How we go about our training for health, fitness, athletic performance, and longevity are great topics of debate these days. Are you a bubble boy who goes easy all the time and fears hard effort? Or are you a warrior princess who slashes and burns every workout in full-crush mode?
Humor aside, there is probably a place for both of those styles of training, but neither behavior should be chronic or static. Allow me to explain. Humans are naturally designed to function in variable modes, and our exercise should reflect this genetic wiring.
Going easy in exercise all the time has an upside and a downside. If we do that we’ll get some benefits and probably have a lower risk of injury. However, if we only do low heart rate, gentle, submax types of training, we’ll actually miss out on the higher gains in physical capacity that heavy lifting, high intensity intervals, and sprinting can provide us. We need to keep that warrior gene alive in our pool of awesomeness.
And speaking of getting after it like a warrior, it’s a great idea to make this style of training an occasional, but not necessarily overly frequent or constant practice. Too much of a good thing, warrior-like training in this case, can increase the risk of injury, exhaustion, chronic inflammation, and a shortened lifespan.
There is a balance point for the blend of hard and easy training in any person’s program or system. And that sweet spot should be variable both between different people and also within an individual from season to season or year to year. It all depends on the goals, conditioning status, and life situations that are dynamically impacting our metabolisms and our training requirements. In reality, most of us should go easy a little more often than we go hard, and this combination can actually max out both our health and our performance, if we apply science artfully.
For a deeper dive into this topic, check out this week’s podcast. PK & I discuss the subject of training balance in what I think you’ll find an interesting, inspiring conversation. Bubble boys and warrior princesses can learn from each other!