Latest posts

Forum Statistics

Threads
24,550
Posts
482,273
Members
27,485
Latest Member
CarlD
What's New?

Overtraining: Recognize It and Prevent It

PillarofBalance

PillarofBalance

Strength Pimp
Feb 27, 2011
17,066
4,635
#1


Quick review of the basics for any newbies in the audience. You don't grow in the gym! When you lift, you cause epic destruction at the cellular level. Then you rest and feed the muscles to bring on the adaptation. Yes this is very much simplified, but I don't think there is a need to get hung up on this part.

Each individual has a certain capacity for recovery. There are factors that affect that capacity such as years training, diet, training intensity, diet, hours of sleep, lifestyle, stress, illness and even menstruation. Over-training is when you train beyond your body's ability to recover and happens with some frequency, particularly in the bodybuilding community or other sports in which a desired weight is achieved through dietary restriction. Even without the dietary restrictions in place, it may still occur in the powerlifting community due to an overload of the central nervous system.

Some symptoms of overtraining that you should know and be able to recognize in yourself or your training partners:
  • Persistent Muscle Soreness
  • Persistent Fatigue
  • Elevated Resting Heart Rate
  • Increased Susceptibility to Infection
  • Increased Incidence of Injury
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mental Breakdown
  • Excessive Weight Loss
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Absence of Menstruation
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Loss of Competitive Drive or Motivation
So if you start feeling like you're experiencing some of those symptoms and its beginning to negatively impact your life or training then you've reached the point of over-training. So now what? Do you have to stay away from the gym for a week? A couple of days maybe?

Well the treatment plan depends on the severity of your level of over-training. If you're at a point where you are experiencing negative gains, have no appetite, are lethargic yet can't sleep and are becoming ill then yeah, maybe you should consider taking time off from the gym. How long? I can't say for sure, you'll have to use your own judgement. When your symptoms subside, you're good to go. But lets not have that happen again.

If your level of over training is low - that is maybe a chronically strained muscle (Posterior Chain is the most frequent offender) or you wish to prevent over training you should/MUST do the following:
  • Careful review of your caloric/macro intake. If you aren't competent to do this, keep a food log for a week then post it up in the nutrition forum and ask for help. Calories in should be equal to or greater than calories spent. If cutting, the calorie reduction should not be so great as to cause a protein deficiency.
  • Plan your training using periodization. Proper organization of your training will bring you to your peak for competition time, and provide for de-loading; that is a reduction in weight/intensity of training. The proper term for this is a transition face and it can last anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks depending on your particular macro-cycle.
  • Try a split routine that allows for a trained muscle to rest. For example, train shoulders after they've had an opportunity to recuperate from the ancillary work they provide on chest days. Do not attempt full body workouts several times per week with excessive volume. If severe Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness still persists in a muscle, do not work it again just yet.
  • Increased sleep time. Its generally recommended that the average person get 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. We are super human so lets aim for ten. Take a nap if you can. A 20 minute power nap with your feet slightly elevated taken mid-day can do wonders.
  • Muscular Therapy - Foam rolling, deep tissue massage, chiropodiatry, ischemic compression and stretching should be incorporated into your training plan to keep the muscles healthy and limber. Foam rollers are inexpensive and this can be done in just minutes at home. Deep tissue massage one to two times per year can help eliminate tough knotting and build up of scar tissue in the muscles. A chiropractor can manipulate both bones, joints and muscles to reduce or eliminate pain from muscle spasms as well as provide greater range of motion and balance among opposing muscle groups.
  • Not for the faint of heart - Contrast baths or showers. This involves heating and icing sore muscles. An example would be a sore lower back. You would enter the shower set to a temperature that is as hot as is tolerable for you, and allow the water to run over the affected area for 4 minutes. At 4 minutes, drop the water to its coldest setting for one minute. For sore joints, heat for 4 minutes then plunge into a large tub/pot of ice water.
  • Consider Supplementation - Start with a good quality multi-vitamin. I strongly recommend the addition of a good quality BCAA.
Over training is a miserable place to be. We work so hard to make progress, and its always so slow coming so to have your progress reversed for the sake of "being hardcore 24/7" is simply not wise in my opinion. In fact allowing yourself to over train isn't hardcore either. I think that a real hard core competitor or fitness enthusiast will exercise the discipline to de-load. Also, you must remember that AAS will not stop you from becoming over trained if you are not resting and eating properly.

So hopefully you're not reading this and thinking "Oh my God that's me!" But whether you are recognizing that or not, you should still work to incorporate some of the treatments and prevention strategies I have outlined above.

Stay Strong!

