The Overtraining Syndrome

Overtraining syndrome

Thank you for stopping in and checking out the overtraining syndrome page, I will briefly touch on and discuss some of the things that are associated to over-training; including what causes it, how to avoid it, and some of the myths behind it.

              Causes of The Overtraining Syndrome

Over training simply happens or occurs from; preforming too many long and exhausting work-outs and more specifically;  too many sets of high volume training per body part, or perhaps too much intended intensity over prolonged periods or intervals.

Continuously pushing your body past its natural threshold to recuperate between regular scheduled work-outs can begin to show early signs, in your life and workouts.

Failing to respect these signs and correct them, will bring an end to muscle and strength gains including gains of any kind.

Here are seven signs you may encounter if your body is beginning to enter and over trained state.

  1. (The first: most begin to feel from their bodies feedback is): lack of enthusiasm.
  2. Increasingly sore muscles, joints even tendons.
  3. Can become cranky, argumentative and irritable.
  4. Elevated morning heart or pulse rate.
  5. Broken sleep patterns or insomnia.
  6. You may also notice decreasing energy levels in and out of the gym.
  7. Loss of appetite.

Try to manage your training, a healthy diet and include rest and recovery from your training all as one; to prevent these symptoms and promote continued strength and muscle growth.

The Raw Truth On Overtraining

Olympic power lifter

Overtraining, The myth:

The overtraining syndrome, with its many forms and symptoms, magazine and Internet media attention, seems that this particular word gets more than its fair share of bad press.

First off, age, gender, physical conditioning and natural athletic ability, including job and lifestyle stress, all come into play here. This should be respected to get a full understanding of what ‘over trained’; actually means to you, at the intermediate or advanced level.

Most people that walk into the gym off the street from their everyday jobs and lives probably won’t ever reach an over trained state; especially if you only train, two or three days a week.

Over training gets blamed for lots of things. You have to be training somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 to 7 days a week, with little or no break in-intensity once or twice a day to see anything in the way of the overtraining syndrome.

I have personally reached this state of over trained before, as  mentioned, but this was generally and still can be at times, from long days on the construction site mixed with heavy training or volume days.

Most of the time the demands from training the bigger body parts intensely; like leg and back training at these times were the culprit that put me in this state. So in point, not all of this was, from the weight training itself, but a combination of the physical and the weight training combined.

With that said: you can be tired or stressed or exhausted from other things in your everyday life, that are completely unrelated from your activity or training in the gym.

You can become bored or irritable in a job/relationship, lifestyle etc. and of course some advanced lifters will blame, or begin to believe, that their bodies are in this over trained state, when actually they are not.

        Facts related to Overtraining

For the most part, most males or females that experience the overtraining syndrome is more commonly seen in competitive sports like: Olympics, power-lifting and competitive bodybuilding/CrossFit competitions, etc. But...

With that said: lifestyle weight training athletes that demand a lot more of themselves; that are highly driven and command higher mental and physical goals with higher achievements towards them, can find themselves becoming prey to the overtraining syndrome also.

Highly intense weight training; such as – heavy or excessive volume training with very short rest intervals, or using some double split routines. Also the lack of, or poor sleeping patterns or a weak diet that does not match your training Goals; generally is more responsible for these symptoms occurring.

For the most part, seasoned advanced intermediates or advanced lifters are the ones that can experience this. Even if you’re well-conditioned; simply doing too much with inadequate rest can bring this overtraining syndrome on.

IF you find you are experiencing this from over training, this can and will also cause the on-set of an extended training plateau.

Generally, by adding variety and keeping things simple. If you’re not competing in a strength or fitness or bodybuilding competition, go at your own speed and enjoy what you’re doing.


If You’re Serious About Gaining Muscular Strength And Size

Performing French curls

The overtraining syndrome is an easy state to enter if you’re really pushing your personal boundaries in gym. this is why I often mention the use or try to suggest the use of cycling your training and intensity, to help alleviate this.

