Lots of debate surrounds the topic of overkill when it pertains to all things training. In many communities or areas of training, you can be looked at as “soft”, not dedicated enough, or just plain not hardcore enough, if you opt out of certain regimes or training principles and methodologies.
I’ve always been a believer that too much of anything can act against you, and that includes “good” things too. For what it’s worth, here’s how I weigh in on the topic.
THOUGHTS ON OVERTRAINING
I’ve noticed a lot of black and white when it comes to the topic of overtraining by fitness experts. Many state that the body is capable of a hell of a lot, therefore in the case of most people who train frequently, overtraining should be the last concern on their mind. The body is a brilliant machine and an adaptive tool. For those reasons, I agree with fitness pundits everywhere.
Here’s the catch.
Most of the time, what’s not taken into consideration is the lifestyle of the trainee in question. Sure, in theory, the body can handle being trained 6 or even 7 days a week, but is a trainee’s lifestyle conducive to that volume? If you’ve got a stressful job that has you at your desk in a fast paced work environment for 55 hours per week, you’re up at 5:45AM every morning, PLUS your nutrition isn’t 100% perfect, chances are you’re overtraining with your 6 day per week routine, because what you’re doing outside of your training doesn’t facilitate you seeing continued results. Rather, it’s running your body into the ground.
Simply for the fact that we’re not all being paid to lift heavy things, you’re damn right I believe in overtraining. I deal with family men and women who have hectic jobs and poor conditioning. As enthusiastic and disciplined as they may be to reach new goals in fitness, as long as they’re in my hands, I won’t ever be one to encourage them to train with me (or without me) every day, or even near every day. It’s just not real life, and it’ll lead to their detriment. Overtraining is real, and more importantly, incredibly subjective.
THOUGHTS ON PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
Before you think I’m about to talk about exhaustively analyzing the firing issues of every last muscle, I’ll be quick to say we’ve been there and done that. Despite a wet-blanket tone towards this topic in previous blog articles (fittingly coupled with sardonic title bars), I’m actually a proponent of finding and addressing weak links, as long as they don’t convolute the pointed motive of goal-oriented training systems. Again, to be clear, making smaller muscles stronger can happen a lot faster if a coach was able to recognize that a client may be just plain weak.
On the same note of weak links, something else I often stress is that of the maintenance and upkeep of proper tissue quality. One vehicle that’s definitely useful for this is a foam roller. I use the foam roller myself and with all of my clients (albeit, the receptiveness to this tool may vary at times), and I believe it can help with increasing circulation, releasing fascia and adhesions that lie within muscle bellies.
The problem comes when I see items like THIS hit the market:
…. For the very same reasons that I have a problem with the “myth” claim to overtraining.
Aside from this thing looking like a medieval torture device, for 9 out of 10 people who live typical, everyday lives, it’s going to be too intense a tool that would likely result in bruised or damaged muscle tissue – and the other 1 out of 10 would need to have some AWESOME tissue quality. It’s not to say it’s not something to work towards, but to put an end to the excruciating pain that most clients or trainees experience on a typical foam roller, it doesn’t mean the answer is to add 2 inch studs to said roller. Try using this prematurely, and your body will tense up from the resistance mechanisms to fight the pain, and you’ll be defeating the whole purpose before you can say “rumble roller”.
The purpose of the studs is to target hard-to-reach trigger points, which makes sense, but it all needs to be taken in stride. Chances are, you’ve got bigger issues if your body’s so wound up that a soft roller still gives you grief. That’s why, all in all, a rumble roller would fit my list of descriptors for too much of a good thing – until one works up to it, of course.
THOUGHTS ON FITNESS EXPERTISE
How do I word this so as not to offend anyone?
In the time I’ve spent doing this, I’ve sadly seen some examples where coaches with so many credentials, certifications, and accolades have so much learned knowledge that it makes them unsure of where to start when dealing with clients who have rather straightforward demands, weak points, or needs. They begin to overthink these issues.
In ways, it’s a great problem to have. Think about it – we’re at a place where we’ve learned from many different teachers, over the course of several years. We’ve invested plenty of time and money into furthering our industry specific education, and now we’re so well-read that we have to pick and choose what to make our focal point.
But life goes on.
We have to remember that the people from whom we learn, all have shades of their own philosophies based on their experience and studies within the industry. That’s what makes them unique. Our biggest mistake we can make as trainers who are trying to “make it” (me included) is to listen to all of those coaches without creating our own philosophies and ways of doing things to make us unique too. Of course, making sure our statements are rooted in arguable science or evidence based anecdote would be a good place to start.
Looking at the picture a little more closely, the more schools of thought we rack up under our belt, the more conflicting information we’ll likely be exposed to. Being able to think for ourselves is the beauty of belonging to an unregulated industry that’s based on absolutely zero proof. Knowing who to apply what methodologies to, and also how many methodologies of Coach X, Y, or Z work for us on a case-by-case basis, in my eyes, shows real maturity as a fitness expert.
At the end of the day, it’s all in how we look at it – and that’s really the point I’m trying to get across. “Overkill” to someone who’s in the proper position to “kill it” in the first place, wouldn’t be overkill at all. But this is the real world, and a more balanced and honest approach to what it is we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and circumstances surrounding it all are worthy of our attention. If we keep these things in line, we’re setting ourselves up to have a fitness training experience that lasts a lot longer than it would have otherwise.