No exercise or training program proceeds completely free of difficulty. There are certain problems you're bound to encounter and, therefore, should be on the lookout for. Thorough knowledge of the potential problem is half the solution to it. If you know what to be on the lookout for, you're less likely to take the wrong path to begin with.
It's discouraging to lose your forward momentum when you're already well into a serious powerlifting program, and an injury or a miscalculation in the amount of training you need to do can hurt you in more ways than one.
Young, strong, enthusiastic athletes tend to overdo it once in a while. They want to train hard and fulfill their potential. They want to be the best they can be.
Sometimes they don't know when to stop. They don't know when enough is enough. Or, they're just not willing to admit it, so dedicated are they to fitness perfection.
Well, that's great attitude, but excess, in anything, can lead to distress. Too much of anything is no good for you. And that most definitely applies directly to the sort of intense loads borne by young powerlifters trying to get into contest shape.
Overtraining is not exactly what it sounds like. It doesn't always mean that you have trained too much, but that perhaps you have trained for too long at the same level. Or, commonly, it can mean that you've overdone it with one or two exercises (e.g., too much weight, too frequently).
Conditioning yourself to respond in an optimal manner to every test of fitness and strength you can apply can be extremely rewarding...for a while. And then, as you continue to live up to your own expectations, you hit a stale period, a state of poor performance, and skid into a slump.
If three or four workouts in a row seem to be sub-par you may be in a state of overtraining. You may have let other factors, along with your leveling out of limit strength, influence the way you feel, react and train.
While the main culprit causing overtraining is overuse -- called "cumulative microtrauma" -- often there is no one identifiable factor. Overtraining can sometimes be attributed to several factors that converge at the same time.
You must be able to respond well to stress, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Therefore, there are other, non-training related, elements that affect your conditioning, some in ways that you don't even perceive.
Problems in the following areas could have an effect on your training:
- Financial status
- Personality conflicts
- Schedule conflicts
- Poor training facilities
- Monotony in training or lifestyle
- Poor diet or sleep habits
- Inadequate coaching
- Lack of encouragement
- Time-consuming or strenuous job that interferes with your workouts
- Poor coaching or personality conflicts with coach.
- Inflicting too severe exercise stress upon your body. This is by far the MOST significant cause of overtraining!
Types Of Overtraining
It used to be believed that there were two different types of physical overtraining, 1) Addisonic Overtraining and 2) Basedowic Overtraining. Nowadays, however, it is believed that the symptoms for each of these two types are what gave rise to the names, and that both stem from a common cause, "cumulative microtrauma."
This is just a fancy name for getting a whole bunch of tiny (mircoscopic in size) "tears" in your muscles and connective tissues through high frequency severe or improper training.
The first, "Addisonic" overtraining, is named after "Addison's Disease" in which the adrenal and pituitary glands are malfunctioning. Some of the symptoms of this form of training resemble the disease.
This form of overtraining usually affects older or advanced athletes, and includes a slight overtired feeling, yet no increase in sleep needs, no weight loss, unusually low resting pulse rate, normal metabolic rate, higher blood pressure, but normal temperature and no psychological changes.
In "Basedowic" overtraining, like "Addisonic" overtraining, the name is derived from a disease ("Basedow's Disease") in which the thyroid function is too high. While no disease, Basedowic overtraining symptoms include: easily tired, reduced appetite and weight loss, need more sleep, fast resting pulse rate, higher temperature and blood pressure, slower reaction time, and inability to perform skill movements.
This type is more commonly seen in strength athletes and explosive athletes such as sprinters, jumpers and lifters. It also occurs in young athletes, less advanced athletes, and in easily excitable ones.
- Develop a schedule that doesn't stress you
- Develop a rational training program
- Conform your workouts to cycle training principles
- Vary your training methods
- Sleep 8 hours a night
- Practice sound nutrition
- Use appropriate supplements
- Make the athlete/coach connection and work together
- Take 1 or 2 naps a day. A 20-minute nap is all it takes to rejuvenate and energize you.
