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Charlie Martin

Definition of overtraining?

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Charlie Martin

Hi there,

I'm really curious as to what you guys would define as overtraining.

See, when I was younger, I thought overtraining was simply when one sort of trained a muscle group too frequently and/or at too high of an intensity for an extended period of time: not giving them enough time to recover between workouts.

However, what we're learning at university now (exercise physiology degree) is that overtraining can be described with General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) which looks at how the body responds to a stressor. There are 3 phases: Alarm (release of cortisol, adrenalin etc.), Resistance and Exhaustion. In the latter two stages, when the stressor isn't overcome and when the stressor is long term, hormones get depleted and one's immune system fails. What we're learning in my degree is that overtraining falls under the resistance and exhaustion phases - a seemingly more holistic view of overtraining that looks at the body as a whole. They further go on to say that recovery can take weeks, even months.

I find this quite confusing, because what's commonly thrown around on the internet nowadays is similar to my initial definition of overtraining, which looked more at muscle groups being overworked and not being given the time to recover, e.g. : "I've been overtraining shoulders lately so I'm going to take a couple of weeks off training them and just keep training all my other body parts".

 

If anyone could shed some light on this, that would be great. I'm interested in your opinions.

 

 

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Toni Laukkavaara

I used to get this weird cortisol skin/hair from mma after almost every workout. Needless to say our coach made us do some serious work haha

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Mike Hunt
On 6/20/2016 at 6:23 AM, Toni Laukkavaara said:

I used to get this weird cortisol skin/hair from mma after almost every workout. Needless to say our coach made us do some serious work haha

what is cortisol skin?

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Jared Birbeck

my experience has been the more holistic view. That is, doing too much across a range of muscle groups or a particular muscle group will cause a crash of general fatigue. I have never experienced over training of a particular muscle group.

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Toni Laukkavaara
11 hours ago, Mike Hunt said:

what is cortisol skin?

I have no idea how to explain it. It feels kinda thick/greasy, but not greasy. Same with hair its very weird i can't explain it. But it feels like euphoria seriously :o its super weird.

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Charlie Martin
1 hour ago, Jared Birbeck said:

my experience has been the more holistic view. That is, doing too much across a range of muscle groups or a particular muscle group will cause a crash of general fatigue. I have never experienced over training of a particular muscle group.

How long did you need to deload/rest for before you were able to come back to full-on training?

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Jared Birbeck
34 minutes ago, Charlie Martin said:

How long did you need to deload/rest for before you were able to come back to full-on training?

depends on the situation. when I pushed through for extended periods it was 3 months+. since then earlier recognition by me has meant 3-4 days of little to no activity. Then back on it. a deload week can help too.

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Sascha Fast

I distinguish between local and central overtraining.

 

  1. Local overtraining refers to an overused joint, organ, muscle or tendon. Tendonitis is an example.
  2. Central overtraining refers to an overused nervous systems. That seems to be more complex to unterstand because there are layers of physiology (e.g. neurotransmitters) and psychology (e.g. boredom, chronic stress etc.) to separate AND reintegrate once understood.
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Julian Aldag

Recovery < Training for an extended period  = Overtraining 

 

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Frankincensed

Also phases of over training called over reaching are part of a buildup that leads to supercompensation during recovery. Ever have the experience of pushing it to a higher level for a few weeks then resting and coming back stronger than before?

I've never overtrained to the point of not being able to recover within a few days. I've rested completely for a week every six months or so to avoid that and to allow my body time to catch up on healing. Yes it hurts to not train but less than being sidelined due to injury or overtraining which can take months to rebound from.

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Alessandro Mainente

Six months it is too less. until you reach the point where you've trained for 10 to 15 years in a row you need more frequent full deload, approximately one every 3-4 months. elite level athletes usually perform 2 breaks, one during summer for one week and one during winter for some days. some athletes are so well conditioned that they can stop fore weeks without loosing too much.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FHYl6iD49I

this video reflect what i'm meaning. this is my friend matteo morandi back some years ago. this video was filmed one month after the end of the 2012 olympic games  where he won the bronze medal on the rings.  after one month of complete rest he was still able to perform this routine after a light warm up (a back lever, a front lever, press to hs and dismount).

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Bryant Wilson
4 hours ago, Alessandro Mainente said:

Six months it is too less. until you reach the point where you've trained for 10 to 15 years in a row you need more frequent full deload, approximately one every 3-4 months. elite level athletes usually perform 2 breaks, one during summer for one week and one during winter for some days. some athletes are so well conditioned that they can stop fore weeks without loosing too much.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FHYl6iD49I

this video reflect what i'm meaning. this is my friend matteo morandi back some years ago. this video was filmed one month after the end of the 2012 olympic games  where he won the bronze medal on the rings.  after one month of complete rest he was still able to perform this routine after a light warm up (a back lever, a front lever, press to hs and dismount).

When you say "full deload", is that different from the scheduled deload included in the programming?  Are most people out there taking a full week off every 3 or 4 months?

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Douglas Wadle

Most people don't have overtraining issues.  Most people have undertraining issues.  As pointed out above, overtraining can manifest as overuse injuries, but these are more commonly due to underpreparation than overuse.  The real "overtraining syndrome" is a neurologic issue and can take years to recover from, if at all.  Athletes' careers are finished when this occurs.  The body can tolerate a fair bit of overtraining if it gets adequate recovery, but when the work load is increasing, the life stress is increasing, and the nutrition and sleep are suboptimal, problems will develop.  Initially with poor sleep patterns, waking frequently, feeling tired but can't fall asleep.  Fatigue, poor appetite, anhedonia are all warning signs.  Worse and worse workouts despite trying harder.  That tends to be the realm of full time athletes or those who can't control life stressors adequately.  I've known people to have "overtraining syndrome" who don't even train.  It's basically what chronic fatigue syndrome is.  Too much stress on the body, too little recovery, over many months to years.  But again, most people suffer from "undertraining syndrome".

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Alessandro Mainente

If they don't, they should consider it.

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Bryant Wilson

Very interesting, Alessandro,  and thanks for your answer.  I fit into what Doug said above, in that my joints suffer from "undertraining syndrome", so I have nowhere near the work capacity to even worry about the "overtraining syndrome".;)  But what you say makes me wonder if a break every three to four months or so is useful no matter your situation (assuming you have been training/building consistently), in order to rest whatever your weak link is, be it structural (at risk for overuse syndromes), or neuro/endocrine (at risk for overtraining syndrome), so as not to overtax the weak link and allow it to adapt.  Definitely worth considering.

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