Overtraining

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TheNegotiator
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Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

So I realize that the limit is different for everybody, but does anybody have any solid "rule of thumb" type guidelines for overtraining? There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about this and I want to try to clear some of it up in my mind.

For instance, I run at least 4 miles a day, and usually lift weights for 60-90 minutes. But I eat a fair amount, and I dont feel beat down or destroyed by my regimen. I've heard from several different sources I may be overdoing it, but I enjoy it and I don't think I'm suffering any negative health consequences. The logic I'm going by is that if people can train for the Olympics and not suffer negative health consequences, I think I'll be ok with my daily constitutional. But I've been wrong before, and I'll very likely be wrong again. Any input?

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spudtheimpaler
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Re: Overtraining

Postby spudtheimpaler » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:31 pm UTC

lets get some important info down first, to help diagnose if you are over training in certain areas etc...

What are you training for - General health? Do you want to improve certain areas?
Fueled by tea and bad maths since 1983...

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Mon Oct 19, 2009 4:33 pm UTC

Well, I guess I have two main goals in mind:
1. US Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test. The 3 categories are 3 mile run, pull-ups, and crunches. Pull-ups can do my 20, crunches I can get my 100, but I'd like to pull my 3 mile time down a little bit, to approx. the 20 minute mark. I havent actually run a timed run in forever, but my own sense of time tells me I'm not quite there yet.
2. Lookin' good. This is why I do ab exercises. I fully understand the value and security of a strong core (front and back), especially for an athlete, but I won't lie: I want my 6-pack.

There are a few more reasons, cardiovascular health and general well-being is always nice. And I have a pipe dream of walking on and trying out for my university football team and making 3rd string practice squad (I'm way too small. But the worst they can tell me is no. I'm going for it in the spring). So these are my general goals. I'm sure the next question will be in regards to specifics for my program. I'll throw those up when I get back from class.

BUT: Like I said, I don't want this thread to necessarily be all about me. General tips and guidelines for the proper amount of work for everybody are encouraged and welcomed.

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Nath
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Nath » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:20 pm UTC

Everybody has a different recovery capacity, so it's hard to find good one-size-fits-all guidelines. It's unlikely that overtraining will make you feel beat down or ill; the real question is whether it's interfering with your progress. Are you making reasonable progress? If so, your current program is working, so overtraining is not much of a concern. (That doesn't mean your program is optimal -- maybe you'd make better progress if you did more, or less. But finding the optimal program is hard; the best we can do is find something that seems to work, and experiment with it from time to time.)

Victoria Maddison
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Victoria Maddison » Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:34 pm UTC

TheNegotiator wrote:does anybody have any solid "rule of thumb" type guidelines for overtraining?

Overtraining is the condition where the stress induced by the training volume/intensity chronically exceeds the athlete's recovery capacity. It corresponds to stage 3 of Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome. The most noticeable symptoms are fatigue, irritability, insomnia, diminished appetite, depression, elevated heart rate and muscular atrophy. Overtraining is serious, one month of overtraining can require two months of recovery to get back to pre-overtraining performance levels, which is a lot of wasted time.

TheNegotiator wrote:For instance, I ... usually lift weights for 60-90 minutes.

Why would you lift weights for 60-90 minutes a day? Whatever progress you're getting could probably be increased significantly by switching to a better program.

TheNegotiator wrote:I eat a fair amount, and I dont feel beat down or destroyed by my regimen. I've heard from several different sources I may be overdoing it, but I enjoy it and I don't think I'm suffering any negative health consequences.

If your performance is steadily increasing you are not overtraining.

TheNegotiator wrote:The logic I'm going by is that if people can train for the Olympics and not suffer negative health consequences ...

This is not the case.

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:54 am UTC

Fair enough. Here's my general workout, I know it's not perfect but its what I've done for the past year, and it seems to get the job done. Go ahead and pick it apart.

First, realize that my gym is two miles away, so I run there and back. That is my 4 miles a day. Mon-Wed-Fri I also usually run another 2-ish miles early in the morning with the local Marine Corps group. After this run, we do a single set of pushups, crunches, planks, max reps in a minute etc. but I don't even count those because they're pretty light. That's pretty much the extent of my cardio, and like I said, I'm trying to get my 3-mile time down a bit.

