what you need to know about clever training

What Is Clever Training?


Billy Hughes
August 16, 2021

“No pain, no gain.” If that’s your fitness motto, you have good reasons why.

You know that when you push yourself, you’re able to get the results you want, whether that’s increased muscle mass or achieving your weight-loss goals.

But can training hard be bad?

There’s a line you can cross when training too hard which can cause injury, fatigue, and overuse of your muscles.

All of these can set you back when it comes to your fitness goals, and the danger is that you might not always realize that overtraining is the culprit.

So, with that in mind, here’s what you need to know about clever training and how it can be the perfect alternative to training hard. 

The Risks Of Training Hard 

Risks Of Training Hard

We’ve already touched on how you can hurt yourself by working out too hard. But there are other risks involved with it.

Here’s why you should avoid pushing yourself too much at the gym. 

  • You ignore the warning signs. When you get into the habit of pushing yourself to train hard, you might override the signs that you’re injured, such as by ignoring the pain in your knee or ankle. This is dangerous because it can cause you to get seriously hurt.
  • You end up stagnating. It might sound strange, but exercising too hard can cause you to ruin your fitness efforts. This is because it can make you hit a fitness plateau as a result of how overtraining causes less agility, endurance, and strength.
  • You feel fatigued. If you don’t allow your body enough time to relax and recover after workouts, and instead you just keep going, you could wind up with fatigue.
  • Your moods are busted. Are you always feeling irritable and anxious lately? This could be because pushing your body too hard at the gym is causing your hormones to move out of balance, which will have a direct effect on your mood.
  • You can’t shake off aches and pains. If you have muscle soreness that doesn’t go away soon after working out, this could be a sign of working your muscles too hard. You could also experience chronic injuries. 
  • You feel stressed out. When you work out too hard, you put your body under stress, which boosts the cortisol (or stress) hormone in the body. This is why you might feel restless, anxious, and battle to sleep if you’ve been working too hard at the gym. It also inhibits your weight loss. This is because having too much cortisol in your body prevents you from burning fat. 

How To Train Smart

To prevent the risks and negative consequences of training too hard,  you need to follow some important tips to help you follow a clever training schedule.

Your new fitness motto should be, “Train smart, not hard.” With that in mind, here’s how to get started with clever training.

Add HIIT To Your Workout

home workout performing lateral lunges

HIIT (or, High-Intensity Interval Training) involves short bursts of fast-paced exercise followed by easier intervals.

It usually takes the form of 10 to 30 minutes of exercise, but can help you lose more calories in a shorter amount of time than doing other exercise. So, it’s worth doing these to help you make the most of your workout time.

An additional benefit of HIIT is that it offers calorie burn after you workout – your body will continue burning calories for several hours afterwards.

Note, however, that it’s important to stick to doing HIIT workouts just twice or three times per week as you don’t want to overdo it.

Mix Up Your Moves

Mix Up Your Moves

You might go running for 90 minutes five times a week, and that’s great to build endurance, but changing your workout every now and then can help your body to work different muscles.

It also ensures your workouts will be filled with variety to help you stay motivated so you’re not always doing the same workouts day in and day out. 

If you’re always doing the same movements every day, you will cause some muscles to overdevelop while completely neglecting others.

This will lead to muscle strain or injury, so it’s beneficial to change things up at the gym every now and then. For example, if you always run long distances, try swimming or hitting a spin class.

Consider Low-Impact Cardio

If you’re always engaging in high-intensity cardio, you can burn out. By switching to low-intensity cardio for a change, you will ensure you can still burn calories and boost your heart rate but without the strain.

Some great examples of low-impact cardio include swimming, brisk walking, and rowing. You can find out more about low-impact cardio and its benefits by reading, “Best Low-Impact Cardio Workouts To Try.

Throw In Some Weight Training

Weight Training

An interesting way to stay fit without overtraining is to incorporate more muscle-building exercise into your workouts.

This is because the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body will burn when you’re at rest. Weight training assists in building muscle and it also maintains a higher metabolism for longer after your workout has finished. 

Make Recovery Part Of Your Fitness

If you don’t give your body a chance to recover after a workout, you will have lingering soreness and tiredness that will become obstacles on your fitness journey.

However, it’s not always easy to know how much or for how long you need to recover after the workouts. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Recover for 24 hours after an easy to moderate-intensity workout. 
  • Recover for 48 hours after a high-intensity workout before you go ahead and give the same muscles a workout.
  • You should also have a rest week every third or fourth week of training. This is especially important if training is a big part of your life. It will ensure that you can prepare yourself physically as well as mentally for the next round.

Follow The 10-Percent Rule

ten percent rule

In smart training, there’s a good rule to follow: the 10-percent rule.

What this rule basically means is that you shouldn’t increase the amount of training by more than 10 percent every week, otherwise you could be putting yourself at risk of overtraining and injury.

By keeping this rule in mind, it will prevent you from overdoing it at the gym while still ensuring you get a good workout. 

Split Your Workouts

Committing to an hour-long run or cycle four times a week can be a daunting prospect at times, so it’s often smarter to split your workouts during the day.

For example, you could run or cycle for three 20-minute sessions throughout the day instead of running for a full hour.

This will prevent you from feeling tired and can help you to stay motivated. It helps to make your workouts more appealing and achievable. 

Do Some Compound Exercises

Follow The 10-Percent Rule

You can get more of a workout done in a shorter amount of time by adding compound exercises to your fitness routine.

These types of exercises work more muscle groups simultaneously, so they can also help you increase your calorie burn because they require you to put in more energy.

Examples of single-move compound exercises include squats and lunges, while two-move compound exercises include shoulder presses and bicep curls.

Related Questions 

Can live-streaming fitness classes help you work out smarter? 

By ensuring you work out in your own time and progress at your own pace, fitness classes you live stream on your device can help you turn cycling or other exercise into a smarter workout session. 

Can you work out every day?

As long as you don’t push yourself too hard or do anything too intense, you can safely exercise daily. However, you should ensure that you reduce the workout duration to 30 minutes and keep it moderate. 


If you want to get fit and lose weight, you don’t have to push yourself too hard at the gym. Not only will that risk fatigue and injury, but it will also undo all the hard work you’ve done.

Whether you’re returning to the gym after an injury or you’re worried that you’re training too hard, follow the tips in our article to start clever training.

While you might think that you’ll only get results at the gym from working hard and sweating up a storm, the truth is that you can get the same results by being smarter about fitness, and this will also ensure that you can get back to the gym sooner after your rest days.


Billy Hughes

Billy Hughes is a fitness trainer based out of New York. She has registered success in training clients at multiple fitness centers and thus aims to establish her module relevant to the post-pandemic era. Her space, Cerevellum.com, is an attempt towards encouraging and educating more people on the scope of indoor fitness. She believes the power of fitness can transform attitude, personality, and way of living. She also finds it rewarding to help people achieve their goals and make their lives better.