In the last few years the popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Olympic lifting has taken off dramatically for those that are looking to lose weight and get in better shape as both have valuable results to offer. HIIT consists of short, intense bursts of exercise with either active recovery (like less intense exercise) or complete rest in between and can be applied to cardio and weight workouts. Olympic lifting uses predominately compound movements such as deadlifts and cleans and has been popularized by such trends as Cross Fit. Both get your heart pumping and fire up your metabolism for great results.

So…When would moderate exercise be better for weight loss?

Knowing when to train hard and when not to is key to getting long lasting results. Here are 5 occasions when training smarter rather than harder will keep you on track with your diet and weight loss goals.

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1. Stress

When you are stressed, your nervous system responds by releasing a large dose of stress hormones, which include adrenaline and cortisol.

Your adrenal glands, which is part of your fight or flight system don’t care what sort of stress your body is under. It can’t distinguish between physical or psychological stress. Not matter what the stress, your body will react just the same as if you were facing a life or death situation. If you are stressed with a lot of responsibilities and worries from work or life, your stress response will be ‘on’ most of the time and the demand on your hormonal system can drain you of the vital nutrients your body needs to perform at a higher level in the gym.

Research has shown that moderate exercise can be effective in reducing stress, when used in conjunction with a healthy diet. Relaxation activities such as walking, meditation and yoga help to balance the nervous system back out allowing you to get back to your intense workouts quicker and often with better results.

2.Over training

With an increase of high intensity exercise, there are higher incidents of overtraining syndrome, which typically result in a drop in performance, structural injury, such as in the foot, knee, or lower back and metabolic problems, such as fatigue or infection. Listening to the body and keeping a record of workouts are good measurements of when to drop the intensity of the training. When you see a drop in performance over 2-3 sessions or you find a niggling discomfort or pain showing itself on a regular basis, it’s a good time to drop the intensity and addressing any possible underlying causes.

Slow down! When is moderate exercise the better choice?

3. During Luteal Phase of your period

The Luteal Phase of a woman’s period is in the second half of her cycle and falls around the 15-28 day period. Progesterone is the predominant hormone during this phase and is the primary culprit for all the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome: bloating, moodiness, acne flare-ups, etc.

Research has found that the body depends more on fat for fuel during the luteal phase and as Progesterone cause body temperatures to go up in it, therefore makes more sense to work out at a moderate intensity, but for longer periods to increase fat-burning during this phase.

4. Lack of sleep

Sleep is an essential part of getting great results. We go through specific physical and mental repair times. Between 10pm and 2am is our bodies physical repair time and between 2am and 6am we go through our mental and emotional repair times. Chinese medicine also shows that different organs of the body are heightened at particular times through the night and can have a significant effect on the quality of our sleep.

One of the key hormones effected by sustained periods of lack of sleep is our levels of cortisol (our stress hormone as mentioned above). Elevated levels of cortisol may interfere with tissue repair and growth as it impedes the activity of human growth hormone, our hormone for tissue repair and growth.

Research has also shown that lack of sustained sleep results in a reduction in leptin (a hormone involved in feeling ‘full’ after eating) and elevations in ghrelin (hormone involved in stimulating feelings of hunger). These hormonal changes were also accompanied by self-reported increases in appetite and hunger, particularly for high calorie foods.

High Intensity exercise during these periods can be detrimental to the hormonal system, which can have a significant effect on the results you get in the gym.

5.Having a cold or infection

When you’re exercising at high intensity your body’s ability to recover reduces significantly due to the demand on the immune and nervous system, and it’s also been shown that dosing yourself with medication will not ensure a quicker recovery either. But studies have shown that moderate and low intensity exercise can be just as effective as resting especially when producing cold symptoms like runny noses and sneezing. But word of caution. When suffering from fevers or symptoms of chest congestion, rest may be the best response.

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