Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sabotaging Your Efforts With Overtraining

In our quest for that perfect body, perfect health, and the fountain of youth, many of us overtrain.  We lift too often, run too far -- too often, lift too heavy before we're ready, all in the name of good health.  But are we sabotaging ourselves by pushing too hard, too often?

Ironically, Mark Sisson over at MDA spoke to that very topic in today's post.  He gives you 8 signs that you are overtraining.  Make sure you check it out.

Overtraining is something that takes place at every level of fitness, from beginner to elite, olympic athletes.  Here's the key: you need to stress your system, not strain your system to create change.  Let me clarify.  I'm not talking about pushing for those extra 5 reps in any one given exercise; but rather working that same muscle with too many sets, with too little rest between workouts.  Overtraining can lead to immunne system breakdowns, poor quality of sleep, stress fractures, muscle tears, tendon strains and tears, not to mention an overall rundown feeling of crapiness.  So in effect, you're bringing on the very thing that you're trying to avoid by exercising and eating right.  Overtraining can lead to hormone imbalances that can lead to a lot of unwanted metabolic abnormalities as well.

Lyle McDonald notes that:: a similar mechanism (similar to being sick) has been suggested as a primary cause of overtraining; called the cytokine hypothesis of overtraining I think it ties together a lot of conflicting and contradictory data on the topic. It explains changes in performance along with behavior and ties together the previous held (but wrong idea) of local versus central overtraining. It turns out that they are the same thing and local effects (tissue damage) is causing central effects (behavior and motivation changes).

Essentially constant/chronic/excessive inflammation locally (in the muscles you’re training) causes an increase in inflammatory cytokines and this is responsible for the lack of motivation to train and lethargy that often sets in. Essentially, your body (your muscles) are trying to ‘tell’ your brain to give it a rest and take some down-time. Of course, humans, being the stubborn folks that we are, often choose to ignore or over-ride these signals.

To summarize what Lyle points out: overtraining ain't good for you.

This Chinese study reinforces the importance of confronting overtraining.  Overtraining has been a problem among elite athletes in China and this study details ways that China is choosing to tackle the problem.  It includes a multiple factorial approach, combining successful preventive medicine, nutrition supporting, optimal monitor marker selection, and efficacious rehabilitation therapy.  If a whole country sees the importance of recognizing and addressing overtraining, don't you think you should?

There's really no need for you to head over to rehab because you were impatient, stubborn, and unwise.  Listen to your body when pushing yourself.  You know (yes, I'm talking to you) when you are pushing your limits.  It's alright to push yourself at certain periods of time, i.e. leaning down for the summer, getting ready for that special event, training for a triathlon.  But don't make a habit of it.  Train smart.  For the normal you and I, weight/resistance training 3 times/week should suffice.  Throw in some biking, walking, jogging, sprinting, stretching, and yoga and your fitness life should be complete.  Even bodybuilders know when they are pushing too much.  Ask Tom Venuto.  He's an expert in both bodybuilding and fat loss.  He'll tell you that he knows his limits and that risking life-long injuries and metabolism hell, due to overtraining, just isn't worth it.

Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Over training is common problem in almost every male or female who works out regularly. Over training is a silent problem which can lead to many other problems such insomnia, lack of appetite, weight loss and stiff muscles.