Combating Overtraining

I never used to believe in overtraining, and instead I thought it was a lame excuse for people who wanted to take time out of their training or who wanted to take it easier. My argument was that if I could train even when I was ill, tired and battered – well then so should they be able to. Then of course I stopped to reflect for a moment on why I was tired and ill all the time, and I realised I was overtraining. And I realised that I would probably be able to get into better shape if I wasn’t always so battered.

Read on to learn how to get that balance right between training and overtraining, and how to avoid forcing yourself into a prolonged time out.

What Is Overtraining?

When you think about it, it’s very easy to see how overtraining comes about and why our bodies can only take so much. If you have a basic grasp of how bodybuilding works then you will know that you need to cause tiny microtears in your muscles through repeatedly bearing more load than you easily can. These microtears then get healed by your immune system which draws on the amino acids in your diet and your nutrients in order to build your fibers up bigger and stronger than before.

So in other words then, when you work out you are basically slightly injuring yourself in order to bring about a recovery. This then means that your body and in particular your immune system is constantly busy healing your muscle fibers and is constantly on the defensive so that when you get bacteria or a virus in your system, you are then less equipped to deal with it. Likewise if you are to get a cut or another injury, your immune system then needs to stick that in the queue as it were and you build up a back log of problems.

It also means that you are using up all your body’s resources. You will have used a vast proportion of your available blood sugar from doing CV in the gym which means you will be tired for a while afterwards, and you will likewise have less protein and calcium for other jobs around your body. It’s no wonder then that you can end up lethargic and worn out if you aren’t careful.

Preventing Overtraining

Better than cure is of course prevention, and if you can take measures against becoming overtrained then you will be able to stay on top of your game in the gym and avoid feeling ill and used up.

Here are a few things you can do:

Include Plenty of Rest Time: For every action there should be an equal reaction and that means that the harder you train the longer and harder you need to rest as well. Sleeping and even just resting allows and encourages your body to catch up on repairs while it also avoids your making more work for it. So use a split system and don’t train the same muscle group twice in one week and likewise designate one or two days to give your whole body a rest.

Take Time Off: In fact, consider taking a whole week off from time to time. Some bodybuilders and trainers recommend taking a whole week off of your training. While a true fanatic will worry that they’re suddenly going to deflate like the Hulk turning back into puny Banner, the reality is actually that your body will probably thank you for the chance to recover. If you don’t want to go as far as once a month (I personally find that a bit much) then at least take some time off every two to three months instead.

Eat Right: Getting the right diet is absolutely essential if you want to benefit from your training rather than being damaged by it. Most important of all is to get lots of protein as this is what your body will use to rebuild that muscle – this provides the building blocks if you will. Likewise though you need lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system healthy and to keep your bones strong; as well as lots of carbohydrates in order to fuel your body through exercise.

Listen to Your Body: Most of all though you need to simply listen to your body and what it’s telling you. If you feel tired and lethargic then take more time off. If you feel like your pecs are still hurting a week later, then be adaptable and train your biceps that day instead.

Recovering From Overtraining

To recover from overtraining you need to follow mostly the same advice. This means making sure that you rest long and hard to give your body the time it needs to focus on rebuilding your muscles. You should also aim to boost your growth hormone which you can do by using supplements, by getting more sleep and by taking hot showers. Finally though you need to just fuel your body with protein so that it can start rebuilding your muscle tissue and letting your body recover. Make sure to do this until you are completely back to full strength and only then come back to the gym. As a result your workouts will be significantly better.

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