How Can One Prevent Overtraining?

How can one prevent overtraining? Very often bodybuilders fall victim to overtraining. Find out what some of the symptoms are, prevention, and more... Get the facts and opinions right here.

TOPIC: How Can One Prevent Overtraining?

The Question:

We've all overtrained at least once in our lives, and we've paid for it. Overtraining is a serious problem amongst bodybuilders. Very often a new bodybuilder who thinks "more is better" is a victim of overtraining. It is important for all bodybuilders to beware of the effects of overtraining and how to prevent it.

What are some of the effects of overtraining?

Cardio vs. Weight Training: Which type of overtraining is worse? Why?

How does one know if they've overtrained? What are some of the symptoms?

What are some ways to prevent overtraining through diet and training?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

      1. BurningHeart

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      2. thebarbarianway

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      3. bitterplacebo

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      3. Spaniard00

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        1st place - 75 in store credit.

        2nd place - 50 in store credit.

      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - BurningHeart
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We've all overtrained at least once in our lives, and we've paid for it. Overtraining is a serious problem amongst bodybuilders. Very often a new bodybuilder who thinks "more is better" is a victim of overtraining. It is important for all bodybuilders to beware of the effects of overtraining and how to prevent it.

Dilbert & Arnold

Dilbert drags himself out of bed again, angry at the alarm clock and his job for ruining another streak of precious sleep. Even though he went to bed early and planned for a full 8 hours of sleep, he only got 5 hours, and woke up twice in the night for no apparent reason. As he gets dressed for work he notices a tickle in his throat, just great... the familiar feeling of an oncoming cold.

At his job he is irritable and tired again, annoyed by the fact that the work just keeps piling on, his neighbor's dog, his slow muscle gains, Jill in the next office talking away on the phone, and pretty much anything that makes a sound. Lunchtime comes along and Dilbert still feels full from the protein shake he drank for breakfast, but he knows today is his leg workout day, so he forces himself to eat a can of tuna and drink a bottle of water.

As Dilbert arrives home from work he plops down on his bed and falls asleep for an hour. When he wakes up, he figures it's time to go to the gym today and get legs over with. At the gym, he is so unmotivated to do anything, so he walks to the fountain, gets some water, comes back down to the bench where he sits down and look on his past workout log sheets.

Gains have been few and far apart. After sitting down for a while he stands up to begin his warm-up for squats, yet he really isn't in the mood for squats, so he decides to call off squats and hit leg extensions instead. After 3 sets of light leg extensions he heads over to the calf machine, but decides that his calves got enough work walking today, and hamstrings aren't that important, so Dilbert decides to head home and watch a movie instead.

Now what is the difference between Dilbert and Arnold, who wakes up feeling great, eats a healthy meal, goes to work and enjoys spending time with his co-workers, gets home and admires his progress in the mirror, gets pumped up for the gym in the afternoon, goes in there and has a killer workout, comes home and can't wait to do it all again tomorrow?

The difference is overtraining. Overtraining kills your whole day, not just your gains in the gym. We've all felt the effects of overtraining, whether we realized it or not. Are you currently overtraining? Read on and make sure you are getting the most out of your workouts and your days, make sure you aren't the Dilbert and instead you are the Arnold.

Part 1:
What Are Some Of The Effects Of Overtraining?

Overtraining is a more complicated subject than most people think. A simple explanation would be overtraining is "Training too hard and too long, with insufficient rest, which leads to burnout and decreased performance." Still, to understand the full attributes of overtraining, I've drawn up a relationship model of overtraining.

Click Image To Enlarge.

As you see, there is not one specific type of overtraining. There are three levels of overtraining:

    1. Overload Training
    2. Overreaching
    3. Overtraining Syndrome

1. Overload Training:

Overload training is what most all athletes and weightlifters experience. It is hard training followed by a short term fatigue with adequate time given for muscle recovery. However, if a person trains hard and does not give their body sufficient time to recover, their body moves down into the Overreaching stage.

2. Overreaching:

The 2nd level of overtraining. Performance is hindered, and may or may not include other typical stress-related mental and physical symptoms and signs. Overreaching can be recovered from within a 2-3 week span. However if the intensity and duration of the training is not reduced, the body enters the last stage of overtraining, named Overtraining Syndrome.

3. Overtraining Syndrome:

The 3rd and final stage of overtraining. Overtraining Syndrome - what most people are referring to when they speak of overtraining. It is characterized as a decrease in performance combined with stress-related mental and physical problems that can range in severity from mild to severe.

This is the stage where excessive amounts of cortisol are released, which is actually the complete opposite of what bodybuilders want. It tears down muscle in the body, reduces protein synthesis, increases protein breakdown, raises blood sugar levels, reduces growth hormone release, weakens the immune system, disrupts sleep, raises blood pressure, and increases blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Overtraining Syndrome can take from many months to years for the body to fully recover. The effects of Overtraining Syndrome are listed below:

Mild Effects:

      • Anger
      • Fatigue
      • Hormonal disturbances
      • Immune disturbances
      • Loss of appetite
      • Loss of motivation
      • Muscular fatigue
      • Sexual unwillingness
      • Short term insomnia
      • Tension
      • Weight loss

Severe Effects:

      • Abnormal sense perceptions
      • Depression
      • Increased injuries
      • Long term insomnia
      • Long term muscle soreness
      • Muscle degeneration

Part 2:
Cardio Vs. Weight Training: Which Type Of Overtraining Is Worse?

To understand and answer this question, first you must know about the two theorized types of Overtraining Syndrome: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic.

1. Sympathetic Overtraining:

Characterized as "acute stress reaction," which is how animals react to threats. Sympathetic refers to the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the secretion of adrenaline and prepares the body for action.

