Should you go hard or go home?

The importance of matching your training to energy levels

October 3, 2022

The importance of matching your training to energy levels

October 3, 2022

It’s not a good feeling. Staring down the barrel of an intense training session, feeling exhausted, hungover, or stuffed up with a head cold. Switching to a recovery session or a rest day can feel like giving up, but in reality, it demonstrates the opposite. Tuning into how you are feeling is an important part of being an adaptive, committed, and consistent athlete. And checking in before each training session with energy levels, mental readiness, muscular fatigue, and general wellbeing is the sign of someone dedicated to long term performance and health.

Listen in


There is a constant stream of information traveling from the body to the brain reporting on factors that impact readiness to exercise, however many people fail to tune into this feedback and adapt their training. In the past taglines like “go hard or go home” or “no pain, no gain”, encouraged people to ignore the warning signs and “pushing through” fatigue or sickness was worn like a badge of honour. We know better now.

Whether you are struck down with the flu, exhausted by stress, underslept, experiencing emotional heaviness, overtrained, hungover or jetlagged, this takes a toll on the body. And although training can often be a stress reliever, there are times when an intense workout can have the opposite effect. Training in a suboptimal state can create a higher stress load making you more susceptible to injury, burnout, fatigue and limiting your recovery both emotionally and physically. Tuning into how you are feeling and acting upon that isn’t a sign that you’re failing or struggling with motivation. It’s training smarter not harder, avoiding burnout, and respecting your body. It’s creating better long-term performance and health outcomes.


And it all starts by simply checking in.



Take a moment to think about your energy levels, giving yourself a score on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is completely exhausted or unwell, 5 is reasonably energised and 10 is fully energised and ready to go. This is not an exact science; it’s about becoming more in tune with how you feel. In the beginning you may confuse stress and high adrenaline for motivation and high energy or mistake feeling mentally drained for being low energy. But keep checking in, the more you practice the more accurate it will become.

After you have your score, use the guidelines below to adjust your training load for the day to optimise both your training session and your recovery.


Energy level 8+/10 –

Green light, full steam ahead

Guideline: No session restrictions

Examples: Threshold training, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), long distance

training sessions >90minutes


Energy level 5-7/10

Orange light, moderate training

Guideline: Avoid interval training and high intensity sessions. Choose an easy session

<90 minutes long and focus on movement quality over intensity. This can be a good time

to focus on technique.

Examples: Running, cycling or swimming, Vinyasa yoga, moderate load resistance

training, hiking or technique development.


Energy level 1-4/10

Red light, take it easy

Guideline: Low energy days are indicative of the need for more recovery or rest. If light

movement feels too draining, take complete rest, and make quality sleep a priority.

Examples: Light walking, Yin Yoga, pilates, light swimming or full rest.

For those accustomed to getting kudos for their ability to “push through” fatigue, sickness and stress, listening to the body will take more practice. Becoming intuitive in training may feel uncomfortable at first but the benefits to gain are both short and long term, emotional and physical – stick with it.

It’s not always about doing nothing. It’s about matching your training to your energy levels and choosing the appropriate type of exercise. Take time to check in; working smarter, not harder and reaping the rewards in both health and performance.

Train it right

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