Are YOU in Danger of Over-training?
A blog post from London Bridge Osteopath Dellus West, Harmony Pain Relief & Injury Clinic and a Facebook thread from CrossFit Central London coach Jon Shelby pointing out Finnish Researcher Heikki Rusko’sn method of spotting over-training has inspired the following post.
Both Dell and Jon provide some good insight into the nightmare of over-training. Dell suggests monitoring Blood Pressure and Pulse Rate values every morning. Shelby offers a test based on resting heart rate and heart rate recovery after a minor activity (standing up). However, I want to touch upon the not so concrete variables.
Starting with a story:
On May 2011 I competed in the South East American Regional CrossFit Competition. The three days of competition shaped up like this:
- Day 1, 2000m Row, 28 HSPU,
- Day 2, 80Chest 2 Bar Pullups, 80 KBS, 100 OHS
- Day 3, 9 muscle ups, Second place finish at a birth to the CrossFit Games Team Competition
Before regionals, my max deadhang pull-up was 29KG and my Amanda time was 4min50 seconds. Post-regionals, max deadhang pull-up was 14kg, and my Amanda time was 12min with unbroken squat snatches. What happened?
Trying to solve the fatigue puzzle.
Furthmore, leading up to the CrossFit Games, not only did I want to get back the weird gymnastics strength that I lost following regionals, but i wanted to PR my lifts and my times so bad I was training hard. A lot.
After messing around with strategies, I settled on the 1 day on, 1 day off approach that Blair Morrison suggested/follows in his blog. I didn’t keep to it religiously though since we had team training a few days a week so i ended up hitting workout after workout.
It was going really well and i kept PRing and getting better but I didn’t notice the signs of fatigue start to creep up. About half of my training sessions were fueled by colada, i was only getting 4-5h of sleep 2 nights a week. My grip was starting to go. I was failing HSPU. But, I was PRing bar movements. Clean and Jerks, Snatch, Backsquat PRs. That was really just a mask for what was really happening.
July 2011, The 2011 CrossFit Games
I entered the games in a run down state. 24/7 my grip felt weak. The whole week leading up I was worried about letting the team down because of that. I didn’t tell anyone cause it wouldn’t make a difference. When it came to game time, it was do or die. I felt handicapped and it was my own fault.
What happened? Over-training happened.
So what are some of the causes and signs of over-training you can look out for?
Causes (besides training too much)
- No rest days – Your body needs rest to recover and get better!
- Too much volume in a session – I found later that i can do 3 or 4 a day as long as the sessions are under 45min long from warm up to cool down.
- Too much volume overall -> CrossFit Endurance + SealFit = faceplant into a grave, please stop this.
- External factors – chronically high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) have been shown in almost every animal to correlate to illness and shorter life spans. Solution: Move to a tropical island, sleep 9h a night, eat free range grass fed everything. be happy. no stress.
- Grip feels weak – this is my go to sign. If my grip feels fatigued in a weird way, I should probably hold back a little. Like right now. After last nights squat session, my elbows down feel week. But I squatted, so that’s telling me that I should probably just do CrossFit Open WOD 12.1, the 7min of burpees, tonight and some accessories and then take a day or two completely off.
- Feeling like you cant flex as hard - yes, kinda funny, but my other go to sign.
- Waking up tired
- Trouble falling asleep
- Lack of mental acuity
- Gymnastic strength fall off (less variable than barbell strength imo)
- De-motivation – dreading training ain’t a good thing. You should always love what you are doing