Training with the Seasons & Taking It Easier!

Training With The Seasons - Taking Intensity Easier Cover Photo

In other words…why your workouts are probably leaving you feeling more out of shape and beat up more than usual this summer!

Sorry it’s been quite a couple of months since I’ve posted – I’ve been going through some MAJOR life changes lately…so some updates to catch you all up:

  • I did Crossfit from January through about Mid-June, placing 27th in the region (which was ONE spot away from being picked for Regionals this year!)
  • My husband and I moved out of our apartment and into his parents house to start saving some money
  • We’re now searching for our first house! (and I’m a little obsessed with spreadsheets)
  • I’ve picked up tons more business on my sole-proprietor Etsy stationery shop and have been working on that full time now that I’m out of school for the summer.
  • I’ve stopped tracking my nutrition so…strictly…and have just been eating what I feel like I want to eat.

So…a lot of stressors!

If you’re in the same boat as me lately, this humidity and summer heat has also been leaving you feeling DRAINED of energy – or that you’re not as able to push as hard with the workouts.

…and that’s totally normal and OK!

We can’t train at 100% or even 80% intensity all of the time, all seasons of the year. Well…we can certainly “try” but…in the long term we might risk a heavier burn out, intense adrenal fatigue and negative affects that will dig us into a deep hole that will take considerable effort to dig out of effort-wise.

We have to train with the seasons.

In the fall when the weather cools, or the early spring after we’ve spent a couple months considerably stuffing and feeding ourselves with delicious holiday foods and hearty winter squashes and carbs, we are more ready to pick up the pace and dive into intensity! (AKA, have better focus on building up that back squat to a higher number, or working towards PRs in the lifts).

But, it’s tough for me, at least, to feel like I can focus or maintain a high intensity when the weather is considerably warmer. Not only that, I find it hard to do too many intensive cycles back-to-back that are focused on increasing lifts!

I thought I was taking a “break” by switching from 100% weightlifting training to 95% “crossfit” programming with our classes…but it ended up being more of a mental break for me, and not so much a physical  break. I actually amped up the volume even moreso, working out more days of the week than I was in the fall. I also began to coach more often, meaning I was on my feet more periodically and thus, burning more energy and calories than usual.

So the result? I’m DEFINITELY READY to start weightlifting again.

But now the problem is, I am physically burned out now.

Also, it doesn’t help if you’re going through other non-gym related stressors in life, such as moving out of your apartment and moving in with the in-laws to save money as you start stressing out over bank accounts trying to figure out how much you can afford for a first-time home buyer. OH, the stresses!


How training changes with the summer heat

You probably first thought, “It’s summer, this is the TIME TO GET MY BEACH BODY ON and push hard!”

Well…you should’ve thought about that in January.

Now, some of you might be totally thriving right now and making PRs left and right…and that’s cool! Your seasons of training are probably aligned a little differently and this time of the year is probably your ideal time to shine. 

But for me, I’m in a season of backing off. And it’s important to be able to identify those times and seasons when you can push harder for weeks at a time, but also when you need to take it much easier for both mental and physical breaks.

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of my friends at the gym feeling a lot more drained and tired in this heat. We’ve definitely had quite a hot summer here so far with temperatures averaging in the 80’s to 90’s most days of the week. The workouts leave us feeling lightheaded, in a constant crawl for hydration, and like we can’t push as hard as we normally can.

The high temperature already makes us work harder than normal. Our “75%” effort in 85 degree, humid weather feels just the same as our 95% effort in cool, breezy 55 degree fall weather. Therefore, how can I ever expect to match anywhere close to 95% or even 90% of what I can lift if I can only put in 75% of the usual effort?

By the way, those percentages are not based off of any scientific evidence. They are based solely off of personal opinion, intuition and feel.

Thus, we see a change in the type of training and programming we need to do: Less working on smaller reps and sets of high weights, and more “hypertrophy” and accessory work based training – this is the time to focus on moderate weighted movements and movements that work on developing structural strength, fixing muscular imbalances in the body (one side stronger than the other), and movements that don’t necessarily require as sharp and keen focus to “make or break the lift,” but are rather meant to maintain and develop a base for building up heavier in the coming months.

So instead of the typical “5×5 back squat,” it’s a great opportunity to work on front-rack kettlebell lunges, farmers carries, snatch balances, speed in power snatches, one-arm kettlebell rows and/or press variations, all of which have much higher reps (8-15) for lighter weight.

But you get what I’m saying…it’s TOTALLY OK that you’re not working up to numbers that are as intense as they were back during a strength cycle. Take the time to ease back and be happy that you’re just getting to the gym, and maintaining the habit of being active, even if you feel like you need to pace things back at only 70-80% of your normal effort. That’s how you (and I) should think of it…we are maintaining the habit of staying active so that it’s easier to hit the floor and start running at full speed when fall starts and the crisp air will make the catches in your snatch just as crisp!

So just CHILL. Literally.

Get an ice cream. You’ll sweat the calories away in no time.

That’s all, folks! I’m hoping to post MUCH more often and keep these blog posts much shorter for your sanity, my sanity, and to make things much easier to read.