Weightlifting is as follows:
Day 1: Chest, bis, tris, core
Flat Bench: 3x8 or 5x5
Incline: (barbell or dumbell) 3x8 or 5x5
Chest flys: (5 sets, alternating between incline and decline) maybe 8 reps
In between these sets, I do 12 pushups with my feet on a medicine ball or some other kind of modified pushup
Pullups: (Various grips, usually 30-50 reps total over 5 or so sets)
Curls: (Sometimes dumbell, sometimes barbell, sometimes hammer, wide grip, etc. etc. Variety=spiceoflife) Usually a total of 5x8 each arm
Tricep dips: with 45 lbs. plate suspended from a weight belt (3x8)
OR unweighted tricep dips, 3x15 or 3x20
Tricep pulldowns: 3x10 Or overhead tricep extensions 3x10
Various core exercises: (I usually do approx three of these) Crunches (150) Lateral crunches (25 each side) Situps w/o feet anchored (25-50) Weighted Ab pulls (3x10) Back Hypers (3x15) Incline situps (3x15) Planks (1-3, 60-90 seconds)

Day 2: Shoulders back and core
Overhead Press: (3x8)
Lateral Raises: (3x8)
Front Raises?: I don't really know what they're called, but raising weights to shoulder height in front of your body. Works front of your shoulder. (3x8)
Various other shoulder-related lifts: Back of the shoulder, arms-at-90-degrees dumbell lat-raises (3x8)
Inverted Rows: (3x12)
Lat Pulldown: (3x10)
Rows: sometimes machine, sometimes with dumbells (3x10)
Various core exercises: See above,though I usually do more on this day than on day 1.

I just keep switching back and forth every other day. I'm going for growth in my shoulders and back, seeing some progress but of course never as much as I'd like. Chest I see definite progress, Bis and Tris are holding steady.

Tuesdays are a notable exception in that I don't lift any weights, but attend a so-called "boot camp" put on by the campus gym, which is usually just some hardcore cardio. This is also where I do my leg-lifting (I don't ignore them, dont worry). Lots of tire flipping, carrying heavy stuff, obstacle courses, Speed-Agility-Quickness stuff, etc. etc. My legs are always dead afterward. My next goal after seeing some improvement in the shoulders+back is working more legs into my routine.

So... yeah. I got to this routine by constantly upping the lifting when my routine became to easy. It's certainly not professional in any way (read: full of potential mistakes). Pick away, forum-goers. Any and all advice is welcome.

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mobikwa
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Re: Overtraining

Postby mobikwa » Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:53 am UTC

You seem to have forgotten to strength train your legs. I know, you run 4 miles a day, but running is completely different from strength training and there is no reason to neglect the biggest muscles in your body. Lifting weights releases testosterone, test helps build muscle but also helps burn fat (the secret to a 6 pack) so do some squats, you'll be glad you did.
Also there is no deadlifts, is there a reason for this?

Edit: and then I read your post

Victoria Maddison
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Victoria Maddison » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:12 am UTC

TheNegotiator wrote:Any and all advice is welcome.

Failure to squat and deadlift is a mistake. The benefits of these two lifts are unparalleled.

I notice you didn't mention what you bench but I can't imagine it'd be much with that sort of workload and lack of recovery time. If you reduce the volume, increase the intensity, and introduce rest days your strength should climb faster. Which is important because you have to lift big to get big. I'd also get rid of most of that accessory work as it doesn't look useful to me.

If shoulders are a primary concern of yours, ring work may be of interest.

The ab work could be replaced with 5x12 weighted sit-ups, and the chin-ups/pull-ups should be alternated weighted at 3x5-7 and unweighted at 3x to failure or 1-2 reps before.

Your lifting program seems to be designed as an upper body GPP program which is fine if that's what you want, but I think you'd be better off focusing it on strength and eat enough to gain mass. The metcon you do with the Marine Corps sounds like it should cover your GPP needs.

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:33 am UTC

Yeah, I did squats regularly back home, but the environment obviously changed when I'm at college. I want to work those back in. It's all a continual-adjustment process. (Deadlifts are my bane. I just dislike them. I did them while training for high school football but haven't been able to make myself since.)

My bench is actually (I think) my most impressive lift, I'm repping 205 on flat, 185 ish incline. My max is in the 260 range (I think). I weigh 150lbs. So I'm happy with that.

Ring work: got it. I'll check this out.

I've done weighted pullups before, the main problem there is that the bar here is just high enough that I have to jump to get up to it. Whichs presents problems with suspended weight. I do it every once in a while though.

As far as GPP/Mass building, I seem to change every day. If I look in the mirror and am sad, I say to myself "I need to cut the bullcrap here and gain some muscle." If I like what I see, then I say "I look good, but I hope I can actually perform well in sports, activities, combat, whatever life throws my way." A case of crippling indecision causing non specialization. And as for diet, I'm constrained to what the cafeteria serves, but they are fairly healthy and I do know enough about athletic nutrition to make the smart choices. Yay chicken breasts and cottage cheese!

Thanks for the pointers all. Much appreciated.

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Nath
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Nath » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:35 am UTC

Victoria Maddison wrote:The ab work could be replaced with 5x12 weighted sit-ups, and the chin-ups/pull-ups should be alternated weighted at 3x5-7 and unweighted at 3x to failure or 1-2 reps before.

