Everyone loves to get into great shape at the speed of sound, but the extremes gym-goers are willing to endure need to be taken into serious consideration. Believe me, I’m as big of a fan of high-intensity exercise as anyone on the map, but you need to draw a line at what’s safe and just plain stupid. Forgive my abrasive language, but if I don’t give you the straight dope, you might not take me seriously. Speaking of serious, this is a good segue into what I want to cover—a SERIOUS condition known as Rhabdomyolysis. For the sake of ease, let’s just refer to it as “rhabdo.”
As defined by the National Institutes of Health, Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fiber that leads to the release of a protein byproduct called myoglobin. Under normal circumstances, myoglobin is beneficial because it is a storage site for oxygen. Your muscles need oxygen to function properly. Once muscle starts to break down, myoglobin is released and transforms into toxic byproducts, which attack and destroy healthy cells in the kidneys. The end result is permanent kidney damage, which is pretty far from cool. And, the side effects of rhabdo don’t stop there. Joint pain, chronic muscle soreness, weakness, chronic fatigue and even seizures can result. High intensity exercise for prolonged periods of time is a major contributor to this severe condition.
I know the idea of getting shredded and losing weight quickly might excite you, but don’t sacrifice a long-term gain with a short-term fix. Know your limitations and listen to yoga instructors when they say check your ego at the door! As a rule of thumb, once your form starts breaking down with an exercise, it’s over. Place the weights down, walk away, ask someone out on a date, then do another set. As you get more fit, progressively decrease your rest breaks and/or progressively increase your reps and resistance. Do not rush anything. Your body has an amazing way of adapting to stresses placed upon it. Let it do its thing naturally and be patient with your training goals. The most important rule for weight loss, toning up and getting definition is not pumping out as many reps and sets you can in a certain period of time. It is geared toward how efficient you make your body at adapting to imposed demands.
When you play it safe, the gym is a wonderful place to be, and there is nothing wrong with turning up the intensity while inside. Just make sure to ALWAYS respect and honor your body because you only get one.