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Train To Gain: Overtraining

Avoiding the perils of indirect work, overlap and overtraining

Most bodybuilders are well aware of the perils of overtraining and do their best to avoid it. What many don’t realize is that many of their muscle groups are regularly threatened with overtraining.

Consider the shoulders, for example. Many trainees work shoulders the day either before or after they work chest. That’s a lot to ask of your poor deltoids, which must perform tremendous workloads on two consecutive days. Any pressing movement for the chest heavily involves the front delts, especially incline presses. It’s a very bad idea to train chest and shoulders on consecutive days.

Should you decide to train back the day before or after shoulders, don’t work your rear delts at all. The rear delts are a major factor in any rowing or pulldown movement. Many trainees actually find that they get all the rear-deltoid development they need from back training alone.

Traps are yet another muscle that often falls victim to overlap. In addition to shrugs and most back exercises, the trapezius also works very hard during any overhead press. If you train your traps the day before or after you train shoulders, you’ll very likely become overtrained, and growth in your traps will certainly be compromised. The arms should be an obvious example of the dangers of overlap, but not everyone is wise to the potential problem. Never work biceps the day before or after you work back, and don’t work triceps before or after chest or shoulders.

Few people ever worry about overlap on the lower back, but the lower back contributes to most exercises as either a primary mover or a stabilizer. Heavy squats and deadlifts tax the lower back to the point where it usually needs several days to fully recover. While your lower back is trying to recuperate, don’t do exercises that engage it as a stabilizer, such as overhead presses or stiff-legged deadlifts. If you do, there’s a strong probability that you will injure yourself. IM

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