Overtraining a truth or just a myth.
Overtraining has long been a contentious topic in the bodybuilding community. Of course the human body has limits – illnesses like Rabdomyolsis among others are well explored phenomena.
The question is: how serious a risk is over training to bodybuilders? Some say it’s not a serious concern, some say it’s not a serious concern unless you’re natural, and some say that most lifters are over-trained. One quick method can help answer that question for you.
When you wake up in the morning, while still supine, take your pulse. This is best done either in the neck towards the carotid artery or on the outer edge of the bottom of your wrist. Set a phone stopwatch or look at a clock and count your beats for fifteen seconds. Then multiply by four and you have your resting heart rate in beats per minute.
This measurement should be done daily for at least a week. After that you can calculate an average resting heart rate. Of course a heart rate is influenced by many factors – certainly overtraining- so while an elevated heart rate (4-7 bpm over your average) is not a diagnosis of overtraining, it is certainly a confirmation that the body is under stress or adverse conditions. If your heart rate becomes elevated and you’re unsure why, it’s time to start eliminating variables to help discover what the issue is. Of course, heart rates naturally fluctuate according to changes in aerobic capacity, BMI, medication, and age, to name a few. But most healthy changes are gradual. A spike is the truest warning sign.
Still, this brings up an interesting question: what is ‘overtraining?’ Many people believe that overtraining happens before chronic symptoms such as elevated heart rate and blood pressure, fatigue, soreness, inflammation, and stress. But training until the body breaks down is different from training more than optimal. Determining optimal training is up to the individual, but in terms of physical illness, taking a resting heart rate is a simple and excellent resource.
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