Monday, 7 November 2011

Overtraining, Overloading & Intensity

Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.  Overtraining may be accompanied by one or more of the follow symptoms;
  • ·      Persistent muscle soreness
  • ·      Persistent fatigue
  • ·      Elevated resting heart rate
  • ·      Reduced heart rate variability
  • ·      Increased susceptibility to infections
  • ·      Increased incidence of injuries
  • ·      Irritability
  • ·      Depressions
  • ·      Mental breakdown

 Test for Overtraining (Orthostatic Test)
·      Wearing a HR monitor, lie down for 10min.  check HR and then stand up. At 15sec after standing up check HR again
·      Check again at 2min

Studies have shown that the standing HR at 2min is elevated when overtrained.

·      A simpler test is to check your HR when you wake up in the morning, before getting up.  An increase in Resting HR in the morning over a few days recording can be a sign of Overtraining.


·      Wear a HR monitor whilst sleeping and record average HR for this period, a bit uncomfortable, an increase in average sleeping HR will show signs of Overtraining.

Overloading simply means going over the load you performed prior. "Load" typically refers to weight. It can, however, be one of any number of training parameters.
·      Load
·      Time under tension/Tempo
·      Repetitions
·      Sets
·      Range of Motion
·      Leverage

With us being involved in Endurance a lot of this Overloading will be more to do with Cardio Training;
·      Distance
·      Time
·      Elevation
·      Terrain
·      Pace

As a result of these imposed “overloading” session the body will start to react, increasing its ability to cope with these loads.  However “adaptation” occurs during the recovery period, after the training session is completed.  So on this note I will raise a statement of misconception :-

“exercise stress does not create fitness,
Exercise creates the potential for fitness”

Fitness is not realized until you rest following exercise.  The best type of rest is sleep , during sleep the body releases growth hormone to build a more fit body.  What exercise does it creates fatigue and we view fatigue as something we need to defeat and be removed, that will never happen.  Fatigue is there to stop yourself from doing too much damage to your body.  Without it you would exercise yourself to the point of tearing muscles, fracturing bones, and even killing yourself.

Short-term fatigue can take place over a period of a training session, however long-term fatigue is an effect over a number of weeks of training sessions (2/3 weeks).  This long-term fatigue is not totally understood, but may be as simple as low levels of glycogen, or as complex as neuromuscular or hormonal shift.  The way to avoid this is to follow the principals of hard-easy training cycles.

Hard Training days, high HR zones or long-duration workouts in low HR Zones – should be followed by easy days (Zone 1 or complete rest)

A balance between Volume and Intensity is the wise approach to create the stress I training program. A little fatigue on the body is a good thing, to allow fitness to occur sooner.  What happens too often in athletes is that they decide to do more, the fatigue becomes insidious.  So the athlete continues to push hard, ignoring the need for rest, overtraining sets in. 
Do not take Overtraining lightly

It’s about the Quality, Not Quantity
Intensity and Volume are something that needs to be looked at subject to the athlete, there is a correct blend and a lot of it is through trial and error where it fits for you.  To understand Intensity you are going to need to grasp the concept of Lactate Threshold LT.

Intensity Zones, how hard am I working, how hard should I be working ? 
Hear Rate, Power, Speed, Time, Increased Resistance, these are the main forms of  increasing or decreasing Intensity.  HR and Power can be linked linearly with each other, so training within the Lactate Threshold Zone.  The point at which Lactate starts to build up, the longer you can exercise within this zone the better.  However we want  to increase this level and we do this by pushing over the top of the LT on intervals/set/reps and then recover between them, and then REST after the session.

This is just an initial insight into Overtraining, Overloading and Intensity,  I feel there is a big connection between these 3.  As a result of this we do need to listen to our body, act and respond to what we are feeling.  Everyone is different, aiming for different distances, goals, times and just remember that it is not only the physical effects but also psychological effects.  Commitments from outside of training, family, work, studies etc