What's the beef with Overtraining

I always come across articles about overtraining and I often hear people complain that they’re not growing or changing because they may be ‘overtraining.’ Now this concept of Overtraining or training too much has been around for a very long time, and people seem to need to find something to blame when they are not progressing.

The body is an amazing thing and can handle an incredible amount of stress, a lot of the times which we may not think possible.

The common understanding of overtraining is that your body becomes run down and can’t function appropriately due to training too much, for too long or too often. Now there may be some truth to this but we need to look at it in context with everything else we do. Namely your nutrition, other daily activities, rest and sleep. You can train as hard and as long as you like, but without sufficient rest and proper nutrition it’s going to be extremely difficult to progress.

“Overtraining is wasted training.” ~Grete Waitz, nine time New York City Marathon winner.

For most people an amount of between 6 – 8 hours sleep is adequate, but there are those lucky people who can get by with less. Sleep is quite an individual thing, so it’s pretty much up to you to see how much is optimal for you. But, if you feel tired all throughout the day and through your training, then that’s a clear indication of a lack of sleep, or a lack of something! You need to assess every aspect of your life to see where you can improve on in order to continue to move forward, whatever you goal may be.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight and retain as much muscle as possible (e.g. preparing for a bodybuilding show), you will most likely be eating less calories than normal to shed those pounds of dreaded body fat. Now combine the drop in calories with your training and extra cardio, and you may find yourself feeling exhausted and lethargic all the time. This is where you need to recognise what is going on and make suitable changes. You may then need to increase the amount of protein you are taking in, and/or increase the amount of rest and sleep you have in order to ensure you can function at your highest level in and out of the gym.

So basically your nutrition and rest are what support your training efforts, and thus, the reason why you need to put a great deal of emphasis on them, in addition to your training.

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