Sunday, June 23, 2013


The fear of overtraining is pervasive across the online landscape.  Everyone has a rule or protocol in place to ensure that someone doesn’t overtrain.  If you train more than 3 days a week, you’re overtraining.  If you do more than 50 reps in a workout, you’re overtraining.  It’s all the same, with the “HIT Jedis” being the butt of many “fear of overtraining” jokes.

And if I may go off on a rant for a second, seriously, f**k Arthur Jones.  Nothing to do with his system (I can talk to that later), but by all accounts, the man was a prick.

Even his trainees can't stand to look at him
Anyway, it’s all silliness, at least in the capacity we experience it.  The people that fear overtraining are people who have never actually worked hard.  These are the people that never ran 2 a day practices, or did “up downs” in a 100 degree wrestling room to sweat out weight for a match, or went through a basic training environment, or any sort of real “push to the limits” moment in their life.  The people who managed to avoid these experience have no idea just what sort of limits the human body has and how far it can be pushed before it actually breaks.

Let me explain it with a metaphor.  Worrying about overtraining is like worrying about catching the clap from banging Megan Fox.  You need to focus on actually making progress before you concern yourself with the consequences of succeeding.

Editor's note: Is Megan Fox even relevant anymore? Who do the kids talk about these days?

If you keep pushing yourself to the point where you actually overtrain, you will at least be making amazing progress up until that point.  If you always shy away from hard work to avoid this overtraining boogieman, you’re simply not going to grow.  The average person avoids strain, you must seek it and forge your body with iron and spite to be able to stand out.

Overtraining isn’t going to happen in a workout.  It’s not going to happen in a few workouts.  It’s going to take a consistent, day in and day out for months on end hardcore balls to the wall leave no prisoners kind of effort to really start to reach overtraining, and up until that point, you will be building something terrifying inside of you.  Your work capacity will be insane and you will have the fanatical thousand yard stare of someone that has lost their sense of self into something much bigger.

Now, I am not claiming that it’s impossible to push yourself too hard in a workout.  We’ve heard the stories of rhabdomyolysis resulting from hardcore crossfit workouts, but you also have to keep in mind that those stories involve someone starting out on the program in a group setting where they were pushed against their will by others.  If you are training solo or with a workout partner, your odds of this are rapidly diminished, and I of course say that with no scientific backing whatsoever.

And I am saying all this as someone that has actually experienced overtraining.  I know the symptoms well enough in myself after having it happen twice.  I’ll get sore in muscles that never get sore (calves, hamstrings and abs are big warnings for me) and my desire to train will cease to exist, to the point where I will dread lifting.  However, in reaching this point in my training, I had blown past previous stagnant PRs and transformed myself physically, which, no matter how much I needed to rest or change my gameplan at that point, could not be taken away.  The overreaching I did to get there put me in a much better position than if I had gone home early a bunch of times to avoid the overtraining boogieman.

I heard he only shows up if you say "20 rep squats" 3 times in a mirror

“There is no such thing as overtraining, just undereating” was a great quote by the barbarian brothers.  Of course, they were roided to the gills, but it’s still something to keep in mind.  Within yourself lies the capacity to push much harder than you thought was possible.  Don’t listen to the naysayers and conventions that hold people back from reaching their goals.  Experiment, push, and find out what is possible.

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