Relax, we're leaving the "want less, be happier" philosophical lecture for another day.
Today we're focusing on how sometimes less action can bring more results.
Too often we hear about the "no days off" mentality or "hard work pays off" and automatically infer this means that more time spent inside the gym will lead to increased gainz. Z on purpose. It makes sense, right? If one hour a day, three days a week, brings results then adding three more hours per week will bring DOUBLE the results.
This approach is quick to cause mental and physical fatigue, burnout, and even injury. Best case scenario is your progress stalls and you're not sure why. Worst case scenario is metabolic dysfunction, physical injury, or worse.
Sooo exercise is dangerous?
Water is dangerous, if we attempt to intake it via a system not designed for such use or even take in too much.
But Chase, I pay good money for my gym membership and want to get the best bang for my buck!
What if - wait for it - what if I told you that it is possible to see better quality of life, more fitness results, and spend more time with your family while reinforcing healthy behaviors for them, while spending less than four hours per week working out? That would give you more "bang for your buck," right? More fitness, less aches and pains, better sleep, and healthier social relationships.
Listen, if you have your basic lifestyle guidelines dialed in outside of the gym and are sleeping, eating and pooping well, have at it! Unfortunately, those pieces are what most of us need to work on. Not having our lifestyle choices on point can lead to a doubling-up of stress responses that is not beneficial for any sort of progress.
When we spend too much time exercising we can cause our body to live too long in a stress response. Males, that endorphin rush you're chasing in the gym can actually blunt LHRH production, leading to the testes not releasing as much testosterone. I know I don't have to dive any further into the science for us to understand why that's bad.
If you already have a stressful life and you are coming into the gym to "burn off steam" via a fun stress response, we're doubling up on glucocorticoid production and making it harder to burn off that stubborn visceral fat around our midsection, negating much of the health benefit of exercise.
Okay Chase so what do I do, just go for walks?
If you're used to spending four or five or six days a week in the gym, then yes. Long walks can replace those extra days.
Some opportunities provided by spending less time in the gym are:
- More time to meal prep, which will lead to more results than any movement practice if your nutrition isn't dialed in.
- More time to work on a mindset practice, to allow your body to spend more time in it's parasympathetic - or "rest and digest" response. This will allow true recovery from your workouts.
- More time for personal development via books and other educational sources.
- Those nagging aches and pains tend to go away, as they are often your body asking for reduced load. Until they become more, anyway.
- BETTER RESULTS. By minimizing our exposure to stress hormones and allowing our body maximal opportunity to recover, we can realize our best life and begin to wholeheartedly Live With Purpose.
Well that's boring.
That depends on your purpose, and whether or not you understand how your movement practice helps to serve that purpose. Once you can align the two, the "boring" (but effective) work will be some of your favorite, because you're armed with the knowledge that it is serving your life.
Your fitness will then become something you can live through, instead of live for.