Overdoing it? Or need more?

Ok, so at 46 I’m in a bit of a rut. Life is stressful right now. Family drama, high stakes projects at work, and I’m dealing with multiple repair issues with cars and house.

Add insult to injury, my gym sold out to Planet Fatness so I moved to a different gym. In reality this is a blessing, although twice the monthly cost. The new gym is even closer to home and has vastly better equipment.

I feel hungover in the mornings but I don’t drink (at all, ever), and I’m fighting depression a lot.

So, I’m not so much here looking for solutions to those issues, they are part of life and I’ve learned how to adapt and move forward.

What I am asking is how to know if my frequency and intensity is adding to the issues or not. The hangover feeling suggests I may be overdoing it, but I’ve felt that many times prior to lifting weights. So I don’t think it’s a real indicator.

I’m in the gym lately 4 days per week. Usually I lift for an hour and then go do about 20-30 minutes moderate cardio. My lifting intensity is moderate, definitely not Dorian Yates intensity. I follow PPL.

Lifting is stress relief for me. At least, mental stress. Obviously it’s plenty of physical stress. Sometimes I feel like adding another day would do me some good, other times I feel like it will mean I’m calling in sick the next day.

I cannot change my circumstances but I can change my frequency. I don’t mind cutting back even more on intensity if it means I can get another hour of good lifting per week. I enjoy it so much.

Just fwiw, I’m not using gear or test, just creatine and HMB

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What goal are you currently training for?

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Good question. Health. Meaning, less fat, more lean mass. I do not compete in anything. I use more bodybuilding lifts and approaches more so than strength/powerlifting. It seems safer to me, less risk of injury.

Thankfully I have no chronic joint or bone issues aside from carpal tunnel. Strangely it seems the more volume I push, the less the carpal tunnel bothers me. So generally speaking I don’t need to “taken it easy” on any body part.

Is there a chance you have sleep apnea? Before getting diagnosed I had splitting headaches in the morning due to hypoxia. It also didn’t help my depression symptoms at all.

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Yes that’s part of it but I do wear a cpap which is reasonable effective. The hungover feeling in my case seems to be related to mental stress more than anything as long as I’m wearing the cpap but certainly apnea can really cause it too.

I do not skip the cpap at all. I wear it every night.

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Have you had the pressure checked recently? I had to up mine recently a little bit.

But yeah, stress can cause those headaches, but wanted to rule out other issues that may be affecting recovery.
How is your vitamin and other micronutrient intake? And for that matter your macro intake.

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Training wise, are you making progress towards your goals?

Over the past 3 months, have you lost some body fat?

During that time have you gained muscle, or have your weights gone up?

Those are “good,” and if they are happening your workload in the gym is probably OK.

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And you could write up a little example of one of your workouts, just to see if you’re doing anything that jumps out as extremely crazy.

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Yes actually I have made pretty good progress both in terms of gains and fat loss. Nothing record breaking but definitely in the right direction.

Typical chest/shoulder day, all sets 8-12 reps going at least once to failure on the concentric.
3 sets cable Flys
2 sets hammer press
2 sets assisted dips
4-5 dropsets of overhead tricep ext
4 sets lateral raise (cables)
3 sets reverse fly.

Typical leg day, two versions . I alternate between these.

Quad focus:
3 sets calf
4-5 dropset leg extension
4-5 sets of some squat variations (not to fail, and first sets are light) usually 6-10 reps

Posterior Focus:
3 sets Calf.
2 sets abductor machine (b/c it’s fun really)
2 sets back hyper
2 sets leg curls OR glute machine.
3-4 sets RDL (again, not to fail, first sets are light, 6-10 reps).

These all take about 1:00 to 1:15 to complete.

I’ve been following this sort of workout session volume for about 2 years now, but not super-strictly. I do occasionally have days where I only do half the sets or half the exercises just out of caution or if I’m just “not feeling it”

If you have high life stress on the regular, it’s not a bad idea to reduce your workload in the gym. The body and mind can’t really differentiate between physical and mental/emotional stress. It’s all just stress. The workouts may be pushing you past the tipping point.

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You’ve done that thing that people like doing to me: I asked what your goal is and you listed two: lose fat and gain mass.

Of those two, which is the primary goal? That will determine how resistance training is structured.

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There was a time a few years ago where anxiety over “not lifting enough for good gains” made it way, way worse. After a couple years I began to understand how gains happen. For a while, man, I was in there 6 days a week trying to hit every machine, every muscle, from every angle twice a week. At least my intensity was low, otherwise I would have injured myself.

