Pushing Through Your Workouts: Overloading vs. Overtraining

21 09 2014

A couple weeks ago, I woke up with a bad headache, felt lousy, and my energy was very low. My wife wasn’t able to sleep all night so I was up a lot trying to help her fall back to sleep. I got through my day at work and the time came for my workout. I wasn’t looking forward to it since my energy level was still sluggish at that point. However, I felt that if I didn’t do something, I would start off my week down a day. So I warmed up the best I could and went to the weight stack to tackle my first set of squats. My muscles felt like they were fighting  against each other rather than working together on the first set. My body didn’t communicate with each muscle group making 20 pounds feel like 100 pounds. I struggled though the first set and re-racked the weights and sat down. I started to think what my game plan should be for the rest of the workout. “Suck it up, get pumped, and push through the fatigue,” I thought “or take the day off and reset so I can come back to it fresh tomorrow?” This choice doesn’t seem to be a hard decision to make, however, some gym goers and athletes feel that if they push harder, they will break though that fatigue.

To make improvements in your body, you must work your muscles just beyond the normal demands of your body. The stress of the work must be challenging for the body resulting in adaptation to the difficult task and thereby allowing the body to endure and eventually overcome the same stress the next time it is encountered.  This concept is referred to as the principle of overload. A couple reasons many gym goers don’t see results after two to three months of beginning a new exercise routine, which ultimately leads to quitting, is because they don’t want to push their bodies to this state of exertion, or are afraid because they don’t know how hard to push themselves.

Those afraid of pushing themselves too hard are smart and should not proceed without proper guidance from a certified personal trainer. There is always an outcomes spectrum of benefits and consequences with everything we do related to health and fitness. Too little done and the benefits diminish but too much of the stimulus can also lead to diminished results.Results

When the spectrum is applied to our workouts, as mentioned before, too little stress on our muscles results in our bodies staying stagnant and improvement stops. Too much stress on the body will also lead to diminished results which could have fatal consequences such as injury. This principle is known as overtraining. If our bodies are subjected to constant stress and breakdown of our muscles, more time is needed to repair that muscle. If the time needed for repair is not present and the exerciser continues to add more stress to the damaged site, the stress becomes too great and injury may occur. Consistent balance between workload stress and repair time must be provided to generate safe and timely improvements.

So coming back to my workout a couple weeks ago. I knew that my body needed more time to rest and even if I pushed through my workout, the demands imposed on my body might have been too great which would have left me with an injury and caused me to miss more than just that one day. I could have gone easy on the weighs but the improvements would have been minimal in my state. Knowing all this information gave me the answer I needed. I cleaned off the bench and went home.





Repair Your Keen Muscles With Quinoa

22 04 2012

So you’ve just finished your hard workout and you’re trying to figure out what to consume to bring those muscles back from the dead. You know that protein is the key essential nutrient that your body needs for muscle repair. But before you pick up that powder mix that you normally swig down with your shake, try this alternative that packs more punch and comes from a natural source.

Quinoa (KEEN-WAH) has been around for over 5,000 of years. Native to the Andes Mountains, this grain-like seed is known to be a complete protein. Complete proteins contain all 8 essential amino acids that your body does not produce by itself. All proteins that are found in meats and fish are not complete. The only additional way to get all 8 amnio acids would be to buy protein supplements that contain all amino acids. But why put a processed substance into your body when you can get the same benefits from this power food? Prepare this recipe the next time your muscles are starving to repair themselves.

Peppers Stuffed With Quinoa and Spinach (From Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook 15th ed.)
Serving size: 4
Prep time: 25 min
Cooking time: 63 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14oz can vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (1 med)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
  • 1 – 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained 
  • 1.5 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (6oz)
  • 4 large red sweet peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan bring broth to boiling. Add barley and quinoa. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, about 12 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. add onion and garlic. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes more or until mushrooms and onion are tender. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, undrained tomatoes, and spinach. Stir in quinoa mixture and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Remove from heat.

3. Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes from the peppers. Sprinkle insides of peppers lightly with additional salt and pepper. Fill pepper halves with quinoa mixture. Place peppers, filled sides up, in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Pour reserved cooking liquid into dish around peppers.

4. Bake, covered 35 minutes. Uncover; top each with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered, about 10 more minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and cheese is brown.

Nutritional Information:
415 calories, 22g total fat (10g sat. fat, 0g trans fat), 45mg cholesterol, 1,206mg sodium, 39g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 19g protein

References:
E.A. Oelke, D.H. Putnam, T.M. Teynor, and E.S. Oplinger. (2012) from http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/quinoa.html