If you have visited online bodybuilding forums you have undoubtedly heard discussions on overtraining. People are always worried that they may be training too much or too hard.
I want to set the record straight. Overtraining is a phenomenon that does exist. Iíve seen it in many athletes (itís especially prevalent in swimmers), and itís a result of weeks or months of very high training loads. Overtraining is typically distinguished by a decrease in physical and mental performance. Itís also often accompanied by mild depression.
Overtraining is a very serious matter and should be treated as such. However, the bottom-line for the recreational lifter is that itís very unlikely that they are overtraining.
Athletes often combine hours of sport practice, weight training, and technique practice with poor nutritional habits, lack of sleep, and the stress of school or a job. The sum of all these factors can lead to overtraining.
But if you simply workout at the gym 2-5 days per week for 60-90 minutes and work a moderately stressful desk job, itís not very likely you are over training.
I think the misconception begins when people donít see improvement in strength or muscle mass over time. They begin looking for reasons as to why they arenít improving, and one of those reasons is that they may be over training.
This reminds of something I heard Dave Tate (owner of Elite Fitness Systems) say:
ďDo you really think youíre weak in an exercise because you train it too often?Ē
It seems very unlikely to me. Sure, you can train too much, but unless you have very poor recovery capacity I seriously doubt that those three times per week lifting sessions are too much for you.
If youíre still convinced youíre over training you need to take a look at three factors:
1. Training Program
Where did you get your training program from? Did you just make it up or copy it from a magazine? Maybe the reason youíre not progressing is that your training program flat out sucks. A well-designed training program will prevent over training and insure consistent progress
Do you really eat as often and as much as you should? Are you eating only healthy, high-quality food? If you canít answer ďyesĒ to these questions then you arenít doing what it takes to recover from training. Stop blaming it on ďovertrainingĒ and look at your diet.
Do you get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night? Do you go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day (including weekends)? If you canít answer yes to both of these questions then you arenít doing everything in your power to achieve your goals. This isnít some fast muscle building secret, but itís something that needs to be done.
There some fast muscle building secrets out there, but you need to do the basics first. Simply put, if you arenít doing these three things then you shouldnít be looking for the reasons you arenít progressing. Theyíre right in front of you.
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