Workout Tips

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Don't mistake insanity for diligence. Going overboard with your weight training may keep you from reaching your goals in the gym.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Bringing the Over Under (Control)

The first step toward getting your overtrained wreck of a body growing again is recognizing the symptoms. After that, getting back on track is easier than you might think. "Overtraining is not caused in a day, nor can it be cured in a day," Peña says. "That's why it's very important to allow ample time for recovery. This could mean taking several days, even weeks, off from the gym. This doesn't mean zero activity, but staying away from heavy, intense lifting is key. Outdoor activities, a change in scenery and lighter activity can aid in the recovery process."

You are, as always, what you eat, and the quality and timing of your meals are important factors in preventing and coming back from overtraining. "This means eating enough of the right kinds of foods, even splurging more than someone is used to, allow the mind a mental break from the pressure of trying to achieve perfection, not to mention the physical results that will follow," Peña says.

"Diet is a very important factor in preventing overtraining," Stoppani agrees. "Those who eat properly before and after their workouts are at much less risk of overtraining because these meals help the body recover faster and much more thoroughly."

So don't forget your 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of slow-burning carbs before workouts. And don't even think about missing your 40—60 grams of whey protein and 40—60 grams of fast-digesting carbs after training. If you work out like a maniac and miss these key windows for nutrition, you're begging to hit a wall.

Overtraining is -- as the Marines in the movie Jarhead referred to the Iraqi desert—"The Big Suck" for lifters. For you, progress in the weight room is a passion, and you're willing to put yourself through the ringer to pursue it. But going overboard too often or for too long is a sure way to interrupt your gains. The trick, then, is to temper your enthusiasm and periodize your weight training, alternating 6—8-week bouts of intense, heavy lifting with 6—8 weeks of more moderate sessions. Keep that in mind when you start up any of the programs in this or any other issue of muscle & fitness.

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