Everybody who works out has heard this at least once in their life: BRO, you’re OVERTRAINING right now! YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE YOUR GAINS!
I, for one, have a friend that yells at me if I am ever at the gym longer than 60 minutes. Thinking that magically after 60 minutes of exercise- your muscle gains disappear out the window.
So, is overtraining a myth? Here’s the truth:
Yes, for the most part overtraining is a myth. Overtraining is only actually seen in high-level athletes like those at the Olympics who are training 16 hours a day, non-stop. But for the rest of us, there’s only undereating and undersleeping.
Let’s cover this more in-depth, and really answer the question: is overtraining a myth?
What is ‘Overtraining’?
Some of you who searched this article may have just heard the gym shouted at you aggressively in the weight room, and you may have no idea what ‘overtraining’ even is.
I can’t blame you, when I first started working out- I naturally never heard what ‘overtraining’ was. Most of us, ultimately, hear it from someone who strangely shouts it at us in the gym.
It’s almost like they’re jealous you’re putting in hard work- but I’ll get to that later.
The idea of ‘overtraining’ is this idea that once you work out too much your muscles will actually NOT grow and instead actually shrink due to the intense damage they have taken on.
Overtraining is actually REAL. But, overtraining really only occurs again, in Olympic level athletes that are forcing their body’s to train for 16 hours a day non stop.
For you going to the gym 3 hours a day? No, you’re not overtraining and you have nothing to worry about, just ignore that heckler in the weight room.
In fact, I have even done the famous 8 Hour Arm Workout, and I wouldn’t even call that overtraining.
It’s nearly impossible for humans to really ‘overtrain’- and I’ll explain why.
Humans Are The BEST ‘Long-Haul’ Mammal in the Animal Kingdom
Let’s all pat ourselves on the back, that is- if you’re a human and reading this. If you’re a space alien or something, this article probably doesn’t apply to you.
Humans are the hands-down, BEST ‘long-haul’ mammal in the animal kingdom.
Humans do not run the fastest, but they can run virtually endlessly.
Our ancestors used to hunt animals like gazelle NOT by sprinting and tackling them, but by actually OUT RUNNING THEM over DAYS. I kid you not, our ancestors would chase animals until they animal gave up in exhaustion. Humans are the best long-distance runners on the whole planet.
It’s honestly pretty terrifying if you think about it. Imagine you’re a gazelle trying to run and you literally spend 18 hours just straight running away and this guy is just always following you, no matter what you do.
The point is- our bodies were built to exercise for periods longer than 2 hours at a time. People saying we are overtraining for being in the gym for 2 hours when our ancestors would run 16 hours straight a day just to hunt doesn’t make sense.
That is why overtraining is clearly a myth for most of us, it simply does not make sense nor fit in with our biology and genetics.
Overtraining Is Really Only Seen At The Olympics or Super High Levels of Training
The truth is, overtraining is real. But, it’s only seen at the Olympic or super high levels of training- not anything most of us are doing by working out 3 hours a day, 6 days a week.
When you put the human body through so much stress that it is being exercised 16 hours a day- you actually get overtraining. These athletes are working out 16 hours a day, for days on end- the body actually cannot recover in time.
Plus, the intensity of their work outs are so much more extreme than anything we do at home.
In fact, an Olympic athlete, Simone Manel, finally got diagnosed with ‘overtraining’ after non-stop training.
The thing to realize is that she was training 100x harder than any of us could for YEARS on end. She literally had been working non-stop all day to try and push the human body to its’ literal known limit.
There’s Only Really Undereating and Undersleeping – Rich Piana
The truth is? There’s only really undereating and undersleeping – Rich Piana.
If you’re really experiencing symptoms of overtraining, the chances are you’re undereating and undersleeping.
If you are working out and find yourself losing muscle instead of gaining it, you’re likely not giving your body enough energy to maintain or gain muscle.
When I used to be anorexic, I was in a way- overtraining. I actually trained so hard for 3 months and decreased in size and lost a massive amount of strength- but it was because I was giving my body no nutrients or energy to work with.
In fact, I am surprised it took so long for me to finally lose strength- it showed me how capable our human bodies really are.
A lot of people get weight lifting confused. They think they need to lift weights and eat less, when in fact it is the opposite. You NEED to eat more to grow that muscle. Your body will actually grow muscle instead of fat, which makes you look less fat because it pushes the fat out and away, and makes you look toned.
Lack of sleep is also a big problem in the weight-lifting world. Since so many of us regularly take caffeine to get energy for the gym, we often lose sleep.
Plus, most of us that weight lift are doing it to handle some of the stress in life- so we naturally already have a rough sleep schedule.
If you haven’t been sleeping at least 7 hours a night, try to get there. I know it is easier said than done, but I recommend just turning off screens, taking melatonin, or even working yourself out so hard in the gym that you feel naturally tired. (Cardio will do the trick, but convincing ourselves to do cardio is the hard part lol)
Sleep is the most important part of muscle recovery. You can eat all you want, but if you only sleep 1-2 hours a night, you’ll never see muscle growth.
The Verdict Is In, Overtraining is (for the most part) a Myth
Unless you’re an Olympian reading this who is training 16 hours a day non-stop, overtraining (for the most part) is a myth.
If you’re going to the gym a few hours a day, 6 days a week- you have nothing to worry about. If you think you’re overtraining, just try to eat and sleep more, chances are your body may need more nutrients and time to recover.