Avoid Over-Training to Maximize Muscle
Almost anyone that's picked up a set of weights has or will
experience symptoms of over-training at one point in there
muscle building program. Over-training can lead to serious
injury, chronic fatigue, and even muscle loss.
Over-training is very common amongst athletes and
particularly bodybuilders, since they figure that training as
much as possible is the fastest way to massive muscle
This couldn't be any further from the truth
Training too much, or at too high of an intensity
will lead to over-training.
Now this doesn't mean you don't have to put plenty of effort
in to see some decent results... Whether you are a bodybuilder,
athlete, or just someone that wants to add some additional mass
to your frame, you need to train hard and be consistent-that's
a given. In order to get the most out of your genetics, you
have to progressively overload the muscles by increasing the
weight and / or intensity of each weight training workout.
The problem is however, that many of us increase the
intensity of our workouts or get insufficient amounts of rest,
or even worse, a combination of both. The trick is finding the
right balance between workout volume and intensity, and rest
and recovery. And that is exactly what I'll cover in this
The Effects of Over-Training on Bodybuilders
First, let's take a look at some of the effects of
over-training and how one can prevent over-training from
happening in the first place.
The Effects of Over-training on the Nervous
Over-training effects both the sympathetic and
parasympathetic nervous systems in the following negative
- Higher resting heart rate
- Weak appetite
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased metabolic rate
- Early onset of fatigue
If you are experiencing more than one of the symptoms
outlined above, you may be in a state of over-training, and
should evaluate your routine as soon as possible.
The Effects of Over-training on Hormone
Many studies have indicated that over-training negatively
effects the levels of hormones, as well as the hormone response
in the body. Since hormones play such an important role
in the muscle building process, this can have a detrimental
effect on your training progress.
Over-training has been show to:
- Decrease testosterone levels
- Decrease thyroxine levels
- Increase cortisol levels
The increase in cortisol levels along with the decrease in
testosterone levels is a deadly combination, since this leads
to protein tissue break down. This will ultimately lead to a
loss of muscle tissue.
The Effects of Over-training on the Immune
perhaps one of the most alarming repercussions of
over-training is it's negative impact on the immune
system-you're bodies first defense against harmful viruses and
Over-training can drastically decrease the levels of
antibodies and lymphocytes in your body, making you much more
susceptible to illness. Simply put, this means that if
you are in a state of over-training, you are much more likely
to get sick. Since you will have to skip workouts while
you are sick, your muscle building progress will slow
The Effects of Over-training on the Metabolic
Here is a list of how over-training can effect the
metabolic system. These symptoms are the ones that are
most commonly discussed, and are ones we can't ignore:
- Micro tears in the muscle
- Chronically depleted glycogen levels
- Slow, weak muscle contractions
- Depleted creatine phosphate stores
- Excessive accumulation of lactic acid
- Extreme DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
- Tendon and connective tissue damage
So you must get the point by now... Over-training effects
the entire body, and can seriously impact the results of your
muscle building program.
Now let's take a look at the different types of
over-training, and what we can do to prevent it.
Is it Worse to Over-Train With Cardio or Weight
Any form of over-training is a bad thing, however, I've
personally experienced both types of over-training and can
honestly say that over-training in the weight room is much
worse, and much more prevalent than over-training through
Here are some of the reasons why:
- In order to grow, muscles must fully recover from their
last workout, every workout. If you are over-training
and work the muscles before they have fully recovered, you
will break down the muscle tissue before it has
rebuilt-making it impossible to build muscle!
- Over-training with weights makes you more susceptible
to nervous systems hormone and immune system issues, which
all pose serious health risks.
- It can lead beginners down the wrong path, perhaps
wasting money on unnecessary supplements, or even worse,
I personally believe that only competitive athletes such as
swimmers, runners and bikers run a serious risk of reaching a
state of cardiovascular over-training, since there are often
training for two or more hours daily.
The bottom line is that it is much easier for the average
person to over-train while weight training than while
cardiovascular training, and I think the effects can be more
How do I Determine if I'm
Determining if you're currently over-training is fairly
simple. If you're in tune with your body, you can often
see the signs of over-training before they get serious.
If you are losing interest in workouts, are having trouble
sleeping, and feel weak and irritable, you may be in a state of
over-training and should take a week or more off.
If you are experiencing two or more of the symptoms outlined
earlier in the article, this should raise a red flag.
Another variable you can use to determine if you are
over-training is by tracking the performance of your
Has your physical performance improved compared to
your last workout?
For example, let's say last workout you were able to perform
8 pull-ups using your body-weight, but were only able to
perform 6 pull-ups the following week. This means that
you have not "out done" your previous workout, have not fully
recovered, and therefore are likely over-training. You
nave to re-asses your program and make modifications so that
you see progress every workout.
How Can I Prevent Over-training?
In order to avoid over-training, you need to take a
multi-facited approach. Determining the correct training
volume and intensity, eating the right foods, and getting the
right amount of rest and recovery must all be taken in to
consideration. Now let's take a look at each of those
factors in more detail.
Correct Training Volume
Determining the correct training volume can be difficult,
especially when you are first starting out. You have to
determine how much weight to lift, how many repetitions and set
to perform for every single workout.
You need to use your own judgment in this case, based on
your recovery ability and your recovery methods. Remember
that the goal is that you improve every single workout, and if
this isn't happening, you have to decrease the intensity of
This is where many people go wrong though. You begin
your workout and realize that you have not fully
recovered. You can either continue to train at a lower
intensity than the previous workout, or skip the workout
As hard as it may be, skipping the workout is the right way
to go. Just turn around and go home! Your body is
telling you that it needs more rest, and you must
listen to it!
There is no point in training at a lower intensity, further
breaking down the muscle tissue. By doing this you
will increase your risk of injury, and make it harder for your
body to fully recovery for your next training session.
Your diet plays a huge role in your muscle building
program. It helps regulate hormone levels, provides
energy, and provides the raw building blocks that are used to
create new tissue.
Here are some dietary recommendations that will limit the
chance of over-training:
- Do not skip breakfast. This is one of the most
important meals of the day. Skipping breakfast is
very catabolic, and can promote muscle loss.
- Never let yourself get hungry. If you're trying
to build muscle mass, you have to constantly feed your body
quality foods so that it never has the chance catabolize
- Unless you are trying to build muscle and lose
fat, make sure you have eaten prior to your training
session and are not hungry.
- Have the largest meal of the day within an hour after
your workout. Do this every single workout!
- Consider taking proven supplements like creatine, and
antioxidants to increase performance and fight free
- Eat every 2-3 hours to ensure that your body remains in
an anabolic state.
- Keep glycogen levels at full capacity to inhibit muscle
Rest & Recovery
Rest and recovery is essential when it comes to avoiding
over-training. Make sure that you get at least 7 hours of
sleep each night, and that you are on a consistent
schedule. As for recovery time, it's important that you
have days off between weight training workouts. Try to
have one rest day between weight training workouts, and never
train the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
About the Author:
Vince DelMonte is the author of Your Six Pack
Quest found at http://www.YourSixPackQuest.com
He specializes in helping chubby guys and gals get
six pack abs without gimmicks,
supplements or dieting.