Exercise Addiction (It’s a thing).
Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking: “exercise addiction is just a thing that lazy people say about people who appreciate lifting.” Well, here is a competitive Strongman who is saying it as well.
In my personal experience, exercise addiction is something I see most in people who have made a radical change in their lifestyle or body composition. For example, ex-drug addicts, those who struggled with body image issues (both anorexic and “bigorexic”), or those who used to be overweight. In this case, the exercise can be a symptom of a different problem: self-control, and the fear of losing it.
For folks who have made a radical change to their life, exercise is seen as the key that changed it, and all that stands in the way of the old lifestyle coming back and gaining control. What I see in athletes that suffer from this, as I used to suffer from it, the feeling usually is that if you stop lifting, even for a day, you will lose all the progress you have made, and you feel like you will lose that control over your life.
This is where exercise is no longer a good or beneficial thing in your life, because it is the new thing that has taken control of your life. There is absolutely such a thing as too much exercise, especially in regards to lifting. Recently, someone I know was hit with a case of Rhabdo, and it is no joke. He was literally pissing his muscle tissue out with his urine, and he still would not take time off from lifting. “If it kills ya, it kills ya”, he stated.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like dying over a set of 315lb back squats, just because I can’t take a break.
I want to mention Crossfit here a little bit, but don’t get pissed. What I love about Crossfit is the fact that, monkey business aside, if I meet a Crossfitter, I am meeting someone that already knows to squat below parallel, what a clean is, and the difference between a push press and jerk. Crossfit introduces a lot of my future clients to lifting, and it introduces them to a different style of lifting than just what is in bodybuilding magazines.
That being said, I think some of the mental approaches to Crossfit are partly responsible for the exercise addiction I see so much in the Crossfit community. Now, it could be due to the fact that there are so many Crossfitters, it just SEEMS like they do it more than others, but I think they do, even when adjusted for lifting population ratios.
The mentality I speak of, is the mentality that you always need to be moving/working weaknesses/active recovery/training for life/etc.
All of these things are great, but as you can probably guess, telling someone with a history of control or substance issues, that they should be in the gym every day, even if it is just for “mobility/active recovery”, is probably not a great idea. Every single day, I see athletes who go into the gym for “active recovery”, turn their active recovery workout into a full blown workout, with maybe a metcon or two, FOLLOWED by more active recovery. Where exactly is this magical recovery taking place? Not in the gym, I say. If you want to truly recover, you need to not walk into the gym. You need to stay home, shove food in your face hole, and realize that not only will taking prescribed weekly rest days NOT bring your lifts down, it will make you stronger, and improve your mental state.
Someone who needs to be in the gym every day just to keep depression off, is probably not in the best of mental states. I would know, after all.
Do you know someone that is suffering from exercise addiction? If you do, don’t be the person to guilt them into doing your daily WOD. If they have a rest day, leave them the hell alone, because you are personally bringing them down at that point.