Is there any particular reason you like weighted sit-ups rather than other ab work? I've seen Mark Rippetoe recommend them as well, but I seem to remember Bill Starr recommending higher-rep unweighted stuff (I'll have to check). What are the trade-offs involved? Similarly, why are weighted and unweighted chin-ups alternated? (I'm not disagreeing; just curious.)

TheNegotiator wrote:Deadlifts are my bane. I just dislike them. I did them while training for high school football but haven't been able to make myself since.

Are you sure your form is good? The first time I deadlifted, I didn't have the form figured out, and found them rather unpleasant (even though I was using a light weight). Now they're probably my favorite lift. They are hard but satisfying.

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:56 am UTC

My form was terrible when I started, but I eventually got it to an acceptable level. It isn't perfect, but it's good. Or so I believe.

Victoria Maddison
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Victoria Maddison » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:35 am UTC

Nath wrote:Is there any particular reason you like weighted sit-ups rather than other ab work? I've seen Mark Rippetoe recommend them as well, but I seem to remember Bill Starr recommending higher-rep unweighted stuff (I'll have to check). What are the trade-offs involved?

High rep work is a waste of time unless you're specifically targeting work capacity/endurance. Louie Simmons has stated that assistance exercises are best kept to around 60 reps with whatever set/rep scheme you like 6x10, 5x12, 4x15, 7x8 etc. Sit-ups themselves hit the entire abdominal musculature and when performed weighted are one of the best ways to strengthen and build this area. A person that can perform sit-ups with 50 kg extra weight has abs far stronger than someone that can do 300+ reps of various exercises. They're also easy to gauge progress on, last month you could only do 4x10 10 kg, this month you can do 4x10 15 kg, your abs are now 50% stronger.

They're basically the best abdominal exercise in my opinion, the only other I'd recommend would be weighted side bends if you want to work your obliques even harder but it's not necessary. The squat, overhead press and deadlift actually work the abdominal muscles quite a lot themselves.

Rippetoe was trained by Starr. He likes KNEs and L-sits and weighted situps apparently. I recommended 5x12 weighted sit-ups in this case because he wanted to build his abs for a six-pack and this old article by Lon Kilgore and Mark Rippetoe sprung to mind: Abdominal Intensity [PDF].

Nath wrote:Similarly, why are weighted and unweighted chin-ups alternated? (I'm not disagreeing; just curious.)

The strength gains from weighted chin-ups will facilitate increases in endurance on unweighted days pushing up the number of chin-ups you can do. The USMC have a thing about how many they can do, ask the OP. ;)

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:34 pm UTC

Wonderful. One question I have remaining, though (and it even brings us back to the topic over overtraining) is this exchange:

Victoria Maddison wrote:
TheNegotiator wrote:The logic I'm going by is that if people can train for the Olympics and not suffer negative health consequences ...

This is not the case.


Does this mean Olympic athletes DO suffer some kind of negative consequences, or that they are immune/resistant to certain things that I am not?

Victoria Maddison
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Victoria Maddison » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

TheNegotiator wrote:Does this mean Olympic athletes DO suffer some kind of negative consequences, or that they are immune/resistant to certain things that I am not?

I can tell you with confidence that elite athletes get injured. It's the price to be paid for performing at such a high level. However I was referring to the fact that they're genetically superior, have no job stress, access to world class coaches, optimal sleep, nutrition, and active recovery techniques out of reach of most people.

They still get injured though. A good coach can generally spot overtraining and adjust the athlete's program accordingly but a single slip up can damage a joint, tear a muscle, break a bone, etc. These things do happen unfortunately.

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:18 am UTC

True. The rest of that though, what with the no job stress and superior genetics, kinda sounds like a good deal to me. Know where I can get those?

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Nath
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Nath » Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:33 am UTC

Victoria Maddison wrote:I can tell you with confidence that elite athletes get injured. It's the price to be paid for performing at such a high level. However I was referring to the fact that they're genetically superior, have no job stress, access to world class coaches, optimal sleep, nutrition, and active recovery techniques out of reach of most people.

Sadly, not always true. Many of the lesser-known athletes make little or no money from sponsors or grants, and have to make a living in addition to training full time. In fact, I seem to remember that Wal-Mart had a program before the last Olympics where they'd give judoka on the Olympic team a part-time job to help make ends meet. It makes the athletes' achievements all the more impressive.

Incidentally, I found the Starr article I half-remembered about his ab work recommendations. He was quoting his uncle and occasional training partner. He did briefly mention weighted sit-ups:
Some Olympic lifters used to use weight because they wanted to get really strong abs to help them with the start of their presses. But like the side bends with dumbbells, it will make the abs appear larger. Since they didn’t care about that, they held plates behind their heads.

