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Depending on who you speak to, you’ll hear many different definitions of overtraining syndrome.
Some believe it’s any time you’re in a state where you’re feeling run down, sore, beaten up, aching and suffering from a dip in performance and energy levels.
Others would class overtraining as something far more serious. It can be seen as a state where your body is almost giving up – you’ve thrown so many challenges at it during training sessions, are stressed, possibly under nourished, and over time, this leads to serious illness.
To help you out, this article is in two sections. The first deals with the more minor form of overtraining, more commonly known as over reaching.
This is still something you need to concern yourself with, but it can be dealt with fairly quickly.
The second section focuses on serious overtraining – where you feel physically ill. This is far more severe and requires a much more detailed approach, and will take longer to recover from. You can cure it, but just be prepared for it to take some time.
Treating Over Reaching Syndrome
Over reaching isn’t really too big a deal.
Many programs actually aim to achieve an over reached state. Strength coach Charles Poliquin’s Super Accumulation program for example, is designed to be used before you’re planning a lay off from training. This is nothing new, but it aims to get you to a planned state of over reaching. Usually you’d perform this before a vacation, when you know you’ve got a couple of weeks off. The idea behind the program is that you train your body to its limits, then get a solid 7 to 14 days of down time to let yourself recover.
This is also used in many powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting style programs.
So there’s your first cure – rest.
When you start to feel the onset of over reaching or overtraining, take a break.
This definitely means no heavy weight training. You can forget anything over 50 percent of your one rep max.
Usually bench press 250 pounds and squat 350? If you even set foot in the gym during your rest, don’t touch a bench bar above 125 pounds or even consider trying any heavy squats. In fact, you’re best off leaving the weights alone completely. As tough as it may be to take a break, you need the rest. Aim for at least a week of no weight training.
If you want to do something while resting up, get some mobility work done.
It’s something far too many of us neglect, but it’s so important, not just for general health, but for improving your lifting performance too. How many times do you go into the gym and feel your front squats aren’t quite deep enough, feel a strain in your lower back because you can’t get your hips into the right deadlift position, or feel a pec tweak on any chest exercises?
If you’re anything like most of the general gym going public, the answer will be “too often!”
When you have a full training schedule, it can be tough to find time for mobility work, but when you’re taking an enforced break from lifting, it’s the ideal time to work on your mobility.