Are You Over Training?
It's no secret that intense weight training is the key to gaining muscle size and strength when combined with the right muscle building foods.
However, as good as weight training is for building muscle mass, too much training and not enough rest will eventually lead to over-training.
When you are in an over trained state, you can actually lose muscle mass as being over trained also means that you’re in a catabolic muscle wasting state.
When catabolism occurs, your body starts utilizing lean muscle tissue for energy. You MUST avoid this at all costs by making sure that you never end up over-training by limiting the number of days on which you train with weights, and by getting an adequate amount sleep each night.
When you are in the gym working out, you’re literally tearing apart muscle tissue. When the tissue grows back, it does so bigger and stronger than before.
Your body does this as a survival mechanism to protect itself from stress, just like it grows calluses on your hands if you don’t wear gloves when lifting weights.
Now for muscle growth, this is a good thing because growth can not occur unless you tear apart muscle fibers through intense training.
However, you must realize that if you keep breaking down muscle tissue without giving it a chance to recover, you’re actually over training and doing more harm than good.
Over training is very easy to do, especially if you’re like me and you love training in the gym day in and day out. So how do you know if you’re doing too much in the gym?
Here are a few signs and symptoms that you’re over training. If you experience any of these for even just a few days, stop training with weights and take a few days off from the gym.
Signs & Symptoms That You’re Over Training...
• You feel weak and fatigued on a daily basis.
• You can’t maintain enough energy throughout your workouts like you used to.
• Your strength is not increasing and/or your strength on each exercise is declining.
• You feel tired and exhausted, even when you get enough sleep at night.
• You’re irritable and lose your temper easily with others.
• You have signs of depression, low sex drive and a loss of interest for training.
• You experience flu-like symptoms.
All of these are signs that you might be over-training in the gym, thus you should take these symptoms as serious warning signs to back off from intense training for a while.
What Causes Over Training?
Most symptoms of over training are caused by too much weight training, which not only stresses the muscles on your body, but also your central nervous system (CNS) as well as your immune system.
Intense weight training depletes your brains neurotransmitters, which are responsible for proper nerve signaling and all communication between your mind and muscles.
Deplete too many neurotransmitters too often without allowing them to re-plenish or re-charge, and you will start experiencing symptoms of over training.
Now, if we combine intense daily weight training with inadequate sleep, we have the perfect recipe for becoming over trained. Rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM), or deep sleep is when your body re-plenishes its depleted neurotransmitters.
Without enough deep-sleep and too much training, over training will set in.
Important Steps To Take To Avoid Becoming Over-Trained
• If you have less than 1 year of consistent weight training experience, avoid training on consecutive days.
For example, following a 3-day non-consecutive split (Mon, Wed, Fri) is excellent for the majority of beginners as it provides a day of rest in-between training sessions.
Having one day off in-between training session’s gives your muscles the much needed rest that’s required for growth. Drug (steroid) assisted bodybuilders are able to train more often because they are able to recover faster from training.
But having sand that, regardless of weather you train naturally or “assisted”, you should have at least 2 days of rest (non-training days) each week (3 is even better for the majority of trainees including myself).
• Get a minimum of 7 hours of deep (uninterrupted) sleep each night. Like I’ve mentioned, deep sleep is when your brain restores depleted neurotransmitters and it’s also when muscle growth occurs.
Seeing that your nutrition is on par, your immune system also recovers and strengthens with adequate deep sleep. It goes without saying, but staying healthy is just as important as training and eating for muscle growth.
Simply put, if you don’t get enough sleep each night, not only will you fell weak, tired and exhausted, but you will stand no chance of getting bigger and stronger.
The amount of sleep that’s needed will vary from individual to individual. If you sleep 7 hours per night but feel like you need more sleep, go for 8 or even 9 hours of sleep each night.
Some hard training gym-rats and bodybuilders need as much as 10 hours of sleep per night in order to feel refreshed and rested, so it’s important to experiment and see how much sleep is enough for you.
•Don’t train to failure on every set. Failure training is defined as not being able to complete another repetition without assistance from a spotter.
Failure training quickly depletes neurotransmitters and weakens your immune system considerably. Also, don’t train to failure at all if you have less than one year of consistent weight training experience as doing so will do a lot more harm than good.
Failure training is a great technique for advanced trainees, but it can also lead to over training in the long-run if it’s overdone regardless of your level of training experience.
• Take 1 to 2 weeks off from all weight training after every 3 to 4 months of consistent lifting. Like I’ve mentioned above, every time you train you stress your skeletal muscles, central nervous system and immune system. Giving your body complete rest every few months ensures that you don’t end up in an over trained state.
You’ll also be more motivated and hit the gym with re-newed focus and more energy when you resume training after your break.
Be sure to reduce your carbohydrate consumption slightly during your training break since you won’t be weight training, thus your body won’t need as many calories or carbs when you’re not training.
It’s ok to perform cardio on your training break, just make sure that you don’t lift weights at all during that time and don’t over do the cardio (20 to 30 minutes per day, 3 times a week is enough to maintain hearth health and conditioning)
•And last but definitely not least, make sure that you’re eating enough healthy muscle building foods every single day which provide your body with critical nutrients needed for muscle growth, recovery as well as optimal health and well being.
To sum up, to pack on muscle size and strength you should always train hard and with intensity, but you should also take the appropriate steps that I’ve outlined above so that you don’t end up getting sick, feeling down and even losing muscle mass and strength from over training.
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