For many people this time of the year around might be the most challenging when it comes to training and getting motivated. Suddenly the snooze button on your phone in the dark mornings and the couch in front of your TV after work seem to be the better alternative.
This might be in part due to the lack of sunlight and its energy to keep our body warm. Without our daily portion of Vitamin D we are less energized, motivated and surprisingly, even our aerobic performance might go down. (Sunlight triggers the release of nitric oxide which boosts aerobic performance).
But ‘believe you me’ ☺ the reward when getting out of your comfort zone and ‘Just GO’ is much bigger. We are approaching flu season and the best medicine is prevention. How do we build up our immune system by CF you might wonder and in fact the answer is similar to classic/alternative medication.
It depends…on frequency, quality and the type of activity. In CF we do it with high intensity. HIT improves lung capacity (improved lung capacity = prevents tract infections, i.e. a sore throat, a cold or a sinus infection) and builds stronger hearts which in turn increases blood circulation, the golden key to an improved immune system. However, as covered in previous blog posts, recovery and nutrition are likewise important to avoid the reverse effect.
Avoid the off-season blues
The problem with longer breaks in the off-season is that all the gains you made while training hard, will unfortunately decrease rapidly. In very simple terms: the fitter you are consistently, the longer it takes for your body to become unfit and the faster it is to rebuild performance levels. (This has to do with the central nervous system and muscle motor neurons = muscle memory).
The same is true if you were out of shape, then getting fit and then stop rapidly. Most adaptations are not in place yet and you will go back to ground zero much quicker. First thing to go is your conditioning. In a fairly fit person it takes only roughly about 4 weeks to lose 20% of your VO2 max. This simply means that you’ll be out of breath much quicker if you don’t do anything for 4 weeks. Luckily for us, conditioning comes back much quicker than for instance strength (ca. 2 weeks of regular training in a moderately fit person).
For most people strength loss occurs after ca. 3 weeks and in trained people only after 4 to 6 weeks. (Depending on age and other factors). This of course depends on whether you’re taking a break due to sickness or injury. In sickness we lose strength much quicker.
If you’re a fairly fit person and managed to consistently work out for one year or more, chances are that even if you are taking a break for four weeks your strength level is likely to stay the same. But be aware that once your muscle fibres and metabolism adapt due to the decreased load it takes at least twice as long to regain your strength. Both, your conditioning and Strength level can be held up even during longer breaks if you manage to ‘sneak in’ the occasional short high intensity training.
Keeping it warm
Needless to say, your bodies tolerance to training is much different in the cold. Your body has a hard time to keep its natural internal temperature when cold. For all people who haven’t experience CFC during autumn/winter yet…trust me it does get cold ☺
Generally speaking at CF we aim for higher performance outputs. This simply can’t increase if our body loses energy while trying to keep us warm. The warm up part in our sessions is meant to ‘warm you up’ so it might be a good idea to keep at least one layer of clothing during the session. After our daily WOD we might feel warm and it doesn’t seem right to ‘dress up’ again but this is when people get sick. The combination of cold sweat and air will cool your body down rapidly and due to adrenaline you might not realize that your body temperature drops.
The same principle applies to hydrating our bodies. We are generally speaking not as thirsty in cold weather than when it is hot. I know we’ve all heard it a million times but I say it again…keep yourself hydrated before and after the training. Only then you’ll be able to keep and improve performance.
But as a general rule of thumb: come in and have fun no matter which season of the year ☺