So, you’ve done your mixed modality thing, you had great results in the beginning, and your body composition is where you want it. Six months to one-year later you are sliding backwards. Your numbers are getting worse and you are gaining a little body fat. What do you do? The typical answer is train harder, train more, and eat less. That must be it! It worked in the beginning so now you are thinking all you need to do is lift a little more weight, increase your reps, and try getting a second workout in to get things under control. If this is what you have been advised to do, or what you think you should do, it will probably dig you into the deeper hole of poor performance and worse body composition. Instead, consider these four ways to change direction:
1.) Time out. Take a week off if you haven’t done so in the last 6 weeks. That means relax. Do not set foot in the gym, or even put your sneakers on.
2.) A new modality. You have adapted to what you are currently doing, so now your body needs a new modality, not more of the same! One goal I recommend as a start is to increase your strength numbers by 20%. You might also choose another direction for your skill work, such as refining your Olympic lifts, taking an adult gymnastics class, or getting involved with a new sport. This “change of direction” should continue for three to six months. At that time you should reassess and adjust your program to keep you moving in a positive and constructive direction.
3.) Stress load evaluation. Are you adding another stress to your life by working out? Are you squeezing things in all the time? How much down time do you have? One way of evaluating your stress level is through an Adrenal Stress Panel, a four point saliva lab test that measures your DHEA-S and cortisol levels and gives you a clear indication of how overall stress is effecting your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. ( HPA- axis ). I do this test for my clients. The results of the test enable me to give each individual the appropriate amount and type of training that will optimize their situation. You can get an at-home test through me HERE. Be sure you are not burning the candle at both ends - invest in the test!
4.) Reduction of systemic inflammation. Too much stress is one of the major causes of systemic inflammation. It assaults our bodies via emotions, poor diet, lack of sleep, and excess exercise. Cleaning up your diet, making room for quiet time, creating an environment for quality sleep, and getting the proper amount of exercise all contribute to overall fitness and health. You can read up on how to help yourself in these aspects by reading my other articles found on this site and informing yourself!
Here are links to some reading that will further your knowledge:
Minimum Dose Maximum Effect Training
Changing direction is a concept that is difficult for most people to wrap their head around. It means having the guts to try something out of your comfort zone or outside of your routine. Looking back on my many years of training and competing, it is clear to me that doing the same thing that once worked, just harder and more often, is the road to frustration and possible injury. Finding new information, taking care of yourself, and learning what the training should look like once you have reached your initial goals all take more than forging ahead. It takes changing direction. I hope that this article will help you take a turn in the right direction so you can be Strong, Healthy and Happy!