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View Full Version : Is overtraining a myth?


Matthieu Hertilus
05-30-2009, 11:05 AM
I may get some heat for even raising such a question, but I read more and more interviews and beliefs from strength coaches and personal trainers that the term overtraining is used way too often and that it's more so a matter of not revoering enough. I know athletes work for years to be able to tolerate multiple sessions a day and long training hours a week, but they also eat right, sleep well, and use a bunch of revovery methods to make sure their mind and body are good to go. Just wanted to raise the topic and see what everyone thinks on the subject.

Patrick Donnelly
05-30-2009, 12:15 PM
Try this program, then tell me that you can never push yourself too far.
http://www.tmuscle.com/readArticle.do?id=1605986&cr

The average human being can not go without a day job, or live a stress-free life, or get 9 hours of sleep each night, or get daily massages, etc. All of those things would help deter overtraining, but you could still get it. It'd just require you to push harder. Much harder.

Steven Low can probably give a good explanation between the differences of "overtraining" and simply "overreaching." The first term is probably used too often where the second should be, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

(No pressure, Steve. Hahah.)

Michael Hartman
05-30-2009, 04:23 PM
Good question for discussion. Overtraining is not a myth, but it is misunderstood and grossly overstated by most people. Fatigue is a normal response to training. For full blown overtraining to occur that fatigue would have to accumulate over a period of weeks and months. Most normal people will take a few days off, or an overuse injury limits their training, before OT develops. Competitive athletes are more susceptible because of the demands of competition, desire to win, etc., but mostly the inability to take time off due to their sport.

Garrett Smith
05-30-2009, 07:20 PM
Competitive athletes are more susceptible because of the demands of competition, desire to win, etc., but mostly the inability to take time off due to their sport.
Please provide an example of someone who is "unable" to take time off due to their sport?

My impression is more of "unwilling" or "too thickheaded..."

Dave Van Skike
05-30-2009, 07:37 PM
Please provide an example of someone who is "unable" to take time off due to their sport?
"

anyone who wears a TAPOUT shirt. Once you don the golden fleece you need to back that shit up. TCB-24/7, Bro.

Michael Hartman
05-30-2009, 08:34 PM
Please provide an example of someone who is "unable" to take time off due to their sport?

My impression is more of "unwilling" or "too thickheaded..."

I was coming from the perspective that a recreational athlete has the ability to skip a few workouts, or postpone their next comp. Whereas the competitive athlete "has" to train (for lack of a better term), which may eventually lead to overtraining. However, I agree, a certain amount of unwillingness to rest is usually the cause but there are different examples of athletes, either through their own doing or a misguided coach, who do not have extended breaks in training.

Team sport athletes at the HS level; where one might go from different sports in different seasons, or varsity and club teams, with pressure from different coaches and teams to practice/compete.

The collegiate distance runner who has to run XC, Indoor, and Outdoor to keep their 1/4 scholarship + books.

The post-collegiate athlete who gave up his day job to move to the OTC to train for the next Olympics, which also means placing at Nationals in May, Team Trials in August, Worlds in November, and a host of other competitions throughout the year to keep their spot and monthly stipend.

Garrett Smith
05-31-2009, 06:56 AM
I had one summer before high school where I had five sports going at once:
Swim team
Pony baseball
Seniors baseball
Two basketball teams

I was talented enough that coaches were okay with me missing many practices and mainly showing up for games/meets. This meant I was nearly always running at full tilt (did I mention I was a catcher, playing every inning for both teams?) Towards the end of the summer, I got extremely fatigued, sleeping 12-14 hours every day (got the full workups for mono and valley fever nothing came back positive), a mid-back pain that I still have to this day, and I basically had to quit all the sports at once. If there was ever overtraining, I was in it.

Take proper rest or the body will make you take proper rest. Ignore it further and bad things happen.

Matthieu Hertilus
05-31-2009, 07:27 AM
I'm beginning to think it's more a matter of CNS overload rather than muscle fatigue. Especially for anyone who does olympic weightlifting or powerlifting type training regularly. I've had lots of trouble sleeping for more than 6 hours straight and it's probably due to all the o'lifts I do. But if overtraining is more so related to CNS fatigue, is rest the only means of recovery in that sense?

