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Free Workout Friday: The Work IN

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It’s normal to crave the gym. To pine for the sweat and the iron, the rush of endorphins, and the feelings of accomplishment and invigoration.

Our bodies are inherently meant to move. And once we get into the groove of training regularly – lifting, swinging, jumping, sprinting and uncovering all these badass things we are capable of, it’s really hard to hit the pause button. I get it, I feel the exact same way!

Just like you, I’m far from afraid of hard work and pushing into my discomfort to bust my ass to earn the goals I set.

But the more we bust our asses working OUT, the more imperative it is we bust our asses working IN.

Think of your body as a bank account. If you are regularly taking money out of it without putting any, or enough, back in, you’ll eventually hit the negative and go bankrupt. And it’ll be an uphill battle to get back into the positive again.

Your body is the same way – if you’re persistently exceeding your limits without doing what you need to do to recover, you’ll go bankrupt. It’s not just factors relating to the gym that can mess up your balance.

Things That “Withdraw” From Your Bank Account:

-Lack of (quality) sleep

-Negative self-talk and self-criticism

-Work, financial, family and life stress

-Over-exercising, or doing the wrong type of exercise for your body

-Inadequate nutrition (lacking nutrients, eating too much or too little, restricting certain nutrients, food allergies/intolerance)

-Intense and/or long-duration exercise

Etc!

Things That “Deposit” Into Your Bank Account:

-Adequate, quality sleep (and naps!)

-Proper nutrition

-Walking, “play” and fun activities

-Recovery-based workouts

-Massage/soft-tissue work, Epsom baths, contrast showers and other recovery modalities

-Positive, supportive social environments

-Unplugging or getting out in nature

-Getting plenty of sunshine

-An appropriately planned, intelligently varied fitness program

We are only as good as our ability to recover.

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All that stuff we’re after – strength, vitality, a smaller pants size, a better 5k time, chiseled arms, our first chin up or the ability to bench press a Buick…happen outside of our workouts when our body is able to replenish and rebuild itself from the cellular level up. This is what really affects our long-term results and sustainability.

We don’t get more fit and healthy during our workouts.

We get more fit and healthy because our body can recover between our workouts.

I know, it’s kind of like that eye-roll inducing “abs are made in the kitchen” statement.

…But if we don’t give our bodies what they need to replenish between training sessions or we’re going balls to the wall all of the time, whether in our workouts or in life (via stress and too many “withdrawals”), shit hits the fan, and eventually we start running on empty.

Here are some common red flags that you may be close to empty:

-Decreased strength and performance during workouts

-Lack of motivation to work out

-Experiencing more muscle soreness than usual, or muscle soreness lasts longer than usual. As well as aches and pains

-Trouble sleeping, fatigue and/or low mood

-Increased body fat, or stalled results, despite no change in nutrition/exercise

-Hormonal changes

-Changes in appetite (decreased or increased hunger, increased cravings)

 

If you are working out hard multiple times a day, or every day of the week, or feel like you don’t need a rest day, you’re most likely not working hard enough during your workouts.

So I’m here to tell you that not only is it more than okay to take rest days, but it is also necessary for your wellness and your progress.

I mean, what’s the point of further depleting yourself when you’re already close to empty?

Exercise is supposed to make us feel better, enhance our lives, and invigorate us – not burn us out. DUH. So as I’m sure you’ll agree, there’s not much good that comes from forcing our bodies through intense workouts when it’s begging us for rest.

Am I telling you that you should only hit the gym when you’re feeling your absolute best?

Noo way.

Let’s be real here, if you want to develop a healthy lifestyle and habits to support that, it does sometimes mean doing things even when you’re not feeling 100% into them at the moment, to build consistency.

When it comes to movement, I more often than not recommend prioritizing it almost every day. Yes, every day.

However, that doesn’t mean getting your butt handed to you in a workout every day – and no I’m not getting soft on you, or telling you to go easy all the time. Hard workouts rule, and we do need to embrace their discomfort, but we also must understand how essential less-strenuous movement is too.  Balancing both is what prepares us and allows us to continue to go hard in the gym.

It’s important to alternate higher-intensity workouts with lower-intensity and recovery based workouts.

Work hard, rest harder.

Some days your movement will be a simple walk or a bike ride, other days it will be crushing heavy deadlifts and bench presses, other days a sweaty sled and battle rope conditioning sesh, and others just some mobility work or going through your dynamic warm up.

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Remember, when it comes to exercise, more isn’t always better. Better is better. A heavier bar, an extra interval, or a longer run isn’t always the best answer.

I know it’s not always easy to show our bodies compassion and let them rest when they need it, but I guarantee, if you don’t let it rest when it needs to, it will eventually force you to rest by getting sick, injured or burnt out.

Listen to your body’s subtle and not so subtle cues and honor it by giving it the time and tools it needs to rejuvenate, and honor yourself by giving yourself permission to rest. There are times to push it and there are times to reign it in and rest.

 

So today’s workout is to work IN. Check in with your body.

How ya really feelin’? Check your deposits and withdrawals.

What can you do today to keep your body (and mind) fresh and balance your body’s bank account?

Try this:

Accumulate 5 minutes in the bottom squat position and

5 Minutes hanging from a bar

This is a great recovery “workout” and is also extremely simple: Just get in the bottom of a squat position and stay. Use your elbows to drive your knees out to open your hips, rock sideways and forwards to mobilize your ankles, and reach your chest up tall.

Then, hang from a bar. If you can’t free hang, place a bench or step underneath your feet for support.

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Both will improve your mobility and stability to help you move more optimally for future training sessions. Hanging and deep squatting are two natural, fundamental human abilities that are lost over time in modern day society.

If that doesn’t float your boat, choose something off the “deposit” list.

Be easy, and have a great weekend!

 


If you’re looking for guidance on integrating recovery strategies into your own training program to help maximize your results, look and feel your strongest, reach out!  Erika@HurstStrength.com

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