During sympathetic overtraining Catecholamine hormones are released, which tightens muscles, increases heart rate, increases breathing, and constricts blood vessels in the body except for the muscles. This overtraining is believed to be present mainly in sprinters and power athletes.

2. Parasympathetic Overtraining:

Referred to as "athlete's burnout," parasympathetic overtraining is believed to increase with endurance-type training, which is when the body forces itself to slow down in response to overtraining. Parasympathetic refers to the parasympathetic nervous system, which decreases the heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. It increases intestinal movement, fuel storage, recuperation, and circulation to non vital organs in order to conserve energy.

Which Is Worse?

From this information we can conclude that Sympathetic Overtraining is more common in weightlifters, and Parasympathetic Overtraining is more common in cardiovascular athletes.

Also from this information, with all factors the same (nutrition, rest) I believe that overtraining with weights (sympathetic) is worse than overtraining with cardio (parasympathetic).

The reason being is since weightlifters do not usually enter the parasympathetic state during workouts, the body stays in a sympathetic state, which means the body is forcing itself to perform in an elevated condition. The chances of injury are already higher with weights than cardio, and this elevated sympathetic state raises the chance of an injury even higher with weightlifting.

When dealing with heavy weights, many types of injuries can occur from working out with an overtrained, fatigued body. Injuries that could result in:

      • Pulled muscles
      • Spinal
      • Rotator cuff damage
      • Nerve damage
      • Bone stress
      • Sprains
      • Tendonitis
      • Fractures
      • Or Dislocations

These are much worse than injuries that may arise with cardio. In cardiovascular, or parasympathetic overtraining, the body actually does the opposite of weight training, it forces itself to slow down. So no matter how much you overtrain in cardio, your body will slow itself down during training to where it needs to be.

The second reason overtraining with weights is worse than cardio is the muscle degeneration that occurs when overtraining. Weightlifting does more damage to your body even without overtraining than cardio, and with the proper rest your body recovers stronger.

However, when you overtrain with weights, you are constantly tearing down your muscles, and not allowing your body to ever catch up to repairing them, thus digging yourself deeper and faster into a diminished and overtrained state. Overtraining with cardio, while still unhealthy, does not break your muscles down nearly as much as weightlifting does, thus your body is much quicker to recover from overtraining with cardio than weights.

Part 3:
How Does One Know If They've Overtrained? What Are Some Of The Symptoms?

Overtraining can be detected with psychological, physical, and cardiovascular symptoms.

Overtraining Symptoms
Physical Mental Cardiovascular
Altered function of the endocrine, immune, and central nervous systems Anxiety Elevated morning blood pressure
Chronic fatigue Confusion Elevated Waking Pulse Rate
Decreased strength Depression
Frequent minor infections Increased apathy and irritability
Headaches and tremors Increased perceived exertion during a constant exercise load
Illness Lack of appetite
Increased joint and muscle-aches Loss of competitive desire
Injury Mood and sleep disturbances
Insatiable thirst or dehydration Reduced ability to concentrate
Susceptibility to colds and flu
Unquenchable thirst, dehydration

Someone overtraining may only experience a few of these symptoms, and even some may not realize they have any of these symptoms at all. However if you have been training intense for a constant period of time with no rest, there is a very high chance that you are overtraining.

Many people ask and search for ways to stay motivated when working out. The best answer for their question is usually to take a week off every few months. This is the sign of overtraining that is easiest for someone to point out themselves, yet often they do not know that their lack of motivation means they could be overtraining.

There are many bodybuilders who refuse to consider the fact they are doing something wrong and overtraining, yet if you notice any of the above symptoms with no logical explanation, or if someone else notices any of these changes in you, it would be best to consider that you may be overtraining.

Part 4:
What Are Some Ways To Prevent Overtraining Through Diet And Training?

There are many individual factors that come into play on when considering a person's limit before they start to overtrain themselves. These factors include:

    • Age
    • Hereditary physiologic factors
    • Mood state
    • Training history
    • Environmental conditions and time of year
    • Infections
    • Personality (type A) stressors
    • Travel (jet lag, altitude)
    • Food intake
    • Intensity of physical training
    • Sex
    • Volume of physical training
    • General health
    • Medication, alcohol, tobacco, or other substances
    • Sleep (quality and quantity)
    • General nutrition
    • Menstrual cycle
    • Social, economic, and psychological stressors

However there are ways to prevent overtraining, no matter what your personal limit is. Some guidelines to prevent overtraining are as follows:


1. Balanced Diet:

A balanced diet is one of the most important elements to prevent overtraining. This includes the right amount of calories from food and plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.

Supplements and other nutritional modifications have not been proven to aid in preventing overtraining anymore than a balanced diet does. Iron is the most common deficiency, especially in females. Other nutrients that are commonly deficit are zinc, magnesium, and calcium.

2. Sufficient Calorie Intake:

The body may be depleted in various nutrients when overtrained, so it is important to match or consume a surplus of your calorie expenditure for the day.

It is essential to have a diet high in carbohydrates, for your body to use as energy, recommended around 45% of your total consumption; protein, for your muscles to be able to rebuild themselves, also recommended around 35% of your total consumption; and omega 3 oils, to retain your hormonal balance and digest vitamins, recommended around 25% of your total consumption.

3. Take A Multivitamin To Address Deficiencies:

If you cannot consume or unsure if you consume the proper amount of vitamins and minerals in your daily meals, it is best to take a multivitamin to fill any deficiencies that may be in your diet to help prevent overtraining.

