Overtrain If You Don't Want to Gain
8 Rules To Get You Growing
We are a society with a "more is better" attitude. More money, more convenience, more luxury—more, more, more! When looking to build more muscle, however, sometimes more is less. One of the major reasons trainees fail to build the physique they desire is that they do too much in the gym.
They do too many sets, work out for too long or train too many days per week. The result? Overtraining—which brings little to no gains in size or strength and in severe cases muscle loss, illness and/or depression.
What many trainees fail to realize is that every time we work out, we make massive inroads into our recovery abilities. Your body needs to "heal" before it can grow. That goes not only for your muscles but for your central nervous system as well. Not only does your body need to repair the microtrauma that occurs within muscles during training, but it must also restore hormone and neurotransmitter balance, reboot the immune system and clear free radicals from the system.
Think of a workout as digging a large hole in the ground, complete recovery as filling the hole and muscle growth as creating a mound of dirt on top of the filled-up hole. When you overtrain, you're digging a hole that's too big for your body to fill, which means you'll never have the opportunity to pile dirt on top. No extra dirt means no extra muscle.
My feeling is that the root of the problem lies in most of today's bodybuilding publications. We see the professionals looking freaky and massive and read how they train twice per day, six days per week, and do 20 or more sets per bodypart. Most readers figure, "If that's how they got that massive, the same principles will surely work for me." Wrong.
You need to recognize that because of steroids, growth hormones and a plethora of other drugs, coupled with ideal genetics and quite possibly no nine-to-five job to worry about, the pros are able to train far more than most without suffering any ill effects. In fact, their bodies thrive on it.
That's not the case for the genetically average, drug-free trainee with a regular job to tend to daily. Trying to follow the routine of a pro bodybuilder will spell disaster for most of us, leading many down a road of frustration and some to quit altogether.
So, what is the ideal way to train for maximum gains in size and strength? To list all the ways goes beyond my scope here. There are, however, some general rules that I feel should be followed by the drug-free bodybuilder in order to avoid overtraining and to optimize gains:
1. Train No More Than Four Days Per Week:
There's simply no need to train more than four days per week. In fact, some people with poor recovery ability might be better off with only three training days per week. Train on the days that are most convenient for you, but make sure you pay attention to rule 2.