Are You Overtraining?
By ProSource Training Team | Thursday, March 9, 2017 3:10:01 PM America/New_York
8 Signs You’re Overdoing It
Plus 8 Tips For Getting Back on Track
“How can I be working so hard and achieving so little?”
We’ve all been there. Or at the very least, we’ve heard plenty of people express this age-old lament. “Why am I not making more progress? I must be overtraining.”
Well, maybe. Four times out of five, the “overtrained” gym warrior isn’t working as hard as he or she thinks they are. This is the guy checking his iPhone between sets or the woman who’s been doing the same workout in the same way as long as she can remember. These are the people who are eating too little to gain mass or too much to lean out.
But what about that fifth person? Are you that fifth person who is genuinely trying too hard? Are you over-taxing your body’s capacity to recover? For those trying—and failing—to build more muscle mass, keep in mind that you grow during rest, not during training. Rest is the element of the growth triumvirate (along with training and diet) that we most often undervalue. So, are you overtraining? Let’s take a look.
8 Signs of Overtraining to Monitor
1. Higher Than Normal Resting Heart Rate. Measure your resting heart rate first thing in the morning. If you find your resting heart rate is 5 beats higher than normal (you’ll need to have some baseline data and actually have a consistent idea of what your resting heart rate truly is), take an easy day at the gym. Ten beats above normal? Take the day off.
2. Decrease in Grip Strength. A decrease in max grip strength is an indicator over-reaching and overtraining is potentially setting in. You can use a dynamometer or a simple hand gripper to monitor your grip strength. If you find you are unable to produce as much force (your dynamometer readings are falling or you are unable to close hand grippers you normally would be able to), you may need to reduce your workload.
3. Loss of Focus and Concentration. Do you find your mind wandering during your workout? Are you suddenly unsure if this is your second set of leg presses or third? Are you actually watching the music videos on the flatscreen TV on the wall? Are you finding that it’s taking you 52 minutes to do a workout that should require 45 minutes? A tired mind is the cause of an unproductive workout. Take a day off and try something different. Go for a walk on the beach. Recharge.
4. Negative Outcomes in Performance Tests. Declining vertical jump or broad jump can also be an indicator you are approaching an overtrained state. Consider testing one of these every couple of weeks to keep tabs on this.
5. Depressed Immune Function. Do you seem to be catching every cold bug that comes around? Or do you have a cold you just can’t seem to shake? In the aftermath of high-intensity exercise, your body is in a catabolic state. That doesn’t just mean that your muscle tissue is frayed and glycogen levels are low. It means that your immune defenses are lowered, too. Make sure you’re supplementing with adequate BCAAs and glutamine, and try adding Vitamins A and E to your regimen as well. You’ll feel better.
6. Soreness That Lasts More Than 72 Hours. “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” That’s what the workout T-shirts say, anyway. But lasting pain, especially soreness that lasts past Day 2 post-workout, means you’re not recovering properly. Again, rest is the best medicine, sometimes.
7. Irregular Sleep or Appetite. A common occurrence with overtraining is a disruption in things like sleep patterns (insomnia or you’re tired during the day) or appetite (lack of appetite or empty-calorie binging). These are due to the inflammatory response from too much pounding on the body and can indicate a problem with the sympathetic nervous system.
8. Lack of Motivation. Everybody has an off day. But if you can’t remember the joy you once encountered when you walked onto the gym floor, it’s time to switch things up big time. Take a full week off and gain a new perspective.
Progress isn’t linear. If it were, we’d all be benching 400 lbs. for 10 reps and pulling 700 lbs in less than 2 years. For the typical real world gym rat (job, family, social commitments, etc.), sometimes life gets in the way and isn’t conducive to optimal training. Don’t be afraid to take some time off if it will help you come back stronger. The gym will still be there when you get back.
8 Tips for Preventing Overtraining
1. Warm-Up Every Time. If you don’t have time to warm-up, you really don’t have time to workout. Take the time to perform self myofascial release (SMR) with a foam roller, static stretch, and perform dynamic mobility and activation drills (in that order) prior to your workouts. Furthermore, perform several “ramp up” sets prior to your heavy work sets on your first big exercise of the day. This is especially important the longer you’ve been training.
