Muscle Talk - By International Protein

Overtraining

January 27, 2021 International Protein Season 3 Episode 3
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Overtraining
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Overtraining
Jan 27, 2021 Season 3 Episode 3
International Protein

In this episode, we talk about maintaining your mindset while also delving into the subject of overtraining.  We discuss how to recognize it, when to back off and when to push through.


  • Are you just being lazy?
  • Competitions are extreme and not always healthy 
  • What are the signs of overtraining?
  • Audit your sleep
  • Increase your rest days 



Muscle Talk - Bodybuilding podcast by International Protein

If you want your own questions answered on our bodybuilding podcast, then join our private Facebook Group and share your ideas, https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/

A Thinkroom production.
https://www.thinkroom.com/

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we talk about maintaining your mindset while also delving into the subject of overtraining.  We discuss how to recognize it, when to back off and when to push through.


  • Are you just being lazy?
  • Competitions are extreme and not always healthy 
  • What are the signs of overtraining?
  • Audit your sleep
  • Increase your rest days 



Muscle Talk - Bodybuilding podcast by International Protein

If you want your own questions answered on our bodybuilding podcast, then join our private Facebook Group and share your ideas, https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/

A Thinkroom production.
https://www.thinkroom.com/

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk, where you'll get world champion advice about nutrition and stacking on muscle. Our host, Christine Envall, she's a three-time world champion bodybuilder and IFPB professional, a food scientist, and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein. In this episode, we talk about maintaining your mindset while also delving into the subject of over-training. We discuss how to recognize it, when to back off, and when to push through.

Ash Horton:
Okay, Christine [inaudible 00:00:46]: am I just being lazy or am I over-trained? That's a question in my mind regularly, and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way. They at least question themselves on whether they're just feeling fatigued or lazy anyways. So what are your thoughts?

Christine Envall:
Okay. It's actually a very serious issue because generally in my experience, the people who are actually over-trained just think they're being lazy and the people who are being a little bit lazy think, "Oh my God, I'm over-trained. I'm doing too much." And again, it comes down to what you're actually doing, but it's like anything. Whenever someone, the topic of weight loss or something like that, comes up, it's often the people who are most mindful of their diets who are the ones who think that they are not doing everything that they should because it is a mindset thing, actually how we see ourselves. So a person who is incredibly hardworking has a fear of being lazy so they feel very tired because they are working so hard and they're like, "Oh no, I'm just being lazy. I can do this. I can do this," which creates a problem because they can actually be in a major state of over-training, which isn't really that healthy for them.

Christine Envall:
So it's something which I have been asked a lot like, how do you know the difference, particularly during comp prep? And the thing with comp prep is sometimes you do need to go past the point of what is healthy. So if you've committed to doing a competition, there is a very, very fine line between... You are going to go through phases where you're over-trained and it's probably not the healthiest thing, but you need to kind of minimize the unhealthy aspects of it, but you're not going to be super healthy as in... I don't really know how else to explain that other than say that competitions, particularly for bodybuilding, are extreme. Anything, whether people are doing marathons or anything like that, you talk to any doctor. They are not a healthy state, like you're pushing your body beyond what it really should do.

Christine Envall:
So you're going to go through phases where you're not eating enough for what you're doing to your body. You are going to be compromising your health in a way, but you've made that decision that that is what you want to do for whatever reason. But you do have to keep that in perspective and try to minimize the degree of unhealthiness that you put yourself into. Hopefully that makes sense.

Ash Horton:
It does.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. But in saying that, I've looked up like, what are some of the key signs that you are over-trained so you can then make the decision: do I push through, do I keep pushing? Is this competition right for me? Because there are times where, for health reasons, people do pull out of competitions because they have to make that decision: is this serving me to do this competition? Like, what is the impact? Am I going to create some kind of long-term health problem by doing this? And is it really worth it?

Christine Envall:
If you're competing at a professional level and there's a lot of money at stake, sponsorships and what not, then possibly it is worth it. If you're competing at a lower level show and you've got your job and your family and everything and this could potentially lead to a long-term health problem, then you really do need to seriously look at whether or not it is worth it. But that's each person's decision as to what degree that they need to take that to, or that they want to take that to.