Garrett Smith
05-31-2009, 09:54 AM
Training at night often screws up sleep, you might look there first if that's something you do and you have trouble sleeping.

Daniel Olmstead
05-31-2009, 11:02 AM
I've been guilty of not distinguishing between overreaching and overtraining - mainly because I didn't realize there WAS a distinction, until I actually looked it up.

I've definitely overreached, but a week off and I'm back in the game. I've not come close to actually overtraining...I'm not sure I ever could, as I'd most likely injure myself before it came to that.

Garrett Smith
05-31-2009, 11:54 AM
I'm finding planned mild overreaching and then recovery is the best thing to ever happen to my training.

Frank Needham
05-31-2009, 12:17 PM
I'm finding planned mild overreaching and then recovery is the best thing to ever happen to my training.

I think I've been doing this unintentionally through ignorance and learning to cope with it since I began training again 3 years ago.

Steven Low
05-31-2009, 04:15 PM
I'm beginning to think it's more a matter of CNS overload rather than muscle fatigue. Especially for anyone who does olympic weightlifting or powerlifting type training regularly. I've had lots of trouble sleeping for more than 6 hours straight and it's probably due to all the o'lifts I do. But if overtraining is more so related to CNS fatigue, is rest the only means of recovery in that sense?

Overreaching/overtraining was never muscle fatigue. It's always a function of the CNS.

The only cases where you get muscular overload are cases of lots of edema/swelling in the area with pain up to rhabdomyolysis. Muscles have a GREAT blood supply so they heal rather quickly.. compared to stuff like CNS, bone, ligaments, tendons, etc. Cardiovascular system obviously gets a better blood supply than the muscles so it heals faster than muscles.

Best way to tell significant overreaching is with something like the tap tests, or decreasing max vertical leap, or your weights are starting to drop off 5-10% from your lifts.

If your lifts ever drop below 10% of your current then you're in a pretty bad overreaching state. If you push beyond that you're probably going to have to take more than a week to recover, and your CNS will be so depressed that you won't get a supercompensation effect greater than your previous maximum which means you just wasted all that time training for a setback.

Mild overreaching is generally good as you get the supercompensation back up over your previous max. But too much, and you set yourself back in training for weeks/months possibly years at a time.

Matthieu Hertilus
06-02-2009, 09:19 AM
Couldn't adaptogens help the body adapt to the stress put on by increased training? I know its always best not to resort to supplements and stick to sound training, nutrition, and rest, but I' just wanted to bring it up as a point of discussion. Technically, it could help reduce symptoms of overtraining right?

Steven Low
06-02-2009, 09:53 AM
Uh, well, yeah.

Anytime you can improve recovery options you can do more without putting yourself into a huge overreaching state...

more sleep, eat more, eat quality foods, lower stress at work, supplements that actually work for YOU, etc.

Kevin Croke
06-03-2009, 11:43 AM
I had to take 6 months off training due to overtraining syndrome. One year later i still suffer from its effects.

Listen to your body.

Garrett Smith
06-03-2009, 11:58 AM
Couldn't adaptogens help the body adapt to the stress put on by increased training? I know its always best not to resort to supplements and stick to sound training, nutrition, and rest, but I' just wanted to bring it up as a point of discussion. Technically, it could help reduce symptoms of overtraining right?
Adaptogens help the body to deal with stressors.

Adaptogens are not very effective in repairing/recovering from damage already incurred by stressors.

So, it will reduce the symptoms, yes. It will not fix the cause, however.

Matthieu Hertilus
06-03-2009, 12:17 PM
Adaptogens help the body to deal with stressors.

Adaptogens are not very effective in repairing/recovering from damage already incurred by stressors.

