I remember when I first got the idea into my head about weight training. I saw these guys in the magazines, and Arnold on the big screen, and they looked like mountain’s that had been chiselled into God-like figures with meticulous precision. Surely, I thought, no one who looked so big, so huge, could spend a minute of their lives doing anything other than pumping iron: all day every day.
The more I learned, the more I realised that was actually far from the truth. And that, not only do bodybuilders have to get plenty of rest on their off-days, but they also must be very careful not to over train while they are in the gym.
Way back then, I was honestly shocked to find out that these giants had days off. I was under the distinct impression that you had to train day in day out near enough all day, and if you didn’t, you’d wake up one day back to being a skinny twig. (Oh boy, the naivety of youth…)
Having said that, I soon learned that it’s far easier for a beginner to over train than it is for an advanced bodybuilder. And it’s also far easier for a natural bodybuilder to over train than it is for one whom takes steroids and HGH – which bolsters recuperative abilities.
You see, the muscles on a beginner are new to the strain being put on them. And it actually takes very little to make them grow. 3 sets of 7-8 reps, basic compound movements, 3 workouts a week lasting 1 hour apiece, and plenty of rest and a good solid diet. That’s all that’s required.
For an advanced trainer, their muscles are seasoned and more resistant to growth. They must train harder, more intensely, and use a wider variety of movements. The game becomes that much more difficult.
Signs of overtraining are relatively easy to spot, and I’ll list the most common here:
- Muscle soreness when it comes to training the same muscle groups: It should be obvious that when you come to train the same muscle group after a day or two from the previous time that the muscles should be feeling ready and up for it… if they are still feeling sore then they have been over-exerted.
- Sudden loss of strength. Quite often you may feel completely recovered, yet when it comes time to shift that iron you struggle like crazy – and you managed perfectly fine with the same or similar weight just last session. Well, again, you maybe haven’t fully recovered as well as you thought you had and still need more time.
- Loss of muscle size. Believe it or not, overtraining can actually make your muscles lose size. So, if over the course of a few weeks to a month you notice your muscles have lost size, you either haven’t been eating enough or you may have been overtraining and need to re-evaluate your approach to training.
And remember, if you think you are overtraining, you must ask yourself why and how. Workouts too long? Too many reps? Too many sets? Not enough rest?