When Moderation Pays Off

Slow and Steady Can Win The Race

Sometimes, you hear a phrase so much that you might just believe it’s fact. For us, one of those sayings is “no pain, no gain.” While it’s a great motivator, and a reminder that progress isn’t always easy, it’s not entirely true. Doing the most all the time isn’t guaranteed to get you results, and in some cases, it might even delay them. Moderation, on the other hand, can be the key to unlocking major progress. Here are three instances when taking it to the limit isn’t necessary in order to see gains.

THE PROBLEM | Going Too Hard Too Fast

Don’t fall prey to setting a New Year’s Resolution-style trap for yourself: a big, nebulous goal that you realistically won’t be able to keep up for more than a few weeks without burning out. Results happen gradually over time, and the best training regimen is one that you stick with.

If it’s unrealistic for you to hit the gym 6 days a week, start by making a commitment to only 3, or whatever number you can achieve consistently. Treat your training schedule kind of like you’re training for a marathon: build up slowly and incrementally.

THE FIX

Discipline is a finite resource: we only have so much of it before we start to burn out. Habits, however, take no discipline. The key to effective training is to make the act of doing it a habit, so that you can cash in your reserves of discipline when it comes to focusing and pushing yourself at the gym.

Try to stick to a low-commitment routine for at least 21 days—for instance half an hour, three days a week—to build the habit. From there, start to build incrementally until you have a solid, airtight routine.

THE PROBLEM | Consistent Strenuous Exercise

If you’re a pro athlete or are committing to a particular training regimen, this one might be hard to get around. But if you’re just a regular gym-goer or your fitness schedule allows for some leeway, it can pay off to limit strenuous exercise in favor of light to moderate exercise.

Strenuous exercise, while sometimes necessary, can slow you down in a few different ways: it can lead to an immediate dip in immune function, leaving your more susceptible to getting sick; it can cause a spike in cortisol levels, which can cause stress and hinder healthy metabolic function; and it can overexert your muscles, leaving you more prone to injury. Taking time to rest both in between sets, and dedicating at least 15 minutes post workout to focus on mindful recovery can make a world of difference.

THE FIX

If you’re committed to an all-out training regimen, taking breaks between sets for a mini recovery can boost strength and muscle building. The optimum time to increase strength and power is between 2 and 5 minutes, while the best wait time to boost muscle building is between 30 and 90 seconds.

No matter what your fitness routine looks like, your foam rolling practice can support your body from multiple angles. Rolling at least once per day will not only reduce your risk of injury, it’ll also stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system—boosting circulation, lowering cortisol levels, and supporting the body’s natural healing process.

THE PROBLEM | Big-Time Protein Consumption

You may have heard that you should consume .36 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. However, studies show that the body might not be able to make use of that much protein: research suggests that protein synthesis maxes out at about 25-30 grams per day (in other words, you won’t grow more muscle from eating more protein), and that the max amount of protein that can be digested per sitting is around 10 grams.

THE FIX

Aim to split your protein intake between 2-3 meals—roughly 10 grams per meal—consumed at least 2 hours apart. This will give your body adequate time to properly absorb each serving and put it to good use. For optimum absorption, pair your protein with complex carbs and foods containing Vitamin B6 to boost amino acid absorption and synthesis. If you don’t eat meat, a smoothie with whey protein is an excellent way to tick these boxes.