T Nation

Overtraining All the Damn Time


#1

So it seems like any routine I do that has some volume (10-12 sets per muscle or so) I end up overtraining and regressing. That's not even a lot of volume. I sleep 7-8 hours a night and have zero problems gaining weight. I tend to overbulk and have to lose some fat because I start looking chunky. How the hell do I avoid this because I am damn frustrated. Haven't made much progress in my upper body in a long time.

Don't know if this has anything to do with it, but I've also noticed after one all out set for a muscle like bench for chest, my strength drops dramatically for the rest of the workout. Seems like most guys can do many sets on big lifts while keeping their strength somewhat respectable, but I'm spent after a couple hard sets on a muscle.


#2

You are weak and using too much weight.

You eat the wrong foods and/or not eating at the right time.

You are using a lousy program.

You are inconsistent.

Since you didn’t specify much, I can guess all day…

If you want some help, height, weight, calories, program, years working out consistently, etc would help.


#3

[quote]JFG wrote:
You are weak and using too much weight.

You eat the wrong foods and/or not eating at the right time.

You are using a lousy program.

You are inconsistent.

Since you didn’t specify much, I can guess all day…

If you want some help, height, weight, calories, program, years working out consistently, etc would help.

[/quote]

High intermediate in terms of weightlifting standards at 198 6’, nearly elite on military press (standard seems low to me). This shit has taken me about 6 years to get to though.

10-12 sets per muscle spread out over 2 workouts. Seems like with high volume once a week I am ready to go again in just a few days so I just split the volume up over two workouts so I can hit it again. I use straight sets on pretty much everything, try to change the range when I stall which is usually quite quickly.

I eat 3-4 times a day, about 200g protein. Lots of milk, cheap steak, egg beaters, fish a few times a week, generic greek yogurt, pasta, some light ice cream if I need some more calories after dinner. 3k cals on off days, 3500cals on training days, train four days a week, occasionally 5.

Inconsistency comes from overtraining. I go hard for 4-8 weeks, make some progress and then just run face first into a brick wall and am weak for a week or so. Then after a week off or just some light pump work I am weaker when I come back.

I thought Stuart McRoberts was full of shit, but I’m starting to consider he might not be.


#4

[quote]jt339 wrote:
I use straight sets on pretty much everything, try to change the range when I stall which is usually quite quickly.

[/quote]

This might very well be one of your biggest problems, especially if you are doing it with compound exercises you have decent strength levels for.


#5

[quote]BrickHead wrote:

[quote]jt339 wrote:
I use straight sets on pretty much everything, try to change the range when I stall which is usually quite quickly.

[/quote]

This might very well be one of your biggest problems, especially if you are doing it with compound exercises you have decent strength levels for.
[/quote]

I had thought of this too. I just don’t understand the pyramiding shit of 20, 15, 12, 10 and then top set. That seems like you would be greatly weakened by the time you hit your working weight. Something I might do would be 10, 8, 5, 3 then my work sets of 3x8.


#6

I do 30-60 work sets a week for large muscle groups. Been progressing and no overtraining. You aren’t overtraining on such a tiny amount of training.


#7

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
I do 30-60 work sets a week for large muscle groups. Been progressing and no overtraining. You aren’t overtraining on such a tiny amount of training. [/quote]

Great that you can do that. I can’t. How do you explain every single one of my lifts dropping like this then? I feel exhausted all day, no appetite, no motivation, yet I am not sick for a week or more.

Just now I went to do deads. One week ago when I started to feel like shit, but still performed decent, I got 335x10. Today, 315x3 and that was it.


#8

[quote]jt339 wrote:

Don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but I’ve also noticed after one all out set for a muscle like bench for chest, my strength drops dramatically for the rest of the workout. Seems like most guys can do many sets on big lifts while keeping their strength somewhat respectable, but I’m spent after a couple hard sets on a muscle.[/quote]

Ok you have two options here really, I feel I had a ‘similar problem’, but I found out I was just training poorly. I was basically seeing people doing heavy 5x5 and shit, and trying to emulate that. What I was doing, however, was taking something that was basically a 5RM, and trying to do it over 5 sets. That’s unrealistic, I wasn’t realizing that basically those guys I was watching were using weights they could probably knock out for 8 or son on an all out set.

So you can either:

Lower your working weights with straight sets, and get you volume in that way

or

Work up to a top set or two, of lets say something close to a 5RM or something, then get in your volume with some back down sets, maybe with the same lift just 10% lighter hitting sets of 5-8.

Just don’t take every set to excruciating failure, or absolute failure. You training your body to succeed in lifting weights, not fail lol


#9

[quote]jt339 wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
I do 30-60 work sets a week for large muscle groups. Been progressing and no overtraining. You aren’t overtraining on such a tiny amount of training. [/quote]

Great that you can do that. I can’t. How do you explain every single one of my lifts dropping like this then? I feel exhausted all day, no appetite, no motivation, yet I am not sick for a week or more.

