Exercise like a Champion but Rest like a Monk

Despite my love for the personal training industry, the typical approach to helping people get into great shape these days is pretty poor! You only have to look on Instagram to see the unfortunate amount of bodybuilder strategies in the gym. The same can be said with their general approach to dieting. 'Just eat chicken and broccoli and keep the calories low' is the typical advice from personal trainers today.


In this article, I’m going to introduce a much better method. A method that offers flexibility with your diet and provides better energy levels to perform at your best daily whilst getting you into great shape. The primary approach is to move and exercise far more than you do now. I will show you how to get the balance to continuously exercise, live with high energy every day, and get in incredible shape in the fastest time possible!


If you already think that more exercise will make you more tired, overwhelmed, and possibly risk over-training... Seriously, give your head a shake! Let's quickly get an understanding of energy and how over-training happens.


What is over-training?

This term has become popular over the decades as science and technology have advanced to understand our physiology. Over-training can be described as excessive fatigue and performance decline following repeated bouts of intense exercise without adequate recovery.



Although this is an obvious truism, there is no consideration that rest & recovery is 50% of your training regime. It’s not that people are over-training; it’s more they are under-recovering! Rest and recovery need to be assessed and strategised like exercise and nutrition. Neglecting sleep and rest is like trying to build a house on sand. You'll go so far, but eventually, it will fall down. Your bodily systems simply can't cope with the demand. Over time, you soon run out of steam, and before you know it, the old eating habits and lack of exercise return.


Why exercise like a champ?

Domino's pizza, Mcdonald's, KFC, Burger King and all the other hyper-palatable foods we love shovelling down our throats are engineered to keep us coming back for more. And let's be honest, we are all going to have our food weaknesses, and to eliminate them from our lives completely, means that life is going to suck!


Michael Phelps was well renowned for eating plenty of junk food during his training cycles. Depending on what articles you read, he was consuming between 8000-10,000 calories per day! Mind-blowing, isn't it when you look at the phenomenal physique and fitness level this guy had.


Stop; before you even think about opening the Dominos app, you need to consider Michael Phelps's training routine of 6 hours a day, six days a week (according to swim pro). That's 36 hours a week of moderate to high-intensity exercise, which explains how he could sink that many calories a day and perform at such an extraordinary level.


Obviously, training 6 hours a day, six times a week, is not happening. However, doing more exercise allows you to enjoy your weekend food while still getting in great shape and performing with high energy every day.


Doing more exercise and feeling exhausted all the time isn't likely to be 'overtraining'; you are far more likely undernourished and poorly rested. Going back to our good friend Michael Phelps, along with his 36 hours of training, he also slept 8 hours every night and 2-3 hours during the day. This brings me to this article's key point. Get the balance between adequate rest and higher levels of exercise to allow you to live a more energised and enjoyable life whilst looking your best.


The nutritional aspect involved in this concept can be done in a future blog. Today, let's focus on moving you more, feeling awesome, getting great results and enjoying your lifestyle.


Why you need to rest like a monk!


There should be an obvious recognition of why rest and recovery are required to perform at your best and do more exercise. I'm going to take a second to explain on a deeper level why this is important, so you've got a basic grasp of biology.


Sleeping and resting (when done correctly) will allow your body to move through the regeneration process via the autonomic nervous system. There are two critical functions of this aspect of the nervous system. First, the sympathetic branch is our stress response from stimuli such as exercise, external threats, or internal thoughts of fear that cause feelings of stress and anxiety.

This mechanism will move the body into what's known as catabolism, the process of breaking things down. It's a natural system of our biology and vital for our survival, so don't see it as a bad thing, but… If you spend too much time in this state, your body will slowly break down over time. Your cells, muscles, immune system and many other systems will decline.


The opposing side of this system is the parasympathetic branch. This is the pathway of rest and recovery. The body goes through anabolism (rebuilding), which allows for healing and regeneration responses in this branch. The same rules apply to this system. Being in it is good and vital for survival, but staying in this state is deleterious to our health. Too much time in this zone, and you'll soon become a zombie.


