Losing your appetite, altered sleep patterns and mood changes are often a reflection of overreaching, not overtraining. Short of this long-lasting and measurable drop in performance, there are no reliable markers of true overtraining syndrome — which makes it difficult to predict or diagnose. Immediately after an intense workout, you’ll experience a slight drop in absolute fitness due to fatigue and minor damage to muscles and other tissues. Now that you can take the fear that you’ll become overtrained and throw it in the dumpster, it’s time to address a bigger problem—undertraining. Over the last year, unbeknownst to her coach, she has added additional running and strength-training sessions to speed her progress. North Dakota 14:54–61. There is real-life evidence to suggest it’s almost impossible to overtrain a muscle directly. When high stress strikes, don’t abandon your fitness program. “I see lots of people who need to back off on their training, who could make better progress if they took it easier sometimes,” says Vance. Other examples include the weekly “long run” favored by running coaches or a heavy week in the weight room, where you test your max efforts or up the volume on various big lifts. An overdoer like Greg is doing one thing right: He’s working hard. Armed Forces Others. Rhode Island Here are a few more practical applications from some of the world’s leading scientific experts: Kramer: “Overreaching (OR) is where one increases the training stimuli in order to create a decrease in performance but one that has a “supercompensation” response or a rebound with increased performance at some point in time after the OR phase is completed.”8, O’Bryant: “Overreaching is a type of periodization where short-term (one to two weeks) increases in volume or intensity are followed by a return to normal training. 47(3): p. 479-501. How hard are you willing to work to achieve it? Think about that for a moment. However, it IS possible to overstimulate your central nervous system, resulting in chronic fatigue in the muscles (known as overtraining). But since intensity can’t be nonstop, Heather also rests when she needs to and pays attention to her eating and sleeping habits, all of which contribute to her excellent results. (1981). Overtraining can result in mood changes, decreased motivation, frequent injuries and even infections. • Nourish yourself. In one study, Slivka found that a group of well-conditioned elite cyclists actually improved their performance after a three-week, 3,211-kilometer ride. She feels heavy and sluggish most of the time, her sleep patterns and moods are erratic, and recently she’s been under-performing. 35(11): p. 1073-1082. Armed Forces Pacific Heather has been swimming competitively for four years. 20(1): p. 73-81. Let’s look instead at “overreaching,” a concept crucial to your bodybuilding success, and the science behind it. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics. The body’s response to an optimal training program like Heather’s is fairly predictable. Should I be worried about overtraining? Overtraining is a condition where your training intensity or volume exceeds your ability to recover. Utah Research on elite athletes has found an ability to tolerate a threefold increase in training volume for up to three weeks. You may be guilty of under-recovering — sabotaging an otherwise smart exercise regimen with less-than-optimal sleep, diet and stress-management strategies. Roundtable discussion: periodization of training—Part 1. Schoenfeld, B.J., D. Ogborn, and J.W. Oregon Though she used to look forward to exercise, she’s now operating on sheer willpower — and she doesn’t have much more of it left. (2003). North Carolina Sports Med, 2017. Washington For more information or to sign up for his free-tips newsletter, visit www.VinceDelMonteFitness.com. Strength and Cond J. Remember, though, that overtraining syndrome is extremely rare, and unless you’ve been pounding away at the same activity for hours at a stretch, weeks at a time, you’re probably more at risk of overreaching or overdoing (more on that, next) than of overtraining. Listen to enough gym chatter, and you’ll probably get an earful about the dangers of “overtraining.” Unfortunately, most of what you hear will be wrong — or at least somewhat confused. Puerto Rico A reduction in training volume or intensity and return to normal training can produce an increased performance several weeks after the OR. During less stressful periods, you can throw yourself into training with more resolve. Because he never knows when he’ll be able to squeeze in a workout, Greg tends to lift and run as hard as he can every time he gets the chance. Sure, I have had clients who experienced staleness in their workouts and even used phrases like “burned out.” Even so, it was nothing that one or two weeks of rest and good nutrition couldn’t fix. Ohio But if you exercise consistently, tough workouts lead to enhanced fitness and performance. I’ll take that up next time. (2004). 