You may not even know it but practically everyone that’s picked up a set of weights has experienced symptoms of over training at one point in their muscle building program. Over training will lead to serious injury, muscle fatigue, muscle loss and or hinder muscle growth.
Over-training is very common because most weightlifters figure that training as much as possible is the fastest way to massive muscle gains. Like most things in life the harder you work the more effort you put into something the better the results right.
This is dead wrong thinking it couldn’t be any further from the truth…
Training too often without proper recovery, or at too high of an intensity will lead to over training.
In order to get the most out of your genetics, you have to progressively overload the muscles by increasing the weight and or intensity of each weight training workout.
The problem is that many of us increase the intensity of our workouts so much we go overboard. Many will not allow for proper rest and recovery time between workouts or even worse, some do both. The key is finding the right balance between workout intensity and rest and recovery. And that is exactly what I’ll cover in this post.
The Effects of Over-training on Hormone Levels
Many studies show that over training negatively affects the levels of hormones, as well as the hormone responses in our bodies. Since hormones play such an vital part in the muscle building process, this can have a unfavorable effect on your muscle training.
Over-training has been show to:
- Decrease testosterone levels
- Decrease thyroxine levels
- Increase cortisol levels
The increase in cortisol levels along with the decrease in testosterone levels is a poisonous combination, because this leads to your body tapping into your muscles for energy. Of course this will lead to a loss of hard gained muscle tissue.
The Effects of Over Training on the Immune System
One of the most startling drawbacks of over training is its impact on your immune system ability to fight harmful viruses and bacteria. Over training can decreases your ability to produce antibodies and white blood cells in your body making you much more vulnerable to illness. This means that if you are in a over training you are much more likely to get sick with a cold or flu. No workouts equals no muscle gains.
Other Effects of Over-training
Here is a list of the most commonly seen symptoms of over training:
Micro tears in the muscle
Chronically depleted glycogen levels
Excessive accumulation of lactic acid
Extreme DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
Tendon and connective tissue damage
In order to build muscle fast and to get bigger you must fully recover from your last workout before your next workout. If you are over training and work out the muscles again before they have fully recovered you will break down the muscle again before it has rebuilt itself making it impossible to build muscle!
Over training can lead beginners down the wrong path perhaps wasting money on unnecessary supplements or even worse steroids.
How do I Determine if I’m Over Training?
Determining if you’re currently over -training is fairly straightforward. If you’re in tune with your body, you can often see the signs of over training before they get serious. If you are losing interest in workouts, losing strength, are having trouble sleeping, tough time warming up, severe aches and pains, you’re probably over training and should take a week or more off.
If you are experiencing two or more of the symptoms mentioned previously this should definitely raise a red flag for you. The easiest way to determine if you are over training is by tracking the performance of your workouts. Has your performance gone up or down compared to your last workout?
For example, let’s say last workout you were able to perform 10 reps on the flat bench press with 22 lbs for 10 reps, but were only able to perform 7 reps the next workout. This means that you have not have not fully recovered, and therefore are more than likely over training!! You have to re-examine your program and make changes so that you see progress every workout.
How Can I Prevent Over training?
In order to avoid over training you need to take an all-around approach. Determining the correct training intensity, eating the right foods, and getting the right amount of rest must all be taken into consideration.
Correct Training Volume
Determining the correct training intensity can be tricky, particularly when you are first starting out. You have to determine how much weight to lift and how many reps and sets to perform.
You need to use your own judgment in this case, based on your recovery ability. Remember that the goal is that you BEAT your previous performance in the gym if this isn’t happening you must lower the intensity of your workouts by doing less sets.
Your diet plays a huge role in your muscle building program. It helps regulate hormone levels, provides energy, and provides the building blocks that are used to create new tissue.
Here are some dietary recommendations that will limit the chance of over-training:
- Do not skip breakfast. This is one of the most important meals of the day. Skipping breakfast is very catabolic, and can promote muscle loss.
- Have the largest meal of the day within an hour after your workout. Do this every single workout!
- Consider taking proven supplements like creatine, and antioxidants to increase performance and fight free radicals.
- Eat every 2-3 hours to keep your body remains in an anabolic state. Never let yourself get hungry. If you’re trying to build muscle fast, you have to frequently feed your body nutritious foods so that it never has the chance to go catabolic and eat away muscle tissue
- Eat sufficient carbohydrates to keep your glycogen stores full to inhibit muscle tissue breakdown.
Rest & Recovery
Rest and recovery is essential when it comes to avoiding over training. Make sure that you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep nightly. As for recovery time, it’s important that you have days off between weight training workouts. Because of this my recommended muscle building routine is a 3 day split.
Try to have one rest day between weight training workouts and never ever train the same muscle groups on consecutive days. Recently, I have switched my routine to a 4 day split (Shoulder day).
So from time to time two days out of the week I will train back to back days. Its my opinion its best to never do this but if you decide to do this keep it to only one time a week where you train back to back days.