2. Get Your Nutrition, Sleep and Supplementation “On Point.” You should be fueling your body with lean protein, good fats, and plenty of fruits and veggies. You should be supplementing wisely and consistently. (We’ll have some suggestions further down.) Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep, if not more. Try to go to bed and rise around the same time each night and morning. Yes, even on weekends. Turn off the electronics before bed and keep the thermostat between 65 and 68.
3. Don’t Neglect Recovery Modalities. Carry over the notion of proper warm-ups into other parts of your day. Keep a foam roller in your living room. Roll out problem areas during commercials while watching TV. Stretch, meditate, and practice proper (belly) breathing techniques before bed. Also, things like contrast showers (alternating a couple minutes hot and a couple minutes cold) and a weekly massage can be helpful.
4. Take a De-load Week Every 5th Week. After a month of progressively hard training, it is a great idea to cut the volume, frequency or intensity of your workouts (or some combination of those) in half for a week. Try cutting volume while keeping intensity high. For example, if you’re performing 4 sets of 6 with 200 lbs. at the end of a 4 week training block on a main exercise, simply drop down to 2 sets of 3 with the same 200 lbs.
5. Take a Complete Week Off Every 8-10 Weeks. Nothing else really needs to be said here. If you simply cannot or will not do this, at least spend a week doing nothing but extra stretching and corrective exercise for weak or banged up areas.
6. Program According to Your Fitness Level. If you are a beginner, don’t try to copy the program of an elite strength athlete who has 15 years under the bar. These folks have built up tremendous strength and work capacity because they’ve put their time in. Trying to mimic their programs from the get-go will drive you into the ground and keep you there. Get your ego in check, start with a basic program, and add volume, frequency and intensity slowly over time.
7. Consider Heavy, Medium and Light Days. Two to three heavy days/week is plenty. If you are training 4-6 days/week, you cannot realistically expect to make each of those workouts super extreme and make long term progress without running down. Consider cycling the volume and intensity of your workouts. More experienced trainees who are very in tune with their body can auto regulate on a workout-by-workout basis. If you are feeling really good, go after it. If you are feeling a little off, cut things back a bit.
8. Add a Pre-Workout Supplement. Like BioQuest’s AndroFury to Your Regimen. A state-of-the-art performance optimizer isn’t the cure for overtraining, but it will amp up a listless workout. AndroFury addresses every factor of performance optimization and enhanced work output with a complex of performance catalysts including arginine-AKG, citrulline, niacin, beta alanine, and R-lipoic acid for support of muscle pump and endurance, plus the key aminos glutamine, taurine and BCAAs for recovery. It also contains a full-spectrum protodioscin-rich botanical super compound that supports and optimizes endogenous testosterone levels, which are essential for maximum performance. In cases where overtraining isn’t the problem, a solid performance enhancer could be just the ticket.
Want to beat that lingering soreness? Try fish oil. A high-quality Omega-3 fish oil supplement is an incredibly versatile and valuable dietary addition. The Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been associated in ongoing study with joint mobility, cardiovascular health, and even healthy cholesterol levels. Athletes have long used Omega-3’s to help reduce post-workout muscle soreness and as an energy source (another cure for that listless workout). ProSource’s Omega-1250 is derived from pure deep-sea, cold-water sources that are molecularly distilled and highly purified. Each softgel capsule contains an ultra-potent 750 mg of the highest quality Omega-3 fatty acids, including high amounts of EPA (450 mg) and DHA (300 mg).
And finally, here’s one for the men only. We mentioned the importance of keeping your testosterone levels fully supported and maxed-out. T-levels impact every aspect of performance, vitality, and overall wellness for a man, and the science of natural testosterone support has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. At the forefront of this science is AndroTest, the first true clinical-grade natural testosterone booster. AndroTest contains a powerful protodioscin-rich botanical super-compound that has been shown to support free and total testosterone levels in clinical testing. In fact, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical study, AndroTest® produced statistically significant increases in free testosterone, averaging 59.75% over baseline, with some subjects reaching up to 218% over baseline. Harness that kind of power you’ll be back on track in the gym in no time.
In summary, true overtraining is very rare, and certainly is not indicative of feeling a little tired, having a bad workout, or even a string of bad workouts. Pay attention to some of the signs of impending overtraining, and if you find you may be at the tipping point of becoming truly overtrained, take a look at the tips and strategies provided to see where you can improve. Smart programming, nutrition and recovery will likely be all you need to fend off true overtraining.
Read more about AndroFury here.
Read more about ProSource Omega-1250 here.
Read more about AndroTest here.
Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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