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Category: overtraining

The Reason Why You Aren’t Getting Stronger or Progressing Towards Your Goals

The Reason Why You Aren’t Getting Stronger or Progressing Towards Your Goals

We’ve all been there. There was a time in our training where the progress just seemed to stop. It became the un-bustable plateau. Maybe it’s getting stuck at a 225 pound bench press for 10 reps. Maybe it’s getting stuck at 150 pounds. Somewhere along the line that “beginner magic”, where the results came almost easy, just wore off. Now it’s been two years and you’ve gone to the gym consistently busting your ass but you haven’t made any noticeable progress from where you were. Why? How can all this work count for nothing? We’ll, I’m going to tell you.

 

Let’s keep it really simple.. I’ll start with a question. How do we progress? We make small progressions over time, right? We can’t expect to PR every workout over the lifetime of our fitness careers, but we can put a plan in place that lets us PR every time we plan to test our maxes. But what do we consider small progressions over time? If you’ve been stuck at 225 pounds for 10 reps on the bench press and you’re waiting to feel like you’ve progressed enough to add more weight, when is it time to do so? Well the problem that most of us have is that we spend more time waiting than necessary. Maybe it’s waiting for a day we have a workout partner who pumps us up and we add an extra 10 or 15 pounds. But how often does that happen?

 

The truth is that we all progress differently. But in order to adapt, we need to progress. So our plan of action needs to ensure that it does happen. Some people (especially if you’re new to working out) seem to progress every single week. They might add 5 pounds per week to their 8 rep max. Every single week they can do the same workouts and they just keep throwing weight on the bar. That’s progression.

 

But what if you can’t do that? We don’t want to go to failure every single set, and we certainly don’t want to sacrifice form to get more reps up because we had to add weight. So how do you progress from there? Maybe you couldn’t add 5 or 10 pounds this week, but could you do an extra set? Could you bump up your 3 sets of flat bench to 4 sets? Again, this depends. If you’ve been recovering well recently, you can probably add a set. That’s progression.

 

If you feel like you’ve been beaten to a pulp and there’s no way you can add a single set to your workout, you’ve got a couple things to consider. 1- When was the last time you de-loaded? Your cumulative fatigue may be at a point where you are best suited to take a de-load week to reduce it. And 2- Is your workout routine designed optimally?

 

There is a magical line that we should all recognize in the pursuit of our goals. It’s the line that tells us we’re working too hard or not hard enough. We want to work right up that that line to optimize our results as efficiently as possible. Going over that line is called overreaching, which is ok as long as it’s planned and usually followed up with a de-load. Staying well under that line means we are just spinning our tires and not doing enough work to progress and force adaptations within our body. Does this line have a name? Yep.. It’s your Maximum Recoverable Volume (MRV). And unfortunately, this line is not universal. It depends on a long list of factors (like training experience) and is different for everybody. But it’s name is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the most amount of work that we can do that allows us to recover and not interfere with our next workout.

 

It’s not that hard to figure out your own MRV. It just takes some time to test it. Let’s say you use 100 pound dumbbells for 3 sets of 10 on flat bench. Next week do 4 sets. Then try 5 the following week. If during that week, your reps looked like this: 10, 10, 10, 10, 7- your MRV for that exercise at that weight was the 4th set. You failed on the 5th, so that was a little bit past your MRV.

 

Do we want to train to our MRV every workout? We suggest working up to your MRV over the course of three weeks, then overreaching on your fourth week, and then you would follow that up with a de-load on your fifth week. (FYI: when I say de-load, that doesn’t mean a week off. It’s a week at a calculated lesser volume). Then you could start the cycle over.

 

So that should help us in deciding how to maximize the efficiency of our workouts, but how do we parlay that back into progressions? Well, that will help us calculate what the overview of our program should look like. But in the day to day of each of our individual workouts, ON AVERAGE, each workout should have increased volume from the last. That doesn’t mean every single workout, but on average that should be the rule… Increased volume=progression.

 

This part can get pretty technical when it comes to designing your program. But for those of you who aren’t sure exactly what volume is: weight x sets x reps = volume. If you bench 100 pounds for 4 sets of 10, your volume is 4000 lbs. So whether you add 5 pounds next week, or increase that same load for an additional set, your volume is increased. The extra set increases volume a lot more than the 5 pound increase at the same number of sets. So both should be incorporated at different times in the program to ensure you are progressing, but not overreaching too often.

