Can you over-exercise?

In my family, stories of my Grandma Lloyd are legend. 

She was a 4’11 Irish woman who was notorious for speaking without a filter, a lack of attention to detail, being a horrible cook (spaghetti with tomato soup anyone?), and driving on the sidewalks.

 Too much fertilizer, too much water, too much exercise. Too much of anything is no good. 

Too much fertilizer, too much water, too much exercise. Too much of anything is no good. 

One of the favorite stories is when my grandfather brought home a new tree for the backyard. After a few weeks, the tree had died, and my grandfather pressed her for what happened. 

“How much fertilizer did you put on it?” he asked. 

She disclosed that she’d been giving the tree four times the amount that was recommended and had killed the tree. 

“Well,” she said matter of factly. “I thought if one cup was good then four cups must be better.”

It’s easy to laugh and shake my head and chalk it up to another Grandma Verda moment (yes her first name was Verda), but the thing is, I see this everyday. 

In fitness. 

If three workouts per week is good, then six workouts a week is better. If five workouts is great, then 10 must be amazing. 

No.

In my college days when we we were down south for spring break, we would bust out two-a-days to take advantage of the warm weather. And even then, when we were in our teens and early twenties and our bodies could tolerate more, we did not perform two demanding workouts in the same day. We would bust out a tough practice in the morning before doing skills work and running plays in the afternoon. 

Because the most important thing in preparing for the season, aside from getting conditioned and knowing the plays, was staying healthy.

Staying healthy. 

Say that together with me. 

Stay healthy.

Working out is a lot like adding fertilizer to a growing tree or salt to a recipe. More is not always better. You can have too much of a good thing.  Less is more. 

Feel free to add your own cliche. 

If you want to dedicate that much time to your fitness though, I would offer the same message I did in my post the other day. 

Harder isn't always better.

You could go out for a long run in the morning and then spend an hour that same night foam rolling and doing active recovery work. Active recovery might get your heart rate up, but the goal is to work on your movement quality - perhaps by performing your warm up (you do warm up, right?) five times in a row. 

Instead of working out 12 times per week, workout six times and use those other time commitments to help your body recover.

Do you get soft tissue work done? Do you go for massages? 

Massage is not just a luxury. And it's not indulgent. Sure a Swedish massage can be just that, but soft tissue work can also go a long way in keeping you healthy. It can relieve stress and help you manage anxiety (both of which are paramount to keeping you sane and healthy), but a good massage can also increase your range of motion, help you sleep better, and enhance your actual exercise performance.

In fact, after experiencing tightness in my knee for the past week, I went for a deep tissue massage yesterday and my knee feels better than it has in two weeks. He worked all of the muscles around my knee and my range of motion is much better. 

Sure I could have spent 90 minutes running yesterday, since I'm signed up for a marathon - but I'm going to have a much better two hour run today because I spent yesterday caring for my body. 

And don't assume that working out 12 hours per week is going to get you to your goal faster. Because if you don't stay healthy you're going to have a tough time hitting your goal at all. 

More is not always better. 

Ok? Ok. Good talk. 

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