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Is This What "Overtraining" Looks Like?

Hey guys, I just got a reality check realizing I’m way more fat than I realized… I’m 5’9 and 228lbs (I’m cutting now, approx. 500 calories/day deficit). That being said, I have been a long time T-Nation reader and lurking through the forums for a little while now. I have been training for about 10 years (I’m 27) and I need to be seeing more progress than I have. I’ve dabbled with some SARMs (Rad 140, YK11) and gone on about 2 total cycles of Clen. This being said, I haven’t taken anything in about 18 months but have been actively training… I need some feedback on my training regimen. I run PPL 5-6 days a week, while occasionally skipping the 2nd leg day (don’t hate, my legs grow fast). my goal is to look good nekkid, lifting heavy is secondary
Bench: 315x3
Squat: 405x3
Dead: 495x3


  • Low Incline DB press (223) - 3x10 @ 80lbs
  • High Incline DB overhead press (133) - 3x10 @ 60lbs
  • Overhead triceps DB Extension (222) - 4x8 @ 80lbs
  • Seated DB Lat Raise (133) - 4x8 @ 15 lbs
  • Front DB Delt Raise, Supinated (133) - 3x10 @ 20lbs
  • Cable Pec Flye (233) - 4x8 @ 70lbs (each)
  • Cable rope pulldown (222) - 3x12 @ 100lbs
  • Cable 45* pushdown (123) - 4x8 @ 120lbs
    complete in approx. 1.25 hours


  • Seated Incline DB Hammer Curl (235) - 5x6 @ 35lbs
  • Bent Over Smith Row (132) - 4x8 @ 135lbs
  • Smith Shrugs, shoulders back (232) - 3x10 @ 185lbs
  • DB Rows (233) - 3x10 @ 65lbs
  • EZ Curl (235) - 4x8 @ 60lbs
  • Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown, OH (232) - 4x8 @ 120lbs
  • Unilateral Cable Lat Pulldown (233) - 3x10 @ 50lbs
  • Cable Face-pulls, low-to-high (233) - 3x10 @ 60lbs
  • Reverse-Grip Biceps EZ Curl (233) - 3x10 @ 50lbs
    complete in approx. 1.5 hours


  • Back Squats (no tempo) - 5x5 @ 365lbs (would do more reps if it didn’t make me pass-out)
  • Leg Press (explosive) - 4x8 @ 7-8 plates(each side, sled weight not included)
  • Unilateral Quad Ext. (235) - 4x8 @ 65lbs (arm weight not included)
  • Unilateral Hamstring Curl (235) - 4x8 @ 65lbs (arm weight not included)
  • Unilateral Calve Press (335) - 3x12 @ 150lbs (on leg press machine)
    complete in approx. 1 hour

After years of these type routines, I’m beginning to suspect I am overtraining but my volume sensor is completely fuckered… I feel like I have so much left in me whenever I work a routine that seems more reasonable in volume. I need some feedback on what I’m doing wrong/right.

Are you getting the results you want?

frankly, its hard to tell. I admittedly need to lean out to really tell where I’m at, but I suspect I’m in the vicinity of 18-20% BF. That being said, I believe I have a lot of muscle laying under that fat - but I’m just not satisfied.

to answer your question in a word: no

I would train differently if I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.


I can confidently say this program put 20-30 lbs of muscle on though. Not disagreeing that I need to change programs, but I’m questioning how to do so… I’ve looked through quite a few programs and found very few that offer the density/volume i’ve been accustomed to; doing LESS of either feels categorically like I’m to expect better results from less training. Tis why I’ve asked the question: Is this Overtraining?

Irrespective of if it’s overtraining, it’s INEFFECTIVE training.

I’d pick a program written by someone that knows what they are doing that is intended to help me reach my goal and follow that program as written. If nothing else, I’d learn from that.

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There is a description of overtraining. A term often used by HIT trainees. You don’t mention any of these signs apart from lack of progress - which in time occurs on any program.

