Saturday, November 11, 2006

How Overtraining Kills Your Chances Of Building Muscle

It's unfortunate that some people feel, when it comes to weight training, that more is better for building muscle.

Well, this isn't always the case.

In fact, too much lifting can stop your progress. If you lift too much, you run the risk of overtraining. Overtraining simply means doing too much physical exercise and not allowing your body to recover. And this can kill your chances of building muscle.

Most beginners and many intermediate trainees get the workout part right, and sometimes even the diet and supplements. But sadly, they usually fail miserably on the recovery part of their programs.

Muscles grow at rest, not while you're in the gym.

Many new lifters destroy themselves in the gym and then fail to allow their muscles to recover fully before training them again. This overtraining will cause you to stop gaining muscle and could even cause you to lose the muscle you already have!

Simply put, overtraining is a state your body enters into when the workload you subject it to is greater than the body’s ability to recover.

It can come from training too often and/or with too much intensity. Couple this with not enough rest to fully recuperate and rebuild and you have overtraining.

Overtraining can result in lowered testosterone levels as well as a lower ratio of testosterone to cortisol, which can leave your body in a state of zero-growth.

There are many signs of overtraining, so be aware of them and see if you have any of them. While a few of them might not necessarily mean you're overtraining, they may mean that you're on the verge.

Persistent soreness and stiffness in the muscles and joints is one sign. Fatigue, sluggishness, and a lack of energy during your workouts is another big sign.

A loss of muscle size and fullness can mean you're overtraining. Low sex drive and constant irritability are other symptoms.

If you have any of these and you're currently working out more than 5 days a week, you need to cut back immediately, before you get worse.

The sad thing about overtraining is that many people think that the cure for overtraining is they just have to work harder to make gains.

Unfortunately, this aggravates their problems and end up losing even more size.

So the most important thing you can do to rebound from overtraining is to take some time off from the gym. Take as long as your body needs.

In extreme cases of overtraining, it could take months, if not years, to heal properly. But for most people, taking a week off from lifting will be enough. When you get back to the gym after this time off, you'll notice your energy levels are back to normal, as well as your strength and endurance.

You may want to consider cycling your intensity levels from now on. Phases might include cycles of high, medium, or low intensity or variations in weights, sets and reps, or workout durations.

Typically, a few weeks of high-intensity training would be followed up with several weeks of low-intensity training to prevent overtraining. The body simply cannot produce a maximum output over a lengthy period of time.

You can also reduce the poundages of your weights and your intensity if you don't want to risk overtraining.

Keep your workouts under 45 minutes by reducing some of the reps and sets you do. All you need to do is 2 exercises for each muscle group, 3 total heavy sets for 8 to 10 reps.

You also want to schedule at least 2 rest days into your program each week. This will help prevent overtraining from occuring and will also help you to recover from workouts, just in case you're on the verge of overtraining.

Again, it's important to remember that not getting enough rest can stop muscle building dead in its tracks. So you'll want to make sure you're resting enough, just like you ensure you work out and eat right.

These are just some of the things you can do if you feel that you're overtraining. It helps to take a step back and look at your situation from a different perspective. No, don't try to fix things by working even harder in the gym.

Instead, take a smarter approach and take the time off to rest. Then, set up your routine to prevent overtraining from happening again.

I hope this article helped shed some light on training just enough to build muscle, no more than that.

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