Q: My question is about overtraining. Here’s my current program: Monday: quads, hams, calves; Tuesday: lats, lower back; Wednesday: chest; Thursday: shoulders; Friday: abs, cardio; Saturday: biceps, cardio; Sunday: bench press, triceps. I train pretty much every day; however, my thinking is that I break up the muscle groups enough that they get enough rest. I also make sure I spend no more than 90 minutes in the gym per day. I’m doing 16 to 20 sets for larger muscle groups and 10 to 14 for smaller ones. I do not feel burned out and still make periodic gains. What do you think about my routine? Should I change it? I should add that I’m drug-free.
A: When I first looked at your program, my instinct was to tell you that you’re grossly overtraining. While you may not be overtraining your muscles, you’re more than likely overtaxing your central nervous system, which is just as bad, perhaps worse, in most cases.
You mention, however, that you’re still making gains—at least periodically. Thus if your current schedule is providing you with progress that you find satisfactory, who am I to tell you that you’re doing it all wrong and need to make a change? Perhaps you’re genetically gifted in terms of recovery ability and actually thrive off of the type of frequency and training volume that would annihilate the majority of naturals—I know it would me.
My question to you is this: Have you ever tried training a bit less? What if you cut back to hitting the gym just four or five days per week and decreased your volume by about 25 percent and your progress increased substantially? It’s quite possible that although you’re making “periodic” gains now, you’d receive an even greater payoff from your hard work if you gave your body a bit more recovery time and performed fewer overall sets. Remember, in bodybuilding we don’t shoot for what is simply good but rather for what is optimal. Less time spent training and greater progress is an equation I bet you could live with.
So my suggestion is that you give an abbreviated routine a reasonable try for at least six to eight weeks and make a fair comparison to your current program. Make sure to record exercises, weights and reps, as well as bodyweight and bodyfat percentage, meticulously. Before and after photos would also be a good idea, as nothing can replace visual evidence.
Perhaps it will lead to a discovery that will forever change the way you approach your training. Even if that doesn’t happen, at least you’ll know for sure what your body responds best to—and that, my friend, is the key to this crazy activity.
Editor’s note: Eric Broser’s new DVD “Power/Rep Range/Shock Max-Mass Training System” is available at Home-Gym.com. His e-book, Power/Rep Range/Shock Workout, which includes complete printable workout templates and a big Q&A section, is available at X-Workouts.com.