What's the Worst Overtraining You've Ever Seen?

Coach Thib

What is the worst over training that you’ve ever seen from anyone you know? If you know of anyone like me, I really want to get insight on what they did if they were able to over come this.

I’ve been struggling with long-term major strength loss for about a year now.

I never stopped training, so it’s not lack of training. I’ve only had one week off, and then one week deload intensity/volume (so 2 week recovery really) one time and didn’t see any improvement at all. I’ve also had other 1 week deloads between 4-6 week training blocks.

Like I’ve gone from doing 5x355 low bar to grinding 1x325, bench press from 9x220 to 8x200.

In the past 8 months or so I switched to high bar and built from 5x5x225 to 5x5x290 and then got weaker again and now struggles to do 1 set of 290 and drop to 4x5x260.

My bench I also slowly re built to 7x215 and then now I can barely do 3x215.

I read that some people don’t believe in over training, and that you just need one week deload, but I did that many times and didn’t fix the issue.

On the other hand, I do see a few people that say that severe over training takes many months and even years to recover from; I tend to read this this opinion more from distance running/endurance communities, rather than strength or power.

Yesterday I failed power clean of 140lbs (my old clean PR is like 230) and this made me seriously consider taking a very long time off, I don’t know if taking 4-8 weeks off training will do anything to help.

I really have no other symptoms. I don’t have any worse muscle/joint pain than I did last year. My sleeping habit is similar to last year. My immune system is very strong and didn’t get sick any time this year or last year. My nutrition isn’t perfect, but it’s very good, and it’s better than last year.

I really have no other symptoms, I just have weaker performances, and struggle to re-gain it and I lose it again very easily after re-gaining a little, as if I just became a different person that is naturally weaker than me.

Would you mind sharing your insight on the worst case of over training (or CNS fatigue or adrenal fatigue or any over stressed performance loss) you’re aware of?

(Obviously not CT), but I think a power clean failure would be a poor indicator of overtraining. I am no expert at these lifts but am being coached on them and incorporate them in my training. Because technical problems can easily result in a failed lift, even at a low weight, things like distractions or being unfocused that day play a much greater factor in “failing” then when doing a pure strength move like a bench or squat.

I can bench nearly 300 and would never, ever fail at a rep of, say, 225 lbs, but will sometimes fail a power clean at 135 lbs (or even less). Then, after shaking it off, the next rep will just pop into the front rack because I got the hip extension and pull coordinated correctly.

I mean, that was obviously not the only performance marker that has shown very large decline.

Also, for me, 140 is something I should be able to do even with very poor technique and execution. I can just muscle it up easily, but I just got weak. I had some reps of 140 that went up, but I struggled a lot more and I knew I didn’t have the power.

Couple questions: has your bodyweight changed in the last year? and do you have any before/after pictures from pre-strength loss til now?

I’ll also ask specifically about one of your metrics you shared. you said in 8 months you built up your squat significantly, and THEN saw significant decline. What was the period of time it took to go from your 5x5x290, to 4x5x260? It seems like that had to have happened very quickly, as going from 225 to 290 would have taken months to start.

Apart from this, do you get bloodwork done? If not, I would highly recommend a full bloodwork panel to rule out significant hormone issues or illness/underlying condition. I will say that this absolutely does NOT sound like overtraining. If everything you’ve said about your training numbers is accurate, and you haven’t like lost a bunch of weight or changed anything with your eating habits, routine, etc, then I’d be worried there’s something else going on with your body that needs to be addressed. The fact that you’re talking about reps and sets in very low ranges tells me that overtraining is highly unlikely.

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My body weight is staying within the same range. No significant changes.

It took me about 8 months to build up to 5x5x225 to 290, but the decline happened within a week or two. Very quickly as you said.

I don’t have blood work, I don’t know what doctor I can talk to about this issue, I don’t want to see someone who is just going to tell me to quit training.

I do think it is over training because I originally lost strength about a year ago after doing modified Bulgarian type training for maybe a little too long. I was having pretty good gains for a while, but I crashed after that and never came back.

When I lost strength again recently, I think it started with me having high RPE on my 5x5x290.

After a few sessions, I took a deload week, but I’m still losing more strength, despite doing RPE 7-8 stuff now.

So… how’s your sleep been?

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It’s same as last year.

I can never sleep 8+ hours straight. I’d say about 5-6 days of the week I can total 8-9 hours a day with fragmented sleep. On average I can get around 6 hours on my first sleep.

It’s really the best I can do. I can’t force myself to sleep, all I can do is to turn the lights off and lay down, hoping I can sleep. There is nothing that can be done to fix this so I just have to work with what I have.

That’s some can-do attitude if i’ve ever seen it.