Just going to the gym was stressful. Now however, I feel more chill at the gym than anywhere else really.

I enjoy the gym more than anything else as well.
But I have to regulate the amount of work I do there or I risk being mentally useless the next day at my job.

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Well, my answer was “health” which to me means less fat, more muscle. I understand in lifting it’s hard to do both at the same time.

Fwiw, I’m quite overweight. 270lbs at 5’7, however I’m a LONG way from rock bottom. 4 years ago I was 296 and 0 muscle mass above “average” because I didn’t lift. Now, I’m 26lbs lighter, but noticeably more muscle mass. I’ve been told by several that I look like a power lifter. Previously they told me I looked like Chris Farley

I’ve had long struggles with overeating, but I’ve made significant strides in the past 8 months specifically because going low carb has helped me avoid binge temptation. Also eating clean, I generally only eat whole foods. No protien powder, no protien bars, no “crap in a box” and rarely any sugar, except for my once weekly Colada (Cuban espresso).

Binging was my stress outlet, learned it as a kid, that’s how my whole family copes with all the drama horseshit we tend to inflict on ourselves. Unlearning that is a true fight for survival.

I love lifting. If there’s a way to lift that helps focus on fat loss, I’m all ears.

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Just keep going if you are going in the right direction and keep trying to improve within what you are giving to it
If you already have a lot of stress doing more in the gym wouldn’t be worth it and wouldn’t bring anything more than what you are already getting from it

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I think one thing that has helped me is to make a point to go outside every day and go for a walk. Having a young dog helps with this as it becomes mandatory. But walking outdoors in particular seems to lower stress and getting in the extra activity will help with the weight reduction you are working toward. I am biased but I don’t think the treadmill is a substitute here.

Walking is about as easy and simple as it gets. Want a tougher thing to do on any given day just walk further, in the rain, up hill, or with a weight vest/back pack on. It won’t affect your gym performance like other forms of cardio can, but is a good filler if you realize you need a lower stress activity that day and heavy squats just might not be a good plan. Your workouts won’t help you much if your body can’t recover, repair, and grow.

Walking only takes 20-60 mins in the morning before anyone wakes up or at night after everyone goes to bed. You can even listen to podcasts or books while you do it.

Other big thing I learned recently is simply getting to bed on time each night. Be consistent with it and try to get in bed and make a real effort to fall asleep before 10:30pm (no phone). Basically sleep harder if you can. This is about the best time for your body to switch over to parasympathetic state and reduce your stress level.

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I definitely agree with the idea of pursuing fat loss as a focus. What’s great about that is, when it comes to fat loss, the only function of lifting is to spare muscle mass, and SPARING muscle mass requires far less training effort than building it does.

Since you’ve expressed an interest in going to the gym frequently, and also a concern about burning out, and also a goal of fat loss, I’d seriously consider Dan John’s “Easy Strength for Fat Loss” book and method.

You can get the e-book at Dan John University (click the bookstore link). If you find the $15 pricetag cost prohibitive, I will buy you a copy, as long as you promise to log your training/diet here on the forums.

If you need a primer on the workout, here are some great resources

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I very much appreciate the offer my friend. Its not cost prohibitive. I’ll watch the video tonight after work. The next two nights are rest nights anyhow.

You are all right about walking and sleep. I used to walk a local 2.5 mile long bridge over the harbor twice a week, stunning view and a fairly stout 5 mile journey uphill and downhill. Unfortunately it’s far enough away that my current schedule makes it hard. Everywhere else around here is flat as a griddle, and swatting the gnats is a good HIIT arm workout.

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In the absence of elevation, we can increase the challenge with either a weighted vest/ruck or with the heavy hands method

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Totally get it. My only ingredient is at least 20 mins and outside (every damn day).

Sleeping better and getting outside moving are two things that will change anyone’s life for the better. Any age and any circumstance.

I think our current society makes us forget that. It seems so easy that it becomes unimportant and not really worth our time. Then you are stuck operating like a lot of us in a constant state of “fight” all the time. Shit we ain’t even looking to “flight” as our bodies gave up on that idea awhile ago, but we all need to be able to switch that off (every damn day) otherwise you risk being a hamster stuck in a wheel wondering why nothing ever changes. You could indeed be busting your ass but getting nowhere at the same time.

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