----PoB----
 
Rottenrogue

Rottenrogue

Strongwoman
Jan 26, 2011
6,570
1,857
#3
Great article POB. I will say even though I am not a newb overtraining is probably my biggest mistake.My brain says GO GO GO and my body wont keep up. I learned a very harsh lesson about overtraining last year.Unfortunatly it happened at nationals.I got through three events and then there was nothing left.My body shut down .I dont ever want to have this happen again.I lost 5 months of hard work in a matter of hours.So while it is frustrating to back off and take a break it is well worth it in the end. I cannot thank Amma and her Husband enough for getting me on the right track.Oh yeah and chewing my ass when I start tipping toward the overtraining side ;).
 
ajdos

ajdos

MuscleHead
Sep 8, 2010
2,282
388
#4
Nice job POB have written many times about overtraining being one of the biggest underestimated pitfalls by trainees.
Great post.
 
babybull34

babybull34

Senior Member
Jul 11, 2011
117
8
#5
Excellent post, POB. Thanks for sharing and taking the time.
 
sassy69

sassy69

VIP Member
Aug 16, 2011
1,067
394
#6
Its very humbling when you go from working hard to finding yourself moving backwards and getting more & more frustrated trying to work harder.. very simply it's your body telling you to go fuck yourself and take a goddamn break. No one dies if you take a few days / weeks off from the gym. I think the concept of periodization is incredibly underestimated. Your body is designed to do what it can, and no more. Your "determination" and "hardcoreness" really have nothing to do w/ getting optimal performance out of your body. It can be hard finding that point where you need to take time off instead of putting more in.

An interesting side note as I've passed into my mid 40s ... I find that taking days off actually hurts me more than helps because my body starts to get tight. Its the activity that keeps my flexible. In days past I could muscle thru it because my body could recover enough. These days, it takes more warmup work before I can dive into doing anything. The only thing good about age is muscle maturity.. the rest of it kinda sucks.
 
marx

marx

MuscleHead
Sep 29, 2010
4,671
626
#7
Well done POB!

I agree with you Sassy about age; I need to keep moving but can't train balls out every time because as I head into my 5th decade the ol bod just doesn't get right again quick enough.

If I wasn't so involved in school I'd be fitting in a yoga class I think. Yup, said it out loud- YOGA- stretching balances out lifting...
 
PillarofBalance

PillarofBalance

Strength Pimp
Feb 27, 2011
17,066
4,635
#8
Sassy and Marx - you should try active rest then. On days with no weight training something like yoga or even a short slow walk or even some foam rolling will get the blood into the muscles.
 
pux888

pux888

MuscleHead
Oct 1, 2010
1,256
65
#9
Great article PoB, I struggle with overtraining myself constantly. I live a very active life and when I feel good I want more and push harder to do more of everything, typically finding myself crashing all of a sudden feeling like hell and hating the world. lol I definitely do not recuperate the way I did 10 years ago and make a strong effort to keep a mental log of the amount of stress put on my body and mind. I think psychological stress is another important factor everyone needs to be mindful of because what we do in the gym seriously affects our CNS just like everything else in everyday life. Sometimes you need down time from it all and taking a second to chill is just as important as time off from training.
 
JackD

JackD

Senior Moderators
Staff Member
Sep 16, 2010
5,335
703
#10
Awesome write up Pillar, very helpful too. All to often most of us get so wrapped up in training, we ignore what's best for us and over train to the usual point that something forces us to take a break. LOL... Hence where I'm heading so a break is in order. Can't be the best when your body is fighting you back.

Thanks again.
 
Miss Q

Miss Q

TID Lady Member
Aug 13, 2011
45
1
#12
Quoted from PillarofBalance-

Over training is a miserable place to be. We work so hard to make progress, and its always so slow coming so to have your progress reversed for the sake of "being hardcore 24/7" is simply not wise in my opinion. In fact allowing yourself to over train isn't hardcore either. I think that a real hard core competitor or fitness enthusiast will exercise the discipline to de-load. Also, you must remember that AAS will not stop you from becoming over trained if you are not resting and eating properly.

So hopefully you're not reading this and thinking "Oh my God that's me!" But whether you are recognizing that or not, you should still work to incorporate some of the treatments and prevention strategies I have outlined above.



Wow...what crazy timing for me to read this post, as I am currently on day 5 of my week (or 2 week) long break!!!....I am one of those that said "Oh my God that's me!!" Started my training this past Jan and literally kept the following gym schedule until mid March-

AM- Cardio 60mins on empty stomach
LUNCH- Lift one body part = 60 min + 60 min = cardio
PM- Lift another body part or do calves/abs= 45 min + 60 min cardio
**** I did this M-F everyday for 3 months.
Weekends usually consisted of AM cardio and then back for lifting /cardio in the PM

Add that up....5 hours a day at the gym plus weekends....I have no idea how I ran on the adrenaline and excitement of seeing my body change, for so long. So, guess what happened? Out of stupidity I over trained and YES... it is now a miserable place to be!!! For the past 4 months I cut back to 2 hrs a day w/ some weekends off and still.....BOOM....the misery hit me all at once. Suddenly I can't complete w/outs, have terrible cardio sessions and just 0 desire to be at the gym and this is 5 moths later! My body finally shut down so I decided to take a break...will a week be long enough? I don't know....I just want the excitement back!!!
 
Last edited:
Top