a limited focus.

I enjoy full body training, and still prioritize compound movements (multi-joint exercises that engage multiple muscles), but I might focus on a single compound lift certain days, giving the other lifts a break.

Instead of doing three sets of five reps on the squat, overhead press, and barbell row, I might only do squats that day, knowing full well I’m going to be drawn back to the gym the next day, and can complete the other lifts at that time.

This has a couple of benefits.

  1. Reduces the risk of overtraining.
  2. Allows me to focus on a single lift.

Regardless of how you train, some lifts will get a priority in terms of CNS (central nervous system) resources. For example, if you were to cram eight exercises into a single workout, some of those latter movements will begin to suffer, even if you didn’t explicitly work those muscles yet. The CNS impacts all.

This is relevant if your priority is to build strength. It’s not only your muscles that need to be prepared and ready to execute a heavy deadlift or squat, but also your CNS.

Assess training over multiple days, rather than each single day.

I hate taking days off, but it helps to recognize the role that recovery plays in my week’s overall progression. Recovery is necessary for growth and injury prevention. Looking at it as an extension of training is helpful, psychologically.

Leverage active recovery.

If I get a few walks in during an day off, it reminds me that I’ve done something, but didn’t interfere with the recovery process. Instead, some very light walking likely helped it.

I prioritize multiple short walks versus a single, long hike, for example. This ensures I don’t go hours on end without moving. It keeps blood flowing to my muscles throughout the day, and avoids overexertion.

In my experience, it’s far more valuable to engage in frequent, light recovery, than a single, longer session. I’ve yet to discover a more effective way to reduce the symptoms of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), than frequent, brief strolls.

Recovery Plus: Treat Yo’ Self.

I like to plan enjoyable recovery days as well. This still includes walking, but also cold exposure (cold pool, showers), sauna, stretching, and lots of healthy protein, water, salt, and anything else I might need.

Essentially, I treat myself like a pro athlete.

Recovery.

All these strategies have helped me…

✅ Reduce the risk of overtraining while maintaining momentum.

✅ Experience more enjoyable recovery days.

✅Achieve better results by ensuring my body is properly recovering and growing between strength training sessions.

Do you have any tactics that help ensure you aren’t overtraining?

View from our cottage deck. East Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia. August 2019.

I’m writing this post on a beautiful August morning outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. My wife and I are spending six nights at a cottage before attending her cousins wedding in the city. We’ve committed to enjoy this vacation without any pressure to fill our day with lame touristy itineraries, which admittedly I engage in more often than I’d like.

Despite the numerous recommendations to “absolutely see x, and make sure you visit y“, we’ve come to learn we have have much better holidays when we have no commitments and daunting checklists. Although we often fall back into the tediousness of day planning, for this trip, for this moment in time, we’re at peace with the idea of waking up with no set plans, filling our day as we see fit.

So far, our days have mostly consisted of frequent walking, lots of time spent grilling meat, dancing, and drinking. Probably too much drinking, never enough dancing.

As I type this, our favorite coffee is slowly brewing on the counter. The two of us are outside, feet up, looking eastward over what I believe to be an estuary feeding the sea, not too many kilometers away (I should probably confirm that). The light breeze coupled with 19 degree weather make this a perfect morning to lay up in a hoodie and write.

In all, this holiday will last just under two weeks. We’ll spend a few days in Halifax proper to attend the wedding, and previous to this current six night cottage stint, we spent a relaxing three nights in a small harbour town called Saint Martins in New Brunswick, a roughly five hour drive west of our current location.

Two Weeks Without Deadlifts??

I’m taking this opportunity away from home, and my beloved garage gym, to change up my training routine. While the last few months have revolved mostly around barbell training, these two weeks will be dedicated to body weight exercises, lots of walking, and some sprints sprinkled in. I’ll take the time to step away from the cult of 5 x 5 (of which I’m a strong adherent), to move into the higher repetition ranges, and hopefully, provide my body some well needed recovery along the way.

There will be a strong emphasis on push-ups. Lots of push-ups. I have a friendly competition with one of my oldest friends to see who can clock in the most within three minutes. We can attempt this record as many times as we’d like with the final number to be submitted by the end of this month. So far he’s taking me to task. 101 versus my 70. I have some work to do, and the perfect environment to do it in.

Yesterday I got in my first (and last?) hill sprint session of the trip. This exercise is quite foreign to me, and something I want to engage more frequently even after the vacation. I won’t be zealously tracking performance, but I will share my progress with the exercise should I go on to make it a staple. I only completed five rounds of hill sprints this workout, each lasting maybe twenty seconds. The hill itself wasn’t too steep, but since this reintroduction proved much more difficult than expected, that was probably for the better.

I suspect today will be a very quiet day for us. Who knows? For now, back to my coffee.