When to Train Hard and How to Back Off to Stay Consistent

You can’t train hard all the time. It just doesn’t work.

when-to-train-hard-and-how-to-back-off-to-stay-consistent-train-hardBefore I got chronic fatigue I was training clients for around 10 hours a week and training myself or playing sports another 10-15 hours each week.

Was it too much? Probably. Should I have backed off and taken things a little easier for a while? Absolutely! But I just couldn’t do it. I just wanted to move and keep doing stuff. I didn’t want to miss out on anything.

Problem was, it caused me to miss out on several years of serious exercise and the sports I love. My fitness goals have been put on hold and this is really hard as a personal trainer. However along the way I’ve learned some really important lessons.

I can’t train hard at all these days, although I’m starting to get better. So instead of training hard, I do the minimal amount that my body can handle. But I am consistent.

I do strength training 3 days a week every week. There were a few weeks over the last few years that I couldn’t do anything, but for the most part if I’ve been able to do something, I will. And I surf whenever I get the chance, but that’s not as often as I like and I have to minimise how long I’m in the water.

The result? I’ve managed to get stronger and I think I have an ok level of fitness still (but I haven’t tested it).

So how does this apply to you?

when-to-train-hard-and-how-to-back-off-to-stay-consistent-wedding-fitnessYou should always train really hard to reach a goal that has a set date.

If you have a wedding or a birthday or a cover shoot for a magazine, or a cameo on TV then you should be training your ass off for it. Focussed attention and dedication is the best way to reach a physique transformation goal.

You should be training hard 6 days a week, twice a day if you have the time, and be disciplined with your food. Your social life will often be put on hold and this is the price that many successful dieters pay for a body they are proud of.

But you can’t train hard forever.

Once the wedding is over or the photos have been taken, the motivation disappears. This is where you should be backing off to a maintenance mode for a while.

when-to-train-hard-and-how-to-back-off-to-stay-consistent-surfingYou should stay consistent and train hard at least 3 days a week, especially with cardio strengthtraining workouts, so you get the best bang for your buck and don’t lose the results of the hard work you have put it over the last few months.

If you’re doing more exercise on top of this, make sure you really enjoy it.

To me surfing is fun, not exercise. I also love riding my bike or playing basketball. All of which I do while hanging out with my mates.

Some people love running because it makes them feel good.

Sports are an easy way to get some exercise in a social environment while it doesn’t feel like plain hard work.

After a period of hard training, it’s important to get some normality back in your life.

You should get back that social life you parted with on your way to your goal. The hard thing is finding a middle ground where social life doesn’t conflict with maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well. So late night drinking binges are still not something that’s gonna do you any good.

If you feel like a cold is sneaking up on you, this is another reason to back off your training. Do the minimum amount and drop your intensity from 90-100% down to 60-80%. You will still receive the benefits of exercise without wearing yourself out and making yourself sick.

Backing off the social life when you feel like you’re getting sick is important too. Most of the time when a cold is sneaking up on you it’s often because work has become so busy you are stressed out to the max. Though you will likely want to head out and catch up with your friends, you’ll benefit so much more from a quiet night in on the couch watching a movie.

If you get sick, you may not be able to train at all. This is a major setback in you reaching your goals and is not worth it.

You are far better to stay consistent throughout the whole year than to just train really hard for a few months before summer, then back off for a few months, pick up another month here and there, and skip doing anything 6 months of the year.

Approaching things this way can result in muscle loss and overall fat gain, mostly because it involves regular crash dieting instead of consistent healthy eating.

2 steps forward and 1 step back


1 step forward and 2 steps back?


You will undoubtedly get the motivation again to step things up either for a new goal or because summer is approaching and you want to be happy with how you look in your swim suit. It’s like getting a second wind, when you’re ready to put in a big effort and train hard again.

At which time, go back to 6 days a week training and be even more disciplined with your food again.

I like the idea of training hard for summer, if there is some fore planning involved. If summer is going to start on December 1, you should really give yourself 3 months of hard training before that date. This means that you should be stepping things up by September 1st at the very least.

This year I’m hoping to be healthy enough to get to do this. I set myself a modest goal that I would recover well enough to start training hard and eating extra disciplined by the time I return from the US. My goal was 75kg at 9% body fat. My current weight is 70kg at 12% body fat, so my goal is possible as long as my recovery goes to plan and that I stay consistent.

You should still be consistent throughout the year so that when this time comes to go hard, you don’t have to start from scratch and take a month to work your way back to where you should be.

I have been consistent, despite the migraines, tiredness and general feelings of badness. Though my training at times has consisted of pushups on my knees and some rows with a light band, it has very gradually improved.

Now my pushups are on Olympic rings and my rows are with the TRX with my feet off the ground. I’m still only doing one set of pushups and one set of rows each workout for a total of no more than 20 reps!

But training through all that has been worth it. I did some strength testing recently and I’m not doing as bad as I thought.

It appears that my consistency and limited training has established a good base to start training hard from. My strength is not far off when it was before I got sick!

The results of this ‘sick-training’ really gets me excited and should encourage you to be consistent, no matter how little you are doing.

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