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Near 50, Severely Overtrained and Insomnia

Hello All, I’m new to this forum.

I have been a natty bobybuilder since age of 17.
Since 45 I started to face severe overtraining.
Currently at 50, i decided to take a break from the gym in order to allow my body to recover.
I’ve have faced severe insomnias for 5 years and could sleep only 3 hours a night and sometimes must take 4 strong dosage sleeping peels to get 6-7 hours of sleep (doctor warned me it is close to the lethal dosage !)
Sometimes I can not fall alseep before 4 am, or wake up at 3 am in the middle of the night.
Insomnias are emphasized after intense training with basic mouvements like squat (1 RM = 2,2 X BW), DL ot BP. Sometimes even 5 sets of dumble flies can trigger insomnia.
I tried several ways to solve this issue with no improvements :
1 month away from the gym, sleep improved but went back as soon as I came back to the gym
400- 600 mg of magnesium citrate a day
camomile tea
1 coffe max in the morning
training late in the morning instead of 6 pm after work
Blood test by a sport doctor : everything was fine, blood magnesium was a litle low, he didn’t test testo and other hormones. He concluded that all was fine and certainly I was too old to train !!!
Reduced intensity, volume and frequency of workouts, it helped but that’s so annoying to train that way, i like to feel the weight and don’t need grandmother dumbles.
Also not sure reducing so drastically this parameters will help to keep or improve my muscle mass or strenght, or even maintain.
Note that overtrained seems induce loss of performances and training motivation but on the contrary, my strenght improves and i’m still motivated to workout ?

After some researches on the net i understood that this can be due to
to much intensity, volume, frequence of the workouts
sympathic system (fight or flight system) takes over parasympatic system (the one that calm the body down)
Severe homrmonal imbalance, too much cortisol, too low testo
Adrenal fatigue
lake of zinc, magnesium
cumulative stress, job, familly, workout

During my workout break, I will rethink my training log and include more “deload, easy” workout.

I red that it can takes sevaral months or YEARS to recover from overtraining, that’s frightening.
What is you thought on this subject ?

To be honest … actual chronic over training is overstated in most situations. Especially in your recreational or hobby lifters.What is more common is a state of under recovery IMO.

It probably would serve everyone reading to know what your actual lifting looks like and what other stresses your faced with in your daily life such as life and such.

Curious… you mentioned your doctor. Have you considered see a sleep specialist ,since to me it seems your sleep issue might be the root cause of the constant state of under recovery.


I tried several training routines, full body, split : 4 sessions a week, 3 sessions a week, HST, pavel tatsouline training based on DL and BP, chad waterburry 10X3 …

My main routine is currently based on 3 sessions / weak.
Sunday : pull days : back and biceps
Wednesday : push days : chest, shoulder and triceps
Friday : legs + calves day
4-5 sets per exercise until failure or closed, 1 or 2 exercise per muscle group, 1 hour training session.

I have understood some mistakes since I started to train : the no pain no gain myth of the 80’s Anorld way of training is partly culprit :
constantly add weight and train to failure. That what I did. When I was younger, my body was almost able to manage this but as i’m older it is an other story.
I made a mistake and did not planned my training, always training to failure and adding the more weight I could without planning deload recovery trainings.
A week of the gym was not an option and I trained even during hollidays.
The other myth is you must train to failure in order to progress, which is false and must be used with a carefully planned training. I understood that training to much to failure teach your body how to fail !!!

My favorite exercise is squat, I can still lift 2,2 my body weight without any strenght program and of course natty. But I noticed this is a very demanding exercise has the stronger I become at SQ, the weaker I am in other lifts. Squat ruined my recovery.

This are my mistakes.

I also have a stressfull manager in my job and I wanted to change this job but that’s not easy. My insomnia started because of this job and sport should have calm me down has my doctor explained but in my case, job stress adds to training stress, no luck.

I have not seen a sleep specialist but will probably should.

Thanks for reading my long post,.

Well even Arnold will tell you that on squats, bench, deads you should almost never reach failure. Technique will go down and the stress on the body is immense.

But anyway if you have insomnia, and can’t sleep well pretty much every program will leave you “overtrained”. Maybe check CT’s best damn program for naturals I have used it twice, and once when I was injured. This is the most recoverable workout I can think of.

Then well address insomnia and stress, these are the biggest muscle killers…

Hello aldebaran, you spoke about this program ?

Currently, the only way i could train without increasing the insomnia issue is to avoid the big 3 exercises, use mainly machines or cables, only 2 training sessions during the week end, friday and sunday, in the morning or before 5 pm, no more than 60% intensity on each exercise (even dumbell flies and curls), 45 mn session.
I suppose I will not win Olympia this year with this kind of training !
Also noticed when I lay down, my heart rate increases for several minutes.
This is odd because my orthostatic tests are fine so I should not be overtained !
I will not train for the next several weeks, that’s depressing.

Have you tried B12 strips? I know it sounds nuts, but they help me. I do not have insomnia like yours, but have anxiety/ panic attacks. Might not hurt to try.

Do a lower intensity. Are you trying to win World’s or something?

1 Like

Never tried B12 will search more information about it.

I rarely put 1RM in SQ only to test my strength.
Most of the time i work on a pyramidal fashion for compounds exercises : increasing weight until 4-6 RM max and decreasing until 15-18 RM.

I realize it’s a year later but…

"also have a stressfull manager in my job and I wanted to change this job but that’s not easy. My insomnia started because of this job "

Bang! I currently have the same problem, that’s why I read this thread. Changing training won’t fix it because that’s not the problem.
Do what it takes to solve the stressful management problem.

Carl in Dover