July 5, 2011

Overtraining – Your Body’s Way of Saying “Screw You”

Overtraining – Your Body’s Way of Saying “Screw You”

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What’s Up Boys and Girls?


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I just got done with a KILLER arm workout and my arms are a little shaky, so if there’s a hundred typos in this post you’ll know why.

Anyways, one of my awesome clients sent me an email this morning, saying that he just wasn’t feeling it lately.

He’s been working his butt off for a long time, both in the kitchen and in the gym (home, I should say).

He’s come a long ways in his body transformation and should be peeling off the shirt to reveal a chiseled 6-pack here very soon.

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However, the past few days he’s been tired, out of it, unmotivated, experiencing aches and pains and can’t seem to match the intensity level of his usual workouts.

We both agreed that he was suffering from overtraining and this was his body’s way of saying “screw you.”

Now I have to admit, I can’t stand the subject of overtraining.

The reason I can’t stand it is because a lot of fitness experts and medical professionals want to write, talk and scream about this concept any time someone will listen.

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What do you suppose the result of this is?

You get a bunch of lazy people who just started working out, thinking to themselves “gee, maybe I need a week off…I feel a little sore after two workouts and I don’t want to overdo it.”

The fact is, most people aren’t training anywhere near as hard as they should be, which is why they aren’t getting the kind of results they’re after.

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I think the last thing I need to be doing is preaching to everyone that they need to be careful and take more days off from working out.

This crazy talk just caters to lazinessand lack of ambition.

HOWEVER, because I talk nonstop about intensity, pushing through the pain and challenging yourself to perform at a higher level with each and every workout…and because overtraining is a real issue that can put you in a fat loss funk if you do experience it…I thought I should grant the topic at least one blog post (wink).

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Overtraining is usually seen with weight training, but can be experienced by any athlete or fitness buff.

Basically, you’ll start to notice a change in your thinking, your emotions, your fitness level and your physical performance.

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Because my workouts are so demanding, I want you to be aware of the concept so that if it did arise, you’d know how to handle it.

Just don’t get soft on me and think that any time you’re having a tough day you’re suffering from overtraining.

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So how does this overtraining phenomenon occur?

Inadequate rest and excessive training, to put it simply.

Remember, your muscles grow and your fat is burned (mostly) while you’re resting.

Working out too intensely and/or too frequently disrupts your recovery process and the body and mind respond with a big “screw you.”

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You’ll be even more susceptible to this condition if you’re following an aggressive lean body diet plan that is overly restrictive in calories and nutrients.

Also, being sick, a lack of sleep, jet lag and stresses from your work or personal life can increase the likelihood of overtraining biting you in the butt.

It’s thought that increased levels of cortisol and excessive strain on the nervous system are two of the main factors that cause this funk.

Besides seeing your fat loss results come to a screeching halt (or worse yet, going backwards) and being a little irritable, cranky and unmotivated, here’s some warning sings to keep your lids peeled for:

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-> Increased injuries, excessive fatigue, higher resting heart rate, nagging muscle soreness that just won’t quit (careful with this one, because it’s common to be sore when trying out a new workout style), loss of motivation, delayed recovery, chills, generalized body pain, headaches, insomnia, even constipation and diarrhea

If you’re ever noticing a whole gang of these symptoms and you’ve been hitting the diet and workouts really hard for a long time, without much more than a day off here and there…you could be suffering from overtraining.

If you determine it’s a realistic possibility (it definitely WAS for the client who asked the question) that you’re sinking in an overtraining sand trap, then please take some time off and let your body and your hormones recover.

I recommend a full 7-day workout vacation for anyone who feels overtrained. Make sure and take a good look at your diet plan too, and adjust for potential causative factors. A moderate increase in calories consumed during this recovery week would be a good idea.

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If you’re slacking on veggies, quit.

One of the best things you can do to get lean, stay healthy and look better is to eat more vegetables.

Bump up your protein intake too, to promote the repair and rebuilding of lean muscle tissue. And always drink lots of water to promote a healthy liver and lymphatic system.

Your 7-day vacation from intense workouts and aggressive dieting, it should be a no-brainer, but I’ll say it anyways – start back slowly and gradually increase the effort level each week, until you’re back to your original self.

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Even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of overtraining, it’s a good idea to take a scheduled recovery week (or at a very minimum, four days) every so often.

Just like the cheat day concept, it’s always a good idea to cycle your workouts and supplements as well.

Overexposure to the same thing (even if that same thing is fat-blasting, top-notch workouts) will eventually result in your body working against you.

Planned cheating on your diet, mini vacations from your workouts and cycling supplement usage, will all help to prevent plateaus and keep the results coming.

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In terms of intense training, I’d suggest planning an off week at least once every 12 weeks, regardless of how you feel.

Just because I beat the intensity factor to death, doesn’t mean there aren’t times where we’ll all need to take a break and let our bodies and our minds recover.

By the way, don’t worry about setbacks during this recovery period.

Just like with strategic cheating, it may sound counter-intuitive, but in the end, the off time helps you more than it hurts you.

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In fact, my body looks and feels better than it ever has and I just recently took eight entire days off from working out.

I also screwed the pooch on my diet plan. After returning from this vacation, though, my mind and body were totally refreshed and ready to hit it harder than ever.

Sure I felt like a worthless slob during those eight days, but a week and half after getting back into it, I feel amazing…thanks to being fully rested, recharged and ready to rock.

Rest is a huge part of the success equation, but it’s boring to talk about and not very sexy to read about (for me anyways) – don’t let that get in the way of your fat loss mission.

 

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