Posted on March 14 2017
Sometimes you need to read a little theory to get the answers you want…
Why should I cut back my training volume in a calorie deficit? By how much? Are 3 sets better than 5, or 5 better than three? How does training experience affect optimal training volume? How little can I get away with yet maintain my gains?
It all comes down to stress: Training is a stress that we put on our bodies to force adaptation. You need to manage stress and recovery to make optimal gains.
When thinking about stress, very small amounts of stress won’t provoke a very robust adaptive response, but more stress increases adaptation. However, too much stress – to the point that you can’t cope with it physically or psychologically – also decreases the rate of adaptation.
Your body needs a certain amount of stress simply to function normally. Remove all the stressors from your life, and your body begins to deteriorate. For example, if you won the lottery and spent a year laying on the couch, watching reality TV – facing no stressors that challenge you physically or mentally – you’d be much weaker and in much worse health than you are now with some baseline level of physical and psychological stress in your life.
How Life Stressors Negatively Impact Our Gains
Life stressors can shift the curve down. The minimal amount of training stress necessary to make gains increases, the overall magnitude of adaptations possible decrease, and the maximal amount of training stress you can handle before overreaching/overtraining decreases.
How Better Recovery Modalities Positively Affect Our Gains From Training
More attention to stress management and “recovery” modalities (sleep and meditation are two I would recommend for example) can shift the curve up, meaning beneficial adaptations to a lower threshold of training stressors, greater total possibilities for adaptation, and a higher ceiling for the amount of training stress you can handle before overreaching/overtraining.
In order to make the most of your training efforts and sweat off the stress:
Do your best to minimize stress in your life.
Accept that if your primary goal is fat loss, you’ll need to be in a calorie deficit, and that does mean a reduced rate of gains. You won’t necessarily recover from the same level of training anymore, and you may very well need to reduce it in order to not shortcut your own efforts.
Do not seek a one size fits all routine with your training. No one can tell you where you are on the curve – you have to play with it and see how you go.
Don’t do drugs but have a mindset that you’re on them. – Believing in yourself will shift your gains curve up.
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