4. Post Workout Nutrition:

Your body is in its greatest need for nutrition right after a workout to be able to start its recovery process. The ideal method of post workout nutrition is to drink a shake high in whey protein and carbohydrates, followed by a small meal 45 minutes - 1 hour later. Without the proper post workout nutrition, not only will workout progress be greatly hindered, but overtraining will set in incredibly faster.


1. Take Breaks:

Possibly the best way to prevent overtraining is to take breaks in your workout routine. Depending on the intensity of your training regimen, coupled with the other factors in the chart, determines how often you need a break. It is recommended to take a week off for every 12 weeks of constant exercise, however that number should be adjusted to how your body and mind feels in response to your workout routine.

And of course your sleep should consist of 7-8 straight hours to recover to the best of your potential. There are supplements to aid in sleep if you have problems falling or staying asleep.

2. Reduce The Load:

There is a factor called "the law of diminishing returns" which is relevant for many things in the world, and it also applies to weightlifting and cardio. In terms of bodybuilding, the law states that for every unit of work you do (sets, reps), the less benefit you will receive for each additional set.

For example, if you gain 3 points of muscle for doing 1 set of pullups, doing another set will only give you 2 more additional points. You now have 5 points of muscle, and you decide to do another set. The 3rd set only yields you 1 additional muscle point, so you are now up to 6 points.

Following this same principal, doing a 4th set will yield no benefit, and doing a 5th set onwards will start yielding negative benefits, your points will actually be taken away.

Now these aren't hard numbers, they will differ from person to person, and it is up to you to decide when you can't benefit anymore from doing additional sets, reps, or exercises.

3. Manage Your Splits Wisely:

It is very possible to weight lift for 4-5 days a week and not overtrain. The key is managing your splits. You won't get far without overtraining if you work your whole body every day 4 times a week. However if you devote one day to arms and abs, one to back and chest, one to legs, and one to shoulders and traps, then you'll be fine.

Some can even do a 2 day split without overtraining, which would be something like upper body one day, one to lower, and doing that twice a week, which allows your upper body to recover while working your lower, and vice versa.

To conclude, we all want the most bang for our buck, to make our hard earned time and work as efficient as possible. To achieve this we all must accept that we are human, and that the proper diet and training habits are a necessity. If you are currently feeling unmotivated and stressed out, don't waste your time being a Dilbert, take a week off and come back in full force, it will pay off.



2nd Place - thebarbarianway
How Can One Prevent Overtraining?
Contact This Author Here.

By Vince D.

We've all overtrained at least once in our lives, and we've paid for it. Overtraining is a serious problem amongst bodybuilders. Very often a new bodybuilder who thinks "more is better" is a victim of overtraining. It is important for all bodybuilders to beware of the effects of overtraining and how to prevent it.

What Are Some Of The Effects Of Overtraining?

If you are a bodybuilder or simply interested in packing on as much muscle mass as possible then you must be prepared to train at the highest level possible. You must be able to increase your volume and intensity in each training session and each training cycle if you wish to maximize your full genetic potential.

Unfortunately, these increases in volume and intensity often occur prior to the trainee's body being ready to handle them again. When insufficient recovery takes places, the increasing strategy immediately backfires, resulting in a variety of negative effects on the body:

Autonomic Nervous System & Overtraining:

There are numerous abnormal changes that occur in the body when overtraining is suspected via the autonomic nervous system. The bottom line is that a decline in performance will be observed which will reflect changes in the neural and endocrine systems of the body that are controlled by either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic nervous system. Sympathetic overtraining can lead to:

      • Increased resting heart rate
      • Increased blood pressure
      • Loss of appetite
      • Decreased body mass
      • Sleep disturbances
      • Emotional instability
      • Elevated basal metabolic rate

Many studies suggest that the parasympathetic nervous system is more dominant in overtraining but regardless the same performance decline will be shown in a variety of responses. Signs of parasympathetic overtraining can lead to:

      • Early onset of fatigue
      • Decreased resting heart rate
      • Rapid heart rate recovery after exercise, and
      • Decreased resting blood pressure

Just because one of these signs are present does not confirm overtraining. Often two or more symptoms must be present to prevent a false assumption of overtraining.

Hormonal Responses & Overtraining:

It is difficult to confirm overtraining of the hormonal system because the measurement of these hormones is expensive, complex and time-consuming so there are not many tests that can be widely used to validate hormonal overtraining.

However, of the studies down, measurements of various blood hormone levels during periods of intensified training suggest marked disturbances in endocrine function accompanying excessive stress. When training intensity is increases the following is often noticed:

      • Blood levels of thyroxine decrease
      • Blood levels of testosterone decrease
      • Blood levels of cortisol increase

Since the ratio of testosterone to cortisol regulates the anabolic process of recovery, this is an important indicator to predict overtraining. Increased cortisol combined with decreased testosterone can lead to more protein catabolism than protein anabolism in cells. This typically results in the loss of body mass because overtrained athletes have higher blood levels of urea and since urea is produced by the breakdown of protein, this indicates increased protein catabolism.

Immune Responses & Overtraining:

One of the most serious consequences of overtraining is an attack on your body's immune system. This is extremely negative because your immune system is your first line of defense against invading bacteria, parasites, viruses and tumor cells. If your immune system if compromised via overtraining than illness may occur.

Intense training and excessive training can really suppress your body's level of antibodies and lymphocytes which can result in illness when these levels are lower than normal.

Metabolic Responses & Overtraining:

Metabolic fatigue is the form of overtraining that most are aware of and the form most often discussed.

      • Small micro tears in the muscle
      • Depletion of glycogen stores
      • Accumulative build up of lactic acid
      • Slower muscle contraction
      • Creatine phosphate stores are exhausted
      • Reduced oxygen delivery to muscles
      • Delayed muscle soreness
      • Damaged tendons

Cardio Vs. Weight Training:
Which Type Of Overtraining Is Worse? Why?