More density/volume? Are you sure you don’t need more intensity? Volume is never a good omen on it’s own.

Have you heard of Brian Johnston’s “High Density Training” or even Dr Stevenson’s “Fortitude Training”? Both of these programs contain relatively high volume of choice, intensity, and also an element your current training is missing - high repetition pumpwork. Also, they can be customized to your preferences, which requires planning and knowing yourself.

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I don’t think there really is over training.

There is under-conditioned for the demands placed on a person though.


regarding high repetition pumpwork - there was an article T-Nation posted not long ago stating the maximum beneficial rep ranges are 8-12 as suspected; a study was run on rep ranges and muscle increase showing that those who performed 20 reps consistently actually lost muscle size. I looked for the article to reference but cant find it, sorry.

I will look into both High Density and Fortitude Training to help break this spell - thank you for the suggestions!

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I have long-time agreed with this sentiment

Only recently have I started thinking that the volume I train at is potentially causing me issues. Unfortunately, for every article stating “there’s no such thing as overtraining” - you can find another one stating the opposite… My opinion is a bit agnostic at the moment, but I’m happy to accept an end-all be-all answer to the question.

I’d give that caloric deficit some time to work it’s magic.

I worked heavy manual labor for many years, then would go home and lift weights, eating many thousand calories per day, and built a pretty good physique in the process, long before the internet had anything to say about training.

I’ve done what I’ve done, and know what I know. I don’t mind if some coach on the internet disagrees with me. It’s ok, because I disagree with them too. :+1:

I dunno about a be all to end all though. Too much room for individual variation. What’s good for some people destroys others, and vice-versa.


This is what “Overthinking” looks like.

This is pretty simple. Reduce a bit of volume and then evaluate results.


Well, with respect for studies made, there are several ways of making a muscle grow. I am certain Christian Thibaudeau wrote an article about the different pathways. Pumpwork might be the missing ingredient for you? Fortitude Training is in my opinion the best mix of several ways to stimulate a muscle.

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If your primary complaint is a plateau, or lack of progress, that probably isn’t enough, by itself, to indicate over training. What you want to look for is evidence that you are not recovering enough, i.e., you feel like crap or burned out, you are excessively sore, you feel flat going into the next lifting session, your lifts are starting to regress, etc.

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There is a perfect article on TNation about the worlds greatest minds in this field comming to a consensus that 10 sets per muscle group a week would give most of your possible gains. So i wouldnt really ever do more that 12… maybe 14 for some small bodyparts with some light exercises.

Anyways, overtraining is very individual and it also comes down to how a person thinks and functions.
Being in a fight world for the largest part of my life, and being an instructor in many disciplines i can speak from my experience that people differ in how they percieve “hard”.
For example - there are people who would do 30 sit ups in 2 minutes and there are those who would do 80.
There are people who would stop at “this feels painful” and be trully sure they cant do more while there are people who would do as much as they feel that they NEED and just never stop.
We used to do physical testing to determine the level of some beginner fighters, to make sure they come to the right classes, and one of the disciplines was 40 burpees in 2 minutes.
We had to take this one out, as we noticed that there are people who would not survive it, but they WOULD DO IT.
If we take 10 simmilary untrained people 8 of them would stop at 20-25 and choke on their tongue. But there will be those 2, who would start choking at 25, would turn blue at 35, finish the 40, and then drop unconcious.
All these people have simmilar level of being untrained and unconditioned - its the WILL that differs.

As a fighter who trained 2 months before noticed broken ribs, i can also speak from my own experience that i can actually come close to passing out by doing bicep curls, so my 90% most times turns out to be 110%.
By what you are saying, i would think you are NOT one of these people as if after doing 31 sets you are still able to stand up on your feet, your intensity is not that high. I barelly can do 6-8 sets of legs if i dont want to get flu-like symptoms next day and erectile dysfunction for a week. But this is not a good thing either as i lose half my training life while being sick and broken and not being able to train.

What im trying to say is - the truth is somewhere in between. I would like you to put a bit more effort in it, and cut back some junk volume.
But if you are interested in - if you are ovetraining - that depends only on the intensity you put in and how you feel.