Christine Envall:
But to help people judge a little bit better and to know whether or not, okay, I need to back this off, maybe this isn't for me, because it isn't for everybody, obviously the number one sign is that you're working harder or working longer, you're doing more, but your results are kind of going backwards. And weight loss, again, comp prepping is a classic example where you might've cut your calories, increased the amount of cardio that you're doing and your weight is still not coming off. So that's a sure sign that potentially you're in a state of over-training.

Ash Horton:
Sure I've been there before.

Speaker 3:
Yep.

Christine Envall:
When?

Ash Horton:
Many times. You don't believe anything I say, do you?

Christine Envall:
No, because it's the lazy ones who normally think that they're over-trained. I'm sorry, Ash.

Ash Horton:
Okay, all right. I'll just stop talking, shall I?

Christine Envall:
No, no, no. It's good to have the interaction, but now-

Ash Horton:
It's good for a laugh, yeah.

Christine Envall:
It is because it's a heavy subject.

Ash Horton:
I'm glad I [inaudible 00:04:47].

Christine Envall:
It is a heavy subject, Ash. It's actually very serious, but I think everyone's been there, where you get to that point where you go, do I keep on cutting my calories? Do I have time to keep on doing more cardio without... And still get some sleep to get to this competition? And sometimes the solution actually is to eat more calories and, believe it or not, you'll actually end up burning more, you'll have more energy, and you'll end up back in a state of weight loss. So it's knowing what to do with that. But that is definitely a sign that you are in a state of over-training if you're working harder, doing more, but your results are just not reflecting the amount of hard work, because normally obviously, you put more work in and things improve, you get stronger or you see muscle growth or fat loss or whatever it is that you're doing. Obviously decreased performance, which is linked to that, and that is where it actually feels like you're working harder but you're actually not.

Christine Envall:
So I guess, to put that in perspective of a weight training, on your second top weight but it feels so heavy, you're failing and you're not on... Normally you can do a plate aside, but you're doing three quarters and it feels so heavy and you can't do it. So that's again obviously decreased performance. You may or may not have been working harder, but basically you're going backwards. So again, that's another sign that you over-training.

Christine Envall:
Now the big question here is, are you just having a bad day, are you feeling lazy or are you actually going backwards? The question is to kind of ask yourself if someone that you love life's depended on you getting that weight up of if you're offered a million dollars to get another rep up or do that heavyweight and you could do it, then maybe you're just having a mentally lazy day. Like if you physically couldn't do it, physically can't do it, then you're over-trained. There's no two ways about it.

Christine Envall:
But if you're just kind of like, "Eh, not really feeling it today, I don't really feel like pushing myself..." But if there was a great incentive there and you could, then that's being lazy.

Ash Horton:
Right.

Christine Envall:
So that's kind of a test to ask yourself when you're in that situation like, is this real or I literally hit the wall on this one? Is this your fatigue, not recovering from workout to work out? And again, a lot of the time this does happen when you're prepping for a comp because you're on less calories than what your body needs so you will find that there's that degree of recovery is reduced. Obviously you can try using products like complete aminos, making sure your nutrition's on point and at the right time, but if just from day-to-day, you're not recovering and you need extra rest days, that can be a sign of over-training.

Christine Envall:
And it is actually a good idea to take those extra rest days because that's how you get through. That's how you'll get through to competition, like not making it a habit where every week you're actually training a day less. But if you are at a point where you're just like, "I really, really feel like I just have nothing left, my muscles just feel like they won't contract, I can't do this," then sometimes there is more to be gained by taking that rest day. Even though you're essentially Mr. Workout, that isn't being lazy. That's called self-preservation. That's basically a smarter thing to do.

