Overtraining - AnabolicMinds.com

Overtraining

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    Overtraining


    Overtraining
    Overtraining
    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.
    Iron Addict

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    Great article IA. How do you structure workouts for people who have genetically gifted upper bodies and not-so genetically gifted lower bodies? I can hit anything on my upper body once every five days without a problem. My lower body (with the exception of calves) seems to be at about once every seven days max. With that dilema, I have always had a hard time finding a balance.
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    Good post IA... I just got finished reading Brawn and some of the samething you mention McRobert mentioned also. Made me really take a look at my workout and do some cutting of some items.
    On a similar note, do you recommend not doing any extra arm work outside of the main three lifts deads, squats, and bench?
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    bow,

    I would just make it simple on myself and put everything on a 7 day rotation. You know upper body recovers OK in 5 days, so you can be sure no decline in performance will occur after 7. I would bet that upper body will probably also do better on the 7 day rotation. If you must set it up so upper body is hit every 5 and lower every 7 expect to be doing some days where you have to trian upper and lower body on the same day. No thanks for me, could work for you. Again, you bets bet is doing all in 7.

    Matthew,

    It really depends a lot on the trainnee and their individual ability to recover. Most of the poeple I train do some direct arm work, some of them quite a bit, and some, none at all. If you have tried everything to make arms grow better and they are still not where you want them to be, try a routine that has you dipping for chest and doing supinated chins for back, with ZERO direct arm work. Some people's arms explode when they get on a routine like this, and of course, others need more direct stimulation. Like most things training related there are no blanket responses, but if in doubt abbreiviate. If everyone that lifts read Brawn there would be a lot more muscle on this planet. Stuart is still not very good on nutrition but he knows his **** about training for Joe average.

    Iron Addict
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    Thanks IA, I have added dips back into the routine but I haven't been able to do chins.. just can't seem to get my big ass up over 3 times. I have added just one day of direct arm work biceps and triceps together.
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    Hey IA, what do you think about my strategy which is to hit each muscle twice a week for about 1 month, and than once a week for about 2 months, than taking a week off and repeating the cycle again ? This has helped me in the past, but I know many people are against working each muscle twice a week. My diet and sleep are also taken care of.

    BTW, glad to have you here bro, your contributions are appreciated.
    Last edited by Iron Warrior; 07-10-2003 at 12:04 AM.
  7. LunaHotel's Avatar
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    Very interesting info about overtraining. I pressed the karma button for that one. One thing I did notice is that if I do a lower amount of volume, I gain more strength, and mass does increase, but more slowly than with more volume, whereby I gain more mass... That is, not so much strength, but more SIZE, which is OK to a point.

    I guess this has to do with my always, for many years, limiting my workout duration to 40 minutes, and squeezing more sets into a given amount of time has me reducing my pundages some, BUT very probably stimulating GH very thoroughly. Then again, my "more volume training" is really, or so I'm told, insanely pedal-to-the-metal. People ask me if I'm not afraid of heart attacks ... my heart beat does go to 100% Max...

    Anyways, I'm possibly a natural GH freak under these conditions. Where this ties into overtraining is that I noticed that the frequency I can train my body at is inversely proportional to my muscle size. What I mean is that back when I was say 175, I could train every muscle every 4 days HARD with a 3-on, 1-off schedule, and even a 2-a-day 3-on, 1-off split. Above 200 lbs I get dead tired on a 4-on, 2-off split after only a month or so.

    I had noticed this in the past and since the last 4 months that I came back to training after two years layoff, well the same thing happened again, although very quickly... i.e. 2 months ago I could do a LOT more frequency but now that my bodyweight, muscle volume and strength are closer to where I was, I tire quickly.

    Is there really a kinda "declining returns" on total-body recuperation, inversely proportional to muscle mass? This would mean that the more mass you gain, or the more strength, then the optimal frequency would decrease, and then possibly total volume also...??? Big questions huh?
  8. iron addict's Avatar
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    Iron Warrior,

    ALL that matters is what works. I am against training that frequently for a variety of reasons, but if it works for you by all means use it.

    Luna,

    ABSOLUTELY!!! When you are as an example squatting 225 for 10 it takes a certain amount of time and metabolic effort for your body to recover from this stress. When you get to the point where you are squatting 450 for 10 the demands on you bodies abilty to recover from the stress imposed are huge. You have doubled the weight, at LEAST doubled the stress on your body, the problem is your body has not gotten twice as good at recovering. Most everyone finds as they get more advanced the volume and frequency has to be adjusted to compensate.