Just now I went to do deads. One week ago when I started to feel like shit, but still performed decent, I got 335x10. Today, 315x3 and that was it.[/quote]

If THIS is the situation you’re in, maybe do something like the Cube Method, so you won’t be going for a new max every single week


#10

[quote]jt339 wrote:

[quote]BrickHead wrote:

[quote]jt339 wrote:
I use straight sets on pretty much everything, try to change the range when I stall which is usually quite quickly.

[/quote]

This might very well be one of your biggest problems, especially if you are doing it with compound exercises you have decent strength levels for.
[/quote]

I had thought of this too. I just don’t understand the pyramiding shit of 20, 15, 12, 10 and then top set. That seems like you would be greatly weakened by the time you hit your working weight. Something I might do would be 10, 8, 5, 3 then my work sets of 3x8.[/quote]

Have you tried reverse pyramiding? I.e. ramp up to a top weight using triples or doubles, then do your first work set close to failure in any rep range, then lower the weight successively for additional sets and try to maintain rep range of the first set. Also see:


#11

[quote]Spidey22 wrote:

[quote]jt339 wrote:

Don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but I’ve also noticed after one all out set for a muscle like bench for chest, my strength drops dramatically for the rest of the workout. Seems like most guys can do many sets on big lifts while keeping their strength somewhat respectable, but I’m spent after a couple hard sets on a muscle.[/quote]

Ok you have two options here really, I feel I had a ‘similar problem’, but I found out I was just training poorly. I was basically seeing people doing heavy 5x5 and shit, and trying to emulate that. What I was doing, however, was taking something that was basically a 5RM, and trying to do it over 5 sets. That’s unrealistic, I wasn’t realizing that basically those guys I was watching were using weights they could probably knock out for 8 or son on an all out set.

So you can either:

Lower your working weights with straight sets, and get you volume in that way

or

Work up to a top set or two, of lets say something close to a 5RM or something, then get in your volume with some back down sets, maybe with the same lift just 10% lighter hitting sets of 5-8.

Just don’t take every set to excruciating failure, or absolute failure. You training your body to succeed in lifting weights, not fail lol [/quote]

So for example let’s say I was training with a true 12rm. My program calls for 3x8. I would do the first 2x8 which are heavy enough to feel like I’m doing something and get blood in the muscle, but not heavy enough to cause significant fatigue. Then on my third set I get say 11 reps. What do you think?


#12

[quote]jt339 wrote:

So for example let’s say I was training with a true 12rm. My program calls for 3x8. I would do the first 2x8 which are heavy enough to feel like I’m doing something and get blood in the muscle, but not heavy enough to cause significant fatigue. Then on my third set I get say 11 reps. What do you think?[/quote]

I mean you could just do 3-4 sets of 8, and as long as rest isn’t ridiculous long I think that would be pretty challenging.

But you seem to be the mentality that you want to take at least one set to something difficult. I’d suggest doing something like (hypothetical 12RM of 225)
warm-up, then
225x12
205x2x12
185x2x15

or something like that.


#13

Well like I said earlier, when I hit that one hard set, my strength drops off hard. 205 2x12 after 225x12 ain’t gonna happen! 185 probably would though.


#14

[quote]jt339 wrote:
Well like I said earlier, when I hit that one hard set, my strength drops off hard. 205 2x12 after 225x12 ain’t gonna happen! 185 probably would though. [/quote]

when are you ending a set? Like what is ‘failure’ to you?


#15

[quote]jt339 wrote:

High intermediate in terms of weightlifting standards at 198 6’, nearly elite on military press (standard seems low to me). This shit has taken me about 6 years to get to though.[/quote]

Are you a politician? High intermediate? Nearly elite? Does this mean you have been working out “consistently” for 6 years?

Again, what program? Push pull? Upper/lower? Doing what “feels” right?

Egg beater? What’s wrong with real eggs?
Pasta? No rice and potatoes?
Light ice cream for extra calories?
No vegetables? No fruits? No nuts?
What did you eat yesterday?

No, it doesn`t.

[quote]
I go hard for 4-8 weeks, make some progress and then just run face first into a brick wall and am weak for a week or so. Then after a week off or just some light pump work I am weaker when I come back.[/quote]

That is called bad program.

