Frequency and Intensity

A large swath of people approach workouts with the “more is better” mentality. If two workouts were good, three would be better, right? If three, then four, and so on.

But when approaching fitness with a long term, life-long mentality, we have to be okay with scaling back intensity. That can be hard when we have spent our entire lives entrenched in that intensity mindset. Luckily, when we were younger and falling into this trap, we were able to recover a little better. We need to adjust this mentality as we age, however.

You may have noticed already we have been giving “off-day” assignments. These are sometimes referred to as trigger sessions. The approach with these is not to do them with intensity, but as a supplement session and a movement practice. They are used to facility recovery. Increased frequency does not have to mean “more workout”. We are sending a signal to “trigger” more blood, more oxygen and the faster signaling of recovery. For us, these are usually low intensity cardio (walking, play, etc.), band work, mobility mini-sessions, light weight work and so on.

An analogy I like is to imagine yourself standing in front of a volleyball net. Everything above the top of the net means your body is building muscle, burning fat or repairing itself. When you workout, the signal is sent above the net. Everything below the net means your body is losing muscle, accumulating fat or not improving.

Now, think of that signal as a balloon filled with air. If you do a hard, heavy workout, that is sending that balloon high into the air. The next day, that balloon is floating back down to the top of the net. You don’t have to hit it hard again to keep it above the net. But it could use a tap. Then the next day, it didn’t get as high as the first time, and it is a little lower this time. So you may have to hit it harder again. If you only hit it hard every time, it will pop. So you have to rotate hard hits and light taps. And that ratio varies by the person. Some can hit it hard 2-3 times in a row and be okay. Some may only be able to do that every third or fourth time. This is something you figure out through repetition and experience. Most people pop their balloons a few times along the way.

The most efficient way to improve your body is to figure out this ratio and keep the balloon above the net without popping it. For most of us who are no longer teens or no longer athletes, this usually means more trigger sessions, or taps, and fewer hard hits.

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