Does Exhaustion = Max Results?

Well, there's a good chance today's workout culture has you believing so.

Everything seems to be so geared toward killing ourselves when we train. If we don't feel physically/mentally drained when we're done, we feel like we haven't done enough!

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and think that results won't come unless we take it to the max.

You may feel awful and beat down when you're done, but that's what we believe it takes for results.

And we're right back at it tomorrow ... and the next day ... and the next day ... and so on. It just doesn't stop.

Yep, I've seen this scenario way too many times.

Well, it's time for a new way of thinking. Here's some background ...

When we exercise to exhaustion EVERY time we workout we create a chronic stress our bodies have trouble recovering from. Not necessarily because our muscles can't handle it, but because our central nervous system is in fight or flight mode way too much.

This stimulates a cascade of hormonal response that often doesn't lead to better results.

In fact, it may actually lead to becoming stagnant in your results, gaining body fat, eating into your valuable muscle, feeling lethargic, and just having no desire to workout.

Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone occasionally is something I typically do encourage. We need that now and then. But not EVERY workout.

It's okay to not always be draining yourself. It's okay to go into a workout not dreading how you will feel during and after. It's okay to leave a workout feeling better than when you started.

In general, push your body to the limit occasionally, when it's ready for it. Maybe 1-2 days/week. Work hard, sub-maximally, 2-3 days per week. And, do 1-2 feel good workouts per week. This is of course general guidance (everyone's body and goals are different) but you get the gist.

Trust me, your hormonal equilibrium and body as a whole will thank you for it.

Oh - and one other thing that comes to my 'dietitian mind' as I write this. Eat well when you are not at the gym.

I think a lot of times we feel it necessary to go overboard at the gym because our eating is simply not on track.

Learn to give your body what it needs, when it needs it (I just happen to know a good program that helps with this called the Fab 14) and create amazing dietary satisfaction. You'll be surprised at the correlation between this and better results at the gym!

Train smarter, not harder.


- Jaime Rothermich, RD, CSSD, LC, CSCS
Functional Elements Training & Nutrition