As coaches, our primary focus is teaching correct movement. However, our true job as coaches goes beyond just teaching and queuing movement. We need to help our clients to understand all the factors that involve training optimally. This includes relationships, work, stressors, school, alcohol, etc., which is why I think it is good for us to be able to explain why sometimes training less or taking a rest day is beneficial. Let’s talk about overtraining.
Too much training is classified into two types: overreaching and overtraining. Overreaching is the first phase of overtraining and is more easily reversed. Overreaching is unusual muscle soreness that occurs when an athlete does not allow for a sufficient amount of recovery time between hard workouts. This usually occurs after several consecutive days of hard training.
Overtraining occurs when an athlete ignores the signs of overreaching and continues to train. Many athletes believe that weakness or poor performance signals the need for even harder training. So, they continue to push themselves. This only breaks down the body further. It is very difficult to recover from overtraining and can require much more time off. Identifying overreaching early is important.
Athletes are more susceptible to breakdown and overtraining if there are other stressors present in their lives: work, school, relationships, etc. An athlete should use “downtime” from training to work on evaluating and balancing these other important aspects of life.
Beyond soreness, there are other clues that you may be overtraining – here is a good article with nine identifiers
If I suspect that a client is in danger of overtraining, I like to ask them a few questions that will help them come to their own conclusion. These are questions such as:
How many times have you worked out in the past month?
Have you noticed any changes to your body or changes in your performance that are not beneficial?
How has your sleep been?
How much water do you drink a day?
How is your diet?
Once I ask these questions, more often than not members begin to realize their bodies can’t handle the amount of work they are putting in without the recovery.
As a good “negotiation”, I like to explain that just coming to the Monday, Wednesday and Friday class workouts with low intensity and with rest days in between for a period of time will suffice as they begin to recover and see gains.
We don’t see many of our members fall into this category but as we grow, we attract more and more athletes and clients who want to get stronger and healthier. With this being said, many of them will first think they have to work out A LOT. Our class program is sufficient and, with a proper diet, they will get to their goals. No need for hours of cardio/workouts every day!
Here are a few good podcasts that follow this subject if you’d like to learn more –