So a reader recently pointed me to a video claiming that overtraining was a myth. The point being made is that more work = better results. Basically, the old ‘more is better‘ mantra.
Watch his short 1 minute video here…
The video is by CT Fletcher, many of you will have heard of him. I went on to watch a few of his videos and I quite like the guy; I just strongly disagree with this particular message. Let me explain why…
In a nutshell, CT’s argument arises from experience i.e. “It worked for me and some others I know, so it will work for you”.
But giving examples of people DOES NOT WORK. Anecdotes DON’T WORK. It’s not science.
Just because you know someone means nothing to the majority of guys and girls with average or less-than-average genetics for building muscle.
Pay attention to this example…
Let’s look at swimmers. It’s a good illustration for what could be called accelerated “natural selection”. Dr. Doug McGuff does an awesome job of explaining this in his book ‘Body By Science‘ by the way – a fantastic read!
Now, have you ever heard of the term “swimmer’s body”? They all kinda look the same.
- Tall/Long Torso
- Broad(ish) shoulders
- Long arms
- V-shaped torso
- Flat abdomen
- Muscle definition (but not much size)
People therefore think that if they train like a swimmer, they will look like a swimmer.
Sounds logical, right? But it’s nonsense. Time for the natural selection part…
Thousands upon thousands of kids take up swimming at a young age. After some time, the kids with bodies and genetics that are not suited to the sport perform poorly and drop out.
Advance a decade or 2 and now look at the guys and girls that make it to professional level. They all look the same. Why? The demands of the sport plays natural selection and selects only those who are capable of reaching that level.
Again, only those with the correct genetic deck of cards will ever reach that kind of status. And only these people can perform at the very top level.
So if 100 people train like a swimmer will they get a swimmer’s body? Nope.
- If 100 people take CT Fletcher’s advice and train like him, will they get his results? Nope.
- If 100 people train like pro bodybuilders, will they look like pro bodybuilders? Nope.
- Heck, even pro bodybuilders themselves wouldn’t make the progress they make without the obscene amount of drugs they take to counteract overtraining.
So now let me explain what overtraining actually is…
Muscle growth is BI-PHASIC. This means that 2 separate phases are required and are equally important.
The workout itself does not ‘PRODUCE’ growth. If it did, then you couldn’t overtrain and you could simply train all day and keep growing ad infinitum.
But a workout merely ‘STIMULATES’ growth. The production occurs in the rest period after the workout has ended. The body does this all by itself; you just need to rest and eat.
So our 2 phases are:
- Stimulation (a catabolic or break-down activity)
- Production (an anabolic or build-up activity)
Anabolism is triggered by catabolism. The production takes time, just like building anything takes time.
What do you think would happen if you trained the same muscle again before the production (recovery and growth) phase was completed? You’d short-circuit your gains. A muscle stops recovering when it’s worked.
And if you trained again way too soon, you’d gain absolutely nothing and get nowhere – even if you were in the gym every day for a year! So this is a serious topic.
Here’s a diagram I created to explain this process…
If you train at point (1), you’ll then dip into recovery for a while i.e. the catabolic activity of training has created a deficit and muscle fibers need to be repaired and hopefully thickened. This takes a little time!
After some time, you will get 100% of the gains stimulated by the workout i.e. you come up above baseline and have overcompensated (grown). I coined the phrase “Peak Overcompensation Point” (POP) to describe this point in time. This is the ideal point at which to hit the same muscle again.
Hit it before then, while the body is still in recovery, and you will actually get nowhere. Seriously.
Hit it too long after the POP and the muscle will have already started to atrophy (get smaller again). Your gains will be less than optimal.
How much time?…
Studies (like the frequency project, which I will talk about in later articles) and experience show that you can work the whole body about 3 times per week, doing ~2 sets to failure per workout.
If you want to do a split routine, you can do 8, maybe 10 sets to failure, for each body part, train 5 days a week leaving 5-7 days between same-body-part workouts.
Some people with crazy genetics can do a lot more volume, and train more frequently. The rest of us…can’t.
Simply put, the more volume you do, the longer the recovery necessity to fully produce those gains. This is training smart.
THT training is free and incorporates all this knowledge and puts it into one easy to understand and execute program. You can get the same results as these guys and girls. Just pop your email below and you will be taken to the download page (no need to go to your email and confirm anything – just instant access to the program).
Before I go, I’d like to share another of CT’s videos If you watch from 3:50, he seems to admit that overtraining is real and not to attempt to do what he does.
NOTE: I tweeted to CT. It would be nice to get his (respectful) response.
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