Speaking from personal experience, I have been a competitive endurance athlete from over 10 years of my life and since retiring four years ago I have been a serious weightlifter who competes in competitive fitness modeling which is similar to bodybuilding but without the posing or Speedo's!

Hands down, overtraining in the weight room has far more consequences than overtraining through cardio. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Muscles grow based on progressive overload. If your muscles are not FULLY recovered then it is impossible to lift more in the gym the next workout therefore impossible to grow NEW muscle.

  • Greater chance of central nervous system fatigue, hormonal fatigue and immune system fatigue which all have a list of endless problems.

  • Overtraining in the gym can in fact result in loss of muscle mass and decreased bone density therefore digging yourself in a deeper hole and making it even more difficult to build muscle.

  • Overtraining in the gym can lead a young trainee to believe that he needs to buy more supplements which distracts him from discovering the route cause of his lack of progress.

  • Overtraining in the gym can lead a young trainee to believe he should resort to steroids because of his lack of progress when really it is simply a lack of recovery.

  • And most importantly, overtraining in the gym will not allow the trainee to achieve the desired training effect. In this case there will be no forward progress or improvement in work capacity, but rather a reduction.

In my experience, I believe the only athletes that risk overtraining with cardio are pure endurance athletes such as swimmers, cyclists, runners and tri-athletes. These athletes are training up to a few hours per day and bodybuilders do not come anywhere close to the volume that endurance athletes train.

How Does One Know If They've Overtrained? What Are Some Of The Symptoms?

This is quite simple. Your performance does not exceed or 'out do' your previous workout. If in your last workout you bench pressed 10 reps for 185 lbs but could only do 8 reps your next workout - you have NOT experienced the 'training effect' and therefore have not FULLY recovered from your last workout. You have errored somewhere in your training decisions.

Another simple way of predicting overtraining is verbal feedback between the coach and athlete or athlete and himself. An example would be a coach asking an athlete at the beginning of a workout, "How do you feel today?" If the response is, "My legs feel heavy and stiff" or "I don't feel good."

This indicates that the athlete has not adapted to the previous days training load. Even looking into someone's eyes can provided effective feedback. Overtraining symptoms can be divided into two main categories:

Physiological Performance:

    • Decreased performance
    • Inability to meet previous workout standards
    • Delayed recovery
    • Reduced toleration to load
    • Decreased maximum work capacity
    • Loss of coordination
    • Slower movement patterns
    • Technique breaking down at quicker rate
    • Rapid heart increase
    • Changes in blood pressure
    • Changes in heart rate at rest, exercise and recovery
    • Increased respiration
    • Increased oxygen consumption at sub max work loads
    • Increased lactic acid
    • Decreased evening post workout weight
    • Chronic fatigue

Psychological Performance:

    • Feeling of depression
    • General apathy
    • Decreased self-esteem
    • Emotional instability
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Sensitive to environmental and emotional stress
    • Fear of competition
    • Change in personality
    • Loss of concentration
    • Inability to deal with lots of information at once
    • Gives up when going gets tough

What Are Some Ways To Prevent Overtraining Through Diet & Training?

I believe that the lack of progress to training is more often the cause of overtraining than any other factor. As we have discussed, overtraining begins when a trainee is exposed to a subsequent training session prior to recovering from the previous. If this occurs over a number of training sessions, you start to see the more obvious signs of overtraining as listed above.

Personally, I think there is too much information on the symptoms rather than the prevention of them. You often read the words 'overtraining syndrome' and 'planned overtraining.' This is unnecessary if you are in control of the training process and recovery process. If you train to pre-set levels and recover in pre-planned ways than you can easily side-step overtraining and do not need to know anything about signs and symptoms and syndromes!

Take Control Of Your Training Decisions!

The biggest challenge with weight training is to make tough training decisions. During each workout program and each workout session you must decide how much:

      • How much to lift and
      • How hard to go.

You must apply your own personal knowledge of your recovery ability and the recovery methods you are using to so that when you return to the gym you will be able to 'out do' your previous workout.

Here is the problem - Often times a trainee returns to the gym to discover they have not fully recovered and has a training decision to make - walk out and go home or reduce 'slug out' a workout at sub maximal levels.

The smart decision would be to accept the error in judgment, assess where you went wrong to prevent for the future and go home! Remember, you have this flexibility so don't be afraid to make this brave training decision. Your goal is to be getting stronger and stronger from week to week. Not to 'tough it out' with mediocre workouts that can lead to frustration and risk of injury. Don't ignore it or pretend that it is not happening. The beauty of strength training is that it is so measurable!

If you don't want your trip to the gym to go in complete vain than finish up with a flexibility session and try to land a date with the cute receptionist at the front desk!

Preventing Overtraining With Training:

Training plays the critical role of adding stimulus to the muscles to create the potential environment of muscle growth. Sometimes the training effect of 'muscle growth' is not achieved because the following tips are not applied:

    • Following drug programs. These are programs created by bodybuilders made for bodybuilders. They revolve around one muscle group per week, endless sets, 4-5 exercises per muscle group, training at sub maximal levels, training longer than an hour and overuse of 'shocking' techniques described below.

    • Overuse of 'shocking' techniques such as forced reps, drop sets, and strip sets which deplete the muscles energy and delays recovery.

    • Performing more than 12 sets per muscle group. To be honest, I believe that if you need 12 sets to fatigue the muscle than I would question the quality of your workout intensity.

    • Training longer than one hour. This typically elevates cortisol levels and suppresses testosterone levels.

    • Focusing on 'failure' instead of focusing on strength. Your muscles grow based on progressive overload not destroying a muscle so that you can not move.

