Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Fit 4 Life | Overtraining not the end

Published:Tuesday | February 13, 2018 | 11:06 PMMarvin Gordon
Recovering from overreach in your training programme can be quite instructive.

So you realise you might have been pushing too hard in the weight room. This does not have to be the end of training - or training hard. Recovering from overreach in your training programme can be quite instructive.

Pay more attention to these aspects of training to turn your programme around.


How many times have we heard "You can't out-train a bad diet"? This phrase is still being thrown around because most people ignore it. Your body needs food for more than just fueling workouts.

Recovery cannot take place in the absence of proper nutrition. In fact, your body will start breaking itself down further to fuel a minimum amount of recovery, making your problem worse. Focus on quality as well as quantity when it comes to calories.

Tackle micronutrient deficiencies as well. Vitamins and minerals are also important in recovery. Be sure to consult a doctor before adding any nutritional supplement to your diet. Before you do that, though, try to get as many micronutrients from food as possible.


Sleep is important but is not the only rest needed for full recovery. You need time away from training as well. Take a break from training until you have recovered - a week or more.

When you start training again, plan rest into your programme. Try to get two consecutive rest days each week. And plan your workouts to allow muscles at least 24 hours to recover before training them again. You can also try a pattern of building training intensity and volume over a period and then take time off. For example, build intensity for four weeks then dial back for a week.


Split training - targetting different muscle groups in each session - facilitates recovery. This is true even if you train muscle groups more than once per week. A push-pull-legs split or a push-pull split will allow you to train each muscle group intensely and still get adequate rest.


One of the key ingredients for overtraining is overly long intense training sessions. Try to keep training sessions compact. Remember, you are trying to stimulate the muscles, not destroy them. This kind of overuse will lead to injuries.

Try to keep strength training session under an hour. Use high-intensity interval training to reduce the length of cardio sessions. Training should not take the whole day or leave you feeling burnt out.


Use activities such as massages and temperature contrast therapy - ice bath, hot or cold shower - to aid recovery. These methods have been tried and proven by athletes over the years.


To avoid overtraining, one must find a balance between training and recovery. Training intensely does not, by itself, lead to overtraining. As long as you factor adequate recovery into your routine, you are in the safe zone. Try not to focus on what works for others. Instead, pay attention to your body; look out for signs of over-reach and deal with them accordingly.

* Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;