Myth 3: The More I Work Out, The More Progress I Am Making

The Law of Diminishing Returns: “tendency for a continuing application of effort or skill toward a particular project or goal to decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved,” according to The Free Dictionary. In the workout world this is known as overtraining. Rice University’s Mark Jenkins, MD, describes overtraining syndrome as what happens when an athlete works too hard or does not take enough rest time between workouts. He says:

“If sufficient rest is not included in a training program then regeneration cannot occur and performance plateaus. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists then performance will decline. Overtraining can best be defined as the state where the athlete has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. The “overtraining syndrome” is the name given to the collection of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms due to overtraining that has persisted for weeks to months. Athletes and coaches also know it as “burnout” or “staleness.” This is different from the day to day variation in performance and post exercise tiredness that is common in conditioned athletes. Overtraining is marked by cumulative exhaustion that persists even after recovery periods.”

How does this apply to a “normal” individual?

Whether you have worked out before or not, there is a tendency in the gym to keep up with “the other guys.” It is easy to look around at your fellow gym rats and begin pushing to keep up with them. Another saying, “You are your own worst enemy,” applies very well here. ┬áThe issue is not keeping up with someone else or even with who you used to be. Rather, the issue is controlling yourself and making progress based on where you are now.

Bottomline: there is a way to increase performance by increasing workout stress and frequency. But if you are not careful and increase too quickly you can actually do more harm than good. It is about doing something everyday at YOUR CURRENT LEVEL!

Next time: Workout Rules for Safe and Efficient Gains

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