It’s a common misconception that bodybuilders need to work hard non-stop without a break.
The generalization for bodybuilding or any physically demanding sport is that it takes hard work. Whether it be heavy training, increasing frequency, or pushing yourself past your perceived limits – nothing is accomplished in sports and fitness if you are easy on yourself. The term, “when I’m dead I’ll rest” comes to mind.
But despite that mantra – there is such a thing as over training. While we have to push our limits, we still have limits. Many bodybuilders understand that heavy training and nutrition are important to become the best – but many overlook one very important factor – the necessity of rest.
In order to maximize muscle gain a bodybuilder must walk the fine line between stressing the body and allowing it to recover. In today’s modern word we often feel that we are “too busy” and that there isn’t enough time in the day – especially with that competition quickly coming up. But the truth is that over training and trying to cram before a competition will only hurt you.
In truth, it’s actually resting that makes you stronger. Lifting weights puts stress and breaks down the muscle – it’s during rest that the muscles actually recover, heal, and grow. During sleep our growth hormone levels are at their highest – so if you don’t get sleep you miss out on major gains.
There is even more to it than muscle gain, sleep is necessary to living a healthy lifestyle. You’re entire performance from the gym all the way to recovery will be affected if you don’t get enough rest and sleep.
Sleep is when literally every cell in your body recovers. It strengthens your immune system, your mental health, and millions of biochemical processes that occur in the body every day. If you don’t get enough sleep you won’t function optimally. You’ll get sick. And you can’t work out if you’re sick. You’ll feel fatigue and weak. You can’t push yourself to new limits if you’re fatigued.
You have to listen to what your body is telling you. You might think to yourself, “If I just train through my fatigue I will push past it and continue to make gains.” This is not the truth. Your body will store less glycogen – making you look flat when you over train.
How Do You Know Fatigue From Being Lazy?
So the big question remains: are you really over training or are you just being lazy? How do you know when to pull back without actually being too easy on yourself? Here’s a pro tip to help prevent you from psyching yourself out:
Sometimes you feel tired but it might just be a lazy day, emotionally based, or otherwise. We suggest that you head out to the gym no matter what and start your workout. The exercise should boost your adrenaline and release endorphins that make you feel better. If this is the case you know it was just a lazy mood. But if you continue to feel weak or tired then maybe you are over training. Like we said, listen to your body. Test out the waters and react accordingly.
What Are the Signs of Over Training?
There are many physical symptoms to not getting enough sleep. Of course this makes sense as sleeping is what recharges the body and allows it to heal. Some physical symptoms are constant muscle soreness, increased chance of illness, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
Scanning through this list, you can see that many of these symptoms, while not ideal for anyone, are definitely not ideal for bodybuilders. Lowered appetite will ruin the mass amounts of calories you need to consume, illness will prevent hardy workouts, and weight loss also means losing muscle size.
In the long term, there are more stressful elements from lack of sleep and rest. Emotional symptoms start to occur as your brain loses a much needed break in the day. This is what we call burning out. Some possible symptoms include constant irritability, mood swings, depression and loss of desire.
Loss of desire? That’s probably the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Desire to train; desire to win; desire to improve yourself – these are all key factors in bodybuilding. You need to be awake in order to improve yourself. You need to be awake in order to train effectively, avoid mistakes, and enjoy the art and sport of bodybuilding itself.
How much sleep should you get? Many studies show that as we get older we require less sleep – but bodybuilders are different. You work hard so you need to rest hard. A good 8-10 hours of actual good rest is necessary for a healthy and successful bodybuilding career. In the end every body is different and you just have to listen to what your body is telling you. There we go again with that phrase. But it’s really not that hard – just be aware. Don’t assume that you are falling off the ladder if you actually rest for once.
Bodybuilding is often thought of as “go, go, go” but eventually everyone needs to stop for some rest. The key to balancing that fine line of stress versus rest is to simply be aware. Rest is your friend, don’t ignore it completely.
How many people do you know who over train? Are you one of them? Sound off in the comments and tell us your best over training stories. You can also share with us on our Facebook and Twitter pages too.
Cover photo courtesy of HD Wallpaper Base.