T Nation

What is Overtraining?

What is overtraining? I know this seems like a simple question, but I still need clarification. The problem is certain strength coaches don’t really believe it exhists, while others seem to put great emphasis on it while designing an exercise program.


Some say there are symptoms. Such as irritability, lack of desire, sleeplessness, lack of progress etc… But are those really physical effects or just “being sick of being in the gym all the time!”
Another question I have in the same field is if high volume bodybuilding training of the 1960s&70s was soo counterproductive, wouldnt bodybuilders of today be much stronger in comparisson? (And yes I know bodybuiders arent strength athletes!)( And please dont bring up Gregg Kovacs, he’s just a freak).


The reason for all these questions is because I just got some Tribex-500 and I want to design a kick ass routine to go along with it. So which route should I go Simmons/Hathfield or King/Poliquin. I have tremendous respect for all these men.
Thanks :wink:

I find that when I’m overtrained, I have no motivation to go to the gym, I’m incredibly sleepy all day, and, frankly, my workouts suck. Usually I just take a week off or cut volume. I also find that overtraining has a lot to do with diet, eating more food can give you more energy/recovery ability. - PJ

Overtraining can be a complex topic and is not is simple as it may seem. There is overtraining of the metabolic system (muscular and other tissue overtraining), as well as overtraining of the nervous system. Neural system overtraining is generally more severe and can be broken down into 2 groups, Addisonic overtraining (A) and Basedowic overtraining (B). A-overtraining is associated with diminished activity of the adrenal glands which means everything slows down. This category is more difficult to detect earlydue to absence of dramatic symptoms. B-overtraining is associated with thyroid hyperactivity. This is the classical type of overtraining with an abundance of symptoms such as increased HR, decreased appetite etc.

Since the overtraining has been discussed (and yes, I just dealt with this last week), I will discuss your training options. But I do agree that nutrition can have a huge factor in being overtrained. So make sure your nutrition is on target!

As for training, you could go with either one of the aforementioned strength coaches. But this is what I suggest: Why not base your program on what you have found to work best for you? You could use a mixture of techniques from all of the above mentioned coaches in your program. For example, you could follow a Poliquin split (training every five days) or a King split (training on a four-day split) and incorporate their recommendations on rest breaks, tempo, etc. While at the same time, using some of Hatfield’s techniques within the program.

Remember, no ONE training program is better than all the rest. And what may work now, may not work later and vice versa. I'd suggest doing something different from what you have been doing lately and use a variety of techniques from many of the above coaches.

I did Renegade Training for three months, and I had great progress. But I did overtrain myself, and after taking last week off, I have come back with a new workout and renewed energy levels and motivation. So you have a few options my man!

Go Kelly! I would like to add that overtraining can be caused by a drop in testosterone, which leads to the symptoms you discribed. Eating good, proper rest (and yes naps), as well as a good LH booster like Tribex can boost natural testosterone levels. Cycle the Tribex. After you have been hitting it hard for awhile take the Tribex and it will work like never before. I never use a Tribex (tribulus) supplement until the end of a routine and get great results that way. Use the tribulus once you are about to change routines to give your natural t-levels (LH) a boost. It always works best then, well for me… If I went to far then the rest, and break from the gym is the only answer. Theoridically, you should take a week off every couple months anyhow.

Overtraining is chronically performing physical work which has a poor benefit-to-cost ratio.

Overtraining is when you train too much. It is not a dietary problem. If you have a dietary problem, you are (over/under/not-properly) eating. A good litmus test for overtraining is if (everything else staying the same) you cannot progress at all in the gym and you are feeling overwhelmed earlier in your workout.

I’d chime in, add some flavor to the topic and kind of augment what Coach Staley and Colin alluded to. From a Sports Psychologist’s perspective, overtraining is defined as an abnormal extension of the training process, culminating in staleness. Staleness refers to the state in which an individual has difficulty maintaining standard training regimens and can no longer achieve previous performance results. Staleness is characterized by an overall physical and emotional lull and is an early sign of burnout, which is a psychological, emotional and often times physical withdrawal from an activity in response to excessive stress and/or dissatisfaction. As far as symptoms/signs, some characteristic of overtraining include apathy, lethargy, sleep disturbance, weight loss, elevated RHR, muscle pain/soreness, mood changes, elevated resting BP, GI disturbances, slowed recovery and loss of appetite. Obviously, there’s a lot involved and the principle of individual differences takes hold in this realm also, as a program that may cause one athlete to grossly overtrain, may be optimal for another and may be inadequate for yet another.