One of the newest topics in the industry is ‘’over training’’ and the fact it doesn’t exist. Before we go into it let me just say, I disagree. Of course it exists; logic alone will tell you it exists. Personal experience confirms it exists; speaking with many leading coaches clarifies it.
There is a difference between not feeling over training and it not existing, that’s my first thought process. Below we will go over why I believe over training does exist, of course it’s only a theory but it is based on practical observations which I often find the best.
The central nervous system comes under varying levels of stress when we train, to stimulate change we want to cause a great deal of stress of a period of time and then back off a little before going again. Progressive lifting over a relatively short period of time, where you force the body’ hand and get stronger for example over 6-8 weeks is immensely taxing. It isn’t just a case of eating enough calories it is the stress placed on the CNS. Imagine how much stress is caused when you squat heavy for 3-5 reps and gradually increase the weight used over a short period of time. It will take its toll.
If you have ever trained like this for a prolonged period of time you will sometimes find you just can’t feel the muscles working the same way as usual, there’s a lack of ‘’feel’’ when you train. I would suggest that’s partly down to the fact your CNS is over stimulated and as such needs a rest.
‘’Rest’’ doesn’t mean not to train, this is where using deload weeks is ideal – it helps prevent over training and keeps your momentum going the right way. Typically we find that volume dictates CNS stress, therefore I would recommend halving the volume you usually do for the week and not going to failure. This is merely a means to keep the muscles stimulated whilst recovering. Call it active recovery.
Rotating your training with deload weeks creates an effect known as accumulation and intensification. It is one of the best ways to force the muscles to grow and adapt, you are pushing the boundaries of over training before backing off for a week and then going again.
Does over training exist? Almost certainly! If you are smart you can use it to your advantage.