Q&A on splitting up your workouts, morning and evening

Q. Due to time constraints, I've been splitting up my workouts so that I do a portion in the morning and a portion in the evening. Is that more or less effective than doing it all at once?

A. I commend you for finding a way to fit your exercise program into your schedule. I'm not aware of research that shows split workouts are either more or less effective when it comes to improving your fitness level. It really depends what you're doing and how you are splitting it up.

For instance, if you are lifting weights daily, you're not allowing enough time for recovery. Muscle growth occurs during rest time not during your strength-training sessions, which is a common misconception.

Reasonable recovery time between strength training sessions is anywhere from one to five days. So I would suggest breaking up your strength-training days.

A major concern would be if you're doing too much during your sessions also known as overtraining. Symptoms of overtraining include loss of strength, speed and endurance; loss of appetite, sleeplessness; chronic aches and pains, and chronic colds or respiratory infections.

Additionally and most common are overuse injuries such as tendonitis, unusual fatigue and irritability.

On the other hand, if you are splitting your aerobic activity one day and the next you're splitting your strength training, that's fine. If you are able to do this five days a week, that seems like a pretty solid program.

Keep track of the intensity levels of your training as well. It isn't necessary to have all five days of your activity be high-intensity. I would encourage alternating intensity levels one day high, one day low.

Trainer tip: Time for a reality check. For those of you who are pursuing your New Year's resolutions religiously at the gym, be aware of the black hole of too much, too soon.

Right around now is the time people either burn out or fall away from their lofty fitness regime due to injury. Make sure your commitment to getting fit is a reasonable program that will build gradually. If it's too much too soon, you'll be setting yourself up for the same fall again next year. Play it smart and start simple!

Nicki Anderson is a certified personal trainer, author and owner of Reality Fitness in Naperville. Send questions to RealityFitness1@@aol.com or see www.realityfitness.com.

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