- Find a sports medicine clinic or practitioner who can help you monitor blood pressure, white blood cell count and other symptoms of overtraining.
- Let logic rule your training -- not ego!
- After workouts, whirlpool affected muscles. Then massage them vigorously for a minute or so. Use the "buddy" system for the vigorous massage.
Every time you climb under a bar crammed with pig iron plates, you risk the ultimate nightmare that all powerlifters dread -- injury. An injury can do more than put a crimp in your training program or sideline you for a few weeks. It can severely limit or end your lifting career.
In short, there's nothing worse than an injury, so it's very important to devote time and attention to safe training practices and methods of conditioning that will keep you injury-free.
Your muscles and joints undergo an amazing amount of stress in even the simplest of sports and athletic movements. So, you can imagine the stresses they undergo while powerlifting! Therefore, no unnecessary chances should be taken.
One irrefutable motto for preventing injury is: Strong muscles and connective tissue can prevent injury. Here are some further factors which can ensure a state of overall fitness that protects your body from the problems every athlete risks.
Guard Against Muscle Weakness Or Imbalance
If you build one muscle more than another you risk injuring the weaker muscle. For instance, if you're a runner and want sprint speed, you'll work on your quadriceps.
But if you build great strength in the quadriceps without also building strength in your hamstrings, you have what is called a muscle imbalance, and you leave yourself open to a hamstring pull.
In the same manner, powerlifters often develop lower-back muscle problems because they neglect their abdominal muscles, which are crucial to back support.
When you strengthen or enlarge muscles you also tend to increase their tone, and that sometimes limits flexibility. To keep your muscles from getting too tight, you must have an ongoing flexibility program as part of your training.
If you develop a muscle without also stretching for flexibility, and strengthening your muscles while they are in the stretched position, you leave yourself open to injury. If you simply stretch without strengthening, you can often leave yourself open to injury as well.
There are many other common causes of sports injuries and sports scientists have identified many of these. Sometimes poor body mechanics, spinal imbalance, poor nutrition, dehydration, drug use or problems related to these areas can lead to injuries.
But two special areas of potential injury must be looked at more closely.
You spine is a key factor in body mechanics. Its shape and resilience to stress are important. If you have too much curvature you could strain you back muscles. Also, malformed vertebrae in the spine can lead to muscle injury.
Some people are born with these kinds of structural problems, and that is what is meant by congenital weakness. Such weaknesses are liable to appear anywhere in the body -- not just the spine. Often, a coach, health instructor or doctor can help you identify these problems and then work out a program for you to stretch or strengthen the necessary muscles so as to lessen the possibility of injury.
The same kind of problems exist with "knock-knees" and pronated (inward drifting) feet. Corrective devices have been developed to treat these conditions.
Lack of progress or susceptibility to injury means something is wrong. If this happens you must take a close look at your training. You should never advance so quickly in your powerlifting routines that you experience high levels of pain. Also, if you train too long and/or too often, your muscles won't have a chance to adapt.
The single biggest problem with athletes is that the quality of their training is lacking. Itâ€™s also true that sometimes they don't train enough. Sometimes itâ€™s also true that they train too much. All three are related in that scientific methods of avoiding problems while making optimal progress are readily available.
All progress must be gradual! Your conditioning efforts are not like a "silver bullet." They won't give you immediate success at your sport, and they can indeed hamper your progress if you push too hard too soon. Take your time, be scientific and thorough, and -- above all -- stick to the cycle training program! You must avoid overtraining!
As long as you consistently follow an integrated training program, working out hard, but wisely, adding flexibility exercises where necessary, following sound nutritional and supplementation guidelines and getting sufficient rest, you'll achieve your strength goals much faster and be come better able to keep yourself in top condition.
The better condition you're in, the easier it is to recover from an injury, or to avoid one in the first place.
Remember to dedicate yourself to the health of your body as much as to the performance of your sport.