“Life is like an iPhone”
Life used to be like a box of chocolates, now it’s like a computer chip…or more specifically like an iPhone.
While you’re debating this analogy let’s answer a question: how do you reset your iPhone? For example, when it’s running slowly or not working to its full potential. Turn it off for a while and then on again? Charge it up fully? Upgrade the software? Close all those open apps? Buy a new phone? [RBF: iPhone??…Charged!..Sweet!!]
Now that you’ve fixed your phone, let’s think about you. Why might you slow down, underperform and generally not whirr along at your potential? Well, whatever the reason for a performance dip, it turns out that you and your iPhone are not that dissimilar.
We think regular training is a massive positive – if you don’t you’re wrong; we are made to move. Being physically active can have a massive positive impact on our wellbeing and in 353 it does. It should hold a position of high priority in your daily / weekly routine.
Training does not come without some reasonably considered risk. This risk can be minimized through thoughtful programming, good coaching, appropriate scaling and sensible work volumes. Like most things the poison is in the dose or too much of a good thing might not be the best thing.
If one is good and two is better five is not always best.
As an athlete you can’t really control programming and coaching, however a good return on the trust and faith invested in your coaches is the results you should achieve. Progress not perfection. The volume of a session is controlled by the coach but all variables can be scaled to best suit the athlete in question.
We all train to gain a positive impact on our lives, what is critical is that we make sure that the dose of training does not become a negative impact on your life. This aim of this article is to help you to understand the nature of training, recovery and overtraining (how to prevent it, how to know it is happening and what to do if it is).
Training is stressful. And it bloody should be. Without stress there is no nudge to adapt, to change or to progress. Your body is extremely adaptive – responding to any stimulus that is continually applied to it.
The “magic” of training happens afterwards. Adaptation, depends on 1) the appropriateness of the training stress (intensity & volume) and 2) your ability to recover and regenerate after training. There is a threshold for training stress both acutely and chronically that will be dictated by your individual training resilience. Therefore, the key to managing overtraining is the ability to keep our workload intense enough to bring us outside our comfort zone and give a push to progress but to also not acutely or chronically go beyond our ability to recover.
Training + Recovery = Progress
If we do go beyond our recovery ability consistently we will at some point pay a price for not allowing our bodies to adapt.
To shed some more light on acute stress, use this simple example: If my strength (stress tolerance) will allow me to lift 100 kg for 8 reps and I attempt to lift 140 kg for 8 reps it is very clear that I am above my stress tolerance level. If I persist and attempt the lift, I will either a) fail the lift b) find a poor movement strategy [AH: “Eh….that’s a mashed potato squat kid!”] to “make” the lift or c) I’ll get injured in the attempt (either during the lift or following training I’ll notice a niggle). All of these are not good from a training/progression [CMG: “Gaaaaaainz”] perspective and will leave you feeling mentally and/or physically sore.
To understand chronic stress, think about the overall volume of training you do [days x intensity].
Some more info on training volume here.
Excessive training volume can easily catch up with you, particularly in the early stages of training, if you do too much, too hard (or both) you can push beyond your ability to effectively recover and adapt to training [CMG: “No Gainz??!” L].
The key part here is to know when you’ve done enough. But, how do you know? There are some simple signs and symptoms of being over trained/under recovered; here and some early warning signs on overtraining are here. This will give you a heads up on when you might need to pull back a little.
The [hopefully] obvious answer on what to do if you are in the overtraining zone is to up the amount of focused regen you are doing [#UpYourRegen]. Regeneration work is done with the sole focus of coming back better/stronger/more resilient. Think of it as morphing into a more awesome you…add theme music if you like!
How to up your regen game is here.
A key aspect of Crossfit is variety and this should be reflected in the intensity of your training – few people vary their training intensity, fewer still do it with purpose. By adjusting your workouts; hard v easy, you can manage your overall load better – the more consecutive days you train hard the higher your risk of injury. Break your hard training blocks with lower days and/or rest/regen days [yoga anyone??].
If this is not getting you recovered look at cutting the overall volume with a regular rest and recovery day: You get better after training not during it! The only * to this is that you only need to recover, when you’ve something to recover from. Coach Gaz covered this well in his thoughts on intensity of training.
All of this being said it’s still important that you continue to train regularly with good intensity. “Persistence conquers all things”. What will keep us on track is our ability to match training with recovery. The Brisbane Broncos (Australian Rugby League) use a really simple system to filter training questions/complaints into training or recovery issues.
So while you might feel the signs and symptoms of over doing it, you can never over recover. Let’s repeat that together: YOU CAN NEVER OVER RECOVER.[PB: It’s true – you can’t…..you cannot! over recover]
In case you don’t believe Pete: this article shows how you really cannot over recover.
So, lets summarize all of the above:
- Training is awesome.
- You need intensity to drive change.
- Recovery dictates adaptation [CMG: “Gaaaaaaains”]
- Training stress is both acute and chronic.
- Acute training stress is easier to see/be aware of.
- Chronic training stress (overall volume of stress) will bite you if you don’t look after it.
Recovery cheat sheet
|Switch off and on||Get some better sleep|
|Update software||Improve movement standards in training|
|Give a full charge||Take a rest day (or two) regularly|
|Close open apps||Mentally unwind/escape from training|