T Nation

Overtraining

Okay, I’ve been reading a lot lately on overtraining (mostly articles written by Mel Siff) and I’m getting the basic idea that theres a very fine line between overtraining and training just right. My problem is that I like to train…a lot. So oftentimes I’ll get to the point where I can’t walk properly and I look like I have a cucumber stuck up my ass (legs too sore from DOMS) and where I’ll sleep through 2 alarm clocks even after 10+ hours of sleep (too exhausted). This really sucks because I’ll be training really good doing all kinds of things: weight workouts, stair running, ice practice (speedskating), dryland practice, riding the trainer and all kinds of other things for 4 to 5 days in a row and then I’ll have to back off completely because - like I mentioned before - I’ll get to the point where I have trouble walking and feel sleep deprived.

Now to my understanding, overtraining (or lack thereof) is dependent on 3 key factors (and correct me if I’m wrong):

  1. training load
  2. caloric intake
  3. sleep

And its also to my understanding that these 3 interact with each other. So my question is, would it be possible for me to maintain a high-intensity training load throughout the week simply by ensuring that I have enough caloric intake to support that load, and get enough sleep to support it? Is it this simple? Eat like a horse and sleep 8+ hours a night and you’ll be able to train as much as you want?

I remember hearing Shawn Crawford (US T&F sprinter) say during the Olympics regarding running a 200m in under 20s “its amazing what your body can do with enough rest and proper nutrition.”

Any info you guys could give me would help me tremendously.

[quote]chrismcl wrote:

So my question is, would it be possible for me to maintain a high-intensity training load throughout the week simply by ensuring that I have enough caloric intake to support that load, and get enough sleep to support it? Is it this simple? Eat like a horse and sleep 8+ hours a night and you’ll be able to train as much as you want?

[/quote]

No.

Read Jack Reape’s article ‘Back Off and Grow.’

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=546953

Backing off is the hardest thing that there is in strength training - harder than 20 rep squats, harder than max singles, harder than puker interval conditioning. I’m still bad at it myself; I have yet to properly back off after a training cycle, I always do a little bit too much during my back-off week. But the better I back off, the better I do.

No, you need to let your CNS recover. Give your body proper food and rest will help metabolically and certainly helps your CNS recover. You still need to periodize your training and take back off weeks to prevent overtraining.

I think overtraining is different for different individuals. For me it seems that food and water are more important than sleep. My senior year in college I ran track six days a week, lifted four days a week and ate like a horse but only got 6-7 hours of sleep a night and never felt like I was overtrained. Once I graduated and no longer had a dining hall I started eating less and, although I slept 10 hours a night and only lifted three days a week and stopped running, I overtrained and got sick far more easily. Of course, there are lots of other factors involved, external stressors, etc., and for the most part it’s pretty much a big balancing act among all the different factors.

You need to look at recovery. Here are a couple of articles.

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=460587

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=551687

LL wrote about exactly this:

http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=300warr2

http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=301warr2

Simply put, there’s no amount of food and sleep that will allow you to train as much as you want. I think the best indicator is how well you can fall asleep. Overtraining will make your mind keep you from falling asleep even if your body is tired. Once this happens recovery will be blunted and your lifts will suffer. Just back off a little, why put in more work to get less results??

When I’m overtraining I never get DOMS. I get DOMS when I’m taking more days off and changing things around. I also usually sleep less when I’m overtraining.

Like it or not, there are several distictly different kinds of recovery. Lets see:

  1. Research shows that you occasionally have to take 1-2 weeks off for a given muscle to get it to shift back over to a more favorable fast twitch ratio. Overtraining gradually causes gene expression to favor slow twitch fibers.

  2. Research shows that you have to occasionally (25-60 percent of the time depending on your level-higher percentage for higher level) have to use submaximal loads for submaximal reps to reset you neuromuscular appartus to ideal optimal firing rates.

  3. Regular heavy training will eventually cause cortisol levels to negate growth. This usually results in poor sleep.

  4. Regular heavy training may cause microtrauma buildup in certain muscles which can be restored best by lighter submaximal training.

  5. High volume of high rep training taxes the system leaning to decrease in anabolic hormones insulin sensitivity, and glycogen stores.

Got a headache? Figure out those 5 things and “game over” training puzzle solved.