Last Updated on October 31, 2019

Is overtraining a myth? We usually expect a reward comparable with our work. The harder you work, the higher the expectations of the prize. Work harder to develop your business or get promoted? Practice longer and more diligently and you will achieve better results in your discipline.

Sports training – and especially weightlifting – are slightly different, however. There is a moment when increasing physical effort actually becomes overtraining. At this point, overtraining is not a myth anymore…


Most people are aware that not always is more is better. But hardly anyone is aware of how easy it is to overtrain or how to notice it in time. You can see it in every gym. Guys training long forever the same muscle groups, repeating sets after sets. They can’t understand why their muscles are not growing, and strength remains at the same level for the next weeks after weeks, despite exhausting workouts. 

Their common myth is that the more work you put into the development of chest muscles, the more it grows. The more sets you repeat aiming the biceps, the more T-shirts will hold your arms, exposing the huge muscles.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The body can take a lot, but at some point, there is an easy way to get the overtraining syndrome.

Dorian Yates was a six-time Mr. Olympia champion. He is well known for his enormous size, strength, and authority in bodybuilding. Such a man has certainly been overtrained several times on the way to achieve his successes. Contrary to popular myth, however, this great bodybuilder claims that overtraining is not a myth at all. Listen what Dorian Yates says about overtraining and how to avoid it:

Dorian Yates, six-times Mr. Olympia, speaks about overtraining


Overtraining is an accumulation of stress related to training and/or non-training, which results in a long-term decrease in performance with associated physiological and psychological symptoms. Once overtrained it may take several weeks or even months to restore full fitness performance.

The most common side effects of excessive training load are chronic fatigue, depression, lack or deterioration of athletic performance.

However, the symptoms of overtraining are not always so obvious. There are many other signs of overtraining that you should know about to be able to stop training at the right time before you get to the point where you need long, sometimes weeks, and even months of recovery.


It’s very important to be able to recognize the difference between overtraining and overreaching.

Overtraining as we defined before is defined as an accumulation of stress related to training and/or non-training, resulting in a long-term decline in performance with associated physiological and psychological symptoms and symptoms of overtraining, in which it may take several weeks to even months to restore fitness.

Overreaching is a temporary condition that occurs in response to heavy or intense training. Overreaching occurs when an athlete undergoes hard training, but with enough recovery, while overtraining occurs when an athlete trains intensively, but without sufficient regeneration.

In the case of overreaching, a decrease in performance can be resolved in a few days or weeks, but overtraining can be a long process that lasts from several weeks to several months.

  • Functional overreaching – a short-term drop in performance that can lead to improved performance after a short rest period.
  • Non-functional overreaching – a short-term drop in performance that can be fully recovered after a long rest period (a week or more), but this does not improve performance.
  • Overtraining – a prolonged decrease in performance, which requires a few weeks, even several months of rest for full recovery.


If there is only one symptom, it does not necessarily mean that you are overtrained. However, if you experience several, you need to pay more attention to the balance between training and rest.

You will probably need to reduce your training load and ensure a good balance between training and rest and recovery. If the symptoms do not disappear after a week or more, it is recommended to visit a specialist for an accurate diagnosis.

Is overtraining a myth?



When your body is overtrained, you will not be able to lift the weights that you usually do. You will feel a decrease in energy and strength, making it difficult or even impossible to finish your sets of exercises. Despite your daily visits to the gym, you will feel weaker, slower and more lethargic.


Usually, when hormones are in balance, fat loss is simply a matter of increasing energy expenditure relative to calorie intake, but when you are overtrained, this is no longer true. Testosterone levels decrease and cortisol levels increase, which causes catabolism (breakdown of muscle tissue) and increases insulin resistance and fat storage. Final result? You train harder and watch your diet carefully, but you gain fat.


  • Slow heart rate recovery after training
  • Very high resting heart rate
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Abnormal heartbeat, palpitations
  • Emotional instability and nervousness
  • Poor sleep quality, restless sleep
  • Reduced attention and concentration
  • Anxiety and unreasonable fear
  • Excessive sweating during activities or training
  • Low motivation and interest in training
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • decrease in libido

If you ignore above signals coming from the body and continue intensive training, there may be further signs of overload and overtraining, which will further slow down the ability to regenerate:

  • Low resting heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Shortness of breath, shortness of breath
  • Quick fatigue during exercise
  • Drowsiness and lethargy
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Decreased immunity


Overtraining is caused by a lack of balance between training and rest and recovery. By overloading the body with excessive effort and at the same time not giving it enough rest, you are exposed to various unforeseen and undesirable effects.

A decrease in performance during strength training can be caused by three factors:

  • Central nervous system fatigue
  • Metabolic fatigue
  • Muscle damage

The effects of fatigue on the central nervous and metabolic systems are very short-lived and last for a few hours at most.

Hence, the conclusion that a decrease in strength lasting longer than 24 hours is caused by muscle damage.

Overload, as opposed to overtraining, is a normal training process in which you take another workout before the muscle damage caused by previous training is completely repaired.



There are no such people who, without taking drugs, are able to lift weights, run or participate in intense workouts every day of the week and still recover properly. Unless you have the Hulk endocrine system, it is absolutely necessary to reduce your training intensity at least two days a week and plan at least one day a week with absolutely no exercise.

A good idea is weight lifting from Monday to Friday and cardio training from Sunday to Tuesday or Wednesday. Thanks to this, Saturday is a day of complete rest.

An example of a weekly training schedule may look like this:

  • Day 1: Weights
  • Day 2: Masses and cardio training
  • Day 3: Cardio only
  • Day 4: Weights and cardio training
  • Day 5: Masses and cardio training
  • Day 6: Weights
  • Day 7: Full rest

You can freely modify this schedule, provided that you keep two days a week free of weights and one day completely free from training. If you want to speed up your metabolism a bit, don’t take two full rest days in a row.


Getting enough sleep is a key element in preventing overtraining. Seven to eight hours a day is considered optimal. Remember that the main processes related to increasing the body’s efficiency take place during sleep. If you don’t give your body the right amount of sleep, the effects of hard work in the gym will be lost.


The last key element is a proper diet that fully provides the body with everything it needs for self-repair. You need to provide the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Usually, a well-balanced diet provides the right amount of all the ingredients you need, but it’s a good idea to supplement your diet with the right supplements and nutrients for those who train weightlifting.

The body is such a self-healing machine. You just need to provide him with the right amount of training, rest and nutrients.

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