At some point in their quest to build muscles, most folks will experience a feeling that they are overtraining. This is usually due to the idea that “more is better”, and the more time spent in the gym the faster you’ll grow muscle.
This is incorrect, since building muscle mass requires regular and disciplined rest and recovery times in order for your body to rebuild the damaged muscle fibres and get bigger. You cannot force your body to grow faster by bombarding it with daily training sessions, and this will almost definitely lead to overtraining.
As I discussed in my previous article on the dangers of overtraining, the consequences of overtraining can be very nasty, not only for your overall health, but also your ability to build and maintain muscle mass. Therefore knowing how to avoid overtraining in your bodybuilding workout routines can help you to avoid this kind of self-sabotage.
Below are the 3 most important ways of how to avoid overtraining in your weight training and exercise workouts. Read them thoroughly and consider whether you need to incorporate them into your current routine.
How To Avoid Overtraining #1 – Proper Training Volume
Knowing how much weight to lift, how many reps and sets can be tough, particularly for beginners but is essential in order to avoid overtraining. Each person is different so it is difficult to give exact figures of what you need to be doing.
The key though is to test your own body and see what is right for you. When you enter the gym for your next workout, see whether you are outdoing your previous session…if you are struggling to reach your previous rep numbers, and feel fatigued then it is likely that you are risking overtraining.
Remember, the goal of each of your workouts should be to improve and get stronger each time. If you are not able to improve on your previous training volume then you need to look at why that is.
How To Avoid Overtraining #2 – Stay Focused On Your Diet and Nutrition Plan
Many folks think that overtraining is only caused or aggravated in the gym. However, the reality is that it often happens outside of the gym too…namely in the kitchen. Poor diet, or a poor attitude to nutrition is another cause of overtraining, since what you eat ultimately determines your ability to build muscle and your recovery times.
To avoid overtraining you need to place a large importance on your diet and nutrition. Don’t skip breakfast as this will cause your body to begin the breakdown of your existing muscle tissue for energy. Eat regularly and at designated times of the day in order to keep your metabolism consistent, and ensure a regular supply of energy to your body – getting hungry is no good for building muscle mass. I recommend 6 meals per day at regular 3 hour intervals…so something like 7am, 10pm, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm, 10pm, or whatever fits your current schedule.
Also, try to have the day’s largest meal within an hour or so of your workout, as this will ensure that your body does not go too long without nutrition.
How To Avoid Overtraining #3 – Disciplined Rest and Recovery Time
As mentioned at the beginning of this article the idea that “more is better” is not only prevalent in society but extremely commonplace in the gym. If you want to know one of the best ways of how to avoid overtraining, then you need to take a disciplined approach to your rest and recovery time.
Insufficient rest between workouts is one of the most common ways to overtrain. Muscles are built during rest, particularly deep sleep when our natural anabolic hormone levels reach their highest, and the muscle tissue is repaired and strengthened. Lack of sleep and/or lack of “off days” from your workouts will only serve to make the muscle building process more difficult.
As a general rule you should not be working out the same muscle group two days in a row, as you will almost certainly be overtraining like this. Even if you missed a workout that week and are trying to catch up, it is better to just missed it and start fresh next week, rather than playing catch up.
I prefer 3–4 all-body workouts per week which allows one to two days’ rest in between, and minimizes the chances of overtraining.