    • Training longer than 12 weeks without a full week off or training longer than six weeks without taking a half week off.

    • Performing too many isolation exercises than simply deplete energy reserves and do not stimulate the muscle as effectively as compound movements which also have help increase testosterone levels.

Preventing Overtraining With Nutrition:

Nutrition plays the critical role of replacing energy in the body, and controlling hormone release. Here are some simple recommendations:

    • Never miss breakfast! This is the meal that 'breaks the fast'. Extending this fast can be very catabolic and cause in loss of muscle tissue.

      • Avoid hunger pains at all costs. This is a sure-fire way that your body is stealing from your precious muscle to give to more vital organs. This is very catabolic.

      • Don't train hungry unless your goal is to lose weight and muscle mass. Post workout catabolism will be even greater than normal.

      • Even if you are not hungry, pretend that you are hungry and eat something within sixty to ninety minutes prior to working out.

      • Never miss your post workout shake. The sooner you get this in your body the better. Focus on a 2:1 ratio of simple carbs and protein in liquid form plus branch chain amino acids.

    View Top Selling BCAA Products Here.

          • Always have the biggest meal of the day one hour after you workout.

          • Consider supplements such as creatine and antioxidants to help accelerate cellular hydration and energy replacement; and combat the free radical damage in the body.

          • Replenishing your glycogen stores will inhibit the cortisol hormone which can result in breaking down muscle.

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            • Eat in hormonal balance the remainder of the day to ensure cortisol levels stay suppressed.


          Remember, the results that you see on you body and performance are not simply a product of your training and nutrition. There are mainly responsible with a well planned recovery system that creates far greater results than focusing on jut training and nutrition alone. Failure to recover will prevent your desired training effect so don't underestimate the power of an effective recovery plan in conjunction with your training, nutrition and supplement plan.

          3rd Place - bitterplacebo
          Contact This Author Here.

          Overtraining is the biggest enemy of any athlete or fitness seeker. It is a disorder that stops progress in its tracks. Many other aspects of one's life can be effected by overdoing physical training. Regression and health risks also occur if steps are not taken to correct an overtraining situation. The following segments are designed to aid fitness and athletic performance by discussing the detection, effects, and correction of overtraining.

          What Are Some Of The Effects Of Overtraining?

          As already stated, any individual in an overtrained state is affected on the entire spectrum of life. Little can compare to the devastation reaped by pushing the human body too far past its capabilities. All of the following consequences of overtraining reflect the severe negative state of its existence.

          • Poorer performance in muscle strength and endurance becomes disheartening as the body functions less than optimally. This happens primarily when muscles and other systems are never able to fully recover from regular physical activity.

          • Longer recovery times in general are usually witnessed with overtraining. This occurs because too much fatigue is present for the body to efficiently and completely repair all the damages done between consecutive workouts.

          • Much more sleep is needed to compensate for the destruction of muscular tissue when the body has yet to rebuild previous damage from physical efforts.

          • Feelings of fatigue and tiredness can persist because of the great amounts of energy that the body expends trying to rebuild from relentless physical exertion.

          • Irregular sleeping disturbances often occur because a person is placed under unnatural amounts of stress. This imbalance in body chemistry plays out by taking its toll on sleep quality.

          • The onset of a lack of coordination and balance. Often muscles seem shaky.

          • Also due to the incredible stress it places on a person, drastic mood changes are associated with overtraining. Feeling depressed, sad, irritable or anxious more often are all signs of being taxed too much by external stresses.

          • A prolonged decrease in one's drive to compete or workout should not be looked at as something that is just "in the head." These types of inhibitions are signs that the body cannot cope with the current physical demands, and one should pay heed to them.

          • The physical strains and demands of constantly training past one's abilities actually end up hurting even mental capabilities. Overtrained individuals quickly find their concentration waning.

          • Because so much energy is being put into bouncing back from the expenditures of regular training, the immune system get weakened considerable. This leaves one more susceptible to illnesses. Not only is there an increased risk for catching a sickness, but it will also take longer to fight off for an overworked individual.

          • The stresses that come along with overtraining are even extreme enough to influence the stability of a person's reproductive system. Overtraining can disturb menstrual cycles in females and lower sperm count in males. Sexual arousal can also become more difficult for both genders.

          • Overtraining plays havoc on the body's hormonal systems. Part of the problem is the elevation of cortisol, a catabolic hormone. This results in a number of things happening. To start with, it reduces secretion of growth hormones, decreases protein synthesis, and impairs the thyroid glands.

            This means overtraining leaves you with a lower metabolism, more retention of salt and water, and a greater amount of muscle protein breakdown. All of this negatively impacts the physique and body composition. In the aftermath, it leads to more fat and less muscle, which is obviously undesirable.

          Cardio Vs. Weight Training:
          Which Type Of Overtraining Is Worse? Why?

          Ending up overtrained, no matter how it happens, is a bad thing, end of story. Training, in any fashion, past the body's regeneration abilities causes most of the same effects that have previously been listed. However, the nature of the physical activity does change the seriousness of the disorder to some degree.

          Approximately 65% of endurance athletes will face the problem of overtraining at one time or the other. This is most likely due to the rigorous schedule of prolonged cardiovascular exercises that one goes through in order to prepare themselves for competitions.

          Extended exercise sessions is bad because it disrupts the balance of hormones as the body secretes more cortisol, which we know will break down muscle tissue. As this goes on over an extended time period, muscle mass can dwindle until it becomes a problem with normal function in activities.

          On the other hand, weight training should be less likely to cause overtraining if engaged in properly. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Many spend too long in the gym, use bad technique with too heavy a weight, and force themselves through repetitions way beyond a point that their body can normally handle. Putting the body past its recuperation capabilities is not a wise thing to do when avidly lifting weights.

