Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why we THINK we Overtrain in the gym.

Inside of gyms across the world, articles online, forum topics and heated discussions you will always find people talking about Over Training. Over training is a concept believed by many of doing too much in the gym causing very bad side effects such as Depression and Serious Chronic Fatigue. Some people are held back from ever reaching their potential because they let the fear of overtraining hold them down.

Is it our exercise programs that cause over training?

In this day and age we are all working many more hours than we ever have in the history of mankind.  We wake before the sun rises and go to sleep well after the sun sets. Everyone has a hectic schedule and we are always moving. Some people are so busy that they are "forced" to eat fast food garbage loaded with nothing nutritious for the body.  Others may have so much spare time spent sitting in front of the television or the computers that they can't sleep.

We wake tired and go to sleep tired.  Our first move is to the coffee pot or the Dunkin Donuts counter. We yearn for the caffeine rush in the morning to get us moving and without it- we're useless.  Just a few weeks ago Hurricane Sandy knocked out power all over New Jersey and the biggest lines were where the coffee was hot and fresh!

Overtraining is real and we can't deny that.  It happens and it could be devastating.  It happens to High School athletes whose parents do not understand why they want to quit the team or why their grades are dropping.  Why do some kids who have a great future in Football end up quitting and becoming drug addicts?  Why does the girl who gets straight A's and is on the Honor Society and every committee in school, group, organization,and the softball team end up becoming what most would label a "freak" with black eye make up, quitting all extra activities, smoking cigarettes, and hanging out with the "bad crowd"?

Is it peer pressure?  Is outside influence from other kids causing them to stop doing what they love?  Or, is it overtraining?  Are parents causing their kids to work so hard at "Stuff" while not letting them "recover" properly?

Why do some high level athletes excel at their sport one year and totally tank the next?  Is it because of their Strength program?  Or is it because their stardom has led to more opportunities and less recovery time?

How can John Broz have his athletes work out everyday at the level they do and not overtrain?  How do people like Anthony Mychal do Dan John's and Pavel's 40 day Deadlift Program and not overtrain?  How can someone Squat once a week and become so depressed that they become diagnosed with overtraining?

We don't train our recovery and the outcome of this lack of needed training is that we blame everything physiologically wrong with us on exercise.  We start a new exercise program and go hard at it, while on the other side we're neglecting our diet and we become overtrained- throwing the blame at Strength Training like it's the irons fault. Go lift at 80% of your One Rep Max a few times a week while eating 1000 calories a day from Fast Food Alley, staying up watching Letterman, and no doubt you'll kill yourself. Don't blame it on overtraining in the gym.  You didn't even leave your guts behind.

We have no recovery and mental toughness. Only weakness that likes to point the finger of blame at someone other than ourselves to soothe our broken ego. Our ego tells us to push heavy weights right from the get go before we even learn how to develop control, mind-muscle connections, and the basics of proper nutrition and importance of sleep.

Our minds are throwing information at us from all directions going 9000 miles an hour causing us to go insane and yet, we choose to listen to the radio on our drive home from work- never giving us a break.

Our cycles of stress and recovery are so out of whack that over training is happening more and more. We can't hide the fact it is and say there's no such thing as overtraining.  It's right in front of our faces. From trainers, parents, school teachers, and bosses at your work.  You can exercise 3 times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and still overtrain if you are not recovering like you need to.

In Japan they have a word known as Karoshi. Karoshi means death from overwork. This is happening at a higher rate more than ever because the Japanese people are working such long hours, with little to no exercise and they are not recovering as needed.  Causing many problems.  It's not just Japan, Karoshi is affecting many American people and this can be seen by looking at all the illnesses throughout the country.  We overtrain our minds and bodies to the point that we make ourselves sick.  We don't understand recovery- or we just don't care about it.

As I mentioned before our society used to wake up in the morning when the sun rose and go to sleep when the sun set.  Sure there weren't any lights and electricity but our basic needs of recovery were being met. We're doing this to ourselves.  Our bosses demand more, our family life demands more, our social life demands more, and this demanding nature is causing us to fall apart.

It's not 5/3/1 or Westside.  It's not Zumba or Crossfit. It's sleep, diet, and stress.  We have too much bad stress, not enough good stress, and our recovery is non existent. Some people are not overtrained but rather under trained.  They can experience the same effects that overtraining causes emotionally, mentally, and physically because they are lacking in good stress. Undertraining happens when we just sit around and do nothing.  We over recover and this overload of rest weakens our minds and bodies- causing similar symptoms.

Before you blame overtraining and undertraining for any mental, emotional, or physical problem you need to collect your data.  The data of your life.  What do you do everyday?  Do you sleep enough, too much, too little?  Do you exercise too much or too little?

Some important things needed to have a balance between good stress, bad stress, and recovery are as follows:

Proper diet containing nutrients needed to aid recovery and output.
Sleep.  4 hours isn't going to cut it.  8 hours.
Proper Exercise.  If you've never ran a mile, don't do Crossfit.  If you've never Deadlifted before don't start doing it everyday.  Start out the right way and if you didn't- go back and do it over.

There are certain needs we were designed to have and without one or too much of another we will get our life out of balance and over or under train.

We need to recover our energy. This means we need good, plentiful, food.  Water and an adequate amount of sleep.
We need to release our energy.  Exercise, work, and sex.

This is a cycle that needs to keep spinning.  We need to expend and recover and keep it going without an inadequate amount of anything mentioned or the cycle will not spin.

Our mind has needs also and they will keep you fresh and full of life.  Make sure you work to achieve these things or you may end up overtrained or undertrained.

We need to feel safe, loved, belonged, self worthy, and fulfilled with our lives.

Don't be a loner.  Extend your social and family life and use your recovery to help your mind feel well about itself.  Take breaks every once in awhile where you shut out everything and rest for 15 minutes.  Take naps whenever you can as long as you don't do it like a lazy person.  Drive to work with the radio off and collect your thoughts.  Turn the television off and just sit there. Quietly.

We think we overtrain in the gym because it's the first place our minds think the most of our energy is released.  We lift weights, sweat, become exhausted- sore- hungry, and when we think we've overtrained we stop working out.  This is not the right thing to do.  We need the balance of energy and recovery.  If our sleep is good, our exercise program is sound, our mental recovery is good, and our diet is perfect but we still feel overtrained it's time to go see a doctor because something can be seriously wrong. Never blame the weights until you've crossed your t's and dotted your i's.

You overtrained because you didn't recover.  Not taking a day off from the gym didn't keep you from recovering.  It could have been something as simple as stressing over a job or a few drinks on Friday night that you had at the bar until 3 in the morning.  Deadlifting twice a week at 80% of your max for a few sets didn't cause overtraining.  But if you did deadlift twice at 80% and you ate like a chump and slept like a newborn baby then maybe those lifts did cause it to happen. Whatever the case is always look for answers and most of the time, they'll be outside the gym.

I recommend reading this book.  It's the best book you've never read and the best book I ever read. Click the link and check it out.  It is a great book that will change your life if you need balance between recovery and stresses.


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