Signs of Overtraining by Volume vs Intensity
Catabolism vs. Anabolism
The training effect is a balance act between curtailed catabolism and nurtured anabolism. Basically, overtraining occurs when catabolism wins this tug of war. When this occurs, trainees can lose muscle mass and strength, and body weight can plummet quite dramatically.
Before reaching such extremes, trainees and trainers alike must be wary of forewarning signs.
Overtraining can be due either to excessive volume or intensity. This video sheds light on this interesting duality.
Excessive volume strains the muscular system.
If acute inflammation is necessary for muscle growth. Chronic inflammation on the other hand diverts the body resources from our main goal.
Several markers indicate inflammation.
SRF a.k.a the Serum Response Factor, is the mechanical part of the inflammation response part of the hypertrophy equation. This reaction is triggered by muscular contraction.
The paracrine system works its magic through interleukins. The liberation of IL-4 and IL-6 stimulates satellite cell proliferation and fusion. And muscular hypertrophy down the line.
But acute reaction can become chronic and foster rampant inflammation. In this case IL-6 and CK markers are red flags you should be on the lookout for.
In addition, with overtraining by volume, the immune system tends to take a nose dive.
The body eats through its glutamine stores in an effort to counterbalance elevated pH that stems from, amongst other things, excessive lactic acid production.
The liver can take a beating as well. This is especially a concern for wood types. Short of performing regular blood work, Metabolic Analytics practitioners know that they need to keep the knee site in close check.
Overtraining by intensity affects the nervous system.
As I often remind my students, a good strength workout should leave you with a slight tremor in your hands. This indicates that your nervous system has been stimulated and fatigued. But this should be transient. With proper nutrition, supplementation and rest such signs should disappear soon enough. On that note Taurine is your best ally post workout to calm down your nervous system – contrary to what some popular energy drinks ingredient lists suggest.
Overtraining by volume can deplete the Yang neurotransmitters. This would result in apathy and depression. Which is, by the way, a good indicator of a well designed overreaching phase. As my mentor Pierre Roy was apt to mention, if your joints are not aching and your moral in the drain after an overreaching phase you’ve not been training, you were pretending!
During intensity phases the utmost attention should be devoted to sleep and recovery. If your Yang neurotransmitters are the flame, the Yin ones are the oil of the lamp. If you want the flame to burn high you need to cater for your recovery reserves. The best solution being, indeed, sleep and naps.
Yours in strength,
Coach Charles R. Poliquin