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Strength Training

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When Am I Overtraining?

Over the last 18 years I have been blessed with motivated clients that pursue their goals relentlessly. From young to old alike the desire to reach the summit, to attain nirvana, to accomplish what may seem impossible is what drives them. For others it may be fear. Fear of gaining weight, loss of good health, or in some cases even losing relationships. All of these factors are ones that drive people to do incredible things.

People who are incredibly motivated at times have difficulty drawing the line between a balanced approach and reasonable direction to attaining a goal vs. a move forward at all cost approach. I find that even though most do not intentionally over train or seek imbalance in their approach to their goals, most of are guilty of not listening.

"Listening to what?", you might ask. Well, listening to some of the key indicators our body is giving you every day. The balance of this article will be focus on defining over training, signs of over training, and adjustments for over training.

Defining Over training

Over training begins when imbalance between stress and the bodies' ability to adapt to that stress is not in your favor. In other words, your body can not recover due to interactions between your hypothalamus, endocrine system, central nervous system, and your muscular system.

Types of over training include general over training and local over training. These can further be subdivided into acute "overreaching" and chronic "over training". Furthermore, there is a big difference between exhaustion and over training.

The bodies' ability to recover is effected by the central nervous system and the endocrine system. The central nervous system controls has a direct impact on musculoskeletal performance. The endocrine system complexly controls and impacts a group of glands in your body that release various hormones. These hormones such as Thyroxine, Insulin, Growth Hormone, and Testosterone, etc control cellular function, muscle recovery, bio-engergetics, metabolism, and psychological health.


To further break down over training some researchers further define into two categories we will call category A, and Category B.

Category A is defined by low energy, stagnant progress in strength development, performance and is primarily due to adrenal stress . Due to lack of acute significant pain etc, this is a difficult category to recognize. There are forms of saliva testing etc. that can help determine if this is an issue for you. If you feel tired all the time, are low on motivation, have minimal pain, have a low resting pulse, and recovery time seems longer you might consider this as being an issue if your exercising on a regular basis and these issues are not improving or are getting worse. Visit for more information on Adrenal stress and its' effect on your health.

Category B tends to be associated with thyroid hyperactivity. This hyperactivity mainly impacts the Central nervous system and is more easily recognized. Typically this is characterized by localized muscle soreness that is not relieved by rest of 1-3 days.

Exhaustion during activity is simply a structural and bio-energetic stress that still allows adequate recovery and adaptation for the energy systems, hormonal systems, nervous system, and cellular function.

Signs of Category A include the following:

  • Diastolic blood pressure 100mm Hg or greater during and after exercise
  • Coordination impaired
  • Increase in tiredness
  • Resting pulse is low
  • Minimal muscle soreness
  • Slight loss of motivation

Signs of Category B include the following:

  • Increased reaction time
  • Decrease in Lean Body Mass
  • Low endurance
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Elevated pulse
  • Reduced appetite
  • Abnormal breathing rate
  • Pronounced, prolonged muscle sourness
  • Tendency for headaches, colds, fever blisters etc..
  • Nervousness, poor motivation, anxiety, or depression

So this is all great. Now we know what over training is and how to recognize it! My next article will discuss restoration and recovery. The different methods of restoration are designed to assist in moving you to be healthy and vital! Mean while keep moving and make sure your listening to the feedback your body is giving you.
Recovery and Restoration

So, now we know there are different types of overtraining. Well lets' explore how the restoration process works! Restoration starts with recognizing the type of overtraining such as Type A parasympathetic (adrenal) or Type B sympathetic overtraining. Once you have determined this (you may need help figuring this out) you may begin to chart a course for recovery.

There are three main means of restoration. They are as follows: 1) Pedagogical/coaching, 2) Biological/medical and 3) Psychological. Big words, little meaning at this point, right? Well, let's break down what is involved in each.

1) Pedagogical coaching represents using a coaching system that involves per iodization and or a method which manipulates all variables of training. Variables such as length of a phase of training, or intensity, volume, rest periods and type of individual workouts. Without extensive reading this is what a personal trainer is generally does in program preparation. Your periodization program may need tweeks along the way to your goal. External circumstances such as work, nutrition, sleep, other stressors can impact the overall result.

2) Medical means such as Chiropractic, pharmacological (under direction of your physician), Psychiatric, Surgical, Nutritional, or combinations thereof generally require seeking advice of a professional. As the athlete, fitness enthusiast, or weekend athlete you need to be ready to accept advice.

