Building muscle is actually a surprisingly easy process if you do everything right. The problem is of course, doing everything right! Plus, how do you know if you’re doing the right things in the first place? There is so much confusion and mis-information that it’s often hard to know whether or not what you’re doing is going to help the muscle-building process in your body or hinder it!
Also, there are so many steps involved in building muscle and each one is so important that if you miss one of the steps your muscle-building progress could come to a screeching halt! Therefore, you want to ensure that you’re doing everything right, or at the very least as well as you possibly can.
This is particularly important when it comes to your workouts. How long do you train for? How hard do you train? How often do you train? How do you split your body parts? Do you do whole-body routines? What Advanced Techniques of Overload (ATOs) do you use? The questions are endless! As are the permutations for structuring your workouts.
However, one question that often gets asked is, ‘How do I know if I’m overtraining?’ Furthermore, some people will reduce their training frequency because they believe if they train more often they will overtrain their body.
The fact is that overtraining syndrome is less of a problem than most people realise. And it is often incorrectly blamed for people’s lack of results! Oftentimes, when a person trains 4-5 days a week and doesn’t get results in a month or so they’ll say that they’re overtraining and will reduce their frequency to 3 days a week or cut their session times in half!
Rather than considering their nutritional habits or other lifestyle factors, like sleep or alcohol intake, they will place the blame square on their training, and more specifically, will assume they’re doing too much training, which they believe has resulted in overtraining syndrome! Also, they won’t consider the exercises they’re performing either. The truth is that concentration curls, tricep kickbacks and calble cross-overs aren’t traditional mass builders! Perhaps if they focused on squats, deadlifts, chins, and shoulder presses they might notice some changes in their physique!
The human body is quite durable; it can handle a lot. People shouldn’t worry about overtraining syndrome and should focus on more important aspects of the bodybuilding. This means ensuring their training is loaded with heavy, compound movements, their nutrition contains sufficient calories and protein, and that their sleep habits are optimum.In addition to this they should train at least 5-6 days a week for at least 45 minutes to an hour each session. It is highly unlikely that they will overtrain.
Most importantly, they need to be consistent; no skipping meals, and definitely no skipping workouts. Finally, they need to allow enough time for the results to come. Often young guys especially want to see results within days or at most weeks. However, even with outstanding genetics, the very best bodybuilders barely put on a few kilograms of ‘solid muscle’ each year. Now keep in mind, putting on ‘solid muscle’ does not equate to weight on the scales. Just because you put on 10 kilograms in 12 months doesn’t mean it is ‘solid muscle’!
When we talk about ‘solid muscle’ we’re talking about the protein component of muscle (actin and myosin filaments), not water weight (even though muscle is around 70% water), and certainly not fat weight! Let’s face it, the best guys in the world take 10-15 years to make it to the Olympia stage!
Admittedly, if you’re involved in other sports in addition to your weight-training sessions then it certainly may be possible to overtrain. Therefore, you may want to determine if you’re suffering with the effects of overtraining syndrome.
How to determine if you have overtraining syndrome
Obviously, if you feel run-down or are catching colds and flus consistently then they may be signs of overtraining. However, a more accurate way to determine if you’re overtraining is to test your resting heart rate.
As you become fitter you expect your resting heart rate to decrease. However, if you notice your resting heart rate increase 5-10 beats per minute above your standard rate, then that may be indicative of overtraining syndrome. It indicates that your heart is having to work harder to get oxygen and nutrients to your muscles in order to aid their recovery.
Keep in mind though, when testing your resting heart rate, do so for at least a week and determine an average figure. Then, from then on, if you get more than 3 days in a row with your resting heart rate being 5-10 beats above this figure then you can assume that you may be suffering with overtraining syndrome and should reduce your training volume or frequency. The bottom line is that the more you train the faster your results will come and since it is very hard to overtrain your body you are far better off simply going to the gym almost every day, perhaps even twice a day, and hitting it hard! Go for it!