Our enthusiasm and desire to build our physiques often makes us want to train as long and as frequently as possible. That’s especially true when we’re dealing with stubborn -bodyparts. So it takes a little extra effort; we’re usually more than willing to put in the extra work.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the muscle-building process works. After you train to a certain point, your body will no longer benefit from your effort. In fact, you’ll actually be doing your body more harm than good.
Overtraining is a somewhat difficult concept to grasp because it’s not how most things in life work. Generally, the effort you put into a particular endeavor will directly correlate with the results you can achieve; however, that’s not true when it comes to developing your physique. “More is not necessarily better” is what the training experts warn.
When will you know if you’re overtraining? How does overtraining actually feel? What are the indicators? What would be considered the “right” amount of training, and what’s considered too much? How often and how much should you train in order to be the most effective?
My personal experience and what I’ve witnessed with others tell me that most of us tend to train too much. Although that’s especially true of people who have been training for five years or less, it occasionally applies to more experienced folks.
Finding the right amount of training—and not falling into overtraining—is a learning process. The only way you can shorten it is to find a good role model or teacher you can trust.
The only way for you to truly understand what overtraining feels like is to train with what you instinctively believe is the right amount. Then force yourself to train with significantly less volume for a period of time. You’ll feel the contrast, and you can compare the actual difference and measure your results. That route, however, can be mentally challenging and quite time consuming.
Some experts try to quantify overtraining with physical indicators—loss of strength, change in blood pressure, rise in body temperature, loss of appetite. Experts also point to mental factors, such as lack of enthusiasm and concentration in the gym.
Because of the tremendous ability of your mind to adapt to the physical and mental conditions around you, those indicators may not be reliable—your body may be just fine, but your mind may be weak. If we’re honest with ourselves, we can all relate to the mental limitations I’m referring to. We’ve all experienced a lack of desire that we wanted to label as overtraining.
If you’re into the bodybuilding lifestyle for the long haul, the only true way you can actually feel what the “right” amount of training is sooner rather than later is through experimentation. Invest a month or so and cut back on the volume of your training. Force yourself to train less frequently and do fewer sets—no matter how difficult that may be. Work hard to become just as intense and effective with less work. Limit yourself to one hour of weight training per session. If what you’ve planned can’t fit into that hour, then you’re training too much.
When it comes to learning the meaning of overtraining, the time you invest in experimentation will pay huge dividends over the long haul.
Train hard—and think big! You are a Mass Machine warrior!
Editor’s note: Skip La Cour is a six-time national champion bodybuilder, a success and leadership coach and the creator of the Mass Machine Bodybuilding and Training Program. Learn how you can become a Mass Machine Training warrior by visiting www.SkipLaCour
.com. Sign up for the free weekly bodybuilding and training e-newsletter, and you’ll receive a free e-book.