31(11): p. 3109-3119. I’m at a week and a half, and I’ll play it by ear. Ideally, your next workout will take place just as this “super-compensation” period peaks, allowing you to make steady progress over time. 23(6): p. 1890-901. J Strength Cond Res, 2009. Before you blame it on overtraining syndrome, consider whether one of three more likely scenarios might be to blame. Texas • Embrace variety. Classic weekend warriors, who exercise long and hard just once a week, perhaps playing touch football or basketball, often fall into the overdoer camp. I decided to take a couple weeks off to recover. Pete is pursuing a sensible workout routine, but he’s failing to support his exercise efforts with good sleep, quality food and stress management. I’ve never seen it.”. Impaired performances with excessive high-intensity free-weight training. I think you have to pay attention to how you actually feel and go from there. Florida 1998. Hawaii “The people who make the best fitness progress are the ones who are motivated to work hard, but who are also willing and happy to rest when they need to,” says Jim Vance, elite coach and three-time world champion triathlete. You may, in fact, be overtraining (although, as noted, this is unlikely). Kentucky • Seek balance. But do consider scaling back your workout intensity and moderating your frequency. With no chance to super-compensate between workouts, it’s all Pete’s body can do to get back to its preworkout status. 21:342–351. As a result, an overdoer’s fitness outcomes tend to stagnate over time. Thus, OR can be planned (carefully) into the periodized program (usually one to two weeks of increased volume) and may result in a performance boost.”8. Technically, says Slivka, “Any intense workout is a kind of overreach.” But a deliberate overreaching period now and then, followed by deload, can be one of the best things you can do for your body — and one of the most fun. Iowa High power overreaching and dietary intake. Arizona If you think the traditional push-up is too easy, you’re not trying hard enough. In fact, sports scientists are overwhelmingly coming to the conclusion that individuals will never reach a true overtraining state. This is the most comprehensive breakdown of a point often ill-explained. Overtraining (OT) is a maladaptation syndrome resulting when OR-type workloads are applied inappropriately; for example, over prolonged periods or without adequate recovery or regard for the additive effects of other stressors. Mississippi (2003). West Virginia Eventually he recovers, only to pummel himself into a tired pulp once again. Instead of getting stronger and more able, he or she experiences an overall downward fitness trend (interspersed with smaller bumps upward), as the body tries, without success, to repair itself between workouts. J Strength Cond Res, 2005. IM. They might not backslide much, but they don’t progress much, either. It took me approximately seven days of doing nothing to recover from the 15 workouts in five days. I’m constantly tired, my upper back and neck are like coiled springs, my elbow feels inflamed, for starters. Developing impressive delts doesn’t have to take up a ton of time in the weight room. Nebraska New Hampshire (1994). Read on to learn from four case studies how you can avoid such problems before they occur. Unfortunately, he’s too inconsistent in his efforts to get the results he’s working for. 107–127. The key distinction between an ineffective “overdoing” workout and a tougher-than-usual workout in an optimal exercise program is context: If you’re an all-out-all-the-time or a sporadic weekend-warrior type, pushing extra hard will only set you up for soreness and injury. An unorganized, sporadic or overly intense exercise schedule can put undue stress on your body and rob you of fitness results. Tennessee 6 Fry, A.C., et al. #12: What Makes A Successful Bodybuilder? Overtraining from increased loads or training intensity should resolve within a few weeks of rest.6,7,2 It is my recommendation that instead of total rest, if one feels they are in an overtrained state, a taper would be more optimal.” (Wilson, J., and Wilson, G., 2005). 7 Johnson, E.J. Excessive volume (spending too much time exercising) is more likely to cause overtraining than excessive intensity. New Mexico https://www.strongerbyscience.com/autoregulation/. But I feel like I’m beat to hell. Required fields are marked *, State Agitation and moodiness. These results point to a high level of conditioning among the participants, but also to the benefits of a well-conceived — and executed — training program. Lately, though, Greg has been frustrated with his progress. Squat. Alabama Fundamentally, the key to any optimal training program is balance. Exercise feels good and can help to reduce chronic stress over the long haul, but under-recoverers often don’t realize that a demanding workout is itself a form of stress — a physiological stress from which the body needs time and resources to recover. He also doesn’t get enough sleep. The results, though, have been disappointing. Wisconsin So much useful information I feel like my head’s going to explode (in a good way) – I recently wrote a similar article on overtraining and I’d love it if you could give me some feedback? Do you have science to support your stance? “But if DOMS interferes with your daily activities, you probably should take it a little easier on the exercises that caused it and ramp up your efforts more slowly.”. “Overreaching,” or overwork, means a short period of increased work that deliberately exceeds your abilities. A hypothetical model of strength training. When in doubt, consult a trainer.
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