          Unlike endurance training, the risk of injury during resistance training is great. It is essential that a lifter can maintain control during any exercise. If not, then they face the risk of significantly damage their body. Words like crushing, tearing, or breaking should come to mind. Because overtraining causes a reduction in performance and possibly muscle mass, it could compromise a person's ability to control their normal or progressive weight loads. This poses a serious injury issue.

          The consequences of either type of overtraining can be equally bad, but weight training while in such a state is definitely more dangerous. This is why it is important to be able to recognize when overtraining rears its ugly head.

          How Does One Know If They've Overtrained? What Are Some Of The Symptoms?

          Overtraining can happen at any time during a training program, but one should be particularly mindful when preparing for a competition. The extra stresses of dieting and more cardiovascular activities can often be too much to handle if one is not careful. Following are some signs and symptoms of the dreaded state:

          • Performance decreases that cannot be explained by other means.

          • Prolonged muscle soreness or limbs feeling "heavy."

          • Sleeping longer than usual or feeling tired more often.

          • Having sleep of a poorer quality, possibly awakening more often in the night.

          • Strong desires to avoid physical activities or a diminished drive to workout.

          • Excessive stress can sometimes have sexual side effects. Arousal can be more difficult, with females having trouble in lubrication and males unable to achieve erections.

          • Unusual feelings of sadness or depression.

          • Feeling overly anxious or easily irritated.

          • Being unable to focus as well on mental tasks.

          • Getting sick more often than normal or just inconveniently coming down with a common cold or flu "out of the blue."

          • Major disturbances in hunger or satiety levels. A greater craving for sweets or carbohydrates is common among the overtrained.

          • Resting heart rate is always increased as a result of overtraining syndrome. This means the body is definitely not getting stronger as a result of training. Rather, it is becoming more inefficient. If normal resting heart rates are regularly taken, this may be the best way to diagnose someone.

          As we can see, most of the symptoms are the same as the effects. This is what can make it difficult to detect the disorder, but it's possible if one is mindful when engaging in regular physical activities. After recognizing the symptoms and presence of overtraining, we need steps that we can take to rid ourselves of it and prevent it from happening in the future.

          What Are Some Ways To Prevent Overtraining Through Diet & Training?

          Following are several suggestions that, when applied in any combination, can lower the risk of ending up overtrained.

          • Do not make sudden changes in workouts, like drastically increasing training volume or intensity. Also adopting the printed training routines of professional bodybuilders is not always the best thing to do. Just because a pro trains a certain way does not mean that anyone's body will be able to handle the same thing.

          • Do not continue training through an illness. Fighting sicknesses takes a great amount of resources that the body may use up on physical activities. Essentially this just prolongs both problems or makes them worse.

          • Keep hydration as a priority. It helps in nutrient transportation and waste removal. Depending on the situation, a person can need between one and seven liters of water per day. Remember that dehydration to any degree for a contest should never come into play more than a week before it. A person can quickly get into serious health trouble in a matter of days if their fluid intake drops too low.

          • Get adequate nutrition from carbohydrates, protein, and fat. They all play a role in the healthy functioning of the body.

            Protein is the main way that muscle is able to rebuild itself from the physical damage of everyday activities. They also help immune function, and in making hormones and enzymes. In order to just maintain muscle mass, one should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

          Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for all bodily functions. Around 45% or more of calories will provide adequate fuel and help in healthy waste elimination.

          Fats sometimes get a bad name, but they play a significant part in maintaining growth, development, and structure of cell membranes. They also help by aiding absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K. A minimum of about 20% of calories should be from fat.

          • Micronutrient intake from a multivitamin or similar supplement is also important. The body can use up all sorts of resources during intense activities and also in regenerating from them. A multivitamin will make sure the body has available the vitamins and minerals that are hard to come by in normal foods.

          • Try to minimize external stresses from school, work, family, relationships, and environment. One suggestion would be to devote at least an hour of every day to doing something that your really want to do.

          • Get adequate sleep on a daily basis. Shooting for at least 8 hours per day is never a bad idea. This should allow enough time for the body to significantly repair.

            • Let a muscle recover fully by waiting at least 6 days before directly training it again. Also, there should be a full rest day from any training at least once a week. A good training split to adopt for complete development might go something like:

                  Day 1 = Legs/Calves

                  Day 2 = Chest

                  Day 3 = Back

                  Day 4 = Arms

                  Day 5 = Shoulders/Traps

                  Day 6 = Off

                Day 7 = Off or Resume with Day 1

            • Keep workouts, whether it be cardio or resistance training, in the 30-40 minute range, never go over an hour. This will give the best hormonal output by preventing the accumulation of stress hormones, like cortisol. Also, don't do cardio and weight training back to back. Leave some rest time between the activities.

            • Take some supplements to help increase anabolism and the body's ability to recover.

              Creatine can help speed recovery rates.

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              Nitric oxide increases blood flow. This possibly allows for better nutrient delivery to muscle tissue.

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              A multivitamin provides nutrients that are otherwise unavailable in normal diets.

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              Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and thus muscle tissue. Supplementing with them can aid the ability to recuperate from training.

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              Natural testosterone boosters can help the body achieve a better balance of hormones. They can optimize the amount of protein synthesis that occurs, helping recovery abilities.

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              Digestive enzymes can help provide better nutrient absorption.

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              • Eliminate inefficient and unnecessary "shocking" methods that will just create more fatigue. Remember that it's not fatigue that builds muscle; it's getting maximum overload and utilization from a muscle that stimulates growth. So don't plan on using drop sets, super sets, forced reps, partial reps, or negatives during every workout.

