Overtraining is a common phrase thrown around in the workout world. A lot of people worry about this, and fear they are training too much. But in most cases, that is not the problem. In fact, there is something worse we should be thinking about instead of overtraining.

Recently, on Facebook, someone asked me:

Is it okay to workout intensely five times per week? How do you know if you’re overtraining and how important are the days off?

I get a lot of overtraining questions and the truth is most people are a long, long way from overtraining. It’s not necessarily the workouts in the gym that are making them sick or making them run down, it’s really their life, their lifestyle, and their nutrition which cannot support their stress and exercise habits.

In general I really think that the phrase “overtraining” is overused.  The real concern with training five, six, or seven days a week is OVERUSE INJURY.  It cause sore elbows, bad knees, lower back problems, and shoulder problems. Its’s not because your overtraining. If you’re training five, six, or seven days per week and never giving your muscles, your joints and tendons a chance to recover you are going to end up with overuse injuries, like a baseball player who throws a baseball every day.

Overuse injuries are much more common than overtraining injuries and that’s the real problem. So, the bottom line is not to worry about overtraining, worry about overuse injury. Don’t go and design your own program, unless you’re a professional.

What you should be doing is finding a program that gets you amazing results in three to four days per week. You can train the shoulder joint three to four-day a week, but give the shoulder joint some time off. That’s the biggest problem when it comes to muscle building programs.

When I was a kid, I was training six days per week, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone who was smart, unlike me, that I ended up with shoulder problems. I was doing bench press on Monday, then training on my back muscles on Tuesday, that’s two days in a row hitting my shoulders.

Then I would do legs on Wednesday, and if you’re doing squats you’re putting stress on your shoulder. Next I would train my shoulders; I guess it was called a shoulders shrugs back then, moving on to upper back on Thursday. Once again putting stress the shoulder joint.

Friday’s I was training my arms, hitting that shoulder joint again. Then Saturday’s, whatever the heck I was doing, it could have been abs or something, maybe I wasn’t training the shoulder joint that day too.

Five days in a row of shoulder joint training it’s not a surprise that someone would end up with bad shoulders. So, overuse injury is the big deal not overtraining. That is why most of the my programs are only three days per week. Some of them are four days per week, but an upper and lower so that you get a lot less activity on certain joints during that split.

Next up….An interesting study on Green Tea.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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