Friday, August 22, 2014

The Do-Do Rule

There’s a legendary sports physiologist by the name of Dr. David Martin.

This guy is a scientist, with a crazy-awesome fitness lab where his obsession is helping athletes succeed. 

One of the things he's credited with is helping U.S. marathoners optimally prepare for the unusually hot and humid conditions at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and the results were a silver and bronze medal.

What I really enjoy about Dr. Dave is his ability to articulate his training expertise in short, concise ways that people remember.  One of my favorites is his Do-Do Rule.  It goes like this:

"It's not so much how much training you DO, rather, it's how well you recover from the training you DO DO. Because, if you get injured or sick from DOing too much, you are in deep DOO DOO." Dr. Dave says, "The Do-Do Rule covers a multitude of sins for training and has never been proven wrong."

Is more better?

The first "sin" that the Do-Do Rule addresses is the idea that more training is always better training.  According to Dr. Dave, "More training isn't necessarily better. Doing the correct training is the answer to improving, not just more training. How much training is appropriate for you, of course, is the art of coaching and training."  

Clues to correct training are everywhere, for example ... are you seeing improvements from 4-week period to 4-week period?  Do you feel energized and excited for your next BIG ABC workout?  Do you feel like you could handle a little bit more intensity?  If so, you are likely training correctly.

Conversely, are you stuck at a plateau, whether that be a certain weight level or a given pace/weight level?  Do you continually have injury problems or find yourself getting sick frequently? Are you simply unable to maintain a consistent training routine?  If so, you may be in need of a training overhaul.  It's ironic, though, that in situations of overtraining, the tendency is to want to do more to improve fitness, but you may simply need to do less for a couple of weeks.  Recovery happens fairly quickly, but does require rest. 

Following on the heels of more isn't always better, another lesson that the Do-Do Rule teaches us is that your training stress and your recovery must be in balance. "Training involves breakdown, and recovery must be appropriate to rebuild after this breakdown. Therefore, your recovery and training must match up, otherwise you'll be on your way to overtraining and soon find yourself in deep doo doo. It is important to realize that there is not a bottomless pit for training/working out. You must allow sufficient recovery in order to maximize your improvement and avoid injury or illness from overtraining," Martin says.

Adequate recovery comes in several forms. The first is simply spacing your hard workouts properly across each week.  For example, today was easy on our cardiovascular system, easy on the MOST of the major muscles of the body, yet hard on the core and shoulders.  Tomorrow's workout will be challenging on some of your major muscle groups, and your cardio, but will not overly stress the muscles we worked today.   Balance is the key.  We can’t try to squeeze everything in when we need more recovery.

Recovery can also be in the form of good nutrition and hydration.  Take advantage of the window of opportunity within the first hour post-workout. In this time, the body is super prepared to refuel and rehydrate. Have a healthy shake or snack that puts protein and carbs back into your system and drink in the vital fluids lost in the workout.

And finally, realize that recovery needs change not just based on how much training you do, but also based on how much "life" you do.  If work or family or other obligations suddenly get more stressful, you may have to increase your recovery time between workouts and reduce your training intensity.

Here are the Top 3 clues to overtraining:

1. Short fuse, irritability, moodiness and lack of motivation.

2. Increased resting heart rate (>5 beats per minute), as measured first thing in the morning.

3. Workouts where your performance falls short of what you’ve grown to expect. 

Again, these could be relative to your training volume and intensity, AND/OR what’s happening in your life! 

If you’re feeling over-trained, or excess fatigue, make sure you take a day or two off, or go easy in your next few workouts.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re able to recover, find you enthusiasm for workouts again, and get back to making positive progress!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins
NSCA-CPT, ACE

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