Christine Envall:
But it is that thing where you have to be really critical of yourself, like if you feel like you can't take that day, is it because you're just too obsessed and you think that by not doing it, you're failing or something? And that's, again, that's what I'm saying. People who are very, very driven tend to be very critical on themselves rather than making the smarter choice and saying, "Okay, this day here is actually going to be beneficial for me because I'm going to be able to recover. I'm going to be able to train better," because it's all about being able to train properly. And if you continue to decline, it's going to be reflected in your physique, whereas if you take that rest day, bounce back, then you can train better and harder. And then you will be better.

Ash Horton:
Hey, so surely sleep comes into it as well.

Christine Envall:
Absolutely. That was actually one of the points I was coming to. But insomnia, lack of sleep, it's a symptom of over-training as well as a cause of over-training.

Ash Horton:
So coming back to my over-training in the past where you laughed at me, that's probably lack of sleep, which made me feel like I was over-trained.

Christine Envall:
Okay, yeah. So I'll give you that one then, Ash. That would be a really good thing to do too. If someone was debating in their head, "Is potentially this just me being lazy? Is it an over-training situation?" Do a quick audit on your sleep. Have you been getting seven to eight hours sleep a night? If you've been down at the four or five hour mark, then you probably have put yourself into a state of over-training through lack of sleep because sleep is so critical in physical performance, mental performance, your body's performance, how its hormones behave, everything whilst we all see it as a badge of honor of, "Oh, I got by without much sleep." And that it's really not a great thing to do, particularly if you're an athlete and you're trying to perform and you're trying to bring out your best, sleep is critically important. So obviously you're getting into that cycle where you're not sleeping and you're over-training and your stress hormones go high and then you sleep even less. So that's why you'll find it very hard to sleep even though you're absolutely buggered and very, very tired.

Christine Envall:
So again, that's where just taking that day sometimes and just even sleeping... You do have to get quite in tune with your body when you're training like this. As I said, there's kind of like, you've got to get a job done and you have to get that done and you have to execute your training, and it's tiring, but it's just knowing that difference between am I now deteriorating my body by continuing to push on and I need to just take this little break so I can be better? It's really something that you need to focus on and get very, very in tune with.

Christine Envall:
And also keeping a diary and keeping a track of maybe what it is that you're doing because sometimes people don't realize when they haven't been sleeping or don't realize when their performance has kind of dropped over a period of time. One bad day isn't the end of the world, but if you're consistently over a period of weeks have just kind of watched things slide and deteriorate and performance not as good, then that's where you know that it's definitely an over-training situation. So, like I say, one bad day isn't the end of the world, but having that little bit of extra rest can be very, very important. Sleep is everything. Without the sleep-

Ash Horton:
You don't recover.

Christine Envall:
You don't recover, but also your hormones go out of balance in terms of storing body fat, being able to lose weight, your immune system. It's connected to so many things so we shouldn't kind of... As I say, it shouldn't be seen as a badge of honor to not sleep. And seven to eight hours is the amount which research clearly says is what's good. More than that isn't good so don't go sleep nine hours unless of course you were so exhausted that you end up sleeping a longer period of time while you're recovering from an injury or surgery or things like that. Your body will tell you what it needs, but also if you're insomnia's being caused by pre-workouts... And again, this is why I have a bit of a thing about pre-workouts because sometimes they're putting the body into a situation where you can risk over-training because you're turning off the ability to sleep or you're pushing kind of beyond what your body naturally could, so it is a sign to be aware of, that they can kind of mask a problem but they can also create a problem if taken at the wrong time.

Christine Envall:
One of the other ones, which again this is so classic, close to everyone's heart who has ever competed, agitation and moodiness. People call it, when you're in comp mode-

Ash Horton:
This is where I can throw in the battle of the sexes.

Speaker 3:
No.

Christine Envall:
I think both sexes are affected. It doesn't say anywhere in my notes that it's more prone to females.

Ash Horton:
I didn't say that. I just...

Christine Envall:
Or males. So I'm defending the males here. Obviously the effect on stress hormones, you have a lack of ability to concentrate, mood swings, irritable... And this is, obviously again, it's something where anyone who's prepped for comp has been through this. Their partner has been through it. A really good tip from my good friend Brandon Ray is, if you're having one of those days, then warm the people around you so they don't just kind of get hit out of nowhere because those things will happen.

