is defined as doing more training than your body can recover from, thus reducing or stopping size/strength adaptations from occurring. Everyone has a finite capacity to recover from the demands of lifting weights. What is not usually realized is just how intense these demands are on your metabolism and how much individual response to this varies. Some people are very tolerant of high loads of both volume and frequency. This means they can go to the gym more often and do many sets and movements and still have the ability to adapt and make size/strength gains from this load. Guess who these people generally are? Yup, they are the huge guys you see in the mags that win the contests. Unfortunately they are the role models that most people base their training on. What is failed to be understood is that unless you have the same capacity to recover from training as they do you will overtrain badly and not grow. OVERTRAINING IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST REASON MOST TRAINEES MAKE SLOW OR NO PROGRESS! OK, so now that we know that, what is undertraining? It's simple and quite frankly is not usually the problem. Undertraining is not imposing an adequate stress on your musculature by not forcing it to more than it is accustomed to. Unless you constantly force your muscles to do a task they cannot do you have not provided adequate stimulus for growth. "Pumpers" are most often guilty of this. They go to the gym and do their 3 sets of ten of three movements and as long as they get their sets in and achieve a good pump they are happy. Unfortunately they don't send the growth signal to their bod this way. Never attempting more then you are capable of will leave you stalemated. As far as not hitting a muscle often enough, this is just not a factor. Almost everyone hits a muscle at least once a week and this is fine and even hitting a muscle every 9-10 days will work. It takes much longer for adaptation to occur than most people realize. After you work a muscle and provide stimulus for growth two things must occur. First recovery, then adaptation (growth).
So how do you know if your overtraining? Well the real barometer should be your training weights. You should be seeing increases in about every movement from week to week. These increases need not be big but unless they are occurring you need to revisit your program and make some changes. Adding one rep, or 2.5 lbs to a movement is significant but unless it is occurring you just repeated the same workout as last time and as long as you are doing the same weights your gonna have the same body. VERY LITTLE VOLUME IS NEEDDED TO STIMULATE GAINS! Using back as an example if you are doing one movement for width and one for thickness you have it covered. Why add more? If you do your warm-ups and then do 2 all out sets to failure you have surely stimulated growth, why do more? Remember you grow proportionately to the degree you do not overtrain (of coarse without proper nutrition NOTHING will happen but that’s another story). There is a wonderful magazine called “Hardgainer” that is written catering to drug-free genetically typical people. Why would that be of interest to us gear-heads? Well this mag has AWESOME examples that illustrates just how little training is actually needed for growth and how people that NEVER made gains get big by training within their ability to recover between workouts. If you are not making significant progress on your current training program HOW DO YOU EVER SUPPOSE IT’S GOING TO “MAGICALLY” ONE DAY START WORKING? Everyone can grow off of simple routines done not more than 3-4 days a week (for many people 4 days is too much) but very few can tolerate lots of exercises and lots of sets done many days a week. Adding more movements and sets is RARELY the answer if your progress is not satisfactory. If it’s not working REDUCE, if progress is not forthcoming reduce again, and again until you are growing. SOME PEOPLE HAVE VERY LITTLE ABILITY TO TOLERATE HEAVY TRAINING! They can still achieve great results but have to abbreviate their training radically to be able to recover. WHO CARES IF THE APPROACH IS RADICAL AS LONG AS THE RESULTS ARE? OVERTRAINING = SLOW OR NO GROWTH EOD. Don’t get trapped in the OT rut. It is far better to do a program that is basic and allows you to make progress on a few movements than one designed to “hit the muscle from all angles” and not grow.