Saturday, 5 June 2010

Training: How much is too much?

We all know that sports are very good for our health, but often we hear about overtraining syndrome and decreased immunity due to lack of recovery. I've read a lot on the subject, and I've spoken to many people, the basic question being "how much is too much?"

Well, it seems like there is no answer, as everyone has his own limits and his own recovery times. Plus, the same individual can react to training in different ways during different periods of his life, so it's a big mess. The Internet is full of interesting articles on the subject, but the answers to the basic question "how much is too much" differ a lot, and everyone seems to be right.
Traning hard 3 times a week? Cross-training 7/7?
For me, it took years to learn to listen to the messages of my body and to find a correct routine. This is my personal way: I do workouts 6 days a week, tending to keep training sessions between 45 and 50 minutes. A typical week may be:
3 days circuit training (usually following boxing workout routines, I'll write more on that)
1 day weights lifting
1 day running/cycling (can be susbstitued with swimming in the river during summertime)
1 day a very fast walk (as above during summertime)
1 day total rest
This is an ideal example, usually the routine changes due to work schedule or just because I prefer to do other things, long and slow mountain bike rides, rafting, playing basketball with friends, badminton with wife etc.)
Every 5-6 weeks, I do a recovery week (basically only jogging, walking and cycling).
45 minutes a day may sound like a very small amount of time dedicated to training, but I try to keep active also during everyday activities. For commuting and transportation I always choose to walk or cycle, and I tend to prefer the stairs and leave the elevator to others (ok, claustrophobia has its part in this)
In the past I've never experience the typical symptoms of overtraining, but after years of trial and error in the workout routine, I know that even a mild sore throat can mean something.
Learning to listen to the body signals is the key!

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