This topic has may crossed your mind before. Some people assure it’s a myth, others believe that overtraining is actually a real problem that affects many of us very dedicated exercisers.
Even though these two terms seem to be the same thing, they are slightly different. Unless you are a pro-athlete with an incredible workout volume, it is quite unlikely that you are “over-trained”. However for most of us, that do have a set goal in mind and are very focused on accomplishing it, we give it our all, and hit each gym season as hard as we can. That’s great! That shows a great level of commitment and discipline! But, life happens and we may be falling short in a few aspects of our life such as: nutrition, sleep and overall proper rest and recovery. The result? You are under-recovered. You are hitting your workout the hardest you possibly can but you are even more tired and weaker each time, which equals to less gains, and nobody wants that! Your body is telling you that it needs more rest in order to recover and repair, hence progress and gains. In this case LESS is MORE.
So the only truth you know right now is that you’re feeling exhausted and, only thinking about your next session in the gym sounds even more tiring. So here we’ll outline a few factors that cause overtraining/under-recovering, the symptoms and solutions.
Make a self-examination and be honest, see if you feel identified with these descriptions below, leave your ego on the side, because your gains depend on this!
Causes of Under-Recovery
- Too much work / Stressing work environment
- Lack of sleep
- Stress (Family, economic problems)
- Lack of calories / Poor nutrition
IMBALANCED TRAINING PROGRAM (OVERLOAD):
- Too much total training volume (Sets x Repetitions x Weight)
- Little to no rest days
- Little to no rest periods in workouts
Symptoms of Under-Recovery
- Insomnia / Inability to sleep
- Muscular weakness
- Persistent muscular soreness
- Lack of appetite
- When looking to gain muscle: weight loss (mainly muscle)
- When looking to lose fat: weight gain (mainly fat)
- You hit a Plateau
- Inability to complete workouts that were not a problem before
- Lack of motivation to exercise
Does this sound anything like you? Well there are a few things you can do to solve this problem. Now you may be thinking, how much time then, before I can be back in the gym lifting heavy?! A quick reminder before going into the solutions: RELAX, right now nothing is more important than your health and to get you recovered. To progress in fitness, to stronger, to get leaner, yes you have to put in a lot of effort and dedication, and to make your body change, you need to stimulate your muscles, not to fry them! That’s why you need to look into periodization, which will help you design a smart training program, that will make you work hard, but also allow you to recover and come back stronger than ever before. Now onto some solutions
Solutions For Under-Recovery
- Take some time off, as a general recommendation 1 week, or more OFF.
- Increase caloric intake to maintenance or slight surplus to recover.
- Make sure you are getting your daily required amount of micronutrients
- Get a massage to relax your over-worked muscles
- Reduce volume of training (add a rest day, reduce the weight, sets or length of workout)
Yes this may sound a little scary for some of us that think that by doing this you will lose strength. There’s a common saying among the fitness community that says: “No pain, no gain”, and though there may be some truth to that, there’s not always, especially when we want to take those words so at heart. However when it comes to the fitness lifestyle, a workout is not a punishment and we aren’t meant to give our 110% of effort in each and every single workout. Rest is just as important as a workout, so don’t neglect it.
If you feel that this article is for you, do not hesitate on putting this tips into practice. Do research and learn how you can get the best results from a well-designed training program, and pair that with great nutrition and proper supplementation that of course, you’ll find in this web page.