              • A calorie surplus is one of the best nutritional ways to prevent overtraining. However, if a deficit is required to lose fat weight, do not drop more than 500 under maintenance intake. It's also a good idea to gradually decrease calorie consumption over a few weeks, with the goal of reaching a certain condition within 12 weeks. Drawing a diet out for longer can decrease the body's ability to cope.

              • Take a week off about every 12 weeks. If symptoms of overtraining occur before this and persist for longer than 5 days, then a week off is also a good idea. This allows the central nervous system to come back fresh and be able to deal with intense activities once again. Don't worry about losing muscle during this time. A week of rest is actually highly anabolic as the body makes its full recovery.

              • Keep a journal to monitor performance, nutrition, and mood. This makes it easier to detect abnormalities that coincide with the effects and symptoms of overtraining.

              • Use recovery techniques that can help reduce stress and aid tissue repairs. Such methods include stretching after a workout, deep tissue massage, and hot/cold contrast baths.

              • It's often not practical to stop training altogether because some symptom of overtraining pops up at one point. If one of the symptoms is present, and you worry that overtraining is an issue, then make some adjustment right away to prevent it.

                Some suggestions may be to either take a day to get more nutrition, skip a cardio session, or if resistance training is scheduled, take extra care in only doing what is necessary. This means no extra sets and keep the workout short and focused. It's possible to continue training if one adapts their lifestyle to help them recover better, but if symptoms persist, then an active rest period should be taken immediately.

                Using some or all of these measures is a great step towards avoiding overtraining. Hopefully, an active plan for preventing an overtrained disorder can prevent unnecessary weight lifting accidents, help further physical fitness progress, and influence the best of results in competitions to come.



              3rd Place - Spaniard00
              Overtraining & Prevention
              Contact This Author Here.

              All seasoned lifters have overtrained ad least once. We eventually learn that our bodies can only handle so much and with time we tend to overtrain less. The more you overtrain and recover the more stress you can put on your body without overtraining.

              Overtraining has a major effect on the body. Some people respond differently to overtraining and receive different side effects accordingly. Some of these SIDE EFFECTS are:

              Mental Disorders:



              A sleeping disorder, which causes a lack of sleep. This is devastating to any bodybuilder trying to gain muscle or lose fat. Crucial Growth hormones will not be released without sleep. If sleep does occur than abnormal sleeping patters are soon to follow. You will be more easily, awaken due to noises. You may also wake up frequently or drastically over sleep.


              Psychologists and Neurologists agree in one thing when it comes to depression, anxiety, and nervousness. They both notice a severely decreased level of serotonin in the brain. overtraining is proven to drastically reduce levels of serotonin to your brain. Lack of serotonin also causes mood swings, irritability, lack of concentration, and stress. This in turn also raises the level of cortisol in your blood. Last but not least, loss of motivation will also occur.

              Organic Disorders:


              The thyroid in an overtrained state leads to a relatively unknown domino effect of issues. When you overtrain the thyroid's over all functions are damaged. The thyroid is arguably one of the most important pieces in the fat loss puzzle. When overtrained the thyroid causes over all macro nutrient metabolism to decrease.

              This means all of your food will not be properly absorbed and will lead to gastro intestinal problems. Even worse, with a sluggish metabolism your body's ability to store fat has been increased. Insulin sensitivity will be spiked and glucose will create the dreaded insulin rush.

              This will result in high sugar levels in the blood, which in turn leads to massive amounts of water and salt retention, which naturally raises blood pressure. The blood pressure increases blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which has been recently indicated to cause heart disease. Cholesterol and triglyceride production will continue to rise until the overtrained state is terminated.

              Immune System:

              The immune system is very complex and is the most complicated second only to the central nervous system. The immune system has literally thousands of functions and has influence over blood, hormones and metabolism. When you are overtrained, your immune system is possibly the most effected.

              Your ability to combat diseases, colds, infections, have been temporarily compromised due to the reduced amount of white blood cells. Part of the immune system is made up of cell barriers found in bone marrow. These specific antibodies remove viral, bacterial infections and more deadly diseases like cancer.

              Your immune system's ability to lower the amount of free radicals is by far the most important issue. Free radicals are believed by many in the scientific community to create lasting damage at the cellular level. However, there is no conclusive proof that the system can be permanently damaged, but many world-class athletes are complaining of respiratory disorders due to chronic overtraining.

              Hormonal Disorders:

              Hormonal Harmony:

              There are thousands of hormones in the human body working together simultaneously. Many of which we barely understand. What I call hormonal harmony is when anabolic and anti-catabolic hormones are dominant in the blood. When overtrained IGF-1, growth hormone, and testosterone levels all decrease and leptin, cortisol, DHEA and other hormones take over.

              An overtrained state without a doubt creates a large decrease in free flowing testosterone and GH levels. The end result is less muscle mass and increased amounts of fat. Protein synthesis is naturally reduced in your system and protein breakdown increases. Basically you are in a negative nitrogen balance.

              Female Infertility:

              Overtraining has been proven to be much more dangerous for females when it comes to how it manipulates hormones. Females have all of the same negative effects that males get except when it comes to menstrual cycles. Females in an extended state of overtraining stop having menstrual cycles. This is known as amenorrhea. This creates a plethora of negative side effects most noted is uterine cancer.

              Other Disorders:

              Head & Visual Problems:

              Overtrained athletes may receive slight to severe head pain. This is due to the central nervous system being over taxed. Visual disturbances are among the most common side effects of overtraining. People report seeing dots and blotches in their vision.

              Heart Rate:

              Heart rate is increased substantially due to blood pressure and altered respiration. The heart is being overworked and is struggling even in daily activities to pump blood to all the organs. In an overtrained individual heart rate is high in the morning and before sleep.

