Too Much of a Good Thing

We have all heard the term “overtraining”, but what does the term mean really? Well, it means different things to different people depending on what activity or sport is involved. Mostly it means too much, too often and too intense.

If you have been weight/resistance training, you will understand how great it is to see your body change so dramatically and how easy it would be to increase training intensity and frequency too quickly. Of course, rationally we all know this is a mistake. But, the desire for an even better shape and “feel good” chemicals (endorphins) can cause us to do just a bit too much…. And ouch.

I had this experience when I started training with weights 15 years ago. I had been teaching aerobics classes for 8 years when I started. Well, naturally the weights changed my body a lot and I LIKED the changes! Then one day, I decided to do the same workout twice in one day. I mean, after all, if one is good, two is better right? Wrong! The result was tendonitis in my shoulder which took forever to heal.

Now, often I spend a fair bit of time explaining to clients how more is not necessarily better. The key is to workout SMART! Ok, what does this mean?

First: rest is very important. Muscles need rest between workouts. Working the same muscles in the same way too often results in injury and a reduction in performance. When a muscle is overtired, the load is taken into the joint. Joints are not designed for load they are designed for movement. Tendonitis and joint pain are pretty common indicators of overtraining.

Second: varied workouts. This is why we fitness instructors recommend doing different sports or fitness activities. But for “die hard” weight lifters, variation can be accomplished in a variety of ways. One common way is to work different muscle groups in different days. Another method is to change the way in which a particular exercise is performed so as to train the muscles differently. An example of this would be to change the speed of the lift from workout to workout, like very slow one day, the faster the next time the muscle group is worked.

There’s lots of ways to vary your workouts. Check out some books on weight training or talk to a Fitness Trainer if you need some ideas. You will not only help prevent injury, but you will see changes in your strength and muscle development.

Keep your workouts SMART!