[quote]
I thought Stuart McRoberts was full of shit, but I’m starting to consider he might not be.[/quote]
Just think were you would be if you would have followed his advice for 6 years…


#16

High intermediate in terms of weight lifting standards. Google it. It basically classifies the lifts into novice, intermediate, advanced and elite based on weight. These aren’t powerlifting related per se, just gives some perspective on what the average joe can achieve, nothing official. Yes consistently, however, I’ve had a back injury that I’ve finally got figured out so I can squat and deadlift regularly now. My squat is going up very quickly, but I’ve got some wicked patellar tendinitis interfering with squat progress right now.

I told you what I generally do, but I’ve followed a few routines that are generally accepted as good. My template is based off of CTs, “how to design a damn good program.”

I eat egg beaters because I get them free at work. I eat potatoes as well. Yes some light ice cream if I haven’t hit all my calories for the day as long as I’ve met my protein requirements.

My training inconsistency comes from overtraining. I don’t train when I feel like dog shit and all my weights are down.

I wouldn’t call madcows, 5/3/1 or my own training programs based off of CTs “how to design a damn good program” articles bad programs.

I may go the ultra low volume route if I can’t get this all figured out.


#17

[quote]jt339 wrote:

[quote]BrickHead wrote:

[quote]jt339 wrote:
I use straight sets on pretty much everything, try to change the range when I stall which is usually quite quickly.

[/quote]

This might very well be one of your biggest problems, especially if you are doing it with compound exercises you have decent strength levels for.
[/quote]

I had thought of this too. I just don’t understand the pyramiding shit of 20, 15, 12, 10 and then top set. That seems like you would be greatly weakened by the time you hit your working weight. Something I might do would be 10, 8, 5, 3 then my work sets of 3x8.[/quote]

Pyramiding like that is outdated and not what most experience people do. Look at training videos of top bodybuilders, Dorian Yates for example, to get a gist of what working up to a top set or two looks like. What they usually do a is a flat pyramid. That is, after a few light warmup sets, doing all sets of a compound exercise with the same reps but increasing the weight, in the same way Spidey talks about ramping up with a 5 x 5 protocol.

Just for example, say for your main set you use 300 pounds for ten reps.
Perhaps you might work up like this.
95 x 10
135 x 10
185 x 10
225 x 10
245 x 10
275 x 10
300 x 10

The first few set are very light and are true warmup sets. The rest are “working warmups” and only the last two are difficult. The last set is a good, difficult set, but not a grinding death set.

For less strenuous exercise you can do straight sets with weights that allow you to perform all sets in a given rep range. It’s easier to repeat sets with the same weight for the same reps with less taxing exercises, face pulls or triceps pressdowns say.


#18

[quote]jt339 wrote:
High intermediate in terms of weight lifting standards. Google it. It basically classifies the lifts into novice, intermediate, advanced and elite based on weight. These aren’t powerlifting related per se, just gives some perspective on what the average joe can achieve, nothing official. Yes consistently, however, I’ve had a back injury that I’ve finally got figured out so I can squat and deadlift regularly now. My squat is going up very quickly, but I’ve got some wicked patellar tendinitis interfering with squat progress right now. [/quote]

I am assuming you are going for impressive yet not outrageous lifts such as a 1.5 x bodyweight bench press, 2 x bodyweight squat, and 2.5 x bodyweight deadlift. I personal like the standards Casey Butt has set for what’s impressive guys of average height and stature, say a lean but not shredded, 5’10", 190 to 200 pounder having a max bench in the low 300s, a max deadlift in the high 400s to low 500s, and a squat in the low to mid 400s. People with this strength and physique might not make it in the upper ranks of powerlifting, but anyone who looks and performs likes this looks VERY good!

That’s one of the best series of articles by CT.

That’s understandable, and I suspect this is happening because you are doing too much volume, partly by doing straight sets (perhaps death sets, but you didn’t indicate this) for compound lifts.

[quote]I wouldn’t call madcows, 5/3/1 or my own training programs based off of CTs “how to design a damn good program” articles bad programs.

I may go the ultra low volume route if I can’t get this all figured out.[/quote]

You don’t have to resort to an ultra low volume, Stuart McRobert hardgainer’s approach. You can tackle this with better programming. I don’t recommend ordinary naturals can handle more than four intense weight training sessions per week. On the other hand, if someone can’t handle three or four difficult (not vomit and limp inducing that is) weight training sessions per week, then something else is going wrong.


#19

[quote]JFG wrote:

“Inconsistency comes from overtraining.”

No, it doesn`t.

[/quote]

I think what he means is that he is going through this cycle in which he trains, drives himself into the ground, and then takes off because he has to recuperate. That’s inconsistency at work.


#20

Well I’m pretty close to those numbers right now. I would like to be a solid 200lbs at 8% bf. is it possible? Maybe but it’s gonna take awhile haha. So instead of my straight sets of 4x10, maybe doing something like taking 10% off my fourth set and making it my third set. 20% off my fourth set would be my second set, etc. Sound good?