 

Everyone has heard the phrase, “Train insane or remain the same,” right? There’s a little more to it than that, but it’s true. If you train the same, you remain the same. You need an overload to progress. You need to progress to force adaptations. We need adaptations to go to the beach every summer or to leave a competition with something shiny. You have to train harder AND smarter.. We can help with that! Join the Evolution and find the success that so many of our members have already!

 

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What you need to know about rest day

What you need to know about rest day

rest day

We’ve all seen the funny pictures on Instagram. Rest day… Who needs it? This is becoming a more widely asked, and speculated, question around the fitness community. Routines are being taken to new extremes each day. And this is good, because it means we are pushing our limits to new heights. You can’t discover how far your body can actually go until you push past every threshold. And here comes the but… BUT there are limitations on how long you can push your body that hard.

People have started questioning whether there was any truth to the concept of “overtraining”. That is where these pictures, articles, and discussions gained momentum. A main argument was that if you feel good and you aren’t sore, your recovery time has reduced and you can now workout more frequently on less rest (if any). But there are some other factors being overlooked that don’t have to do with how your muscles are feeling today. Your body is a very, very complicated thing. So I’ll get into what those other factors are in a second but first I want to ask you if you’ve felt any of these lately, or if you remember having any of these after a week where you tried pushing yourself to a new extreme..

Your outsides:

Persistent muscle soreness (not your regular “that was one hell of a workout” soreness but the kind that lasts longer than it was supposed to), elevated resting heart rate, past injuries begin hurting again or you are recognizing new pain, not getting as good of a pump or not feeling as refreshed after a workout (you don’t get that “ahh” moment when you’re done), weight loss, stuck in a plateau (working hard but haven’t made any progress)

Your insides:

Irritability, depression, loss of appetite, loss of motivation, fatigue throughout the day, not mentally sharp- can’t focus and can’t concentrate well, insomnia (this is a big one.. trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.. very restless), lack of interest, getting sick (cold/flu)

These are all signs that you aren’t getting enough rest AKA overtraining! But your body was feeling so good and you thought that removing that rest day was the only way to capitalize on it. Well your body was feeling good because you had a great balance of exercise and rest. Now it’s all exercise and there is no balance.  Your body is constantly being broken down when you workout, but without rest, it doesn’t get to rebuild itself. So let’s breakdown this process. Here is the point of working out in a nutshell. Workout- breakdown body. Rest- recovery and growth. Workout- breakdown body. Rest- recovery and growth. RESULT- a stronger, healthier body. Now here is overtraining in a nutshell. Workout- breakdown body. Workout- breakdown body. Workout- breakdown body. Do you get the picture? There is no rebuild. You are breaking down what is still broken down and actually making yourself WEAKER! Now if that counter-productivity isn’t frustrating, I don’t know what is.

Earlier I mentioned that there was more to this concept that your muscles and your body feeling good. Working out places a HUGE stress on your central nervous system, or CNS. The CNS is responsible for controlling muscular contractions. When this becomes fatigued, it creates a reduction in the output of the motor control regions in the brain. This, in essence, causes a decrease in performance. Every time you move, your brain has nerve impulses generated by chemical activity. After intense training, that neural drive is reduced. So even if your muscles feel great, that workout also took a toll on your CNS.

So all of those “outside” effects may have made sense to you as general side effects of working out, but those “inside” effects may have seemed a little outside the box. Well that’s all tied into everything else that overtraining affects that often gets overlooked. Even something like getting sick seems silly, but when you place that added stress on your body with no recovery, everything starts to breakdown and your immune system gets much weaker, because yet again, YOUR BODY CANT RECOVER WHEN YOU ARE CONSTANTLY BREAKING IT DOWN.

I won’t pretend I’ve never pushed my boundaries and tried to go without rest days. I did. I love pushing my body to new levels. It’s an addiction. I want to see how far I can go in everything I do. And in our minds, taking a day off seems like a wasted day. But we have to remind ourselves, rest is just as important as the workout because the workout is where we break ourselves down, and the rest day is where our bodies recover and get STRONGER. Yep, that lazy day you take every week… That’s the day you are getting better at everything you worked so hard at. That doesn’t mean lay in bed 6 days a week… Balance…

Push your body to it’s limit and find YOUR perfect balance. For myself, and many others, a 3 days on 1 day off schedule is extremely effective. You are still working out 6 days a week, but never more than 3 days in a row. For others, a 2 on 1 off 2 on 2 off schedule works better. As with everything else, we are all created differently with different needs. Play around with it. If you feel great, it’s working.

Until next time,

~Josh