So, it will reduce the symptoms, yes. It will not fix the cause, however.
Sorry, I didn't fully understand that point. Could you elaborate? Maybe with an example?
For example, let's say a person finds themselves fatigued when they lift, but if they take a caffeine supplement they're able to go at their normal pace. Is this what you mean by reducing the symptoms and not fixing the cause? Wouldn't the person still be able to perform at a high level provided that caffeine or adaptogens help them get to that point? This may be borederline dependence but again, just bringing this up for discussion

Steven Low
06-03-2009, 12:51 PM
Sorry, I didn't fully understand that point. Could you elaborate? Maybe with an example?
For example, let's say a person finds themselves fatigued when they lift, but if they take a caffeine supplement they're able to go at their normal pace. Is this what you mean by reducing the symptoms and not fixing the cause? Wouldn't the person still be able to perform at a high level provided that caffeine or adaptogens help them get to that point? This may be borederline dependence but again, just bringing this up for discussion
Caffeine isn't really an adaptogen....

Read up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptogen

Garrett Smith
06-03-2009, 01:20 PM
Hopefully this analogy will help, as will reading the Wiki link on what adaptogenic herbs do.

Tires on a car = CNS, adrenals
Alignment (of tires) = training

If the alignment is such that the tires are wearing down excessively quickly in an abnormal pattern, then there is a problem. The cause is the misalignment. The wear pattern on the tires is a symptom.

By re-treading the same tires (using adaptogens, for example), we can reduce the symptom. However, this only means that we have given ourselves more time until the tires wear down in the same pattern as before, as the cause has not been addressed. One benefit to things like adaptogens is that their effects on the symptoms are often felt very quickly, which is good for the mental state (however, not so good if the person keeps doing what burned them out in the first place!)

Only by addressing the faulty alignment can we fix the cause. Adaptogens are not treating the cause, they only treat a symptom. In a "healthy" person, adaptogens help them to perform better than they might normally. In an "overtrained" person, adaptogens are only helping them to dig themselves a deeper hole. The deeper issues of what is hindering recovery is the cause(s) in this case.

Caffeine is a stimulant. To rely on a stimulant to fix dragging performance levels is like beating a dead horse. It only makes the problem worse.

Brandon Oto
06-03-2009, 01:42 PM
To rely on a stimulant to fix dragging performance levels is like beating a dead horse. It only makes the problem worse.

http://irongarmx.net/phpBB2/images/smilies/eusa_think.gif

Matthieu Hertilus
06-03-2009, 02:57 PM
Hopefully this analogy will help, as will reading the Wiki link on what adaptogenic herbs do.

Tires on a car = CNS, adrenals
Alignment (of tires) = training

If the alignment is such that the tires are wearing down excessively quickly in an abnormal pattern, then there is a problem. The cause is the misalignment. The wear pattern on the tires is a symptom.

By re-treading the same tires (using adaptogens, for example), we can reduce the symptom. However, this only means that we have given ourselves more time until the tires wear down in the same pattern as before, as the cause has not been addressed. One benefit to things like adaptogens is that their effects on the symptoms are often felt very quickly, which is good for the mental state (however, not so good if the person keeps doing what burned them out in the first place!)

Only by addressing the faulty alignment can we fix the cause. Adaptogens are not treating the cause, they only treat a symptom. In a "healthy" person, adaptogens help them to perform better than they might normally. In an "overtrained" person, adaptogens are only helping them to dig themselves a deeper hole. The deeper issues of what is hindering recovery is the cause(s) in this case.

Caffeine is a stimulant. To rely on a stimulant to fix dragging performance levels is like beating a dead horse. It only makes the problem worse.
I only used caffeine to try to make sense of the orignial point you were trying to make, but thank you for the clarification as I think that answer served this thread's purpose

Garrett Smith
06-03-2009, 03:50 PM
http://irongarmx.net/phpBB2/images/smilies/eusa_think.gif
OK, not the best analogy. Do I need to make another one?

Brandon Oto
06-05-2009, 11:57 AM
No, please no.

Garrett Smith
06-05-2009, 02:14 PM
:p :p :p

Kevin Croke
06-13-2009, 04:27 AM
Garret have you experienced any other long term health problem related to your overtraining other then your back or do you know of any? Id hate to think mistakes ive made will still be biting me in the ass as i get into old age.