What Is The Difference Between Gain Weight And Gaining Muscle The Difference Between Overtraining and Overloading the Muscle

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The Difference Between Overtraining and Overloading the Muscle

Back in my early days when I just started at the age of 16 and weighing around 9 stone, I used to train 5 – 6 days a week with incredible intensity. In fact, I would literally push myself to failure on every set I did. The reason was that it didn’t feel like I had worked the muscle when I knew I had more in the tank. Of course, at that age you don’t stop to think about the physiological effects of pushing yourself to the limit day in and day out and what that can do to your recovery.

I always compare it to driving a car; if you buy a car and redline it everywhere, after a few weeks it will be all but knacker. The same is true for your body. However, many people are still confused about the difference between overtraining and overloading. This article will try to address this confusion so that you become better at understanding how your training should evolve over time.

Remember that one of the keys to getting bigger and stronger is the progressive increase in microtrauma in the muscle. That means you have to add more weight to the bar over time, otherwise the stimulus isn’t big enough to elicit the anabolic effect you’re looking for. The length of time it takes to make an increase in weight depends largely on the standard of the athlete.

Beginners can add weight every week, or even multiple times a week, however Olympic athletes have 4 year cycles to achieve new personal records to connect with the Olympics. The thing to remember is that if you lift 20kg more than you do now on each of your lifts in 6 months, you will be bigger (assuming you eat enough!).

The previous paragraph serves as an introduction to the main point in this article. Overtraining and overloading are completely different things. One can be beneficial to your training regimen, while the other can be hugely detrimental. One is a short-term state, while the other is long-term and requires significant time to recover.

So, what is the difference?

Overloading is a short period of time where you push your body really hard. So for example in a periodization routine (double factor), it is common place for the athlete to overload for the first four or five weeks of the eight or nine week cycle. The overload phase consists of medium to high volume and high intensity that puts your body under stress that it could not withstand for longer periods, but for short periods of four or five weeks.

Overloading can be extremely useful because in an overloaded state, your body’s fatigue wears off much faster than the strength gains obtained from the overload phase. Therefore, the athlete can have one week of deloading before lifting with low volume and high intensity for new maxes at the end of the cycle. The athlete can then rest, play and repeat; every time hit a max at the end of the phase.

Overtraining on the other hand is much more serious and when your body is put under undue stress for too long. Overtraining would be the result of too long overload; for a period like 10 weeks or so. If you​​​​​​are in an overtrained state, you may need to rest for 2 – 3 weeks for your body to fully recover, your lifts will be down and you will find it difficult to sleep at night. These are the most common symptoms.

To summarize, there is absolutely no harm in going hard and heavy and wearing your body down as long as you pay attention to the time scales. Overloading for 4 weeks can have an incredible effect on your strength and subsequent big gains. If you overload and get into an overtrained state for too long, then you are headed for chronic fatigue, injuries and a few weeks of no training. I hope this post has cleared up some misconceptions about “overtraining”. The term is thrown around all too often in bodybuilding circles and in completely the wrong context. See you in the squat rack.

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