Train. Don’t Overtrain

Words: Kerry DULIN

Average people have average genetics. Average people have day jobs and families to support. Average people are not on anabolic steroids, and this is exactly my point. If you don’t have the genetics of an Olympic athlete, if you don’t have a sponsor who pays you to lift weights, and if you don’t want to attend to soreness every other day, then don’t train as you do.

When it comes to building an impressive, natural physique, more is not only not better, it’s also actually counterproductive.

Simply stated, overtraining is working a muscle before it has had a chance to recover from a previous workout. Are you serious about growing? Weight training provides the catalyst for muscle growth, but actual growth only occurs after you have left the gym.

I don’t care if you have the muscle fibre of a distance athlete, or the build of a seasoned powerlifter. If your goal is to be a bodybuilder than you must learn to recognise your training/recovery threshold and work within it. Train too infrequently and you’re just a recreational lifter. Train too often, or too hard, and you are just wasting your time.

Train Well

If you’re not into biology, I’ll tell you how not only to decrease your risk of overtraining, but how to actually decrease your recovery time. After the onset of heavy resistance training, the adrenal gland releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a great hormone, because it breaks down protein into its constituent parts and is shuttled to the liver where they can be converted into glucose to fuel the body’s energy needs. That’s good because you need a lot of energy to fuel a long workout. The bad news is that the protein that is being broken down is coming directly from your muscles.

That’s right. The longer that you workout, the more cortisol is released, eating away the precious muscle tissue that you are trying so desperately to build. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Your body is naturally conditioned to respond to this type of stress through a mechanism known as super-compensation. Your body is also evolutionarily programmed to not only compensate, but super-compensate for muscle loss by not only repairing the damaged tissue, but by adding a little extra just in case. This is exactly why you become bigger and stronger. But, there’s a catch. If you don’t give your body enough time to recover [compensate], it will never be able to create additional muscle [super-compensate].

Don’t Imitate

Stop trying to imitate the training programme of the pros. Not only do they have exceptional genetics, they are on enough gear to keep their programme shelf well stocked.

Signs of overtraining, include —

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Head colds and/or allergic reactions
  • Elevated resting heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Emotional instability.

Ask yourself this question. Are you making gains every time that you go to the gym? Unless you are a seasoned athlete and have exhausted your genetic potential, you should see a small but measurable gain from workout to workout, either in the amount of weight lifted, or the number of repetitions performed. Look at your training programme as you would an investment in a bank. If you put a large sum of money in a bank and came back a year later to find that your investment hasn’t grown at all, would you be satisfied with your rate of return? Find out. Are you tired of hitting the gym day after day, week after week, month after month and not getting results? Then do something about it.

Train with intensity but within limits. Allow yourself time to recover fully before working the same muscle group. If you are still sore from the previous workout, take more time off, or ‘work’ a different muscle group. Consume carbohydrates two hours prior to training and immediately after training.

Research has shown that a fatigued muscle is more responsive to energy storage within 30 minutes following a workout. Consume protein 1-2 hours before a workout and immediately after a workout. This is a great time for a meal replacement, or protein supplement. Take an occasional vacation from the gym. A week, or two, will allow you time to recover and start fresh. If your workout takes longer than an hour, you are probably talking too much, or training too long. The best thing to do is to train smart and not take fitness lightly.

KERRY DULIN, a world-renowned fitness guru, first got into professional bodybuilding at age 40. He won his first bodybuilding competition at 41. Now 62, with a physique that would put someone half his age to shame, Dulin has what he calls ‘a manageable programme,’ 12+ top trophies to show for his fitness endeavours and a brace of health and fitness websites. He lives in the US [This article is published by special permission from the author. ©Kerry Dulin].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

22  −  thirteen  =  

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.