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Sleep, Health, and Performance

On the one hand, it’s intuitive: our performance in the gym (and life outside the gym) suffers if we have not been getting enough high-quality sleep.

On the other hand, I hear it all the time: people admitting to medium- and long-term sleep deprivation.

Their reasons are endless and completely understandable. There’s no doubt about it—modern-day life is filled with no shortage of responsibilities, obligations, relationships, and opportunities that can create days that overflow with things to do and a shortage of time in which to do it.

 Something’s gotta give, right? And all too often that something is sleep.

 However, the risks of neglecting our bodies’ need for rest and recovery are significant and numerous:

 Some of those links do require sign-in information to access the full-text versions of the studies: for those of you without access, another article that links together many of these risks into one piece can be found here.

 Ultimately, it comes down to this: the time you spend sleeping is an investment in your health and well-being, and if you don’t make the time to sleep you’ll end up having to make the time to be sick and/or injured… and for your athletic progress to be stalled.

 If you or someone you know is having trouble getting adequate sleep—or if you’d just like to know more about the relationship between sleep and health—I’d like to direct you all to the free sleep information portal at http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/portal/.

At that site, you will find valuable info compiled by Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine that includes articles, videos, and links to further information.

 Don’t leave your health, recovery, and well-being to chance: seek out accurate information and, if needed, take steps towards improving the quality and quantity of your sleep.

 As I say to my personal training clients, “Rest isn’t a break from the program: rest is part of the program.” Self-care doesn’t just take place in the gym: all aspects of our lives are capable of helping us move towards improved health.

--Lore, Personal Trainer at Leap-Fenway

Planning for Success

Experienced Gym-Goers, Personal Trainers, and Programming

My last post focused on one of the benefits that newcomers to the gym will experience from working with a personal trainer.

This week, I will explore one of the major reasons that more experienced gym-goers and athletes should consider working with a trainer: knowledgeable program design.

What’s Not Working

I’m just going to be really upfront here: an experienced athlete’s needs will not be met by following the advice offered on their favorite fitness website or—worse yet (and far more common)—from skipping from one online program to the next to the next without completing a single one.

Their needs also won’t be met by settling into a set routine, where the same weights and movements are followed ad infinitum, week after week, month after month.

Nor will their needs be met by swinging to the other end of the spectrum and committing what Mark Reifkind has called “random acts of variety” and what Pavel Tsatsouline has called “majoring in minors.”

Any of these approaches, if followed long enough, will help athletes accomplish one of two things—increase their risk of injury and/or lengthen the amount of time spent with plateaued progress.

And I don’t have to tell you that neither one of those outcomes is optimal.

How We Can Help

All personal trainers who have received a reputable certification have studied many relevant topics that enable us to assist experienced gym-goers, such as:

  • the body’s physiological responses to different methods of training,
  • the implications of these responses on how to select exercises and design programs for people with different goals—whether in regards to strength, body composition, speed, endurance, and/or all-around fitness,
  • methods of utilizing periodization to effectively progress athletes from one program to the next, and
  • the unique needs of athletes at different stages of life, as well as those with different health-related considerations, injury histories, and athletic specialties.

This knowledge equips us to create programs that are consistent with a specific individual’s goals that cover all the bases—these programs will be safe, efficient, and maximally effective.

Then, once a program is put together, a trainer can help with program adherence and long-term program periodization. This will enable you to avoid the pitfalls of skipping from one program to another and the plateaus of getting stuck in a rut of monotonous workouts.

And that’s not all: a trainer will: 

  • keep a close eye on your form, movement patterns, and speed,
  • be able to recognize various indicators of overuse and overtraining, and
  • make any necessary adjustments to your program based upon what they observe.

Sometimes, this will mean that we will push you to achieve more than you know you’re capable of.

Other times, this will mean slowing down the pace of the program’s progression to keep you safe and build a foundation for long-term progress. To quote yet another one of the coaches who inspires me, Gray Cook, “Don’t add strength to dysfunction.” A qualified personal trainer will ascertain that all progress occurs in a way that is truly sustainable.

And sustainable progress is one of the most important things a trainer can offer to experienced athletes. Nothing will delay your progress more than an injury… and the fact of the matter is that many sports-related injuries are preventable.

It’s simple: the best way to experience long-term progress, maximum gains, and minimal risk of injury is to work with a qualified trainer.

What You Can Do

If you are:

  • preparing for an athletic season or competition,
  • interested in jump-starting your progress and breaking through a plateau, and/or
  • committed to reaching your goals safely and efficiently…

contact us today to get started with one of our personal trainers.

We look forward to hearing from you! 

--Lore, Personal Trainer at Leap-Fenway