|Overtraining is real and it's blocking future and reversing past gains.|
Overtraining comes in two forms
If this is not your first visit to the SuppVersity the phrases "sympathetic" and "parasympathetic" overtraining will probably sound vaguely familiar. While the latter is the form of overtraining that develops after weeks of 2-4h of daily cardio-training - usually in the presence of undereating, the former is supposed to occur after heavy lifting sessions and is thus more common in sprint type sports.
Check your training status with a heart rate monitor: In spite of the fact that there is no 100% reliable method to test, whether you're overtraining, the heart rate variability - or rather the way it's changing in the course of a training cycle can give you a good idea of whether you're doing too much, already (learn more in "Are You Overtraining? Two Scientifically Proven Methods to Test Yourself" | Part I, Part II).In the early phases sympathetic overtraining may feel like being "overstimmed", i.e. similar to the strange agitated weakness caffeine naive individuals may experience after their fourth cup of coffee. That's before a deliberating fatigue will take over, episodes of hypoglycemia during (and after) exercise will occur and your life will start to suck as much as your performance (yes, depression is another symptom of overtraining).
Muscle loss instead of gains
While performance oriented athletes usually pull the emergency break, when the notice that their strength, speed, agility, dexterity and all the other qualities that are relevant for world-class performance decline, Mr. Average Joe and his wife Jane tend to ignore the signs until it's already too late and the hormonal changes, Alvez Souza et al. observed in their latest study have already started to gnaw on their precious muscle mass.
|Figure 1: Expression of hyptrophy relevant protein and hormones after 12 weeks of (over-)training, as well as subsequent effects on cross-sectional area (CSA) of plantaris muscle; trained vs. sedentary animals (Alves Souza. 2014)|
load and insufficient recovery time between bouts using a water jump-exercise model of squatting (Figure 1, right):
"Briefly, rats underwent to consecutive training sessions (5 day/week) that consisted of jumps (repetitions) to the water surface (38 cm deep; approximately 150% of rat body length), carrying an overload strapped to a vest on the animal's chest. Initially, all animals completed a 1-week pretraining (once daily) that consisted of a progressive number of sets (2-4) and repetitions (5-12) with a 30-s rest between each set, and carrying an overload of 50% body weight (BW). Subsequently, the rats began the 12-week training program, which consisted of progressive overload corresponding to 60% (1 to 3 week), 65% (4 to 6 week), 70% (7th to 8th week), 80% (9th to 10th week), and 85% (11th to 12th week) of BW." (Alves Souza. 2014)As Alves Souza et al. point out, they have previously demonstrated that this training protocol is effective in promoting type IIA and IID fiber atrophy in rat plantaris muscle - as long as it is done in a sane and not the typically Western "more helps more" way that was applied in the study at hand.
- Alves Souza et al. "Resistance Training With Excessive Training Load and Insufficient Recovery Alters Skeletal Muscle Mass-Related Protein Expression." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2014). Publish Ahead of Print