              Cardio Vs. Weight Training!
              Which Form Of Overtraining Is Worse?

              First off, there are two main types of overtraining. Both these types are created from some sort of physical exertion and or stress. Sympathetic overtraining is more frequent and is related to the specific muscle or muscle groups. Parasympathetic overtraining is less common yet much harsher on your entire system.

              Weight training while it can create parasympathetic overtraining with HIIT principles it is usually in the sympathetic overtraining level. Muscle groups are repeatedly bombarded with too much intensity or volume day after day without enough rest and nutrition. Same thing can happen to muscular stabilizers like the lats, abdominal, hamstrings and others. Result is soreness, reduced recovery time in specific muscle, and minimal muscular growth. While sympathetic overtraining is bad it is not nearly as severe as parasympathetic overtraining.

              Cardio training while it can create sympathetic overtraining, it usually creates parasympathetic overtraining. Parasympathetic overtraining effects almost your entire body. Parasympathetic overtraining begins by placing your body in a severe catabolic state. Testosterone levels gets lower and cortisol levels increase.

              The body is in a state of stress and releases cortisol from the adrenal glands to combat this problem. Cortisol in turn not only restricts fat loss and muscle growth it also increases the amount of fat in your body. Obviously the worse problem this poses for bodybuilders is muscle deterioration and fat gain.

              However, immune system, heart, blood, hormonal, mitochondria and many other organs and pathogens are also effected negatively. Parasympathetic overtraining induced usually by cardio is much worse than sympathetic overtraining.

              How Do You Know If You Have Overtrained? What Are The Symptoms?

              Roughly 80% of people in the gym are overtrained. Most novice lifters don't know the symptoms of overtraining. Even people who have been training for years are overtrained and do not know.

              You are overtrained if you have any of the following SYMPTOMS:

                • Fatigued - Mentally you have no desire to go to the gym.

                • Eye twitches- One or both eyes will begin to twitch.

                • Mood - You become angry and irritated with ease.

                • Depression - You become sad, anxious, and or nervous.

                • Sleeping problems - Can't sleep or wake up frequently.

                • Sudden weight - Weight gain or weight loss. Weight gain usually is from water and salt retention. Weight loss is usually due to cortisol removing muscle.

                • Heart rate - Your resting HR will increase. This is easy to notice in the morning and during times of relaxation.

                • Joint and ligament pain- Joints and connective tissue are tender and in pain.

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                  • Decreased immune system - You get sick frequently. It takes more time to recover from infection.

                  • Prolonged muscle soreness- Muscles are sore for extended periods of time.

                  • Appetite reduction-Your appetite will be decreased.

                  • Headaches - Slight to severe headaches occur.

                  • Gastric problems - You get diarrhea.

                  • Coordination - Your overall coordination and reaction time are reduced.

                  • Injury - Chances of injury increases.

                  Ways To Prevent Overtraining Through Diet & Training?

                  If you want to reduce the chances of overtraining then you must have a good diet and a reasonable training routine. Your body recovers and grows outside of the gym with proper nutrition and rest. Diet is one of the most important aspects in avoiding an overtrained state. A constant supply of calories from fats, carbs and proteins are important.


                  Nothing is as important as a balanced diet. Having a proper balance between proteins, carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids is so crucial. Here are a breakdown of the macronutrients and some information on them. I will explain when and why to consume them to prevent overtraining. All these macronutrients must be consumed to some degree in 5-6 meals a day, to keep your body in a constant anabolic state and to prevent overtraining.


                  Eating sufficient carbs at the correct times is one of the best ways to prevent overtraining. Carbohydrates are your body's main energy source. Carbs fuel your workout sessions and daily activities. A lot of carbs should be consumed early in the morning to give you that energy to start the day.

                  Carbs are crucial pre workout to give you energy for your weight training. Carbs post workout turn a catabolic environment into an anabolic environment. Carbs should still be consumed later in the day but not in such high levels as you do earlier in the day.


                  Protein consumption is essential in order to not overtrain. Protein is the main muscle-building nutrient. Since protein stimulates metabolism and has the highest rate of thermo genesis this can be consumed at a high portion at any time of the day. Protein should be consumed in every meal you have. Protein repairs muscles, ligaments, and tendons from workouts as well as a wide array of other benefits.


                  The most overlooked and yet crucial part of the diet to prevent overtraining is EFA's. Essential Fatty Acids is possibly the most important aspect in avoiding overtraining through dieting. It is widely believed that if 20% of your overall intake is compromised of Essential Fatty Acids than Test, GH and all other anabolic hormones will be at their primal stage of efficacy. EFA should be consumed in moderate amounts during the entire day. They blunt anxiety, stress, and depression and balance water, and fat levels in your body.

                  Depending on your weight and goals you should consume different amounts of calories accordingly.


                  Weight Training and cardio are the two main contributors to overtraining.

                  Different people respond to different workloads differently. A brutal routine Franco and Arnold used to do might not work for you. People train with either too much frequency or intensity and end up overtraining.


                  People go to the gym everyday and wonder why their gains have stagnated. Regardless of intensity and volume your body can't recuperate from daily training. This is a key factor in preventing overtraining. With time you will master your body and be able to gauge your progress in resistance to certain workloads.

                  After you overtrain and recover, your body needs extra stimulus before it falls into an overtrained state again. If you feel the beginning stages of overtraining like aggression and getting irritated easily then take a day or two off.


                  If you train with high levels of intensity like many of us do, then you are much more prone to overtraining. A workout has many different ways of being high intensity but they will all put serious muscular and even mental stress on your body. Depending on your level of intensity, extra rest days will be needed.

                  Thanks for Reading