CT Fletcher on Overtraining

1 04 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time that I introduced you to CT Fletcher. Who is CT Fletcher you ask? Aside from being one of the physically strongest men to ever walk to planet, it is truly his mental toughness and outlook that set him apart. We live in a society where excuses are often misinterpreted as legitimate reasons for laziness and failure, but CT Fletcher sets the record straight. He tells it like it is, and more people need to hear his tough love message.

Disclaimer: If you find vulgar language to be offensive, you may want to avoid the following videos. Although I suggest you get over it, toughen up, and take it for what it’s worth.

CT on overtraining:

Who is CT Fletcher?:

If you took the time to watch these two videos, you will understand why his message resonates with me. We are all in control of our own individual outcomes in this world, and are ultimately the only people in control of our own health and quality of life. Excuses and results are mutually exclusive, and the sooner we all recognize this, the sooner we’ll get where we want to go. Get motivated, and get after it!



Overtraining? More Like Under-recovering.

21 03 2013


Have you ever gone to the gym so often that you start to feel run-down and your performance begins to lag? Many fitness experts will hear this and diagnose you as having overtrained, but this is a concept that I’d like to clarify. I typically go to the gym 4 times per week, and I’ve been doing this for the good part of a decade. I train primarily for strength, and my workouts tend to be quite intense. Back in my mid-20s I often started to feel very worn-out, and simply chalked it up to the concept of overtraining, as I’d read that too much training can lead to compromised results. Wikipedia defines overtraining as:

A physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.

This is all good and well, but personal experience, as well as the experience of other strength training friends of mine, tells me that overtraining is blown out of proportion and is most often a simple excuse used by individuals looking to take a break from the gym. Don’t get me wrong, we all get tired and I often take “deload” weeks where I limit the volume and/or intensity of my training, but only when dictated by my schedule.  Back in my mid-20s when I often felt worn-out, I wasn’t eating properly, I didn’t have regular sleeping patterns and I was partying far too much. I wasn’t overtraining. I was clearly under-recovering; and there is a big difference between the two.

I was going to write a more extensive piece on this topic, but it has been covered quite well in other articles on the web. Take a gander at these two articles from EliteFit Blog and Lift Big Eat Big on the topic.Undereating_Feature-330x330

Let me break it down for you quickly. Is it possible to overtrain? Absolutely it is- but you’ve got to have a pretty exceptional lifestyle to make this happen. Unless you are an elite athlete, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that you are overtraining. The human body is an incredible thing and under the right circumstances can adequately handle an amazing amount of stress.

In order to overtrain, you’ll need to first have all other aspects of your life in check:

– You have regular sleeping patterns of at least 8 solid hours of sleep per night

– You eat a clean, nutritious diet

– You properly time your nutrients, replenishing amino acids and glycogen stores post-training

– You mobilize and take measures to help your muscles recover on off days

– You have little-to-no external stressors in your life

If you meet all of these criteria, but are experiencing fatigue, disinterest and compromised performance, you are likely overtraining.  If you do not have these criteria covered (like the rest of the world), you are almost surely under-recovering. Don’t go to the gym 6 times per week, eat like a slob, sleep 4 hours each night and claim to be overtrained. There are a large number of factors in life that can hold you back from achieving your peak training performance, but overtraining is at the most extreme end of the scale. I would actually venture to say that the majority of people who go to the gym 3-4 times a week (and actually push themselves) under-recover to some degree. Hey, life is busy, we have stress, sometimes it’s tough to eat right and get a good night’s sleep. But please don’t come to me and tell me that it’s too much time at the gym that’s causing your problems!

The idea is to tailor your physical training appropriately for your lifestyle. If you can’t get 8 hours of sleep per night, you might want to avoid having too many intense workouts. If you can’t maintain a proper diet, you can’t expect your muscles to adequately recover. Now that I have my nutrition and sleep patterns in check (for the most part), I find that I can train like crazy 4 times a week and continue to see results. When my schedule gets hectic and my nutrition and sleep patterns are compromised, my training takes a hit. I’d be lying if I said that I always tailor my training to match my schedule, but I’m trying to be more responsible (I often try to power through a crazy schedule and maintain my workout program, but eventually I have to take a week to concentrate on recovery).

Long story short, overtraining should most often be seen as under-recovering, and instead of taking a week off from the gym, people should concentrate their efforts on improving their diets, sleep patterns and general recovery techniques. It’s easy to find excuses, but excuses won’t lead to progress!

For more information on how to improve recovery from workouts, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!