Training Overload - When Less is More
When training hard, especially those preparing for a Special Ops level selection program in their future, multiple challenging workouts in a week always requires a strict recovery regimen. That means your sleep, nutrition for fuel, nutrition for recovery, electrolytes / hydration, recovery days, and a smart balance of training using split routines that allow for muscle group recovery ALL have to be in perfect alignment. When any of those get neglected, you will start to see the signs of over-training or under-recovery start to show themselves usually as lack of energy to train and decreased performance. But there are many more symptoms when you need to pull the reins on yourself and simple follow the axiom - LESS IS MORE. Here are some of them:
NOTE: Beginners are susceptible to these over-training symptoms too as it is easy to do too much, too soon, too fast when getting started.
Call it over-training, under-recovery, but it really just over-stressed. When your workouts start to negatively affect your mood, it has gotten into the central nervous system and it is starting to become chronic form of stress. Not only is a rest day is needed, but maybe several. That means reducing weight lifted, calisthenics reps, miles run, intensity of all workouts and purely focus on all of the recovery mentioned above. Do a de-load week and you will see your performance come back and you may even reach new personal records.
Injuries also occur in this over-training zone - typically over-use injuries but intensity / speed injuries can occur as well. If you look back at your training injuries over a lifetime, you will find that you hurt yourself when you were running too fast (sprint without good warmup), running too much / too soon (improper progression), lifting too much weight, doing too many reps of calisthenics or weights, exercising when it is too hot, and of course there are training accidents that can occur as well (sprains, fractures, dislocations, etc).
Multiple Training Days a Week
(You need a day off)
One way to prevent most of the symptoms from showing up and stunting your performance is to add in an easy day or two each week. Sometimes less is more and very often that sixth (or seventh) work out of the week can tip you over the edge. I get it - taking days off can make you feel like you are cheating yourself. Instead of focusing on the day you decide to take easy, take a look at what you accomplished all week. That’s a better assessment of your training. And if you are seeing decrease performance across the board, LESS IS MORE. More training will likely break you.
Here is a list of easy ways to stay on the right side of the over-training bell curve:
- Don't train 7 days a week (unless 1-2 are easy yoga / mobility days)
- If you train 6 days a week, make a middle of the week mobility day. See this life changing workout not only I have used as I have aged, but what my 20 year old spec ops candidates do each week. When you add this day to your mid-week, you crush day 5 and day 6 versus getting crushed by it or having to skipping it.
- Consider taking Sunday off and a re-energizing day and start a great week of training on Monday. Plus add in a day 3 or day 4 mobility day. Some weeks, may deserve a double mobility day depending on your activity and neglected recovery.
- Consider breaking up training cycles by adding in an active recovery week. For instance, our block periodization Winter Lift Cycle now has a 3 week strength training and 1 week PST training (3:1 week cycle). All Winter, we are on this cycle and have seen strength numbers increase and PST numbers increase or maintain high levels of competitive levels.
- If you think maybe Stew is getting soft in his old age, remember BUDS is only a 5 day a week program with weekends off. There is a reason for that.
HOWEVER - If you are one of those people like me that if I take a week off of running it is like I have never run before, but when you take a week off of lifting, you come back stronger, you may want to still get a few runs in or at least get some non-impact cardio options if you need a break from the impact. You can work good cardio session in on the mobility day I created nearly a decade ago:
Repeat 5 times
Bike, elliptical, or row 5 minutes (non-impact)
Stretch, foam roll, massage tool 5 minutes
Or mix in some good pool sessions especially if you need to work on technique of swimming or treading. Those technique oriented workouts are fine as de-load week activities.
See more on recovery ideas - Recovery Articles / Podcasts
In conclusion, the most important thing for you to be able to do is to self-assess the above symptoms. To be honest, I have a hard time with that myself, so I gave my wife the list and she helps "remind" me that I am over-doing it. Try it - it works.
Training Programming Options
My most recent programs that walk you through these four cycles with 12 weeks of each season in two programs.
Calisthenics and Cardio - No Equipment Needed Guide For Body Weight Exercisers and maybe a good option for people of all fitness levels to stay home or get outside and train.Calisthenics and Cardio Workout is built with beginners, intermediate, and advanced in mind and focuses on limited equipment. It would definitely fall into the Spring / Summer part of the programming:
Other EBOOKS (Military, Police, Fire Fighter, Special Ops, General Fitness) – Most of my programs tend to focus on getting TO and THROUGH a specific tactical training program. So you may see a mix of all the seasons in some of these books, but if you are training long term, you can take advantage of Seasonal Periodization and save yourself some of the over-use, long term pains that tend to follow many of the tactical preparations - especially on the spec ops level of training.
Start training today with workouts that focus on the specifics of getting to and through tactical profession training from firefighter, police, swat, military to special ops. We have programs to help you get TO and THROUGH training. We also have training programs to help you with training as you age in these professions (Tactical Fitness 40+ series).
Programs that follow Seasonal Periodization Training
BOOKS – Eleven Published Tactical Fitness Books and more than 30 other printed programs specifically designed for a special test, event, or selection training program or training cycle.
Tactical Fitness - Walks through all the phases / seasons of tactical fitness
Tactical Strength - This is my Fall / Winter Lift Cycle with more of a strength / power lifting cycle compared to Maximum Fitness Winter Lift Cycle.
Tactical Mobility - You have to do mobility regularly - year round.
Warrior Workouts Vol 1 | Vol 2 | Vol 3 - All three books of Warrior Workouts contain 100 workouts each. They are organized by calisthenics only, cardio, weights / cals mixed, and weight only. Warrior Workouts 1 is organized with seasonal periodization is mind. These are individual workouts you place into your program ala-carte. These books are not part of system or program - just individual workouts for your choosing each day.
The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness - This is ALL calisthenics and cardio (run / swim). Basically a high rep / moderate to high volume of running and swimming with SEAL training specifically in mind. It is essentially a Summer training cycle.
Navy SEAL Weight Training Workout - This is a Fall / Winter training cycle with SEAL Training in mind - complete with cardio (run, swim, ruck), lifting for logs and boats, as well as still maintaining calisthenics scores.
Maximum Fitness - This is a 52 week program that was my first full year of Seasonal Periodization as discussed above. The Winter Lift Cycle is more of a hypertrophy body building routine with some isolation exercises as it is meant to help rebuild the joints, put on mass in the Winter. But the Spring, Summer, Fall are similar to other programs - just different.
The SWAT Workout - Is a mix of PT Test Prep for Academy training that advances into SWAT Tryouts, and active SWAT Team member. It is a mix of Spring / Summer and Fall / Winter with the Run / lift cycles. But much of the running can be replaced with non-impact cardio if needed.
Special Ops Workout - Is a mix of foundation building program for aspiring Special Operators with specific training programs for Army Ranger / SF, Navy SEALs, and Air Force PJ. This program was written before MarSOC was part of SOCOM, so we offer the MarSOC / RECON workout EBOOK for free with the purchase of this program. I would call this a good intermediate to advanced level of fitness preparation.
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Stew Smith Fitness Membership – You have access to years of workouts for both beginner / intermediate and advanced / special ops levels of fitness. Each week you will receive new and unpublished workouts being tested by Navy SEAL veteran / Stew Smith CSCS and his local group of future tactical professionals in both basic training and advanced spec ops training programming. The latest videos, articles, and other programming will be part of the weekly data feed to members as well. We go through the Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization program one week at a time.
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