Overtraining can present with a wide range of physiologic or psychological symptoms which vary widely among individuals. The best indicators of overtraining include a 10-15 beat elevation in (morning) resting heart rate and a change in mood state, such as feelings of frustration, anger, depression or apathy.
Symptoms of Overtraining
◆ Decreases in performance and
◆ Feeling “burned-out” or stale.
◆ Difficulty making decisions.
◆ Difficulty concentrating.
◆ Chronic fatigue.
◆ Anger and irritability.
◆ Lacking in motivation.
◆ Muscle soreness.
◆ Mood disturbances.
◆ Increased distractibility.
Rest, monitoring of morning heart rate, assessing mood and abstaining from certain physical activities will all help to reduce overtraining symptoms and injuries. The person who continues training despite these symptoms will become more overtrained, continue to have decreases in performance, and will be at an increased risk for illness and injury.
In order to avoid overtraining you must limit your overall workout volume and provide your body with sufficient recovery time between workouts. Overtraining is one of the most common mistakes that virtually all beginners encounter.
Overtraining is also inspired by muscle magazines publishing high volume workouts of chemically enhanced professionals. These are emulated by young trainees who are then unable to effectively recuperate between workouts from such high volume.
Beginners naturally assume that the more overall work they perform in the gym, the greater their results will be. This follows from the mistaken belief that the more you train a muscle the bigger and stronger it will become. This is only true up to a certain point.
It is important to understand that there is a point beyond which exerting more effort in training actually becomes counter-productive. Most people aren’t aware of how easy it is to overtrain, or of the signs that they may be overtraining.
It is great to have an abundance of motivation to get to the gym and do all the hard graft, (a factor which appears to be missing in the majority of trainees), however this enthusiasm needs to be tempered by the knowledge that there is an optimum amount of work necesary to acheive bodybuilding training success.
If you find that you are losing enthusiasm for your workouts, if you are constantly fatigued, if your progress has halted, it’s probably time to have a break from training.
More is not always better
In almost all other aspects of life the basic logic of “more is better” holds true. If you want to improve your performance of specific skills for example then “more practice makes perfect” as the old saying goes.
When it comes to training in order to increase muscular size and strength however, using this philosophy will prove counterproductive.
Sometimes less is more
The key thing to realise is that your muscles will not grow larger and stronger if they are stressed beyond the point from which they can recover.
Resistance training is merely the stimulus to promote adaptation – the actual growth process takes place away from the gym while you’re recuperating. If you disturb this recovery process, your muscles cannot effectively rebuild themselves.
Your goal in the gym is to perform the minimum amount of work necessary in order to yield an adaptive response from the body, no more, no less.
The natural trainee who can undergo intense physical training everyday and still recuperate effectively does not exist. This is the main reason why trainee bodybuilders should not follow the workouts of the pros.
As a natural trainee it’s imperative therefore that you enjoy at least two days a week away from intense training.
You can avoid overtraining by limiting the number of sets that you perform during each workout – you should perform a total of 5-7 sets for large muscle groups (chest, back and thighs) and 2-5 total sets for small muscle groups (shoulders, biceps, triceps, calves and abs).
Limit the amount of time spent in the gym – Each workout should not last for any more than 1 hour.
Limit your training frequency for each muscle group – Each specific muscle group should only be directly stimulated once per week in order to allow for full recovery time.
This concept can be difficult to grasp for aspiring trainees eager to increase muscle size and the belief that more is better can be difficult to dislodge. However remember that sometimes “less is more” and as long as you train hard, you do not need to train often, or with very many sets and exercises.
In fact, performing excessive work in the gym will likely cause your muscles to become smaller and weaker.