3) Psychological means or methods either self administered such as biofeedback, or therapist administered can be the key to success. You first need to respect your injury or condition and accept your not infallible. Then, you can move forward to healing.

The medical and psychological means are beyond the scope that I should discuss in detail. It is best if needed to seek advise of a qualified sports medicine professional such as a family practice sports medicine doctor. Did you know they exist. Yes, family medicine sports medicine doctors do exist. So, seek them out as needed for injury management. Additionally, psychological therapies can include things such as hypnosis, autogenic training, visualization, and other psychotherapy recommendations.

Next we need to discuss the many physical means of restoration. Active physical means of restoration include massage, PNF stretching, Acupressure, Tai Chi, Yoga, etc. Inactive methods include activities such as massage, trigger point therapy, aromatherapy, progressive relaxation, meditation or breathing regimes.

Proper nutrition and nutrient timing is significant in the recovery process. Intake of a balanced snack including adequate protein within 45 min. of working out is critical to maintaining lean body tissue. This could be with a whole food meal or supplementation. If you have food allergies or digestive conditions you may need to seek the advice of a Registered Dietitian to form an appropriate plan.

So, how and when should you restorerecover. Try evaluating yourself weekly and logging how you feel in a diary, pda or training software. Choose one of the following categories:

1) No muscle pain 2-3 days past a workout (typical delayed onset muscle soreness)

2) Minor prolonged muscle or joint pain

3) Definite prolonged muscle pain, spasm, abnormal tightness or disturbance

4) Acute illness, injury or condition

Category one requires no immediate interventions. Continue to follow your periodization plan and utilize active recovery built into the program.

Category two may require more self myofacial release (foam rolling), or Jamba release. Seeking a massage and evaluating nutrition, hydration etc. is helpful. Contrast methods such as hydrotherapy techniques of sitting in warm vs. cool water can be helpful.

Category three may require time off 2-3 days or more from moderate to high intensity exercise. Also consider seeking medical advice or assistance. Follow suggestions for category two if allowed by physician, chiropractor, or therapist.

Category four require seeking rehabilitative recommendations followed with a corrective exercise regimen that rebuilds tissue integrity, strength and endurance.

Finally, if you choose to work with a trainer, massage therapist, physician, chiropractor or other such professional, make sure you can effectively relate to that person. You want to seek someone who can listen to you and make an appropriate educated and logical approach to healing. Be well, find time to restore and listen to your body.
How fast can I gain lean body mass?

The million dollar question many people want to know... , " how fast can I gain Lean Body Mass?" (LBM). First it helps to understand what LBM represents. LBM represents anything that is not fat in our body. Muscle tissue, fascia, bone tissue, arteries, organs etc. all make up LBM. Plain and simple, body fat makes up the rest. Yes our bodies do have different kinds of fat that make up our total body fat.

Most research, both scientific and anecdotal, seems to suggest for a novice weight lifter approximately 1 lb. of LBM can be gained per week for the first 12-16 weeks of periodized training. Periodization is a method of program design and organization that breaks up training into hypertrophy, strength, power and active recovery phases.

I have seen in my 16 plus years of experience, some people do better than this and others not as well. A good training plan goes a long way. However, proper nutrition makes an even greater impact on the results of a strength training program. The following are good points regarding every day nutrition:

1) Eat and drink within 1 hour of waking up. It does not matter if this is early in the am or pm with your schedule.

2) Make sure your eating enough calories for your body needs. I highly recommend getting your resting metabolic rate measured and use that to guide your caloric intake. Keep in mind many leaner individuals will require more carbohydrates to maintain LBM.

3) The minimum amount of protein required is around 1.4 grams per kilogram of body wt. Try to spread the amount out evenly through the day!

4) Avoid junk food. Allow 2-3 freebies per day in this category and realize that this is only pleasing your mind. Pop, chips, candy, and other processed sugars do not aid in your goal and in excess, will be detrimental.

5) Maintain hydration. A quick method to determine fluid intake is to divide your body weight by 2 and that equals the fluid oz. of water, milk, juice you should consume.

6) Finally, eat within 30-45 min of exercise. This should include 6-10gms of protein and 30-60 gms of carbohydrates.

Supplements can aid those with busy schedules in reaching their goals. Utilizing whole foods will always be a more effective way of reaching your nutrition goals!

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