Overtraining, Is It Real Or A Myth?

Tue. March 8, 2016 12:00 AM
by Pat Charette, Fitness contributor

I don't want to over-train"

A phrase we hear all too common in the industry amongst the non professionals. What I hear now my from people is that over-training doesn't exist but, in fact it is under recovery.

In reality we as a society always think more is better. I see it with workouts, supplements, drugs, vitamins, carbs, etc. if we don't push more this and more that then we don't make as much money. It is that simple.

Personally I have clients that when we train and take 60 second breaks they freak out! They feel that if they are not working for our entire session then they are losing out on their money. Or if we complete our workout for that day and we still have 3 minutes left on the clock they say "I still have 3 minutes left!" When in fact my job is to get results and fully optimize their results. Another common misconception is if someone is not sore the next day, then some how they feel that their workout was inadequate from the previous day.

In this day and age absolutely destroying someone in a workout and yelling and screaming is ultimately a crutch for the fitness industry. I get it. If we as fitness professionals do this then, if the client or member does not get the results that they intended on it could not possibly be the gym's or trainer's fault.

Too much of anything is no good. Our goal should be to take the minimum dose that is most effective and that is all. No more and no less.

Let's look what happens inside the body during a weight raining session.

Muscle damage happens as enzymes such as creatine kinase, lactate dehyodrogenase, and inflammatory cytokines such as (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, and TNF-α) are released

After all this stress is over with our body then fights to repair, rebuild, and ultimately be bigger and stronger than it was previously. Everything else is just a different way to add stress on the body. Whether it time, frequency, load, rest period, supersets, or type of exercise. It is not better for you. It is not worse for you. It's just muscle confusion.

As long as the muscle action is concentric, eccentric, or isometric muscle damaging will occur and the opportunity to rebuild will be present.

Free radical damage is another result of the weight training process. Free radical damage is inevitable but, too much of this can destroy the mitochondria and DNA cell which will directly affect the protein turnover and inhibit your "gains".

During high intensity workouts we burn our fuel (glucose/sugar). Our glucose is stored in our muscular tissue and liver. As exercise continues our blood glucose level is depleted and our body send out a hormonal signal (increase in cortisol) that we need more energy!

This is where carbohydrates are key in a supplementation program. Post workout is the most optimal time to refuel the body with carbs. I hear a lot of people talking about how carbs are the enemy but, they are definitely a necessity for the body to function properly and to have optimal growth. An inability to properly refuel the body will lead to an increase in inflammation in the body and a decrease in the hormonal response.

Overtraining is labeled with a distinct feature in that it comes with an increase in cortisol and a decrease in pituitary output which ultimately stresses the hormonal response in the body. The pituitary controls the flow of hormones that circulate through the body. If you stress it long enough then constant stress hormones will continue to be put out. This can include muscle growth, reproduction, libido, and brain functionality are all slowed or even shut down.

In conclusion...

Our society wants us to push the idea that more is better in regards to all aspects of life. We need to learn and be smart enough to recognize that the minimal effective of amount of anything should be our desire goal.

Follow, respect, and believe in the science.

In the end science never lies and neither does your body. Check your ego at the door next time and use your head!

To train with Pat or another Right Fit for You Personal Trainer, be sure to visit