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What Constitutes "Over-Training"?

Tuesday, June 6, 2023 - 0 Likes

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: What Constitutes "Over-Training"?

How do we determine optimal volume?

This has always been a hot button topic when teaching the "strength training guidelines table" at various workshops. When students find out that the recommended number of sets for each type of strength is per muscle group and not per exercise, they flip out…

What are your thoughts… I look forward to some healthy debate, keen insights, and some great practical take-aways."

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on 9/15/12

Joshua Stone Atc Client dependent. In session you need to look for signs of fatigue (neuromuscular as well as mind). Training over period of time will have a summation effect. A slow stairclimb to bottoming out. Client dependent and up to trainer to look for signs of fatigue.

September 15 at 11:12am

Michael Adam Clark In sports, monitoring the stress to recovery ratio is critical in avoiding overreaching. The balance between stress and recovery needs to be monitored during training such as RPE and HR recovery, as Joshua Stone noted. In addition, trainers can use the RESTQ-Sport Questionnaire (Kellman & Kallus, 2001) to assess the state of recovery. The mental/psychological state also needs to be monitored, and trainers can use the Profile of Mood States (POMS, McNair et al., 1971/1972) to evaluate emotional health. Also, individual performance measures need to be monitored regularly to ensure training progress. The key to avoiding over training is to enhance the rate of recovery, avoiding injuries, and improved immune system. In athletes, frequency of competition is also factored into balancing the recovery-stress training model.

September 15 at 11:59am

Brent Brookbush I love the big picture look at this problem; however, I still have not heard a real practical means of monitoring over-training… My guess is that Joshua Stone Atc, is looking at form to determine when someone has reached a level of neuromuscular fatigue, and although I like the idea of a questionnaire Michael Adam Clark how often have you seen one used in practice. Should these questionnaires be standard assessment tools given at per-determined time intervals… Sorry to stir the pot… but you kats know I am all about practical application.

September 15 at 12:40pm

Rich Fahmy-nasm Great points, and right on so far. Our job is to be "stress designers". Apply the right kind for our objectives and when a client recovers from its application, they should theoretically be better for it. For most clients, I watch for abnormal fatigue and FREQUENTLY ask how they are sleeping, eating and how their solo workouts are going. The big marker for overreaching for me is that they just don't feel like they're getting as much benefit from the workouts, ie diminishing returns on them: performance markers like load, volume, reps to fatigue start decreasing and visually they don't hold form like they would otherwise.

September 15 at 12:43pm via mobile

Brent Brookbush I am going to stir the pot a bit more here…. What about the ideal number of sets and reps for a given strength training parameter. Would you consider 6 sets of endurance training for any muscle group over training, what about 3 minutes of kettle bell swings, or 100 burpees… What is the goal? These practices are obviously using loads that are not sufficient to promote adaptation, or they are gross examples of over-training…. What do you think?

September 15 at 12:43pm

Michael Adam Clark The questionnaire would definitely be useful in research. Applying the research, as you pointed out Brent, is the next step. Some of these questions can be asked informally by the trainers and coaches. The trainer can record the responses to monitor changes. It doesn't always have to be a formal questionnaire with the data being evaluated in regression analysis. The important factor is knowing how to apply the research in practical applications.

September 15 at 12:48pm

Brent Brookbush So Michael Adam Clark, what would be your top 5 questions for Human Movement Professionals to ask, document, and monitor over a training period?

September 15 at 12:54pm

Michael Adam Clark Of course, the purpose of the questions would be to quickly assess how well the athlete is recovering. My top five would be, (1) How do you feel before training (opens the opportunity for varied responses on immune system, emotional and mental well being)? Ask about fatigue, energy, and conflict/pressure (2) How is your appetite? (3) How are you sleeping? (4) How do you feel after training? and (5) Have their been any changes since the last training session?

September 15 at 1:07pm

Michael Adam Clark Trainers can also quantify the responses by asking the questions using a Likert scale. For instance, "On a scale of 1 to 5 (five being the most difficult), how much effort was required to complete last weeks training sessions? But that depends on how much detail you believe is needed for each question.

September 15 at 1:17pm

Joshua Stone Atc Brent I think people often try to identify this universal golden egg that can be quantitatively applied to all clients. Trying to find a practical and universal method to determine over training indicates to me the trainer is unable to evaluate physiological status and lacks ability to modify programming. Over training is One area that experience and knowledge is supreme. Sometimes high level decision makin is the best decision making.

September 15 at 1:40pm via mobile

Michael Adam Clark I agree Joshua. Brent asked me to give my top five question, but my responses were not intended to serve as a golden egg. I was primarily giving some examples, and providing ways the responses could be monitored over a specific period of time. Of course, it is the trainer's objective to evaluate physiological status and modify the program accordingly. But there are significant questions that are inclusive that could be asked for any client and athlete. These influencing factors, however, are universal in nature and include school, work, environment/lifestyle, personal characteristics, state of health and on and on. These universal factors can greatly affect training abilities. There are indicators of over training which occur over long periods of time that trainers should be concerned about. Measuring and asking questions is a good thing; applied in the right context. It also helps athletes to self-monitor their personal recovery- stress balance, and take responsibility to reduce performance inhibitors.

September 15 at 2:02pm

Shawn Fears This is an interesting discussion…I'll bite.

First, I always ask my clients before EVERY session a few questions.

"How do you feel today?"

"Any unusual aches, pains, or linger…See More

September 15 at 3:23pm

Brent Brookbush My question regarding things like 100 burpees has more to do with why? This is not an overload stimulus for strength or power, and it could be argued that the load is too low to s…See More

September 15 at 5:16pm · Like

Brent Brookbush Hey Joshua Stone Atc,

I appreciate what you are saying regarding experience, but from the standpoint of education and improving practice I shy away from vague indicators of skill, …See More

September 15 at 5:21pm

Anne Curi Preisig I use mood to gage overtraining. If you are not excited to do a workout are grumpy, stressed, and unmotivated, then it is time to back off. I like to engage people in a conversation as we warmup. It may be a subtle change from their normal mood that tells me that it's not the day to push.

September 16 at 4:51am

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