I don’t have much time to post today, but I received an email from a girl just the other day, and she mentioned jumping back into Crossfit after resting and refeeding for about a month. Not good. She experienced major insomnia as so often happens when doing really grueling exercise, which seemed to only worsen as she continued.
Research and ideas I came across touting the benefits of high intensity interval training managed to seduce me a couple of years ago. While it may be true that higher intensity exercise (like Crossfit or HIIT) yields certain benefits, the fact of the matter is that really hard, grueling exercise has some negatives too – and I just don’t find it very sustainable. There’s only so many times that you can realistically motivate yourself to face a bout of exercise at your absolute cardiopulmonary threshold. Even Dr. Mercola who had great results with it and began eagerly sharing information about it, eventually found that he couldn’t keep up with the routine.
Needless to say, in the new Diet Recovery that I’m currently finishing up, there is no talk of “MAXercise,” or pushing yourself to such an intense and uncomfortable place. Rather, there is a focus on sustainability with exercise, and finding the minimum effective dose of exercise to continually make progress. The combination of progress and sustainability is what actually takes someone to a really high level of strength and fitness and keeps them there - done with the minimum amount of wear, tear, struggle, and strain, which is even more important for someone with a history of a low metabolism and major dietary and weight cycling stresses than it is for an abnormal person.
If you are looking for a safe, but productive form of exercise to do while following the rest and refeeding strategies lined out in Diet Recovery, or when you feel like you are done with that phase, or even just in general if stumbling across this post through a Google search, try heavy weights with low reps. Do a basic few exercises with a weight that is really hard for you to move – just a few reps, or even just holding the heavy weight in place (static holds/contractions).
In a 30-minute workout or less, without even getting winded, and doing it as infrequently as once every week or two, you can gain tremendous strength over time. Interval training is time efficient as well, but it’s just too damn draining and grueling. Doing heavy weightlifting with low reps? Piece of cake, even more time efficient, and even more productive. You can literally increase you strength by 50% or more in a year without ever getting out of breath.
This isn’t the only physical activity people should do of course. We should all spend time on our feet, moving around, playing and enjoying life in physical ways. But for those wanting to do some real training, and like that kind of thing, a sustainable and effective strength training program is a great thing to prioritize.