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:
Annette trained very hard once a week and never missed a workout. On the other days she swam at least a couple of times a week. She progressed regularly. After a while she started to struggle, the workouts became brutal but still she improved. One day she came in and did the first exercise, the leg press. She strained mightily but her time was 60 seconds less than last time. I had only increased the weight by two pounds. It is motivation crushing to train that hard and actually go backward.
I had her take a couple of weeks off, and she did a couple of moderate workouts without doing the leg press. After a five week period of recovery she returned to the leg press. Her time was a minute longer than the last outing. She could have done another rep and the set appeared easy. Brutally difficult exercise and regression or taking a break and improving without a Herculean effort? We decided on the latter.
Had we continued on the same path her weight would not have progressed past the 228 pounds she was doing. We lessened the frequency of the leg press and her improvement continued to the point that she was doing 300 pounds on the leg press.
Through trial and error you can eventually find out what constitutes sufficient recovery for your body. I spent years figuring it out. At Austin TX Personal Trainers and New Orleans Personal Trainers our personal trainers have developed a high intensity training program (HIT) with special attention paid to recovery to insure that the improvements are ongoing – our business depends on it.
More articles on recovery and overtraining HERE
To be continued with Example Two…