Coming off a 7th place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Desiree Linden felt her 2017 entrance for the Boston Marathon was going to be the year she triumphed, despite the fact that no American woman had taken first place since Lisa Weidenbach’s 1985 win.

As it turned out, she finished fourth. Her disappointment was tainted with fatigue, so much so that she was later quoted in Runner’s World, “I hated everything about running”; her body desperately needed a break.

What immediately caught my attention about Linden’s story was the headline in the Washington Post sports section – How fatigue and a break helped Desiree Linden finally win the Boston Marathon. Upon reading the article, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between Linden’s fatigue and our harder, briefer, infrequent exercise mantra at BodyTech - especially when it comes to new X-Force™ negative strength training.

The truth is, exercise has a negative effect on the ability of your body’s physiology to recover. Or to put it another way, realising the potential promises of exercise requires time - time for rest and time for recovery. Arthur Jones, the inventor of Nautilus and later MedX said it best, “Any amount of exercise strain represents a negative factor, in that, to a degree, any exercise performed at all causes an inroad into the body’s recovery ability.”

That means that exercise must be cautiously regulated, because the harder (or more vigorous) an exercise becomes, the greater its impact on your body’s limited resources to recover from its exhaustive effects. Another thing to keep in mind is that your ability to recover does not necessarily stay in-sync with your muscles’ ability to get stronger over time. As a result, stronger muscles will negatively impact your ability to recover - but this can be countered with less exercise, less frequency or both. The key take-out here is to balance your ability to workout harder with your limited ability to recover, in order to avoid chronic fatigue or overtraining. 

Ellington Darden in his book The Body Fat Breakthrough made it a point to mention that many of his X-Force™ negative training subjects had difficulty grasping the importance of balancing out the number of X-Force™ workouts with their ability to recover from such intense strength training. In fact, he demonstrated that by doing less these subjects achieved more muscle and less fat than they’d ever experienced before.

When it comes to high intensity exercise, Darden offers these concepts:

  • strength trained muscles must first remodel (rebuild) to pre-exercise levels, before they can start to overcompensate with resulting strength and size
  • recovery always comes before growth
  • recovery and growth both require time - when you train too long or don’t rest enough between workouts to allow for FULL recovery, muscle growth will not occur.

“There must be adequate recovery time between exercise sessions to allow replenishment of fuel resources, compensation (tissue remodelling), and eventually overcompensation in the form of new muscle growth or lifting proficiency”, advised Arthur Jones.  Although the stress from high intensity training has a localised effect on muscles, the resulting stress also has an overall effect on all the body’s support systems such as nervous, endocrine and energy systems. Training too soon, before the body has had sufficient time to compensate and overcompensate has the potential to hinder progress and result in generalised fatigue (overtraining).

So what eventuated into a five-month break before Desiree Linden began to train again - with a lot less running and a great more rest – saw her convincingly win the 2018 Boston Marathon. The ultimate result!