The Myth of Over-training

May 6, 2010 // Al Kavadlo

Kavadlo Brother NoWhich is the most universal human characteristic, fear or laziness?

This is one of many thought provoking questions asked in Waking Life, one of my all-time favorite movies. Its relevance to the world of fitness occurred to me during a recent conversation that I had with one of my clients about the risks of over-training.

While over-training can be a real concern to elite athletes in competition training, it is rarely, if ever, something that is experienced by the average Joe. Yet I hear this concern brought up in the gym surprisingly often.

Whether we’re talking about a boxer getting conditioned to taking a punch or an ultra-marathoner building the endurance to run all day without resting, we humans have an uncanny ability to adapt.

Being sore doesn’t mean you’re over-training. Doing two workouts a day doesn’t mean you’re over-training. The problem is that most people are under-trained!

While you should generally avoid doing heavy resistance training on the same body part every day, you simply have to get yourself conditioned to exercise; your body will adapt. If your workouts are so intense that you actually manage to cross the threshold into over-training territory, you won’t have to ponder it–you’ll know it.

While the idea of daily workouts might seem overwhelming to most people, an individual who builds up their strength and endurance gradually should have no problem working out for an hour every day.

It’s okay to take it easy on some days (active recovery workouts have long been a part of my regimen), but don’t let fear or laziness stand in the way of getting fit. They are the two biggest obstacles to achieving any goal, be it in fitness or life, and it is up to you to overcome them.