Starting signs of overtraining -
1)Nagging joint and muscle aches and pains that tend to NOT go away.
2)Not being excited to train
3)Brain fog, slow thinking, slow moving, slow understanding in daily activities. Like missing green lights while driving. Me at my worst, it took me once 20 minutes to figure out how the key of my locker works(same key, same locker for years). I was just standing there and not really sure what am i holding in my hand and why.
4)Flu like sympthoms, fever, headaches.
5)Lower libido, worse erections and/or loss of feeling while having sex - just a numb feeling like you are going through the motions but not really there.

And also - not being able to ADD reps for 2-3 weeks at all. If all your sets and reps and weights just sit in place for 2-3 weeks.
Thats why i dont understand what you wrote in your training plan, for example :

This should be true for a week or two. By the time this discussion would end, it should be at least 4x10 now, so there was no point of writing actual reps and weight, as ALL of these should be already different in 5 more days.

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First off, thank you for taking the time to write all this out. Also I should add that I’m fucking toasted at the end if every training session - its truly a breakoff nearly every time. Some of the symptoms you’ve mentioned apply - though not all… needless to say, perhaps I need less junk volume as you said.

I wanted to take a moment to speak about this one because I read this article quite thoroughly

This very may well be the best answer to any training regimen, but I think it lacks a lot of details… is this for newbies? Seasoned lifters? Standard 3x10 sets or…? For strength or hypertrophy? What if the person is cycling?
Anyways, those questions don’t reflect anything about your post - just some much needed details in an otherwise 10/10 article.

My weights haven’t been progressing for the past few weeks - potentially much longer than that. I guess it’s time to start beating the log book once again, probably with less volume and more intensity.

Will certainly revisit pumpwork and research fortitude/ high density training. Thank you

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Volume Stuff

For hypertrophy, 10 sets is a good place to start. 10 sets of 10 reps spread across 3 lifts is an effective workout. (For strength training it’s easier to count total reps, instead of sets to failure.)

If you go a little lighter, say sets of 15 or so, maybe you can do 12 sets per workout.

If you go a little heavier, say sets of 6 or 8, you can do fewer sets. Maybe 6 x 6 or 8 x 8.

People are going to be a little different, so you have to kind of find your own way. Steroids won’t effect how much volume you do. They’ll just make the volume that works for you work better.

Check out this Dorian Yates workout. 2 warm ups sets, then 7 bust ass sets of 6-8 reps. Lowish volume, till can’t lift the weights anymore failure.

Here’s is a Higher Volume workout, like 2 warm ups then 12 sets of 10-12 reps. Max tension on the muscles, then going to technical failure. Or until max tension is lost.


Authors arent newbies so i believe the idea is that it works for everyone. I also think that the idea that advanced people need more volume might not be correct as there are high and low volume trainees in all the levels of experience. Also, if volume would matter as you get more experienced, the beginners would do 3 sets and pros would do 300. The point is, that - at some level we just reach that end-line of what human body can recover from and how much it can grow.
Of course - 10 sets is a rule of thumb. Some might need 6 - like Dave Palumbo said that he got best results when he did 6 sets per muscle a week and maybe 8 sets for legs and back. Some might need 12 sets. Some might do god on 15 sets. But the fact remains the same - as high as 20, but closer to the side of 10. You do 31 set twice a week.

The article was for hypertrophy i believe. All the authors are studying that.

Then this is a dead give-away that something is wrong.
Technically you have to get stronger EVERY workout. Its just that realisticly its hard to track such small incriments, but no way you are not adding reps at least once a week… once every 2 weeks at worst case.


I feel like this might be worth quoting in this thread,

And also, with @T3hPwnisher already being in this thread I’d be remiss not to mention Paul Kelso. I’ll paraphrase (couldn’t find the direct quote),

20 sets per body per workout

Meanwhile you are doing 28, 32, and 20 sets (Push/Pull/Legs)