So many people fear the idea of over training that they miss so much of their training potential. Yes overtraining can be detrimental, and it could even set you back a month or more. But the likely hood, or a strength or power sport athlete reaching that level is so uncommon the majority of the strength training population doesn’t have to worry. Instead I would encourage people to train even harder. Whether it is through extra volume, or sessions, or exercises added on to your normal training protocol. This sounds like a meatheaded approach at first, just do more (a ton more) and you’ll get better. But that is not exactly what I mean.
What I am saying is that in order for any individual to create a program that will cause the right level of stressors, and the right level of rest and recovery, you must first know what your limit is. The only way to find this out what the limit is, is to have the athletes needs to push their body to the point where they overreach. This is your baseline of maximal recoverable volume at that point. This level of maximal recoverable volume will hopefully change overtime as your training raises your physical abilities. So to understand how to find this out you must understand how the body reacts to increased or changed stressors.
The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) shows us how the body reacts to stressors. At first when the stressor is introduced our ability to fight it and maintain the status quo is lowered, as time goes on our body begins to compensate at which point we enter the resistance phase. If anyone has ever done manual labor the first week or two you cant believe how soar you are, but by week three your body enters the resistance phase and now the ability to resist the disruption of homeostasis is increased, and you can do the same work with far less fatigue. The same goes for training. Remember the first week after a meet your training cycle had you going into hypertrophy. You couldn’t move, sit on a toilet, or lift your arms over your head, but by the end of your four or five week program it wasn’t nearly as bad. This is what is known as the resistance phase of GAS.
Now we can reach a point where we can no longer continue to handle any increase training volume, time under tension, load, or number of sessions because our body eventually goes into the exhaustion phase where our performance and begins to drop. This is where you need to go, this is where over reaching and overtraining will be found. You need to measure how much you were able to withstand, and at what point everything you were doing became too much. You need to know that you can either squat 5 days a week heavy and still not have it interfere with your lifts, or that the most squatting you can do at this point is 3 days and any more become detrimental. How will you know this if you do not push your self there? You and your coach need to know your maximal recoverable volume and be need to be honest about it. That way you do not sit too far below the level of maximal recoverable volume in your daily training, never reaching the point of stimuli’s through overloading your body. When this happens you will see little to no benefit for your work. Good programs will play with your maximal recoverable volume like a kid hopping back and forth over a line a recess. Because staying on either side of the line for too long will stop your progress or even cause you to regress.
So if you haven’t pushed your self for weeks recently to intensities and volumes you had though un sustainable recently I urge you to do so and find that your true maximal recoverable volume. It will also teach you who you are as a person and athlete. That way at your next competition you’ll remember that six or nine attempts is nothing compared to the hundreds or thousands of reps you have put in before in training. You may be surprised with just how much you can actually withstand and even thrive from.