Are You Over-training?

While the majority of people are in the camp of struggling to motivate themselves to train at all, others would happily go to the gym every day and struggle to know when to take a step back. Unless you are a very advanced trainee and know how to manage your training volume, most won’t be able to keep up this kind of frequency without burning out sooner or later. Here’s how to assess if you are over-training.

If you have found yourself reading this because you are concerned, that’s an immediate sign that something might need adjusting within your programme. Signs that you might be over-training include:

  • DOMS lasting longer than usual
  • Decreased energy in day to day life
  • Sudden decreased motivation to train
  • Injuries or potential injuries developing
  • Drop in training performance

 

Over-training, not to be confused with overtraining syndrome which is a clinical condition usually only found in very elite athletes who train for many hours a day, is fairly simple to get past.

We all have a maximal amount of volume which it is possible for us to recover from in a week (known as MRV). If we surpass this, problems can occur and the symptoms listed above may appear. For example, perhaps you are doing heavy bench twice a week which then negatively affects your shoulder work.

Programming in a deload week may help to manage symptoms of over-training. You may want to decrease weight used for your working sets the entire week and/or reduce sets, whichever you prefer. There are ways to plan this more strictly based off percentages or RPE, but consciously reducing training volume is enough for most. A complete week off training can be beneficial too for more advanced athletes. These will prevent overuse injuries, allow the body time to rest, and give you a new surge of motivation when you return to normal training.

In the long term, it might be appropriate to take a look at how you can alter your training split and exercises chosen to suit you better. One way that you might do this, if training frequency is high (after getting your main compound, barbell exercise in) is to fill your sessions with lighter accessory movements that take less time to recover from, such as cable work.

A chest day, for example, might look like:

Flat bench
Incline smith press
Supinated grip bb front raises
Cable flies
Rope triceps pushdown

 

It is important to consider other factors outside of the gym too, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Optimal nutrition
  • Controlling stress levels

While supplements cannot replace good nutrition, there are some which may help to support your recovery. My recommendations would be:

About the Author

Savannah Westerby BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition.
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