Updated: Jan 17
There are few things as exciting as new exercisers eager to make serious lifestyle changes and make up for lost time in their quest to get fit and healthy. Their motivation and passion are contagious, and watching transformations is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a trainer.
But in their excitement, many exercisers make a common mistake – overtraining. The thinking goes like this: “If 20 push-ups are good, then 30 must be better,” or “If 35 pounds challenges my muscles, then I’ll really get ripped if I do 50!” In other words, more is better and leads to faster results.
Unfortunately, this just is not the case, and taken to the extreme can lead to getting hurt and MISSING workouts. As with most things in life, moderation and consistency in fitness are the keys to success. Too much of anything can be a bad thing, and there is no need to do more than the minimum needed for maximum results.
For example, consider medication. If 200 milligrams of Advil takes away your headache, you do not need to take 1000 milligrams. It will not make your headache go away any more effectively, because 200 milligrams will make it disappear completely! Taking 1000 milligrams is not only wasted effort, but it could have a dangerous effect on your health.
It is important to realize that overtraining in fitness not only doesn’t deliver faster and better results, but it can lead to injury and burnout. Pushing your body beyond what it can effectively handle will usually result in a strain or muscle tear.
Likewise, for those just starting, if you blast out of the gate at top speed with an intensity that you can’t possibly sustain, you will burn out and likely give up. The wisest choice is to practice moderation and consistency.
Remember, what you do every day is more important than what you do every once in a while. Those everyday activities may not be terribly exciting while you are doing them. And you may not feel like you are making progress. But give the compound effect time to work. Your effort will pay off. You will become stronger, more fit, and others will begin to notice.
Take care of your body and your mind by practicing the “Minimum Effective Dosage” strategy. Do what is necessary to get you to your goal, one step at a time. Better yet, work with a certified fitness professional to determine your programming needs.