Christine Envall:
So I guess what I'm saying is it's natural to be in a state of over-training when you are getting ready for a comp, but that is something which we accept as being part of the process. And what we do is we try to maximize our sleep. We try to maximize our nutrition, our timing of our nutrition, our supplements, to minimize how much of that there is. And I guess if people have a coach, then you also have to trust that the volume of work that your coach has given you is correct. You have to kind of have some faith that they're not making you do ridiculous amounts of work that is unnecessary. You are putting yourself in somebody else's hands if you're doing that, but yeah definitely, we all get a little bit snappy and short-tempered when we're prepping for a comp, yeah.

Christine Envall:
And again, that's tiredness. It's lack of food. It's also the mental deprivation because you are basically depriving yourself of a certain amount of food or the freedom to just eat whatever you want, which is something I think that you kind of take for granted when you're not prepping, just go to a party and just be able to grab at a bowl of nibblies or something, whereas you can't do that. And that is mentally quite restraining. So that's a big mindset thing there.

Christine Envall:
Interestingly enough, although I never really felt this in comp prep, loss of appetite. So it's one of the signs of over-training, but unfortunately [inaudible 00:14:25], we got a lot of the other symptoms of over-training during comp prep. Loss of appetite wasn't one of them, but it is. I do know with people who do a lot of more endurance type sport where super fatigue... And although actually I've said that, but this maybe is the battle of the sexes. I have heard guys say that where they have to force the meals down even in prep because they really don't have appetite to eat the food that they need to eat because they still do need to eat a lot of calories. So that could be a difference in the volume of the food of what men, male and female competitors and athletes, can potentially eat, but certainly is a symptom of over-training that you lose that.

Christine Envall:
And then another one is obviously chronic and nagging injuries. And again, that begs the question of, do I just train through these? Is it going to go away or is there a serious problem? And you got to really, I think be super realistic and maybe err on the side of caution, find yourself a good sports doctor to go to and get things checked out because you don't want to create a problem that's unfixable. At the same time, they should be able to tell you whether it's just a [inaudible 00:15:35], how you can best manage it, how you can train through it. You don't want to ignore certain things which are actually like, something's about to snap or go because that certainly is going to put you out from a competition. Whereas again, a little bit of training around certain things, doing alternative exercises, or even having a week off of that particular body part might be a better solution and a longterm gets you to the competition.

Christine Envall:
So always evaluating your goal and thinking about what it is that I'm trying to do and why I do this to determine how you actually handle the situation that you have. Do you pull up stumps and say, "No, I'm not going to do this anymore because it's too much of a risk," or "Yeah, just push through because there's only X amount of time. And if I do this, this and this, I can actually minimize a lot of the issues that are coming with that." So that would be-

Ash Horton:
So in your career, you've had a point of over-training in the past?

Christine Envall:
I think not anything that I've actually acknowledged is over-training but looking at that list, yes. Coming through to competition, obviously I have done twice. I've done a major injury coming into a competition, more than likely through over-training, and this is why I say you have to kind of be, do I live to fight another day? Do I skip this training session?

Ash Horton:
Which is really hard for an achiever, right?

Christine Envall:
And that's what I'm saying. The ones who are the achievers generally think, "Oh, I'm being lazy if I don't do this." The smarter people are the ones who are achievers and say, "No, it is better for me to sit this one out."

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
Either get it looked at or take a rest or drop that exercise out, change around. What can I change to get around this? For example, my last competition, I tore my rotator cuff coming into it and stupidly, I should have just not done that exercise, but I insisted on continuing to try to do that exercise because I had kind of minorly tweaked it a little bit. And I think I got another three weeks and then I really tore it. I knew I'd done something and I really just should have avoided that exercise.