Victoria Maddison
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Victoria Maddison » Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:44 am UTC

Actually I believe I may have found the article you were thinking of Nath, a different one, in which Starr recommends "one set of ultra-high reps, doing at least one exercise for the lower abs and another for the upper abs at every session." But as I said before, I don't like this recommendation.

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Solt
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Solt » Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:14 am UTC

Not necessary but I like to do biceps and back on the same day because back exercises almost always also use biceps.

Also, it's probably not very helpful to do all those crunches at the gym. If you want your abs to grow, you gotta train them like all the other muscles you are trying to grow- high weight, low reps. I might also try some rapid compound movements with medicine balls, especially for overall core strength.
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TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:53 am UTC

Past week has given me the following discovery: Lack of a workout log = practical impossibility to determine over training. I think I've been making steady progress for the past year or so, but then again, maybe not. I know I haven't really been putting on much (if any) weight. By my calculations, no new weight=no new muscle=lack of progress=pain in the ass.

In other news, those weighted ab crunches seem to tire out my shoulders more than my abs. There is definite ab strain, but my arms burn even more. I'm not complaining, just noting. Like I said, shoulders are also a goal.

Can't things just be simple? Lifting=muscle, more lifting=more muscle, extended to infinity? I would love to hear that I haven't been wasting my time for however long. Ugh.

poohat
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Re: Overtraining

Postby poohat » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:09 am UTC

If you havent gained weight then you arent eating enough, its that simple. Your weight gain/loss is entirely controlled be your calorie intake - training only affects whether youre gaining/losing muscle or fat. Eat more.

It is possible to gain muscle and stay at the same weight, but only if youre losing fat at the same time. This is pretty difficult to do though, and it tends to be a slow process. Unless youre in a sport with weight classes youd be better off just accepting some fat gain in order to put on solid muscle. Fat is easy to lose anyway.

Why are you running 4 miles a day anyway? Unless youre actually training your endurance for a sport, this is really counterproductive if you want to gain muscle. I think you need to be more decisive about what your goals are. Once youve decided what you want to do, you should obsessively track all your training and food intake for a few months until you can see yourself moving in the right direction. A training log is essential, and so is a food log if you dont have a rough idea of how much youre eating (which I'm assuming you dont, since you havent managed to gain weight).

It is pretty simple really, just eat more calories than you expend while progressively increasing the amount you lift in the gym, and youll get big/strong.

poohat
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Re: Overtraining

Postby poohat » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:21 am UTC

TheNegotiator wrote:Fair enough. Here's my general workout, I know it's not perfect but its what I've done for the past year, and it seems to get the job done. Go ahead and pick it apart.

You should change your routine every so often. Anyway, your current routine isnt working if youre complaining about lack of progress, so you might want to try something else. I recommend this. Also why arent you training your legs or lower back?

The most important thing with any routine is to make sure youre increasing the weights over time. If your arent lifting heavier weights than you were a month ago then youve wasted your time.
Last edited by poohat on Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:25 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

Victoria Maddison
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Re: Overtraining

Postby Victoria Maddison » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:22 am UTC

TheNegotiator wrote:Can't things just be simple? Lifting=muscle, more lifting=more muscle, extended to infinity? I would love to hear that I haven't been wasting my time for however long. Ugh.

Things are simple: sufficient training stress + caloric excess + ample protein + enough rest = strength and muscle gain. Your problem is that you aren't eating enough, and that you aren't squatting and deadlifting.

If you were consuming a caloric excess you would be gaining weight because the body doesn't throw away calories under normal circumstances. Start eating more until you're gaining weight at around 1 lb/week. An extra 400 kcal sandwich per day is a good starting point for a guy your size.

If you're serious about gaining mass you should also start squatting. The disruption to homeostasis caused by this exercise is unmatched and will cause a flood of growth hormones to be released throughout the body. This even helps upper body mass gain. The deadlift also heavily disrupts homeostasis. Upper body movements use a comparatively small amount of muscle mass and don't have the same effect.

TheNegotiator
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Re: Overtraining

Postby TheNegotiator » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:56 pm UTC

I'm running 4 miles/day cuz my gym happens to be 2 miles away. There+back. Gotta get there somehow. And it's not like extra running (at this level) can hurt my health. Sure, it might hurt my muscle-gaining ability (getting that caloric excess is a bitch), but health is supposedly more important than vanity anyway. It isn't perfect, but you work with what you've got.

And as for the equation listed above, the tricky part (for me, at least) is sufficient training stress. That's where over training seems to have sneaked up on me. Diet-wise, I know I've gotta get beyond maintenance+expenditure, and generally I am. But that's my rough estimate, so it can't hurt to obsessively track things for a week and calibrate my guessing.

As for squatting, I've worked that back into the routine at least once a week, so that my legs are still rested for Tuesdays.


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