    Iron Addict
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    IA, thanks much for your help! Were lucky bastards to have you around.
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    IA, I read that you should give a given muscle group at least one day rest past recovery of soreness to allow for growth.... Is this a good barometer?

    For instance, if lifting chest, and it takes 4 days for all soreness to go away, it is ok to lift chest 6 days later?

    JWest
  11. iron addict's Avatar
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    JWest0926,

    The best barometer to use is the weight on the bar. If you are not beating your prior weeks best, at least by a little bit you are just endlessly repeating the same workout. How is this going to make you grow? The guidline of one day past soreness is a terrible one to use, as there are two phases after a growth stimulating workout that must be allowed to occur if you are to make progress. The first is just basic recovery. The first thing the muscle does is to just get back to where it was previously. When you get to the point where you are no longer sore THAT is about the point where supercompensation begins. Yes, it is then where you actually begin the stage of adding a liittle more than was there previously. Most people only allow the first phase to occur which is why they continually repeat the same weights and reps. If FULL recovery AND supercompensation has occured you should be stronger by at least a liitle bit the next time in the gym.

    Iron Addict
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    IA - I've read a lot of your stuff and agree completely, just one thing though - paragrpahs! it would make reading a whole lot easier.
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    Yeah I know. My formatting sucks. I start writting and do get carried away. I'm surprised you didn't mention my run-on sentances. I have to stop myself all the time--lol!

    Iron Addict
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    I would like to know your opinion of my current training method. I've always known that it would be benificial to keep a training log, but I find it kind of burdensome to carry around a notebook while training. While that is an issue that I may need to deal with, I've adapted by training with high reps to the point that I simply can not do another rep with relativly good form.

    I've found that by using high reps, 15-20, I feel a better "pump" and can be more confident that I reached a point where I simply can not perform another rep with good form. I've come to find that reaching a better pump leaves me more sore the next day, and I interpret this as a good sign. But reading your article leads me to belive that I may just be overtraining and not achieving the gains that I should. If I understand correcly, my pursuit of the pump and soreness as training results may inhibit my achievment of gains.

    Thoughts?
  15. iron addict's Avatar
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    cookmic5,

    The "pump" is NOT an indicator that growth has been stimulated. All the "pump" means is that blood has engorged the muscle. That's what it is, and thats all it is. Many effective training routines and protocols will leave you pumped and will make you grow........and many innefective training routines will give you a great "pump" and will NOT stimulate growth, or will overtrain you and not allow growth to ocur. Let me just say this, and I will leave the rest of the details to a future article I have written and will post soon.

    People that 'are not sure" if their current routine is working, in about 90% of the cases, its NOT working. If your training is structured correctly AND diet is right, you will DAMN SURE know you are progressing.

    As you become more and more advenced the gains come at a slower pace and are somewhat more difficult to guage, but for most of the people out there, UNTIL YOU HAVE BUILT A DECENT STRENGHT BASE YOU SHOULD BE PRIMARILY TRAINING TO INCREASE YOUR LIFTS. C'mon people, this is weight training here. Using volume to increase your loading and size is well and good and can produce some great results, but how is doing lots of sets with light weights ever going to make you really big? Well for MOST people the answer is, "it's NOT! Again, worry about adding weight to your lifts whenever possible (and if ALL factors are correct it should be every or almost every workout) and as the bar slowly gets heavier, so will you. Until you are squatting reps with 350-500 lbs, benching, 250-350 for reps, and deadlifting 400-550 for reps, building up to this strenght level should be your primary goal. BTW, these three core lifts were given here because they are the most easily recognizable ones for attaining sheer body mass, you also need to be heavy and progressive with your other lifts. No, we are not training to be powrlifters, but until you have at least that foundation level of strenght, everything else should be secondary. How you get there is unimportant as long as you are progressive with the poundages. If you can be progressive doing 12-20 sets a bodypart, fine do volume. If you can be progressive doing 6-8 sets per bodypart, train with that amount of loading. If all you can do is one to a few sets a bodypart while remaining progrssive with your poundages THAT is the level of workload you should be doing week in and week out. As a trainer I can tell you that Joe average, with average genetics will PROBABLY only be able to add weight to the bar consistently doing the lower level of volume training. This means from 1 to about 9 sets a bodypart. What matters is what works, and if it's working, you WILL know it is.

