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The Outdoor Athlete Book by Courtenay and Doug Schurman

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More Training Info > Overtraining


Q: I've been working out harder and harder, lifting 5 days a week, but seem to have stopped making progress in my strength training. What's going on?

A: If you are working the same body parts over and over, without adequate rest, it's very likely that you are overtraining, doing additional damage to the body and regressing, rather than making additional progress. Remember that the body requires at least 48 hours to repair itself following an intense strength workout, whether you are lifting heavy weights, doing power sprints (for the runner or cyclist) or connecting a series of dynamic moves (in the climbing gym). Even if you have a 7-day workout rotation such as Legs on Day 1, Chest on Day 2, Back on Day 3, rest, Core and Lower Back on Day 4, Arms on Day 5, and 2 more days of rest, you are challenging the nervous system with each and every workout. You might also want to consider other variables.

Take a look at the length of each workout. If your strength workouts frequently exceed an hour, try to limit them to 45 minutes or so. This will make your workouts more efficient, you'll be forced to work harder for a shorter period of time, and you won't be breaking down the muscle tissue you're trying so hard to build, past that "magical hour mark." Try adding supersets, working opposing muscle groups back and forth, so you can shorten your workouts but still get in quality work.

You might also consider having some sort of carbohydrate drink while you do your workouts, such as Gatorade, to replenish lost glycogen stores. Finally, take a look back through your training logs to see when was the last time you had a week completely off from weight training. You'd be amazed by how much stronger your body will be if you just allow it the proper rest and recovery it needs periodically.


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