There are a lot of people who truly don't understand what it means to work hard and give their best possible effort. Think back to how hard you've been working out lately; do you think you could have put forth a significantly higher amount of effort in the last couple of months? If you can honestly say that you could have, and should have worked harder then this blog post does not really apply for you. Not right now at least.
You need to work harder. No excuses.
BUT, there is a reason why the term 'overtraining' is a thing. There is also a population of people who work extremely hard, too hard in fact, and it's either limiting their progress in the weight room, or it's getting them injured.
In this blog post I will explain the different stages of overtraining, give some examples on how to tell what stage you're at, and provide some solutions on how to adjust your training to avoid overtraining and still work kick ass in the weight room.
In order to reach the overtraining stage you would need to perform frequent workouts of high intensity and high volume for a long duration of time, generally at least 6-8 weeks. Some symptoms of overtraining include restlessness, extreme fatigue, illness, and injury.
Your body can only handle so much and if you reach a certain point eventually it will shut itself down. A good example of this is rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis is "the breakdown of muscle tissue that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents into the blood" (3). This disease can be caused by extreme exertion. Unfortunetly, CrossFit has adopted 'Uncle Rhabdo" as it's unofficial mascot.
Now, I don't want to turn this blog post into a bash CrossFit sesh, but I do want to shed some light on the seriousness of this disease. Basically, what happens is your body reaches a certain level where "muscle is damaged and a protein called myoglobin is released into the bloodstream. It is then filtered out of the body by the kidneys. Myoglobin breaks down into substances that can damage kidney cells" (3). Symptoms of rhabomyolysis include possible kidney failure, dark or red colored urine, myalgia, and seizures.
Let's be clear. I'm not telling you that you should never work out to exhaustion because you don't want to get rhabdo, I'm just saying you need to listen to your body so that you can prevent cases like this from happening.
Periodization is the first and most important step. It is crucial to include deload weeks into your training program to promote recovery. These deload weeks are not meant to get you out of your training hard mentality, they are meant to give your body an opportunity to reload. Deload weeks are also great for decreasing the load and working on form. It's also important to program in soft tissue/mobility sessions to help keep your body fresh.
Sleep and nutrition is a pretty obvious one. If you're not getting an adequate amount of sleep or focusing on eating the right foods your body will take longer to recover from intense workouts.
A good way to keep track of how you're feeling is to fill out a readiness questionnaire before each workout. If you're committed to filling one out every day you can get a better idea of what recovery and nutritional habits work best for you. The readiness questionnaire below is the one I use with both my athletes and general population clients.
It is extremely important to be flexible!
Yes, you need to have a plan of attack for each workout but understand that your body is not going to be at 100% every single day. You need to be able to be flexible with your workouts to receive the most benefits and stay healthy.
Hope you enjoyed this post and got something out of it. Don't forget to comment, share, and follow me on social media!
- Baechile, T., Earle, R. (2008). The Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning Third Edition. National Strength and Conditioning Association. Human Kinetics.
- Hudy, A. (2014). Power Positions: Championsip Prescriptions for Ultimate Sports Performance. Kendall Hunt Publishing.
- Miller, S. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000473.htm