Is Overtraining Robbing You of Gains?

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In this study, researchers used an overtraining model in mice that involved downhill running on a treadmill. Downhill running involves mostly eccentric muscle contractions and leads to significant muscle microtrauma, IS OVERTRAINING ROBBING YOU OF GAINS? muscle soreness, inflammation, fatigue, and loss of strength. If you’ve ever gone on a hike up a mountain, you know that it’s the way back down that causes so much soreness the next day. Mice were divided into four groups; control (no training), trained (flat treadmill running), overtrained (downhill treadmill running) and supplemented overtrained (additional carbs were given to this group after each bout).

The main findings of this study were that overtraining led to low-grade chronic inflammation in muscle, liver, and blood. Providing additional carbs following each training bout reduced signs of inflammation in liver and blood, but not in muscle. Finally, overtraining led to myostatin upregulation in muscle tissue. Aside from the negative efects of chronic inflammation, an increase in myostatin is bad for growth.

In a nutshell, overtraining generally won’t increase your gains but will instead hamper them, and—because of the chronic inflammation—will also lead to nagging joint and tendon pain.

I’ll admit, at times it’s difficult to know just where training becomes overtraining. In truth, it varies from individual to individual and depends a great deal on training state and supportive factors such as diet and sleep. Bottom line: More is not always better. Stay tuned in to what your body is telling you, and don’t be afraid to increase recovery time when things get stagnant. - FLEX

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