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?

Strolling past a church. East Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia. August 2019.

This morning we left Halifax to start the roughly 1,500 km drive back to our home in Ottawa. With no hotel booked, we hit the road at 7:30 intending to see how far we could make it. I thought we could make the entire drive in one go, but alas I tired sometime after Edmundston, New Brunswick, and we decided to book a room in the town of Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, roughly 800 km from our point of origin, to spend the night. That leaves a little less than half of the drive remaining tomorrow.

As expected, there’s been long bouts of sitting on this roadtrip. Today’s drive alone kept us cooped up in our car for over eight hours. As a result, we’ve made a conscious effort throughout the two weeks to walk whenever the opportunity presented itself. Whether taking a quick stroll at a bathroom stop along Highway 2, choosing to walk to dinner from our Airbnb, or the more ambitious attempt to trek home at 2 AM from the wedding we attended on Saturday; when walking was an option, we exercised it.

This trip reminded me how amazing walking can be for recovery. After the recent squat session at the GoodLife in Halifax, followed by hours of dancing at the wedding, and countless hours cramped up in a car, my legs were feeling stiff and sore. Luckily, the cure was simple and cheap; frequent, light walking.

Walking does wonders to relieve the soreness brought on by higher than normal activity. For me personally, short, frequent walks are the quickest way to reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from – as an example – overreaching on a squat day. And all this to say nothing of the mental benefits a peaceful stroll can elicit.

Do you ever notice the groups of elderly folks, often with entire families, including little children, walking in the evening? Usually just after dinner time? I’ll often notice in some neighborhoods, particularly those with larger immigrant populations from South and South East Asia, the regular practice of taking a leisurely stroll in the evening. I can’t help but imagine some of these families are just continuing what their parents, and parents before them, have been doing for generations.

Maybe they’re on to something? We know walking can help with digestion following a meal, and there’s evidence to suggest light activity following a meal can help reduce blood glucose. And it certainly helps me reduce soreness in fatigued leg muscles. Plus, if a grandmother is doing it, it’s probably good. Just saying.

This ancient, and deceptively benign, activity has powerful benefits. Avoid it at your peril.