One of my main concerns when I started bodybuilding was not to Overtrain. Overtraining is when you train too hard or too frequently for your body to recover from your workouts. There are a lot of symptoms that I use to tell if I am overtraining and they are:
1. Chronic fatigue
2. Overly sore joints and muscles
3. Willingnessto go to the gym
4. Lack of appetite
6. Reoccuring cold or sickness
When you are lifting heavy weights your muscle fibers tear and then while you are resting, through proper nutrition and sleep, they get bigger and stronger (hypertrophy). If you overtrain, your muscle fibers tear and your body does not have enough time to heal the muscles before you go back into the gym and tear the fibers again. This is overtraining!
If you overtrain your muscles will not grow in size or strength and can actually get weaker or smaller.
Some muscle groups are actually prone to overtraining especially in teenagers. The most overtrained muscle is the bicep. Everyone wants a big bicep. They want to intimidate other guys and attract the ladies when they flex. So what do they do? They go in their garage and train the biceps for an hour with 30 sets! Then their biceps don't grow so they train longer and with more sets and eventually they overtrain and give up lifting weights.
Things That Affect Overtraining
Your body part split and training routine. I suggest training each body part only once per week with maximum intensity for 3 sets per exercise with 3 exercises for bigger muscle groups and 2 exercises for the smaller ones. There are many splits you can use but I prefer a 4 - day split training routine like this:
- Monday - Legs
- Tuesday - Back and Biceps
- Wednesday - Off
- Thursday - Chest and Tris
- Friday - Shoulders and Traps
- Saturday - Off
- Sunday - Off
* This routine allows for maximum recovery and proper rest with each muscle group.
Nutrition plays a vital role in overtraining. To build muscle, I shoot to get at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Now if you go into the gym and lift to failure, your muscles are going to start the process of rebuilding, and if there is not enough protein to build the muscle, the next time you go into the gym and tear the muscle fibers they are going to be too strained and the result is going to be overtraining.
There is something that we should also remember about overtraining and muscle recovery and that's Genetics. If a person has good genetics maybe they can train with more sets and still make good gains and not overtrain but most people don't have these kinds of genetics and cannot do more than 10 sets per body part or they will overtrain.
Sleep deprivation can cause overtraining. Your muscles grow while you sleep. If you do not get enough sleep your body cannot repair your torn muscle fibers in time for you next workout. I aim to try and get around 8 hours a sleep a night. This allows for maximum muscle recovery and allows for me to have enough energy to hit the weights hard in the gym.
Things That Correct Overtraining
I have experienced overtraining and it is not fun. It depletes both your mental and physical energy. You don't feel like doing anything, especially lifting weights.
If you have overtrained there are some very important things I do. First of all I should take a week off from bodybuilding and rest to let your muscles recover. You should then look at your workout and make sure your only training one body part a week using shorter but more intense routines. Finally you should look at your nutrition and make sure your getting enough protein to feed your muscles and make them grow.
I take a week off from lifting weights every 6 to 8 months to avoid overtraining. I feel this is a good way to help prevent overtraining and help your muscles fully recover from your intense workouts.
Train hard and train smart