Intensity seems to be a buzzword these days around fitness, even going back to the youth sports days when I was younger….you know, remember the high school coaches with the inappropriately short and tight primary colored shorts getting in faces demanding more INTENSITY out of the kids. Oh the weird memories we have.
Rabbit trail…Back to intensity as it relates to your fitness. It is an important element and is a pillar of what we do in our gym and program but we do not use it in a full dose all the time. What I mean is that the body can only effectively manage so much of it, like anything in life. The body can handle large loads of it for so long before it breaks….much like driving a car at max RPMs often….damage will eventually occur.
So what does this have to do with you? Everything…the way we use fitness carries us into our golden years and beyond. We prescribe varying degrees of intensity 3-4 days a week for our members. We suggest you get out in nature once a week and try new sports and go on an adventure once a year. This sets you up for a healthy relationship with intensity and fitness for many years and even a lifetime of good memories.
So let’s say you are a gym rat and it is your thang…as they say…to be up in the gym workin’ on your fitness (I think Fergie said that). Being in the gym is not a bad thing for more than 3 days a week but managing your intensity is vital. For athletes that are in the gym more than 3 times a week, we suggest an active rest day. Throttling back the intensity to something more reasonable. Going 100% all the time is a recipe for injury and burnout. We also suggest taking a week off every 4-6 months to reset the mind and body. This is a lifelong pursuit and not a drag race.
An example of an active rest day in the gym is rowing 3,000 meters at a conversational pace coupled with 30 minutes of mobility/stretching and socializing with friends. You break a good sweat and set up the body for a great day ahead to come back tomorrow with intensity.
If Fitness has become a sport for you, even a recreational sport…then there must be realistic expectations that come along with that. If you are working out 4-6 days a week and not spending an ample amount of time working on your body to keep it healthy out of the gym, you will see setbacks. This is the case for any maturing athlete. You will need active rest days, you will need lots of intentional time mobilizing and eating well along with sleeping more. You will need to take breaks away from the gym occasionally to keep your mind sharp and body happy.
Speaking of taking some time off…for those coming off a week or two break, you too need to throttle the intensity to let the body catch up with your mind. By that I mean your mind remembers you crushing more weight or reps than your body will give you now, but it will catch up quickly. Build back into your old intensity and your body will respect that.
Intensity is healthy when applied properly in fitness. The functional movements we prescribe do the body well. So take care of yourself by being respectful of the amount of intensity you apply.