13 Jul Should I train / exercise today?
Today is my scheduled exercise day. Should I follow my plan or do something different?
There are multiple possible answers to this scenario but let’s keep things simple. The first question that comes to mind is how are you feeling today? This is probably the simplest and most useful measure of wellbeing. To make life easier we can rate this on a scale. The above is a basic 1-5 scale – from 1 (trouble getting out of bed), to 5 (everything is perfect). Using more common sense than science we can now answer the question on exercising.
Four (4) and five (5) we are obviously having a good day and are not suffering any after effects from previous exercise sessions or sickness so go ahead and do what is planned.
One (1) should be pretty obvious. Any exercise you could do, even if you tried, wouldn’t be great and you are more likely just to lengthen your time feeling under the weather, so no – take the day off.
Two (2) needs a bit more consideration. If its 2 because you are recovering from some sickness then firstly you don’t want to set yourself backwards, so possibly another day off will do you more value in the long run. If 2 is more of the fact you are not fully recovered from previous hard sessions, then don’t do anything intense. You may consider doing a recovery session at a very mild intensity or taking an extra day off. Remember it is the recovery after exercise that allows your body to adapt and get stronger. Not letting your body recover leads to a reduce immunity and can result in over training syndrome. So if you try and push things, you are likely to get sick and end up worse.
That leave the middle ground three (3). Overall there is no reason not to stick to plan if you are a 3. However, think about the scores on previous days. Have they been high scores, but today is a bit lower. This could suggest you may be picking up a bug, or it may just mean you didn’t sleep as well last night, or something completely different such as an exam is on your mind. If it is more mental, then a good dose of exercise can do wonders. If you have a big session planned for your next session, then it may be worthwhile going a bit lighter today. Conversely if a rest day or light day is due then there is no reason not to do what is planned.
Get to know your body and how it feels and how it responds to exercise, then adapt your exercise to how you are feeling. Remember rest days are when you get stronger so make sure these are in your schedule. Your body responds best with variety, both over a week and over a number of weeks. Some sessions should be harder and some lighter. Similarly, some weeks should be harder on average and some lighter.
To get the best out of your body exercising – listen to what it is telling you and adjust your program accordingly.
Hamish Ashton – Senior Physiotherapist / Strength Coach