Christine Envall:
So this is why I'm kind of saying in hindsight, it would have been way better to do that. I did manage to get to the show doing other exercise so I didn't need to do that exercise. And I did get there and nobody could really tell. I could tell that there was a difference, but most people couldn't. So had I just made that change earlier, I probably could have avoided a much more major tear than what I had because a little one was a warning sign. So this is why I sort of say from experience, don't just kind of go full on like that. And I've spoken to-

Ash Horton:
I believe you were talking about obviously over-training a specific muscle group, but if you were to go back, would you do things differently, in respect of just having a day or two out?

Christine Envall:
Yes. Well, that's what I... This has specifically happened in that my rotator cuff tore, but that entire prep was very, very grueling.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, so I probably should have backed off on quite a few things and I think I would have had as good or if not a better result. So yeah, there's a lot of things where I would have changed up my technique and not just kind of gone straight out, "Okay, let's go as heavy as what we can," traditional way of training. I would have investigated more of the time under tension and rep speeds. And I think we have touched on that in the past in some of the other podcasts.

Christine Envall:
As far as prepping for a competition, I have been in a situation too where my body kind of hit a plateau of weight loss. I needed to get into a lower weight class and by increasing calories, it allowed me to have more energy and then hence burn more, and then it actually dropped me more. So that increase caused the loss, whereas I was kind of at a stagnant point where my body was just not giving up what I needed it to do and I couldn't really drop my calories any lower because I knew that below that point was unhealthy. So that was where I made a smart decision.

Ash Horton:
Good.

Christine Envall:
When it comes to nutrition, I make smart decisions. When it comes to training, I don't. But essentially that was the decision that I made, that I was not going to cut my calories any lower because I kind of have a point where I know below that point is detrimental to my health. And I went and sought more expert advice on how to deal with that. Their solution was to increase calories, not a huge amount, but just enough. And then that inadvertently lifted up my ability to burn more calories and hence that got the weight loss happening again.

Christine Envall:
So that was a major change that I made in a situation where there was over-training. But as I said, in most situations... There's been situations where I have pulled out of competitions because I will say that I've been mentally fighting with myself, like every day has been a push not from a physical point of view, but more from like the diet, dietary point of view, wanting to do it. And if some of me doesn't want to do it, then it's a very, very hard battle to get yourself to do it and to commit to it and to do it properly. And in one situation, I had pushed through and done it and had a bad showing because it's almost like half of you doesn't want to do it. So therefore it manifests and shows itself on stage. You don't look as good as what you could.

Ash Horton:
So on one side of things, you almost need the tools to motivate you to go and do it. And on the other side, you really need to recognize that very fine line and when it's time to back off.

Christine Envall:
Yeah.

Ash Horton:
Is there any specific advice around that, really specific?

Christine Envall:
Look at what that outcome is. For example, one of the shows where I did pull out, it was going for... I was a universe title when I was still amateur. I had won two or three worlds at that point. I'd come second at the universe. I didn't really like the competition when I'd done it previously. You know how it shows have a vibe? I felt as a female bodybuilder, it wasn't probably the best show. We weren't really that welcome at that show.

Christine Envall:
So there was part of that in it. So the loss of not doing that show wasn't the greatest. I was like, "Yeah, I can do it. I can not do it, but there isn't that much at stake." However, the show when I made it through, torn the rotator cuff, I knew it was essentially probably going to be my last competition. It was also the first time that the competition had been outside of the Olympia. They had the new rising phoenix and all that. And I didn't want to miss that show. I didn't want to not be a part of that show because that was history making. I weighed up, "Okay, the consequence of pulling out of that is something that I will never be able to get back. I may never compete again and I don't get to be a part of that." So there was a greater thing at stake for me personally to do that show, whereas the other one was like, "Okay, this is really just another show. I could probably do it next year." It wasn't the greatest show. There wasn't as much of a personal loss or to not do it.

Christine Envall:
So I think people need to look at their own situation. I know people who've lost relationships over competitions and I wonder if they look back and that was the right thing to happen or whether they look back and go, "Oh my goodness, I can't believe I let that happen for this, which was pretty much just a competition."

Ash Horton:
So if you're going to pull back, if you decide that that's the right thing, how long should you pull back for? And I know it's probably a case by case basis, but what's a good amount of time? Just as a generalization for someone, just to take a wee breather.

