What You Need In The Gym

One of the feelings I love the most is that feeling after a great workout. That feeling of accomplishment is great! I’m sure some of you can relate. For some it might come from going on a really long run, for others it could be an amazing hike or vigorous walk. For me, I like the feeling of a really crushing workout with kettlebell swings, burpees, sprints, and pull ups. As a matter of fact, I used to think that I had to get that out-of-breath, hands-on-knees, heart pounding, sweat dripping feeling in order to feel like I worked out. As I get older, I realize that I was wrong.

When I was in my 20’s and 30’s it was no problem to train like this every day. It was go, go, go… Every day was something crushing. Once I hit my 40’s, though, I had to start to slow down a bit in terms of the type of training I was doing daily. I just couldn’t keep up anymore and I started to notice some decline in performance and extreme fatigue. My body fat percentage was going up and my desire to train in this way was not there every day like it used to be.

I specifically remember one time when I was so tired that I tried to do a mile time trial and I couldn’t do it in under 9 minutes. I had been able to run a mile in 5 minutes 30 seconds just a few months earlier. I loved being in the gym, loved working out with the other coaches, but I knew I had to change something.

I decided to go from what I called metabolic conditioning, what you know as vigorous exercise or High Intensity Interval Training, to something that combined that HIIT and more of something that would allow my body to recover and my hormones to thrive. I learned that when I changed the schematic of my week I began to have more energy, less injury, and much more of a desire to train hard. I began to divide my week up into heavy strength days three times per week and HIIT workouts twice per week.  

At first it was hard to do because I had always associated that feeling of finishing a workout and being completely exhausted with satisfaction and accomplishment. Not until I gave heavy strength days a real chance did I realize that the stimulus from just focused strength work affected me hormonally and it helped me get leaner. And the break from HIIT every day gave me the recovery I needed so when I did do my kettlebell swing, sprint, burpee, pull up craziness, I really could go after it and train hard.

What is your training week like? Do you need that crushed feeling to feel like you actually got a workout in? Maybe I can be helpful in figuring out what might work best for you depending on age, gender, and fitness level.