T Nation


Does anyone have this problem, I want to gain some good muscle and I’m a definite hardgainer. I’ve been told that to gain I need to eat big and keep my training to 3-4 times weekly at no more then 45-60 mins/session. The problem is, I find it extremely hard to train a couple of muscle groups adequately in 45-60 mins, and if I train only three times a week that leaves me with only half of my body fully trained in a week, by the time I get back to a particular muscle group it’s been almost two weeks since I last trained it. Is this right or what???

Overtraining is overrated but… you cannot do two body parts a day in under 60 minutes??? Give CT’s OVT a try. You should EASILY be able to get each workout done in under an hour. If you can’t, speed up your workouts. There should be no reason you couldn’t do your workout in under 60 minutes UNLESS you’re doing OVERKILL not OVERTRAINING a muscle group e.g. 5 different biceps movements.

No, it is not right. Bodyparts, in my opinion, at least for hypertrophy, need to be trained more frequently than once every two weeks. Chad Waterbury favors at least twice and, perhaps, as many as four times weekly. HST recommends a minimum of 3 times per week. Obviously your volume per session is reduced and you do multiple body parts or even full body workouts. Personally, I favor every other day full body workouts alternated with 5X5 workout cycles, changing every 5 to 6 weeks, hitting each bodypart twice a week with the 5X5 cycle. I do limit my workouts to a total of about 45 minutes although I split them up between AM/PM workouts of 20 minutes or so each. Overtraining is not an issue with Waterbury’s or HST’s workouts because of the mandatory time off or strategic deconditioning after each cycle. Diet is also critical to aid recovery but someone more qualified than me can address that issue for you.

Also don’t let muscle soreness dictate if you lift or not. You’re CNS should be used to designate that.

If time is your problem,try Joe De Franco’s “Training economy” in Issue 301. You train 3 times per week (2 1/2 hours total time).

I don’t think you need to worry about seeing the training economy article. You should be able to piss bowl 2 bodyparts in under an hour. Even on leg day I do 4 sets of deadlifts, squats, leg curls, standing and seated toe raises. I know there are some accessory exercises in there, but I am only just getting back into it after 5 years off. No use using up all the good tricks before you need them. So I am just doing 4 sets of 10 reps. Here I train my entire legs in under an hour. It comes to a total of 20 sets. Just as an example, if each set takes 1 minute (6 secs per rep, even then that is way slower than most people do), then that is 20 minutes. That enables me to have 2 minutes rest between sets. Again, how do you only get one bodypart done in an hour? You really need to look at your proram design!

I would like to know what your idea of training a muscle group adequately means? If I wanted to, I could train my entire body adequately in 1 hour. What are you doing in that time?

How in the world do you easily finish a day of OVT in under an hour? The rest periods alone comprise 40 minutes (for the four superset days). The leg and shoulder days take me right at an hour, and the chest/back and arm days take me about 75 minutes.
How long does it take everyone else?

loop is right, what is it you mean by ‘train adequately’?

you would do well not to think in terms of ‘bodyparts’, but rather types of drills…(CW’s programs do this, as well as Ian King and others) e.g. vertical push, horizontal push, hip dominant lower body, quad dominant lower body…

Let me ask you, what ‘bodypart’ does the deadlift train? What about the olympic lifts? These are whole body drills you should probably be doing…

Experienced lifters know that getting strong in the big lifts translates into balanced, and most importantly, useful size throughout the body.

My $.02:

  • Monitoring volume is helpful but factoring in actual workload is also key. 3x10 barbell curl is not the same as 3x10 full squat. If you are using mainly big compound movements then you can perform more total work in a specific time frame than with smaller (isolation) movements.

An extention of this is that the stronger/bigger you get, the more efficiently you may need to train. A beginner may recover fine from 10x10 95lbs deadlift sessions but not at 315lbs 18 months later.

  • IME routines such as CT’s OVT and CW’s BBB require that you keep well away from failure (at least several reps). When going to one or two reps to failure I was burnt out in a couple weeks.

Training limits are very personal. Everyone’s lifestyle and physiology are different. IMO when in doubt do less. Also make sure you are getting surplus calories - get a food scale, measuring cups and a food log.

Here’s two more cents (sense?)…

There’s a lot of talk poo-pooing overtraining, so here’s a fact on just how prevalent it is:

Overtraining/ staleness is reported more for individual sports (48%) than for team sports (30%)
(Kentta, G., Int J Sports Med, 2001)

Although PGA200x is right on, regarding not using soreness as a guide (it doesn’t correlate well with other damage markers), it is important to realize that strength is reduced about 15% in a sore state. So maximally hammering a sore muscle group is not advantageous.

Nitrox, you sound like you’re speaking from experience, brother. I agree 100%. There is NO DOUBT that relative intensity (e.g. a 90% effort) is WAY more damaging to an experienced lifter than a NOOB. This is further compounded by the fact that experienced guys become very good at forcing specific muscles to bear the weight as opposed to skeletal, soft tissue, etc. Recovery time frames need to compensate.

<window=“blank”> here’s a link to a radio program I did with Rob Fortney on this, if you care to hear/ see some data

Maybe overtraining is over-rated but for those few who unload aggression in the gym like many of the guys I've seen, it's no joke.

Lonnie if a person could work through the inital adaption window until the body has a time to adjust accordingly to the load and punishment it will be taking on a frequent schedule, wouldn’t it be OK to continue the frequent workouts unless the persons CNS is shot? I’ll use Michael Jordan as an example to point out my thinking. During each season starting in 89ish he began lifting EVERYDAY. Now granted it wasn’t powerlifitng that he was doing but it was a pretty heavy workout routine from my understanding. I have heard him say on many occasions that he lifted everyday during the basketball season and attributes his lack of injuries and top conditioning state late in the season to his weight training programs and working out everyday. He instilled the same thinking into Tiger Woods a few years back and he follows the same “everyday” routine. I agree tremendously with CW’s thinking that If you do something everyday your body will adapt to it.

thinking about overtraining too much causes you to overtrain!

Overtraining IS adaptation. It’s just adaptation you don’t like.

Athletes like Michael Jordan are interesting examples, but Jordan’s goals are different from most here. Basketball players don’t need huge slabs of muscle, they need the ability to train frequently without injury. That’s what Jordan trained for, and that’s what he got: he can play game after game, year after year, but Jordan doesn’t exactly have huge slabs of muscle.

I agree that the human body has amazing adaptive capability, even considering its limited resources (e.g. endocrine and immune systems).

And the comments on exercise specificity are a healthy reminder as well.

Attached is a graph from some of my own creatine kinase data collection which seems to confirm an “iron plating effect” from repeated bouts of “damaging exercise” over several months. (There’s a “trend” in these data.)

Data from Stupka, et al. (J Appl Physiol. 2001 Oct;91(4):1669-78) suggests that other markers of catabolism (ubiquitin) may continue to worsen, however. Everyone is indeed unique in their abilities to adapt positively before physiologic failure creeps-in, so lifter beware, eh?

Oh, and the data you see by following that link above is indeed largely from experienced lifters - who are still looking pretty punished.

where did you guys read all this about jordan’s workouts? just curious

he didnt have huge slab but he was pretty damn built. what he score, 40+ against utah with a very bad flu in the finals? thats some adaption and will power.