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Is There A Such Thing As Working Out Too Much?

Updated: Feb 7

YES!....K, article done! Byeeeee...

Totally kidding! Being the kind of go-getting, info-seeking people we know READ this blog...we know you need more than a simple "yes!" to convince you! So, let's go into the details.

For starters, remember these two simple facts:

1) Exercise is purposeful inflammation

2) Rest is when our body repairs inflammation

So, what does this mean?

Exercise is designed to break down our body by over-exerting it or pushing it to its physical limits. We do this, because without any reason to adapt, the body simply, well, just won't. Exercise highlights the weaknesses in our body, the areas that need to develop to do we can be faster, lift heavier, go longer, jump higher, etc. We may notice this with soreness, that delightful reminder muscles have been woken from their hibernation or rose above their current capabilities. Soreness is a sign of trauma, but trauma can also happen without soreness present.

To recover from trauma, we need REST. Without rest, our muscles, tendons and ligaments remain in a broken down state. Without rest, we continue to break our bodies down further and further. Breaking down is the complete opposite of what the goal really is, which is to build up! Right?!

Consider your rest time like allowing skin to heal after a deep cut. A scar often forms with a deep enough injury, correct? And what is a scar? It is simply more dense skin cell production. Muscles do a similar thing. While we don't build new muscle cells, muscle cells do rebuild stronger, gain size, increase length, and increase power. To properly rebuild, muscle protein synthesis must exceed muscle protein breakdown. Muscle protein synthesis happens AT REST!

Rest means more than just a good night's sleep, too. It means days off between working particular body groups. It means rest between sets. It means allowing for some full recovery days to allow your body to come down from a state of inflammation and recover without stress.

If you are the type of person to workout six to seven days a week, that means your body is inflamed six to seven days a week. It may have one day, if it's lucky, to really do some solid repair work! Not only can this slow your progress, but it can also mean very little muscle protein synthesis over time and a very frustrated person along with it.

It can also mean hormone imbalances.

Yes, hormones are part of the recovery process. Human growth hormone in particular is responsible for muscle fiber size. There is also insulin-like growth hormone which affects muscle mass growth. Fibroblast growth hormone affects the formation of new blood capillaries to boost muscle regeneration. And guess when these hormones do their best work? That's REST! REST is when we do the most REPAIR.

Something that impairs rest is STRESS. Stress can arise due to life, jobs, emotions, lack of sleep, and any physical exertion. Whether it's five minutes or two months, stress triggers hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When these hormones are kept firing (chronic stress) it limits the ability of hormones to rise that induce us into a state of rest (such as melatonin). It may also increase our fat storage.

So, what's the conclusion here?! The conclusion is this:

Exercise pushes the body into higher levels of activity...which stresses the body out. Following exercise ensues a state of inflammation...which also stresses the body out. The only difference between stress from a workout and your boss breathing down your neck is that you did the workout on purpose. If you're doing that six to seven days a week, you are pretty frequently stressing your body out, which sorry to say it, MAY be slowing down your progress.

Rest is the time your body does its best work...period. More is not always better when it comes to exercise. When it comes to stress, think of Goldilocks. None is not good. Too much is not good. Find the zone that is juuuuuust right. Four to five workouts a week may not only give your body the gift of a little less stress (and more time in the day!), but the gift of more rest, too. This, in turn, may not only mean better muscle recovery, but faster results, better fat metabolism, and MORE energy to put into that next workout, which is a much more efficient cycle to be in.

– Heather

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