    Iron Addict
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    IA, thanks for the knowledge, maybe I'll go get that notebook afterall.
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    Originally posted by iron addict
    cookmic5,

    The "pump" is NOT an indicator that growth has been stimulated. All the "pump" means is that blood has engorged the muscle. That's what it is, and thats all it is. Many effective training routines and protocols will leave you pumped and will make you grow........and many innefective training routines will give you a great "pump" and will NOT stimulate growth, or will overtrain you and not allow growth to ocur. Let me just say this, and I will leave the rest of the details to a future article I have written and will post soon.

    People that 'are not sure" if their current routine is working, in about 90% of the cases, its NOT working. If your training is structured correctly AND diet is right, you will DAMN SURE know you are progressing.

    As you become more and more advenced the gains come at a slower pace and are somewhat more difficult to guage, but for most of the people out there, UNTIL YOU HAVE BUILT A DECENT STRENGHT BASE YOU SHOULD BE PRIMARILY TRAINING TO INCREASE YOUR LIFTS. C'mon people, this is weight training here. Using volume to increase your loading and size is well and good and can produce some great results, but how is doing lots of sets with light weights ever going to make you really big? Well for MOST people the answer is, "it's NOT! Again, worry about adding weight to your lifts whenever possible (and if ALL factors are correct it should be every or almost every workout) and as the bar slowly gets heavier, so will you. Until you are squatting reps with 350-500 lbs, benching, 250-350 for reps, and deadlifting 400-550 for reps, building up to this strenght level should be your primary goal. BTW, these three core lifts were given here because they are the most easily recognizable ones for attaining sheer body mass, you also need to be heavy and progressive with your other lifts. No, we are not training to be powrlifters, but until you have at least that foundation level of strenght, everything else should be secondary. How you get there is unimportant as long as you are progressive with the poundages. If you can be progressive doing 12-20 sets a bodypart, fine do volume. If you can be progressive doing 6-8 sets per bodypart, train with that amount of loading. If all you can do is one to a few sets a bodypart while remaining progrssive with your poundages THAT is the level of workload you should be doing week in and week out. As a trainer I can tell you that Joe average, with average genetics will PROBABLY only be able to add weight to the bar consistently doing the lower level of volume training. This means from 1 to about 9 sets a bodypart. What matters is what works, and if it's working, you WILL know it is.

    Iron Addict
    hey bro, i have a couple questions for u. like ive said before, i have been using HIT for about a year almost now and my progress has been at the least above average. however i respond more to size than strength hands-down. i weigh 210 and if i told u my bench press, u wouldnt believe me--it needs some major work, but my body doesn't show it the least bit. all of my bros that i see every now and again say that they cant believe im the same person, etc.

    anyways, w/ that in mind, i think its safe to say that is why that ive been progressing very slowly lately and not as fast as before w/ the exception of PH's. i notice that even if my workout that week did not go up much at all, and sometimes not at all, i still get sore. sometimes its REALLY SORE. in your opinion, do u think that im still causing hypertrophy. even if im not progressing EACH week but still exp. soreness?

    this has been boggling my mind lately and i cant seem to figure it out. i took a 12-13 days break a bit ago and i just started a new cycle of androgens this week, hoping to gain more strength than size this time around. but the week(s) that i trained w/o the androgens right after my break, same story. very little increase in some exc. and none in others.

    i would appreciatte it if u could offer some thoughts on my predicament--not ways to combat it, but just what u think is causing my situations or overall view.(especially the hypertrophy one)

    --thx again
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    Jergo,

    The "pump" and soreness have something in common. That is they both tell you very little as to if your routine is effective or not. Some people are sore after every workout and never grow, some people never get sore and grow like weeds, and every scale in between these two extremes are seen. Again just because you get sore does not mean growth was stimulated. And you may also get sore while while stimulating growth, but overtraining to the degree that the growth that is stimulated does not occur because of the overtrained state.

    Iron Addict
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    IA, I would again like to thank you for the knowledge, I am seriously rethinking the way I train. I think one of the problems is that too many people have trouble deciding just what overtraining is, and often want a definate answer of x reps or x sets or a 4 day split instead of 3. Also, the training credo has always been "no pain, no gain" and many people (including myself) often take this to mean you have to achieve the "pump" and feel sore as hell the next day or two. But your overlying message seems to be listen to your body and do what works, instead of listening to what someone tells you is the best method. If sore as hell leads to gains, then do it, if not, then adjust.

