Avoid Overtraining And Unlock Pounds Of New Mass!

Avoiding overtraining is one of the hardest things for an over-enthusiastic lifter to do. Most probably start off 6 days a week but eventually cut it back to 3 or 4. Learn when to slow things down and when to take time off.
Avoiding overtraining is one of the hardest things for an over-enthusiastic lifter to do. Most probably start off 6 days a week but eventually cut it back to 3 or 4. Then they probably start off with 20 sets per body part and cut that back to 6-12. But they still overtrain. How? Well I would say 80-90% of you reading this overtrain. Yes even you mob who do a limited number of sets 2-3 days a week and those who hit each body part so rarely you verge on undertraining.

Overtraining is more than reps, sets and sessions. Avoiding overtraining also involves taking weeks off all together, and on a regular basis. A lot of trainees would train for months at a time. They probably would have cycles of 8-12 weeks but not take a week off between them. No wonder so many people complain they cannot get big.

Arthur Jones, of Ironman and HIT fame, claimed he could put 1/2 an inch on any athletes arm in one session. The first step however was to have a week off completely. Apparently Jones made good on his claim more often than not with most lifters arms being bigger in the days after the session. Whether this is a load of mumbo jumbo or not it underlies the importance of time off.

When to have time off
As a natural lifter you should never train for more than 12 weeks straight, 8-10 even better. So every 8-12 weeks you really need to take a week off or just give up on your quest for size. Also if your are a believer in training to failure you probably should have a week every 4-6 weeks where you do not take the week off but where you stop all sets 2 reps short of failure.

So a 12 week cycle of a trainer who trains hard may look like this:

Week 1: To Failure
Week 2: To Failure
Week 3: To Failure
Week 4: To Failure
Week 5: To Failure or Two reps short of failure
Week 6: To Failure
Week 7: To Failure
Week 8: Off Completely
Week 9: To Failure
Week 10: To Failure
Week 11: To Failure
Week 12: To Failure

I have always been I big advocator of the week off. However recently I fell into the trap of not taking one. I was punishing my body like never before (up to 10 sessions a week, weights and cardio) and was wasted. I got sick, had no energy and was drastically overtrained. I took the week off, got over my illness and rediscovered my desire to train. My new split involves no more than 6 sessions a week both gym and cardio (4:1-2). After the week off I have improved dramatically both in strength and size.

Remember systematic weeks off ensure you do your best to avoid overtraining by any definition.

Until next time,
Callum