Why training can make you weaker

Welcome back!

It has been a while. I missed writing to you all but life has somewhat gotten in the way the past few months. However, I'm back and raring to go with some exciting new projects including writing a book and swimming exploits.

Let me ask you a question - do you believe in over-training?  Have you ever found that your body is too tired to train, your motivation for being active is low and your everyday life has been affected by your training/activities?

I would argue that it is more a case of under-recovery that causes injury, illness and a decrease in your results- and motivation to exercise, or indeed for life generally. I’m not saying over-training doesn't exist, it most certainly does - usually in sports like long distance running, swimming, cycling etc., but not giving yourself enough rest is more often the cause of these symptoms.

If any of you train or participate in physical activity more than 5 times a week, you should be getting 8 hours of sleep a day. This is especially true if any of you train at high intensities, or indeed if other parts of your life are demanding or stressful. I have personal experience of under recovery and having not enough sleep. At the ages of 9-13 I trained 2-3 times a day, 3-4 hours a day. Sleep didn’t come easily despite this, as I was (and still am) hyperactive. Not only was I exhausted but my concentration was poor. I also lost motivation to train and this started to affect my performance. I’ve been there and I know how frustrating it can be.

From a weight loss point of view, as many of you will know, fast high intensity bursts of exercise that get your heart rate as high as possible are the most effective forms of exercise (so long as you don’t have any medical reasons for not doing so). These types of training however do result in more muscle damage and more nasty bi-products such as free radicals. Adequate rest and sleep is needed! Also try taking Co-Enzyme Q10 as this helps mop up the nasties and help your body repair itself. In my opinion, under-recovery almost always means there’s also a lack of supportive nutrition- make sure you’re getting enough of the right fuel in to support you!

Bear in mind that if you are not used to the quantity or intensity (so if you are new to training or have stepped up your physical activity) your body will be even less prepared for the aftermath and rest is absolutely essential. If you don’t rest enough you could be in danger of more permanent injuries, as well as making it even more difficult to motivate yourself, which can often be a challenge at the start of a new fitness regime which isn’t routine yet.

If you're like I was and find it hard to sleep, try this: lie down somewhere comfortable and place your hand on your stomach. Lightly push down onto your stomach with your hand as you slowly breathe in over 3 seconds. Resist your hand with your stomach- this is to encourage abdominal breathing which helps your body to take in adequate oxygen. Afterwards slowly breathe out over 3 seconds. Repeat this 10-15 times. You will hopefully find that you fall asleep much more quickly and your quality of sleep should also improve. Also try and turn off any electrical equipment and wind down 30mins or so before you actually go to sleep. Screens and backlit devices (yes, that includes your phone) trick the mind into thinking there’s daylight which makes falling asleep much harder than it should be. Whatever you find works, keep doing it- sleep is essential not only to our physical but also emotional health. It’s an easy way to get happier without too much effort.

Happy sleeping!