    My next question is a little off from the discussion thus far, but its still relative to overtraining, and could be something that many of us are guilty of, so I think this is the right point to ask it. You oftern hear that attention should be paid to all three heads of the delts, biceps etc... This lead me to start incorporting rev. flys and 3 variations on biceps, tri, chest, etc... Do you think this may be another overtraining mistake? Am I micromanaging instead of being more concerned with the overall progress of the basic muscle instead? for example, instead of doing barbell curls, hammer curls, and incline curls to hit all three heads, concentrate on increasing strength in just one or two, and worry about hitting all heads the day I'm a 280 lbs. Mr. Universe contestant. Or is attention to all parts of a muscle important just as long as I continue to progress in all three?

    I "think" I already know your response to this, but I think this could be a important bit of information that many members could benifit from hearing from an knowledgable bro like yourself.

    always learning

    cookmic5
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    Originally posted by cookmic5
    You oftern hear that attention should be paid to all three heads of the delts, biceps etc... This lead me to start incorporting rev. flys and 3 variations on biceps, tri, chest, etc... Do you think this may be another overtraining mistake? Am I micromanaging instead of being more concerned with the overall progress of the basic muscle instead? for example, instead of doing barbell curls, hammer curls, and incline curls to hit all three heads, concentrate on increasing strength in just one or two, and worry about hitting all heads the day I'm a 280 lbs. Mr. Universe contestant.

    You just answered your own question there!

    Remember the body is a unit, not a collection of parts - you can't build 18 inch arms alongside a 38 inch chest, if you want big arms you need to increase bodyweight. I personally gained over 1 inch on my arms in 3 months doing 1 set for biceps every 10 days, the reason was I increased my bodyweight (by squatting and deading progressively heavy) so my whole body was growing as a unit - expecting localised growth is inefficient.
    When your growing at that rate (which is well within the capabilities of anybody) then you won't give a damn about your rear delts, serratus, brachialis because the whole body will grow as one, in the unlikely event you end up with a couple of lagging parts you can spend a month or so bringing them up, don't waste time on them now - lifting the sorts of numbers IA posted above is your priority now.
    Isolation moves are for bringing out the details - they are conterproductive to mass building when done in excess - as Stuart McRobert said - Let's not try to put the icing on the cake before the cake has baked!
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    A few questions, kinda playing devils advocate here.

    1. Obviously everybody is gonna have a different rate of supercompensation and adaptation then others. So do you think that for some individuals an extra rep a week or an increase in 2.5 lbs per set might be a little much? I just dont want some people think that they are going absolutely no where if they do miss that extra rep a week by a couple inches.

    2. When dealing with slightly higher reps (15) Dont you think that some hypertrophy is possible through non-contractile tissue. ie blood vessel diameter, mitochondria size, and larger glycogen stores.

    Im just throwing stuff out here. I enjoy your posts IA
  22. Jergo's Avatar
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    concerning the rear delt thing, when doing iso's for rear delts, am i still working the rest of my shoulders (ie, front, side)?
    same thing w/ miltary presses and lat raises, are they working the rear's as well?

    if so, i guess it would make sense if working rear's, then to do them on the same day i do shoulders. any help bros?

    thx for ur response IA........
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    Ive always done rear delts on back day after all my other exercises. They are smaller muscles so they are easier to isolate after the larger traps, rhromboids and lats have been fatigued. But then again you are using your rear delts when you do movements like lat pull downs and rowing movements. If youre building muscle stick to the compound stuff. All those other little muscles will be getting their share during the work. No need to worry about them.
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    Originally posted by TooL
    Ive always done rear delts on back day after all my other exercises. They are smaller muscles so they are easier to isolate after the larger traps, rhromboids and lats have been fatigued. But then again you are using your rear delts when you do movements like lat pull downs and rowing movements. If youre building muscle stick to the compound stuff. All those other little muscles will be getting their share during the work. No need to worry about them.
    yea, thanx it makes sense to work 'em on back day. ive been sticking to just the compound ones too, but u can look at my rear delts and tell they need work. i posted about it awhile back, but didn't start on them yet. from all the talk i hear about injuries w/ their shoulders, i thought it should be time to work on getting them bigger. u can see the holes in the back just by glancing.

    i was figuring that i would just do a couple sets on back day w/ cables. ie, 10-8 reps.
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