Sometimes you have to push your training load and sometimes you have to ease off a bit. But how do you know if you are really pushing yourself or easing off?
We should all be performing some type of exercise or physical activity on a weekly basis, the next thing is to measure how hard we are working. If you are continually doing the same type, quantity and intensity of training then soon enough your body won’t respond to the training load as effectively as it would if you changed it up. There has to be periods in your training program where you take it to the next level. This could be once a week, one week a month or hit it hard for four to six weeks, it all depends on your own goals.
Simply increasing the type of physical activity, intensity, time, load or volume will push you on. On the other hand, if you are always training at this level then it may be time to ease off just a little. Replace a workout with an active recovery day which can be a light swim, cycle, yoga or mobility work.
Now that we have our head around this simple principle we need to work out what is hard and what is easing off for yourself.
Know when you are working hard
You can measure how hard you are working a few different ways but the best is how you feel. In order to know what hard is, you have to throw yourself into a workout of activity that is really going to push you. After you have pushed yourself to the limit then you know what the next level is, that is the level you want to go to when you step up your training.
Another method you can invest in, is a heart rate monitor and set out different training zones. To hit the high intensity level, you want to be working in and out of 75 per-cent to 90 per-cent of your maximum heart rate zone. Remember, just because you think it’s hard doesn’t mean that it may be physically hard for your body; really test yourself when you get the chance.
When to work hard
Again this all comes down to the individual and your goal. If you are working towards a performance goal, there may be times in the season when you can hit it hard without it affecting your performance. This is why so many footballers hate pre-season because it’s a perfect opportunity to train hard without worrying about performances and results. There may be breaks in your season when you can train hard for shorter periods before your next performance.
If you aren’t competing, then you have more flexibility to choose when to train hard but I would still plan it. It may be every four weeks followed by one week where you step it up or whatever suits your goals. Whenever you have finished your hard training period you don’t go back to where you last were. Your body will now be in a better position to start at a higher level which you can maintain until your next bout of hard training.
Know when to ease off
Again like training hard, the best indicator is how you feel but your body may not tell you during your workout. The alarm bells may start ringing when you are always sore after your workouts, you feel like you have no energy but still train on, or your body goes into shut down and you start getting colds and flus. The best thing to do is listen to your body, it knows you better than anyone.
Take the time to recover and this may even mean putting your training program to the side and using some recovery training or methods. The important thing is not to do nothing; you must keep the body moving even if it’s a ten minute mobility/flow session each morning. It is also a perfect opportunity to add in activities like yoga, swimming or cycle if they are not already part of your training program.
Earn your ability to work hard and ease off
It’s all well and good saying that you must train the body hard, but if you don’t train for a while and then throw in a crazy workout you are asking for trouble. You must build a tolerance level of fitness before you step it up, training hard for a short period doesn’t mean that your other sessions are easy, far from it. Don’t be afraid to push yourself a little each time you train.
Once you have come out of your hard training period only then have you the right to ease off. An evening walk around the park doesn’t mean you can lay up for the rest of the week. Don’t ease off because you think you should and it’s the easy option, listen to the body instead, it will tell you when to slow down.
Overall don’t be afraid to shock the body once in a while and take it to the next level. Remember to keep listening to how your body is feeling.
Only you will know when it’s time to put the foot on the accelerator or the time to ease off.