by Andrew Richardson uploaded 24th Feb 2014


I Was thinking about my own training and my volume, intensity, reps and sets etc Comparing my training to new lifters in my club and how they couldn't do it now (weight is irrelevant). I'm talking the hours of training lifting, pulling and straining to be bigger faster stronger. I didn't make them do my own exact programme as I know it's not specific to them and I know they wouldn't be able to do it without getting a few years of training under their belts. Why they couldn't do it?


They don't have the experience, the physical and mental adaptations and the key element of having the conditioning. Being used to the training, the straining, the DOMS, eating more food, the education of knowing how to train. What I'm leading this all to you can't stick someone on the deep end if they can't swim is the same as starting a new lifter on the 13 week Smolov squat programme if he can't even squat.


This article is on Overtraining: The Myth or Reality.


This is my own personal experience, some friends and my own exclusive opinion on my experience. So may be different to you. Enjoy, Overtraining.....That dreaded word you hear it from your friends when they hear and see you training a lot. They start questioning you as if it's a crime saying its so bad for your health. The first time I heard it I stopped and looked at my friend who said it and I said "What?!". Was really confused by it. He said to me "you are doing too much sport you need to relax more". Me being me I just laughed at him and brushed it off. But the thought lingered, "am I doing too much?". I looked at my training at the time and I was doing a lot, swimming 3/4 days a week between 1-2 hours then with rowing 4-5 days a week again 1-2 sessions. This was me as a 16 year old. Some of you may be thinking he was overtraining. Reality I wasn't. Weirdly my body handled the volume well, I was getting stronger, faster, leaner and I felt mentally great. I think I'm just built differently not physically but more so mentally. Looking back at it now, whilst I'm writing this I think I saw the training as a challenge to turn up and train hard do the work well. Never was worried about the worry of training too much. To add to that my studying was still good getting decent grades and still meeting up with friends so I wasn't sacrificing anything for those sports.


Maybe I wasn't overtraining as my coaches for both sports were good and the sports I trained for used sensible programming. My diet was good my parents fed me well. So why wasn't I overtraining. So why wasn't I over training One simple reason. I adapted. Physical adaption occurred due to the stress I was placed upon. I recovered well with the food I was eating and the sleep I was getting. You will only get stronger due to the demands you place on your body. The only thing that stops/slows you I found was time. I progressed but it takes time. Doing training to see your end goal takes time. Look at Olympic weightlifting they squat and pull nearly every day. The key is they do this at different intensities. They have coaches to programme their training, most of the time their training is balanced on a pin if their intensity goes up by a couple of percent they get injured. Training intensity too low no physical adaptations to improve performance. When I see the Oly lifters train and compare to my own powerlifting training, I thought there human I'm human why can't i do that. Now fast forward 3 years moving from endurance cardiovascular training, to max strength training.


This is what I've found with regards to overtraining in powerlifting and in general fitness/sports training Here are the do's and don'ts


Do: - SMARTER, Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time Bound, Exciting and Recorded. Use these in your training those who are unfamiliar with this see my SMARTER article on the IDFPA website!being-smarter/csky -


Follow a programme. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you have no plan to follow then you won't know when to go hard or ease off the pedal in terms of training volume and intensity.


Listen to your body. Treat it with respect and it will give you the rewards. Get sports massages, hot baths, foam roll, stretch and take Deload weeks. Your body can take a lot of physical punishment don't be stupid and train through pain.


Sleep more. With lots of training you need lots of recovery. If you train more than you recover then you won't progress. Sleep is when the body grows.


Eat more. With more training your body needs more energy to keep going and more food to repair itself. My protein intake is quite high as I am constantly breaking down muscle fibres. I take proteins for these reasons in another article I've written.!proteins/cxro


Start small build up. You can't do a programme which an elite athlete is doing as you don't have the built in work capacity, lactic acid tolerance, the experience of lifting for speed, max strength etc. Don't reach the top apple when you can't even get the lower hanging fruit off the tree. Work up not down. We all want the end result ASAP but it takes time to squat 200kg to sprint sub 10 seconds or run a 4 minute mile. Learn the basics, engrain the correct movement patterns, educate yourself on progression, study multiple programmes and get feedback from those who have finished them. Better to take the time doing something right from the start than hoping on at the end and doing it wrong.


Now for the don't Don't:

Constantly max out lifts in the gym. You can't lift 100% every day every week every month. You won't improve and you will get injured. You need to work on specific areas to improve your max. This takes time.


Use your head not your ego. Don't impress others by lifting big this will only end badly. Don't train for someone train for yourself only. Train smart set regular goals - Don't copy what others are doing. Ever since I've started box squatting at my uni people have just copied me doing it. (No reference to the powerlifting club this is just regular gym users) The funny thing is they have no idea why I do it, they all do it wrong. One programme may work for you but one may not. Programmes and exercises need to be personalised.


Starting a programme without knowing what you want your end result to be. If you are training hard day in day out but don't know what you are training for then what is the point if training you aren't doing anything specific and thus doing random programmed training will result in injury. To wrap up and get back onto overtraining without drifting too far away Is overtraining a thing to be worried about : No Is overtraining a real thing: Yes it is Is overtraining over hyped: Definitely it is. Plan your training appropriately and you will never experience this. I'm 22 weeks away from my competition so my volume is really high but the intensity is low. Hope you enjoyed my debate on it. If you want to say/discuss anything about it in the comments below.




Andrew is an 18 year old student at Coleraine Academical Institution. Andrew holds the world records in the squat and deadlift at -90kg T3 and is one of the brightest young talents in the country. He aims to pursue a degree in Sports Science.


Andrew also operates as a trainer and coach out of Coleraine, Co.Londonderry

Phone 07747303084 mobile.


Trains at Coleraine Health and Fitness, Coleraine University and Coleraine Academical Institution (preferred choice)


Andrew Richardson
Over-Training : The Myth or Reality