Even after all of the lengthy discussions based on scientific results, overtraining is still one of the hottest issues in bodybuilding. Is it real, or is it just another myth? Should we see it as an extreme medical condition or simply toss it away altogether? It’s true that some people feel like they’ve over-trained when they have only severely fatigued their muscles, which is kind of the point of a heavy workout, but what about the muscle loss caused by long periods of heavy training sessions with little time for recovery in between? In the hopes of demystifying this phenomenon, we looked for guidance from one of the ultimate legends of this sport as we know it – Arnold Schwarzenegger. What does the Austrian Oak have to say about it? Read to find out.
You mean undertraining, right?
Schwarzenegger’s view on modern bodybuilding training routines is that they’re a bit of a joke, compared to the level of bodybuilding effort that was typical during his glory days.
In other words, even if someone has a great training program, if their execution is lousy and unmotivated, they will leave the gym with a lot less than optimal results and their progress will be undoubtedly slow. We’re talking about having poorly organized workouts that fail to target the muscles whose growth is supposed to be emphasized, taking way too long breaks and ending the session before reaching a decent amount of fatigue. In Schwarzenegger’s opinion, in today’s gyms, cases of undertraining are far more common than cases of overtraining.
Still, overtraining does exist
Back in the day, bodybuilders weren’t really familiar with the concept of overtraining – when Schwarzenegger and his training buddies felt especially run-down after a period of hard training, they would simply take few days off the gym to allow their bodies to fully recover. They didn’t waste a single thought on the supposed complexity of such a condition and usually came back even stronger.
This is because real overtraining is not a very common thing – in fact, it’s very difficult to overtrain. The guys who have a potential to overtrain are usually those who engage in long, strenuous sessions seven days per week or are preparing for a competition with a combination of rigorous dieting and extra heavy training routines. In such cases, overtraining can really happen and lead to serious damages in terms of mass and strength. But for all others, it’s almost impossible, and modern bodybuilders should focus on training harder instead of worrying about their potential for overtraining.
How to recover
If you notice that your muscles are constantly sore and fatigued, and you don’t seem able to make any real progress in your training, there is a decent chance that you’ve overtrained.
However, there’s no need to make a big deal out of it. Simply take a longer break off the gym, make some adjustments in your program and then perhaps try taking a “deload” week during which you should handle lighter weights than usual. Even if you haven’t overtrained, Schwarzenegger suggests having one week of lighter training (or being completely off the gym) every six weeks. This will allow your body to recover properly, prevent possible overtraining and let you come back revitalized and motivated. And that’s pretty much it.
Now go pump some iron – and don’t be afraid to push your limits. According to the Austrian Oak, it’s better to be sore for a week than chronically underdeveloped.