Overtraining is real, and why I suggest heavier, intense training should be done in intervals of no more than eight or nine weeks at the most. Unless you are pharmaceutically enhanced, you will simply burn out mentally and physically.

Putting it simply: this is what the overtraining syndrome is.

In the early years of my training from the 70s and 80s, it seemed like I was continuously and tenaciously bumping in to the over-training-wall.

Continuously, being overzealous wanting to see new growth and training without the use of drugs, seemed like I was forever hitting this over-trained state.

Once I discovered (prolonged) high-volume, high intensity workouts simply don’t work for us natural guys and gals, I began to simmer down and accept what my body could and couldn’t do. I then began to enjoy my workouts again and I would begin to look forward to the next cycle.

Continuously trying to knock your-self out with prolonged cycles of heavy intense double split routines… ends in defeat, the body simply cannot continue this intense effort forever.

The overtraining syndrome your body enters is; the nervous system’s way of enacting an insurance policy to protect you. If you don’t heed these warnings that I’ve listed above; new growth and overall happiness and the enjoyment of life, will begin to have the feel like that of trying to hold sand in your hand.

Make your weight training fun. Be creative with your workouts- progressiveness and intensity, and be sure to give yourself small rewards, along the way to your main goal

Enjoy your rest as much as you’re training and cycle your training; have heavy cycles of 6 to 8 weeks followed by less moderate cycles of 4 to 8 weeks. 

This adds verity and helps relieve boredom, from over exhausted muscles, joints and a stressed-out nervous system, it also helps to avoid injuries and of course, training-burnout.

Know your limit?

Barbell preacher curls


To prevent any form of overtraining from happening in the first place, listen to your body’s feedback. If you find some of the signs are entering into your training or life, it’s probably time for a week or two-layoff.

Total rest and recuperation is what the body needs. After this recuperation, come back for the first few weeks at half to three quarters of your regular intensity; slowly build your conditioning and nervous system back up to where it originally was.

Trust me; I’ve experienced these symptoms on many levels, there not fun in the least and very counterproductive, very little positive came from this other than the experience from it...

Another little secret here is: leave the gym always hungry to come back, meaning: preforming 6 to 8 sets on the bigger muscle groups such as upper back, legs and chest etc. and 5 or 6 on the smaller ones, encourages this new attitude at an intermediate level.

For advanced lifters 8 to 10 or 12 sets are generally enough! Hammering and pounding the muscles into complete submission for every workout, month in and month out: is generally counterproductive.

Have a plan and a goal with proper supplementation and dietary eating habits to properly coincide with those training goals. Brings a lot of your positive power, towards eliminating the overtraining syndrome.

See (weight lifting diet).

Just don’t be afraid to train intensely with in these set ranges to simulate strength and muscle growth.  

Dumbbell curls

Personally concluding:

I personally would always enjoy the thought of; even look forward to finishing an 8 to 10 week intense training cycle. 

I would enjoy taking four or five days to a week off sometimes even 2 weeks if needed, to simply: let my body heal from the intensity of this type of training. After this rest I would always come back to my training with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

These set ranges I've mentioned above are simply a guide nothing more; ( I encourage you to train instinctively and challenge your body towards what you think it needs). 

On days you’re not feeling strong or you’re having an off-day or week, back off the ‘intensity’; until your feeling stronger and let small nagging injuries heal.

Again, be instinctive-listen to your body’s feedback and ‘learn your limit and train within it’.

Overtime preforming endless sets until you’re exhausted and feel like crawling out of your gym from these efforts usually means: you won’t want to return for the next days work-out.

This is a Major Dream and Goal Killer! And for the most part, is the reason why intermediate and advanced lifters sometimes quit on their training goals and dreams all together

If you do find you are in this state, the remedy is simple. Take a break or your body will force you to!

I hope you managed to find and get something out of the overtraining syndrome page. If you find you’re enjoying your training just as much as your rest, then you’re on the right track. If you have a comment or question see (contact me).

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