Take a deload, make sure you’re eating the right foods, look up some sleep hygeine tips (because I’m sure you aren’t doing everything). Maybe consider planned or ‘triggered’ deloads in your training… Most serious training programs have these placed into it by default.

I do planned deloads, and I just came off of one 2 weeks ago.

Ok I’m not doing EVERYTHING when it comes to sleep, but that’s going to be a lot more money/taking risks for very small potential effect (such as moving to somewhere more quiet). I’m doing everything I can within my budget.

this is easy for you to say when you haven’t struggled with sleep disorder.

Try melatonin, and if that fails, see a doctor? They manufacture drugs for people with insomnia.


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You haven’t seen my training log I take it? Anyways…

I’m going to call you on your bullshit. You didn’t even google the words “sleep hygiene”, did you? You don’t need to move to get better sleep, but you would know that if you had actually searched what I’d recommended to search.

Because you’re in desperate need of spoon-feeding, start here:

IDK if you are able to monetarily afford logging your sleep, but in the scenario you manage to break free the $3 for a notebook or the $0.03 in electricity it costs to log it on your phone, you could start with a sleep log.

Hope all this isn’t too expensive for you.

P.S I have ADHD (which is known to produce shitty sleep for those who have it), Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a mild form of narcolepsy, and average about 5 hours of sleep on a good night between work, school, family, and gym. But I’m sure you knew that due to your extensive time participating in this community.

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most of the time, I fall alseep pretty well first time, but I wake up too early after like 6 hours. Melatonin is more for falling asleep the first time, not for avoiding waking up too early.

I wouldn’t take sleep medications because from what I’ve read it’s not actually ‘sleep’ it more so forces you to lose consciousness, and wouldn’t give you the recovery effect that a real sleep gives you.

have you participated in a sleep study?

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I know what sleep hygiene is. I’m doing most of these things anyway. you are too quick to make assumptions that I never looked into sleep hygiene.

I can’t stop eating late though, because I am very prone to waking up early due to hunger. It’s easier to go back to sleep after waking up too early if I am at least not hungry.

If you are averaging 5 hours of sleep, well I’m sorry that you are struggling so much, but obviously you weren’t successful in overcoming your sleep issues, so what makes you think that I’ve not put in enough effort to address my sleeping issues?

I did like more than 10 years ago. that time my problem was the opposite, I used to have harder time falling asleep, but I can stay asleep once I fall asleep. In that instance they found no issue with my sleep at all, and I was like what a bummer I spent all this money to have false negative??

are you open to doing another?

So your plan is to continue getting little to no sleep? You seem to avoid and/or make an excuse for every recommendation suggested.

whoaaaa this is not what I expected.

This sounds like you had a few shitty training sessions. This changes my perspective significantly.

So here’s what I would do. Take a week off completely (even if you’ve already done it recently), maybe do some mobility work/cardio/whatever. But no heavy weight training. Then, get back in the gym and reassess in 4-6 weeks. If you’re still seeing issues, come back here and share your experience. But you’re probably just fine.

are you in the US? If so, you can get this done without a doctor. I’m not sure what links I can share, but I use privatemdlabs. Go on there, pick a comprehensive blood panel. Then, you’ll be able to pick a lab to go to, where they will draw your blood. In a few days, you’ll receive the results, and you can take a look at them yourself. They include reference ranges to help you with interpretation. Feel free to post your results on here and tag me if you want help in understanding the numbers. I get this done several times every year, it’s well worth the money. You’ll likely spend less than 200 bucks, and you get to avoid the hassle of going to a doctor.

Odd statement coming from someone who said:

Not sure if you’re correlating my own poor sleep to my inability to advise others, or if this is simply a long-winded sentence. I’m going to take it in good faith though.

  • The reason I say you’ve not put enough effort into addressing your sleep is because you immediately dismissed the notion that your sleep could be improved, hence why I made my “can-do attitude” comment to your defeatist statement.
  • Why do I think you never looked into sleep hygiene? Because the first thing you said is why you can’t, in which it [moving] isn’t on any of the 20+ lists I’ve read through in my own pursuit of better sleep. Reducing noise? Sure, where possible - but I don’t think any of these articles’ writers assumed people would take it to the extreme of moving to desolate landscapes for the sake of noise reduction.

I won’t be successful in ‘overcoming’ my sleep issues, but that is a given… ADHD doesn’t just go away, and the problems it carries don’t disappear either. I can confidently say I have done as much as I can to improve sleep quality while balancing other priorities I have in life, so my sleep will be what it will be. I’ve bought a $5,000 bed, been through 4 or 5 sleep studies, have adjusted my CPAP numerous times through different masks trying to get it ‘optimized’, have blue light filters on every screen, track my sleep via my bed and training log… Yeah. I can pretty confidently say I’ve done about as much as in my power to correct my sleep issues given the circumstances.