Overtraining is usually the last thing I ever have to talk about when it comes to people in our gym. Usually I am spending a lot of time motivating, educating, and coaching people into a fitness life style. There does however come a time, where spending too much time in the gym, or overtraining can become something hard to pinpoint. Something that can make that competition right around the corner seem impossible. Even worse, overtraining in it’s worse state can make someone end up injured, or not even end up competing.
The most important thing an athlete needs to realize, is that training hard puts your body into a constant state of inflammation. It causes your body to produce stress hormones. It creates wear and tear on joints, nerves, bones, tendons, muscles and the nervous system. The crazy thing is we do this on purpose to our bodies to make them stronger, leaner, faster, and fitter. We do this to win the race, lift the most, and take down the strongest. This does not have to be a bad thing if you take into consideration what the body needs to recover from this type of assault.
First, let me tell you some of the signs of overtraining. Weight loss, depression, elevated resting heart rate, decrease in physical performance, susceptibility to colds and infections…..to name a few. Even when you have the motivation to get to the gym, you aren’t sure why your body isn’t responding to your mind…….overtraining could be the culprit. Sleepless nights, thoughts throughout the day of how to train harder, or differently……..not the answer. Actually the exact opposite is what your body is telling you.
Let’s take a look at how to either prevent, or get over, a bout of too hard, too much, and too often of what you thought was a good thing.
If people put as much thought into their nutrition as they did in their training, this would most likely not ever happen. The first stage that has to be addressed is how many and from where are your calories coming from. Most people that are heavily into working out, simple do not realize how many calories their bodies need to keep this up. Even the biggest, fastest guys surprise me, by either drinking low carb drinks, or barely eating through the day before a big workout session. The next surprise to me is how even men these days are affected by the negative message that the word “carbs” has in their diets. The body needs a very large amount of carbs, combined with protein, combined with healthy fats to make every system work….in a regular everyday type of guy. Now, if you are the guy getting ready for an athletic event, you should be consuming most of your calories from carbohydrates , then proteins, then fats. You will not gain weight. You will keep your body energized, functioning, and repairing what you have torn down.
You also need to take into consideration that what you ingest AFTER your workout is maybe even more important that what you ingest before. Your body after a tough workout has just depleted it’s glycogen stores. What that basically means is you need to “re-feed” your glycogen stores. What that does is start an immediate repair, rebuild, recovery cycle right after you leave the gym. Wait too long to do this, and studies have shown that for every 15 minutes after the golden half hour after a workout, you can almost negate the entire session, by not only not recovering, but never setting the repairative session in gear.
If you haven’t already, sign up for my site on the right of this page. The first thing that you will get from me is the best post-workout recipe ever from a study done in the book, Nutrient Timing. I promise you, you will feel a difference within one week after doing this one thing. Now, add in the other tips, and you are on your way to either recovery, or never having to worry about this problem.
Recovering an overtrained body involves taking time off. More than you think. Imagine that you have just taken off a cast too early, and you keep trying to walk on a broken foot…..just a little……only for an hour…every day or so. IT WON”T HEAL!! You need first and foremost, SLEEP. Then you need the right nutrition to supply vital nutrients to your torn up cells. After that, you need to re-plan that type of training that will get you back on track. Not every day should be an intense, PR day. Not every day should be an all out speed breaker. You need to periodize your training. After a really heavy day, take a day off, or only stretch. After a really fast day with lots of reps, rest, then go for a PR day after that. Change it up weekly…..that is how you will make gains, and not end up on the sidelines.
Remember. Nutrition. High calories of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Sleep, and lots of it. Post-workout drinks immediately after a training session, and about 2 hours before a big meal. Lastly, change up the type of workouts, by periodization.
This is how you WILL be the toughest, fastest, strongest, and last the longest!!
Isn’t that why you are doing this in the first place?
Always looking for ways to get us to optimal health!