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Can Overtraining Lead to Excess Fat Storage in the Body?

One of the most confusing and frustrating situations with fitness is when you work HARD, but still don’t see results you'd like. You’re not afraid of a challenge, and you push your limit in the gym. Maybe you get up at 5 in the morning, and train like you’re in a massive movie montage. You never skip a beat, you are go go go, hitting HIIT class after HIIT class, maybe some F45 and everything in-between.

You are anything but lazy. So what the heck is going on? Like many of us, you may have been led astray by a flood of conflicting information. So let’s clear things up.

MYTH ONE: high intensity counteracts dietary choices. 

Reality: diet plays the most important role in body composition. Training harder and with more intensity, in particular with cardio, cannot outpace a poor diet, especially one lacking in sufficient protein and vital nutrients. In fact, sometimes, it can lead to worse dietary choices. MYTH TWO: more exercise and high-intensity workouts always means more fat loss. 

Reality: exercise does eventually have diminishing returns. Pushing too hard can lead to adverse effects on the body. We have to rememeber, properly dosed exercise while applying the principal of progressive overload with recovery, will equal better results.

MYTH THREE: cardio is the best way to burn fat. 

Reality: strength training has additional benefits that make it the clear winner for fat loss when compared to cardio in all forms. And strength training can be just as effective at burning energy. Cardio has its time and place, but what builds a 'physique,' is resistance training.

When people set out to lose body fat, they often make a crucial mistake: too much high-intensity cardio. Up to a certain point, training burns energy to put you in a caloric deficit. Burn more than you eat and you’ll lose weight. But beyond that point, training with MORE INTENSITY, and for MORE DURATION, only gives diminishing returns. This, in turn, leads to:

• Appetite wonkiness – not hungry, then starving

• Over-indulging with the “I earned” it mentality

• Metabolic adaptations

• Shifts in stress hormones overtime • Shifts in appetite-regulating hormones • Burn vs build mantality

Also, too much high-intensity exercise can lead to you being wiped out, burnt out, or not recovered well enough to want to go into your next workout. Suddenly, your extra high-intensity efforts has a negative impact on your body composition. Weight and body fat start to increase. I'm not saying high intensity is bad by any means, but when it comes to body composition goals and being healthy, here are the facts.

How to give high effort, and still lose fat:

  • Nutrition: dietary adherence is KEY for body changes. A training program that makes it easiest to follow your diet is so important. Finding your fitness game-changer, then getting a balanced diet of whole foods consisting of quality protein, carbs, fats AND micronutrients. Then, if you have specific composition goals, calorie maintenance or a calorie deficit is crucial for any fat loss goals.

  • Balance Intensity: high intensity can be beneficial, especially if applied to resistance training. But be careful to not put too much of your intensity towards the wrong type of cardio if your goals are fat loss or body composition changes. 

  • Weight training preserves and builds muscle, which is what gives you a body shape and helps it remain healthy. It also elevates your metabolism, and more muscle = more calories burned at rest. It also strengthens your tendons, ligaments and bones.

  • Lift Heavy, go slow, use your full range of motion: fast reps have their purpose, but instead of fast repetitions with lighter weight, slow it down and build strength and muscle week after week. You may need to lift heavier than you’re used to, or even a bit lighter to get full range of motion and to slow it down. But progressive overload is the way to go. And think 'strengthen and lengthen.' Use your full range of motion and touch on every muscle fiber.

Ya'll know I love my cardio and running goals, but how you approach it really matters if you have body composition goals.

Xo, Melissa

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