Christine Envall:
Without knowing the specific situation, the most general thing I could say would be the next comp season.

Ash Horton:
They say you're pushing too much. What's a good time just to back off? Is it a couple of days and then get back into it? Is it a week? Every six weeks, should you take a week off? What's a good idea?

Christine Envall:
I don't think there's any hard and fast rule. Sometimes it might just be as simple as skipping that one workout.

Ash Horton:
Okay.

Christine Envall:
That may be all that you need.

Ash Horton:
Until you feel good again.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, like you maybe need to just skip that workout and then continue on with your process, like don't even try to catch that workout up. Just skip it, move on to whatever's next in the program. For most people, if they get it early, like they're not in an extreme state of over-training or anything but they're just like, "I feel tired today, like I just feel tired," and they haven't done that last week, like... I guess what I'm saying is if it becomes every week that you're skipping one day, that becomes that you're only training... You're not training five days a week. You're training four. So that definitely should.

Christine Envall:
But if you haven't done that for like three or four weeks and you take one day, that's all that you need probably. If you've done six months straight, nothing out of schedule out of your... You've been training very, very consistently. Maybe you need a couple of days, but it really would depend on whether it's injury based, whether it can be fixed just by sleeping better. If you can't sleep more than yes, you do have an issue because you're not going to get away from that problem. So it really is going to depend on what the actual issue is.

Christine Envall:
If it's competition, some people will take a week after they've done a competition, just not train, relax, and then come back, get into the gym a week later. So a week's kind of a good thing. I think once something becomes weeks on end and it's not being fixed and it's not going away, then you would have to look at if there's a more underlying cause. But you should not need more than about a week if it's not an injury that's puts you out.

Christine Envall:
If it's just a, "I'm feeling a little bit tired and a little bit over this," and if it's mental motivation, like if you're really struggling with mental motivation, then you really do need to question the activity that you're doing because I kind of believe that, like for me and weight training, I love it that much and it's very hard to not do it. I will take my days and whatever, but I enjoy being in the gym. I enjoy that process.

Christine Envall:
So if it was a month and I didn't have the desire to get into the gym, I'd probably go seek psychological help because I seriously would wonder what was wrong with me. Something would have to be majorly wrong. So if someone is at that point, I actually think that they would need to understand mentally what's going on. That's why I'm saying if it's not a physical injury which is putting them out, but they've being weight training and all of a sudden they just lose their desire for it, it can be hormonal because that's also very linked. People's hormones can lose desire to do different things, obviously training being one of those things.

Christine Envall:
So yeah, I would go get myself checked if I felt that I needed more than a week to want to get back into something. Not to say that some people maybe just don't wake up one morning and decided they want to try something different, but they would probably go try something different. They won't just not do... They won't just decide they're going to take up X-Box and sitting on the couch or something like that if they've been highly active. So if that were that type of extreme change in mental state, then I would be looking a little bit further on that one.

Ash Horton:
Interesting stuff. So mindset obviously is a really important part of any athlete's career and keeping that under control, checking it and just knowing when to back off is a really key element, isn't it?

Christine Envall:
It really is because it can be the difference between success and failure, or success and injury, and the longevity of your career.

Ash Horton:
And taking that little break really can be the secret ingredient for success.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. Makes you hungrier for it.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, definitely. Now, we had a lot of other topics we wanted to discuss, but I looked at the time and I think they are each individual episodes in their own. So I think that this particular part of mindset, I think that's all I have to say on it.

Ash Horton:
Oh, and if anybody wants to ask questions around mindset, jump onto our Facebook page, Aussie Muscle Guru, [inaudible 00:27:02] our way, and we'll look at answering them on future podcasts.

Christine Envall:
Most definitely.

Ash Horton:
Words of wisdom. If you like, what you've heard, recognize that these tips are free. So show your support by becoming a loyal international protein customer by jumping online, hunt our product down and hit that buy now button. So once again, like, share and subscribe to our podcast so we can continue to bring you these episodes from our one and only, three-time world champion, Christine Envall.