When we become motivated by our results, or frustrated with slow progress, the temptation to add unnecessary strictness or complication can be hard to resist. But while it’s important to do enough, everything has a point of diminishing returns.
Take strength training, for example.
Strength training is fantastic for building a lean physique, and it’s true that we need to train with enough volume to stimulate adaptation. In other words, we need to do enough work in the gym.
When we do, our bodies respond by becoming fitter and stronger. But we can’t just do more work forever, because there is a point at which the work becomes too much for us to recover from.
So while doing enough work is important, doing too much isn’t going to automatically make us better. In fact, if we really overdo it, it will probably just make us worse.
The same goes for cardio.
Cardio is wonderful for many reasons, including stress management, cardiovascular health, recovery, and so forth. Cardio is also a tool that you can use to create or enlarge a caloric deficit.
So some cardio is a good thing, as long as it’s something you enjoy. And if you’re training for an endurance sport, regular and prolonged cardio is just par for the course.
But if your goal is to look and feel better, cardio done to excess won’t spontaneously make you leaner or give you better results. In fact, it could actually detract from your results.
And diet is no exception, either.
It’s not a huge leap to think that if a moderate deficit or surplus is effective, perhaps cutting calories severely or gorging yourself will make fat loss or muscle gain happen faster. But that’s not the case.
While it’s true that some people fare better with a faster rate of loss, many do better with a slower, more sustainable rate. As for the surplus, you can’t force feed muscle. If you’re eating enough to gain, more won’t speed it up.
This applies to food choices too. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods is wonderful. But overdoing it and becoming obsessive, fixated, and anxious about food isn’t helpful.
So keep in mind that there’s a fine line between enough and more. Sometimes, we really do need more of something. But much of the time, more is just more, and staying in the game is way more important.