overtraining

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Should Friedrich Nietzsche be your personal trainer?

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The Friedrich Nietzsche training method: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

Thirty years ago as an experiment, I tried that method on my arms; I over-trained them. My arms were sore for more than a week. During subsequent exercise my arms were significantly weaker for several weeks.

About that time I attended a seminar. The speaker was Arthur Jones, the founder and inventor of Nautilus. I asked him, “If given enough time for recovery would my arms come back stronger”. His answer: “You damaged yourself and wasted your time”.

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Lactic acid soreness – “one of the classic mistakes in the history of science"

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A quote from this NYT article, Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles' Foe, It's Fuel:

“’The notion that lactic acid was bad took hold more than a century ago’ … It stuck because it seemed to make so much sense.

‘It's one of the classic mistakes in the history of science.’ ”

The article goes on to say that the idea that lactic acid causes muscle soreness never made sense, because lactic acid is gone from your muscles within an hour of exercise,  The soreness stays.

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Overtraining Part Two

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Frankie was a fanatical exerciser. He exercised with a trainer four times a week for an hour before going to work. On the weekends he went for hours-long bike rides. He decided to give our training program a try, and I put him through a workout. He worked out hard. The last exercise was the chest press and he was spent. During the last couple of reps he made agonizing sounds like the Mel Gibson character in Braveheart – really unnecessary but it got him through to the end. It was a little bit scary.

I suspected that he was over-trained, so for the next few weeks I convinced him to train just once a week, and I put him through moderately intense sessions. Six week later I put him through the workout we did in our initial session. On the last exercise the chest press he completed the exercise without the dramatic Braveheart sounds of cry Freedom.

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Overtraining Part One

personal trainers at work personal training New Orleans

Overtraining occurs when one trains too often, too long, too hard or any combination of these. Plenty of other factors in life can contribute as well such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and stress. Overtraining appears to build up slowly and can go unnoticed. When I first began training I was hell-bent on increasing the weights I lifted. I thought I was improving, but I was fooling myself. I’d change the cadence a bit, take an extra second rest between reps, ever so slightly decrease the range of motion, subtly cheat your way through the sticking point a ¼ second in order to complete the rep and voila I improved. On paper I continued to improve but I was gradually becoming increasingly over-trained. The end result is usually burn-out, injury or sickness. I had my share of that.

From what I have observed it take weeks to build up overtraining and weeks for it to dissipate. Example One:

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Training more can backfire

From this NTY article Why Trainers Say, 'Slow Down':

"Of the tens of thousands of Americans who pay as much as $180 to register for marathons, as many as 25% fail to make it to the race. Injury, illness and loss of motivation as a result of overtraining are major reasons for this."

"No matter how conclusively science may prove the value of rest and recovery, the culture of endurance sports lionizes those who seemingly never rest."

"The body responds beautifully to the right schedule of training stresses," Lynn Bjorklund, who in 1981 set the still-standing female course record for the Pikes Peak Marathon, wrote in an email. "However, too much stress and not enough nutrition or recovery pushes your body toward injury and illness. You need to stay in that zone of just enough, and that takes a very high tuned and honest appraisal of yourself."

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