Monks worldwide just happen to be masters at energising their minds & bodies. They learn how to rest their bodies and control their minds, optimising their mental and physical state. Scientific research has shown how monks can quickly manage their nervous systems to create positive physiological changes healing their bodies on a cellular level. They are the masters of healing through simple but effective practices that you can implement to optimise your recovery from exercise and the stresses of life. So, heal your body, and you'll be able to take on the world!


I'm hoping you're starting to see we need a balance of both pathways to get the most out of our bodies. In the ideal world, we should have higher activity levels, with equal amounts of rest and a steady flow of good nutrition.


The focus is simple, increase your levels of activity and movement whilst also being effective at your levels of rest and recovery. If you move more, your body will look better; if you rest more, you will feel better.


8 things you can do to exercise more, rest better and enjoy life.


  1. Exercise frequency over 1 week – You need to increase your activity level if you want your body to be an awesome-looking and performing machine. My suggestion is to aim for a minimum of 8 hours a week. Before you freak out, carefully read through my 6 points, and you'll see how easily this can be done.


  1. How to implement 8 hours across your week – Here is a simplistic guide. I’ll assume you can get to the gym 3 days a week for one hour. Let's use Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as your training days. On these days, exercise twice, once in the morning and once in the evening, for an hour each session. Do your resistance-based work in one session and cardio in another. It doesn’t matter which way around you do it, whatever works best for you.


  1. Home Fitness - Should you struggle logistically to get to the gym twice a day, purchasing a home spin bike is an excellent investment! Over the weekend, this is your opportunity to do your more fun level of exercise by focusing on the physical activity you enjoy the most for an extended period of 2 hours. For example, hiking, cycling, team sports, or whatever you love doing that involves strenuous physical activity for that period.


  1. The intensity – Work hard! You don't necessarily need to get a sweat on every workout. Still, you should be working intensely to provide a shock response to the body allowing for physiological adaptations that make you awesome.


  1. Days off – Your rest days mean you shouldn't apply high-intensity movement to your body. Instead, it's a good idea to keep moving using light activities like walking, stretching, and yoga-based exercises. But lay off the hard stuff and allow the system to move into the parasympathetic pathway and rebuild you!


  1. Focused rest during your day – This is a difficult one with your busy life, but your lunch break must be a deliberate break from everything you're doing. Use this time to heal the mind and body with a mini recharge. Once you've taken your time to eat your food, it's time to relax and allow the digestive system to go to work whilst the rest of the body moves into relaxation.


  1. Lunch break - After eating, spend 30 minutes in a quiet space (just find one). Then sit upright, relax every muscle in your body, including your face and jaw and focus on deep diaphragmatic breathing. Deep breath through your belly whilst closing your eyes and thinking of nothing other than your breath. Do NOT look at your phone during this time. Set the timer for 30 minutes, and then put it in aeroplane mode, so you're not interrupted by people or notifications. Keep focused on your breath. As your mind wanders over last weekend’s antics or why the person you were excited about suddenly ghosted you, bring your attention back to your breath and repeat for 30 minutes. If you practice this, you'll feel a new energy level during your afternoons, and your mind and body will thank you for it!


  1. Sleep – You must protect your sleep at all costs! Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Avoid eating late and stop looking at any digital screen at least an hour before bed. Yes, you might have to read a book or even have an uninterrupted conversation with your partner. I know; I didn't say this would be easy. Try to get yourself into a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same times, as this allows your bodily systems to become synchronised, allowing you to operate and feel better during the day.

Good sleep will repair your brain, immune system, muscular system, nervous systems and a great deal more if you stick to a good sleep routine, so do it!  




If you want to do more without feeling terrible and enjoy the benefits of a high-performing body, apply this balanced exercise and rest cycle. This is just a simple starting point for you. As you explore this, you may find that different approaches work better. Whatever works for you is the best method. Just make sure you keep a close eye on the three critical components of fitness success:


  1. Is my body changing for the better?
  2. Are my energy levels better, and do I feel good?
  3. Is my body performing better at whatever exercise regime?


Get to work on moving more and resting more, and enjoy the powerful benefits coming your way, my friend. When you look good and feel great whilst enjoying your life, you've hit the sweet spot… Keep it going!!


I'd love to hear from you if you implement it, so feel free to get in touch to tell me about your progress.


Catch you soon




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