Overtraining – The Reason Why More Is Not Always Better

More sets, more reps, more workout, more training days per week, more cardio, more interval training, more advanced methods… MORE, MORE, MORE… STOP!!! Why?

When it comes to weight training, more work means less rest. And less rest means less recovery. And less rest and less recovery are guaranteed to mean less results in muscle gain. The more we push ourselves, the more we are at risk for overtraining.

Most Common Signs Of Overtraining

If you’re wondering if you are currently overtraining, here are the most common signs:

Performance Issues Physiological Psychological
Early fatigue
Poor athletic performance
Persistent Fatigue
Overuse injuries
Lack of ability to concentrate.
Diminished powers of endurance, strength, speed Reduced quality of sleep
Abnormal increases of sleep
Increase in resting heart rate
Over sensitivity to criticism and emotional stress
Prolonged recovery from typical training sessions Lack of libido Loss of appetite Loss of enthusiasm and motivation
Decreased aerobic capacity Persistent feelings of muscle soreness and stiffness in muscles and joints
Frequent colds or infections
Loss of competitive drive

No simple, reliable method can diagnose overtraining in its earliest stages. The best indications include deterioration in physical performance and alterations in mood rather than changes in immune function.

Guidelines to Avoid Overtraining

There are some general rules that should be followed in order to avoid overtraining and to optimize gains:

  • Train No More Than 4 Days Per Week. This is why most advanced weightlifters break up their routines into specific body parts. Hitting one muscle group once a week like – doing chest and biceps one day, then back and triceps the next, thean shoulder and traps and legs the fourth day, provide adequate recovery time.
  • Do not train the same muscle group for consecutive day.
  • Train no more than 2 days in a row for full body workout.
  • Workouts session should last no more than 60-75 minutes. There is scientific evidence that after this period of time, that testosterone levels begin to drop and muscle breakdown hormone cortisol begins to rise dramatically.
  • Use a proper workout split.
  • Limit your working sets and repetitions for each muscle groups aiming to avoid overtraining. Work Sets for Larger muscle groups like back and legs should be between 12-16. For smaller muscle group like biceps sets count should be between 6-9.
  • The rep ranges for muscle building is 6-12 reps per set and you should be lifting with a weight that you struggle to complete the last couple reps on each set with good form.
  • Change modes of exercise. For example do weight lifting one day and cardio the next.
  • Get plenty of sleep. At least 7-9 hours of sleep is required each night for adequate recovery between workouts and to facilitate strength and size gains.
  • If you are feeling sick/weak, take a day off. Save your energy for tomorrow rather than waste today’s workout.
  • Eat More Protein. Consuming 1 gm of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight is a great idea, given that protein helps the muscles to recover and rebuild during rest periods.
  • Meet your caloric needs. Without a surplus of calories your body will begin to breakdown.
  • Take a multivitamin daily.
  • Take a training break of 15 days after successful completion of a training routine.
  • Keep accurate and detailed records of your training program. This allows you to self-monitor and adjust training volume and intensity depending on your current training status, e.g., feeling great, feeling tired, etc.
  • Be aware of your emotional health. Job stressors, interpersonal relationships, and other environmental stressors may have a harmful effect on athletic performance. Maintaining health and wellness in all areas of life will help prevent overtraining.

You know your body better than anyone else, so watch for signs and symptoms of overtraining. If your body is telling you it’s time to ease up a little, you better listen or it will use harsher means of telling you in the form of sickness and injury. Be aware how your body is feeling throughout your training so that nothing holds you back from reaching your goals!

What are your experiences with overtraining? Have anything else you’d like to add?

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