Overtraining is Impossible

Overtraining is Impossible

By Jared Boynton | 3/22/2017

            You’re a warrior in the gym. You train with ferocity. You train hard enough that you’re sore ALL the time, mentally exhausted for the majority of the day, and suffer from major mood swings and lack of focus. Lo and behold - despite the fact that you’re murdering yourself in the gym, the gains simply aren’t coming along as they should. Even worse: your buddies are making faster progress than you are, and they’re not putting anywhere near the same amount of effort into training.

            Is this overtraining, the demolisher of fitness dreams? Are you pushing yourself too hard? The simple answer is… probably not. Overtraining is both extremely rare and extremely misunderstood.

            Overtraining is often misdiagnosed because the word itself points people the wrong way. First off; overtraining does not mean you’ve trained too much. Pumping out 40 sets of leg extensions and turning your legs to jelly doesn’t mean that you’ve overtrained them. Each body has its own limit on recovery capability, but the key thing to consider is that overtraining is not a simple matter of training too often, or too much.

            The clinically recognized, scientific definition of overtraining is “a physiological state caused by an excess accumulation of physiological, psychological, emotional, environmental, and chemical stress that leads to a sustained decrease in physical and mental performance, particularly characterized by a relatively long recovery period.” Let’s break that down:

  • ”Physiological State”: Overtraining is not something that you DO. Rather, it is a state similar to illness.
  • “An excess accumulation of […] stress”: Each type of stress has a full-body, systemic bearing on the body, but this impact is not limited to the body parts directly involved. The full-body response is caused by the release of stress-related hormones like cortisol, as well as fatigue of the adrenal glands. Training too much is one of the many stress factors that impacts this, but it is far from the only one.
  • “A sustained decrease in […] performance”: The thing to keep your eye on here is the word ‘sustained’. A bad workout or two does not constitute a sustained decrease in performance – that’s likely just fatigue (go to bed earlier, chump).
  • “A response to constantly overloading […] systems”: The stress factors involved in contributing to overtraining syndrome take a good, long time to set in. Getting to a point where you’re actually overtrained takes far more effort, time, and discomfort than the average human being is capable of putting forward.

So.. alright. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE. But unless you’re a professional athlete dedicating 25+ hours a week to physical training, the chances that you’re actually overtrained are pretty slim. It’s simply not possible to accrue overtraining syndrome by training an hour or two a day, particularly if you’re getting enough sleep and proper nutrition – and those two are the key here. If your progress has stalled out, revisit those factors before backing off training intensity.


Jared Boynton is a strength, performance, and conditioning coach with a wide range of knowledge on nutrition, supplementation, biomechanics. His experience has been proven through years of real-world implementation with both his own physique and the physiques of numerous clients. You can contact Jared via email at Coach@JaredBoynton.com.

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