I just got back from beautiful Jamaica, yes the country… not Jamaica, Queens. The weather was perfect, the people were extremely friendly and there were just a few too many cocktails to be had. But as much fun as I had, this vacation came at a perfect time in my training program.
With today’s Cross-fits and all these insanities and P90 X, many of us get into a state of over training. We push our bodies to the limit too often, too much and too hard.
Now before you go calling me a pansy, I am not saying do not work hard. What I am saying is that we must be methodical with how we work out. We need to know when to turn it up, and when to take a step back, so we don’t over work our central nervous system. This has many benefits, one is you will have more energy for your workouts, and for life. And 2, you will help prevent injury by not exercising in a fatigued state, allowing your body to function at its most optimal level. And finally, you won’t plateau as often or as long and you do now.
Now of course there are other stresses in our lives besides exercise. We have relationships, jobs, school, bills, enemies, etc. Whatever our stresses are can really affect your body, and your workouts.
So here is a very simple way to know what days you should be working out hard, and which days you should take a step back, or maybe even the day off. Base your training routine around your heart rate.
Now I know many of you right now are like, what are you crazy? That is so much work; I do not even know how to take heart rate.
Well my good friends let me simplify this for you.
If you have a smart phone, download an app called Instant Heart Rate. It measures your heart rate through the flash in your camera. And it works pretty well, I manually did my own and my girlfriend Jen’s heart rates directly after measuring it through the phone. They are usually only one beat per minute off, which is pretty remarkable.
So, the first thing you need to do is take a week off from the gym, or just go on vacation like I did. Then while off, every day measure your heart rate at the same time of day, every day. This will allow you to get a stress free baseline, so you know what your heart rate is at the most relaxed state. It is best to do it when you wake up, before you get out of bed, as this is the most accurate. But if you decide to wait until mid-day, make sure you sit down for five minutes before you take your heart rate. Keep in mind that mid-day will almost always be higher than it is in the morning. My heart rate in the AM can be around 50 beats per minute, but in the evening can be around 64-65 beats per minute. So just keep this in mind when using this method.
So to the methodology.
Once you have your baseline. You are to measure your heart rate every morning. It takes all of about five seconds of your life, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. If your heart rate is in the ball park range of your baseline, go as heavy, as crazy, or as hard as you would like.
If your heart rate is about 10-15% higher than the baseline, you may want to take it easy that day. Tone down the amount of weight that you would lift, or instead of doing a high intensity workout, you can do some moderate intensity weight lifting.
P.S, you will quickly see that if you do a very high intensity workout like that of cross fit or insanity, that you will have a very high jump in heart rate from one day to the next. So it’s usually a good idea to take the next day off, or plan something easier than usual.
If your heart rate is over 15% higher than your baseline heart rate, I would take the day off. This will keep your body fresh and your mind sharp both in the gym and outside. If you follow this principle, you will lose more weight, put on more muscle and prevent injury as your hormonal levels will be more balanced, and your nervous system will always be fresh and ready to go.
Try this technique out and let me know what you think, it worked great for me. My dead-lift went up 50 pounds in a month; bench went up 20 and squats 40. So have fun with it, and watch the results pour in.