Friday, 27 May 2011

No days off

All the materials need for mobility WOD's
I want to turn my body into an amazing human machine, I want it to be as strong, flexible and enduring as it possibly can, I want to get better every day, AND I want to remain that way for as long as possible. I don’t want to be strong for my 20’s only to break down and burn out in my 30’s.

So what should my exercise plan be? It could be 2 on 1 off, 3 on 1 off, whenever I feel like it, any of these will work. But I want to make gains EVERYDAY, is that asking too much? Many would say "yes, that I’ll do more harm than good." But this is not so if I’m smart about it and understand what my body can do. I’m not saying exercise all out every day, or even exercise at all every day. But be doing something to better your body every day.

I doubt our pre agriculture ancestors got many days off. They didn’t work 2 on 1 off or 3 one 1 off. Almost every day they would either be hunting and/or gathering (hunt while gathering, gather while hunting) or they would be working on tools, weapons, shelter, collecting fire wood, dancing for rituals, or even just walking to see friends to socialize or playing (not cards or computer games, physical play). On occasion, when there was plenty of food and little work to be done, they might spend the day resting, sleep in, have a nap and lie around, sit and chat. They may have done this the day after intense activity such as a long walk, long hunting trip, then dragging the kill home. This gave them needed rest to repair and build muscles.

So if I want to follow this, I don’t have to do a full exercise every day. Personally I like to try to do two days per week with a third High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.) session if I get time (not sprints that’s another day). But what about the in between days? I want to be doing something then too.

So how do I work on my body every day? I try to mix it up as much as possible. Mondays I get home after dark and it’s been a long day so I don’t have time to exercise, instead I chose to do several mobility WOD’s. I’m going in order (on the mWOD website) which is great because if I do three I can often get 2 upper and one lower body, or vice versa. So I can improve my body without straining, or exercising, or requiring additional rest to recover. I also really want to work on my grip strength because I enjoy rock-climbing, and grip strength helps in so many different areas. So on Fridays when I’m pushed for time I can put in 5-10 minutes of grip strength. I get a nice burn in my forearms, and I can get large increases in grip strength which doesn’t slow me down noticeably the next day.

Another option is to work around the muscles that are still sore from your previous session. If your legs are still sore from squats the day before (and/or running up stairs all day) you can still do some upper body work. For me this is dips or pull ups since those are my weakest areas. Or if the upper body is sore, add some more squats, I try to add in extra pistol squats where I can since I haven’t quite got the balance right. Be smart about this, don’t work out on muscles which are not fully recovered, you will do more harm than good. But if you can manage it, do something. If you are still sore all over a rest and recovery day is probably a good idea.

Rest days cannot simply be a day when you haven’t worked out. If you’re on the go all day long, get home late, maybe after dark and all you do is eat, watch some TV and go to bed this is not a rest day. You haven’t actually taken time to rest and your body has not had time to repair and recover.

So what is a good rest day? It is time taken to put your feet up and relax, read a good book, drink a glass of red wine maybe, hang out on a lazy boy or get can early night to bed. Give your muscles time off (and plenty of protein) so you can come back even stronger tomorrow. Rest days should not just be a day off from exercising, they should be a conscious decision to recover your body. If you can (and you should) do an mWOD or two on your rest days, or grab a lacrosse ball or foam roller and put some work into get some sliding surfaces going. It’s not exercise but it will better your body. Rest AND recover.

One thing I try to do is to rest and recover for the same amount of time I exercise (I always fall short but it is worth trying). So if I do a half hour of training, I want to add maybe 15 minutes of mobility and 15 minutes of rest. If I do an hour of hard out training, I’d like to get an additional hour of sleep (I often don’t but any extra is great).

Work your body so that you can increase its abilities every day, even resting after exercise will help achieve this if it is done right.

May 2011

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