MORE IS BETTER…RIGHT?
You’re Training Too Much And It’s Killing Your Gains
Most people should train three to four days per week.
Some – a very select group of high-level athletes with excellent technical proficiency – can train five days a week. These athletes are more than likely coached, use some form of biometric monitoring (e.g. HRV or heart rate monitor), have varying amounts of volume and intensity in their day-to-day training in order to prevent overtraining.
Collegiate-level and endurance athletes – most likely still in their youth – can train six days a week (but not always). Again, these athletes are highly skilled, technically proficient, coached athletes. Further, it is likely there is minimal joint impact in at least one-third to half of these sessions.
In cases where training exceeds five days per week, a nutritionist or dietitian is involved to ensure athletes are eating the proper paw materials to help aid in recovery, fueling, and adaptation.
Hold up coach, I’m a f#cking beast that can train all day, e’ryday.
Even so, you’re training too much, and cutting your progress off at the knees.
Why not train all the time? What are the consequences?
- Chronic Inflammation.
- Overuse injuries due to fatigue.
- Exhaustion of the central nervous and endocrine system.
- No time for accumulation of adaptations.
Training is, essentially, targeted tissue injury; rest is healing. Without rest, no healing. Without healing, no improvement.
In the long run, training with too great a frequency can lead to joint issues and stiffness. Forty-five-year-old you will thank 25-year-old you if you heed this advice.
Only assholes overtrain.
You’ve been warned.
The biggest reason not to train all the time is to prevent overtraining.
Signals of overtraining are:
- Loss of motivation.
- Lack of focus.
- Difficulty getting and staying asleep.
- Moderate to severe drop in performance.
And the costs of overtraining are high. It takes weeks or months to fully recover from overtraining syndrome. In that time, the drop in your fitness will greatly exceed any short-term loss from recovering week-to-week or day-to-day.
What is a proper training frequency structure?
We structure our training week as three primary and one optional session.
If you only do three primary sessions, we recommend:
Of course, doing a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule works the same.
If you’ve been resistance training for more than a year, doing four sessions per week is fine (three is fine as well). In that case, do:
- Thursday (optional session – will be at a volume and intensity complementary to the overall cycle)
- Friday or Saturday
Stress is stress.
It’s worth noting that your body doesn’t know the difference between life stress and gym stress. If you’re in a particularly stressful season of life, reducing your training frequency will probably help your performance. Don’t stop training, but don’t feel bad if you only get in two days per week.
Contradictorily, many athletes defend their overtraining habits by saying, “Well, I’ve always trained this much.” Out of the same mouth, we typically hear, “One of the biggest reasons I want to train with Atomic is because I’m not improving on my own anymore.” Of course not. And, if you use the same reasons to defend why you want to train more and more, you’ll just keep getting what you’ve already got: more stagnation.
You have to change your behavior if you want to transform your fitness.
Training too much, too often is a short-term, immature perspective on improvement – especially considering the long-term nature of training. Understanding and valuing the science behind resting/low intensity days pays dividends a year or more from now. The costs of overtraining are much, much higher than the percieved opportunity costs of taking properly allocated rest/deload days/weeks.
Train better, not just more. They’re not the same.