One of the hardest things I find about working out and trying the achieve the body and fitness levels I want is taking the time off to ensure growth and recovery. I’m surely not alone when I say people could spend hours in the gym doing specific exercises to target each muscle group as well as the big primary lifts in order to stimulate growth. It’s instinctive to think that stimulating muscle more will cause you to grow more…
Why is this a bad idea? Well this can cause the issue of overtraining.
Overtraining results in coordination impairment, performance impairment and a series of psychological symptoms. The most common being the performance impairment. Athletes will experience diminished powers of endurance, strength, speed. Increase in recovery time, loss of ‘sparkle’ (competitive qualities). Susceptibility to demoralising influences before and during competition and increasing tendency to abandon the struggle. All the hard work in the gym actually results in a reduced performance rather than an increased one. Psychological symptoms include being irritative and more sensitive to criticism or advice.
I myself can say I’ve been there. I thought I could handle more than other people and I let my ego get the better of me. 2 Gym sessions a day 5-6 days a week and I ground to a stand still. No energy no gains, no results it was a complete waste of time and ended in me getting injured. So learn from my mistakes and don’t do it! Less is sometimes more. What put me off was reading the bodybuilders saying they hit calves morning then chest in the afternoon sort of thing and I forgot that these guys are on everything going and are not average human beings. They sleep at all sorts of weird times and it’s their profession so of course they are going to need to hit it differently.
I have since adapted my workouts more so that I do almost half as many sets, and what do you know, I am building lean muscle mass at a fantastic rate. I am also able to train for an Ironman and build ultra endurance, as long as I don’t train over the top then this is still manageable
The reason I have made this post is to highlight an often overlooked cause to a plateau and that is OVERTRAINING.
Causes of Overtraining
- Recovery is neglected
- Training is too frequent
- The stresses and increase in demands on the body are too rapid
- Post injury training is resumed at too high an intensity
- Inadequate nutrition
- Lifestyle stresses
- Illness itself
It doesn’t only apply to building muscle but also, losing weight and increasing ones endurance.
The issue swings both ways though as obviously not doing enough training will mean you are not going to be improving at the maximum rate. What is the perfect amount to train? That is totally dependant on the athlete and the amount that they train, how intense it is, their environment, nutrition etc.
My advice to you is evaluate how often you go to the gym, I recommend no more than 20-25 sets per gym session if you are training 5 days a week. Track your workouts in a notepad and make sure you are building up in weight and in times etc. This should not be adding 1kg on each session but being able to push out that extra rep and then increasing weight over a period of months.
Hope that helps guys, hit it hard! However don’t be stupid!