COACHES CORNER: Working to Capacity - The Dangers of Overtraining

There is a lot of debate at the moment about the subject of “over training” i.e. over working muscle groups compared to conventional thought regarding how often and how hard we should be training. (Volume vs. Load vs. Frequency)

Imagine your body as a glass of water, the space in the glass representing your potential work capacity for the week. Every time you train you add water to the glass, every time you rest the glass drains slightly but never fully draining the water added when you trained, as you continue to train and rest the glass will continue to fill.

Now take into account your home and work life, do you have an active job?
Do you eat clean?
Do you get at least 7 hours sleep a night?
Do you have a high stress job or is your home life currently causing you stress?

Any number of these factors can hinder your recovery from training or fill up that glass reducing your potential capacity when you hit the gym again.

In the gym, a lot of people have misguided belief that if you’re not totally exhausted and blown out by the end of the session you haven’t worked hard enough or the session was a waste of time, where on the contrary it is possible to make substantial if not more impressive gains by following a programme which allows you to leave the gym feeling better than when you went in.

There are tons of classes and programs that feed this misconception: Hot Yoga, Hot Spinning, Classes and programs that promote the idea that you need to be sweating like crazy for your training to be truly effective.

That’s not to say that a good beasting isn’t going to do you some good, on the contrary pushing yourself to the limit can break plateaus, set PB’s and burn fat like never before… there is however a time and a place and that time should never be ‘every time’.

So, what happens when the glass overflows?

In truth any number of things, you could fall ill, get injured, or at the lesser end of the scale simply under perform in the gym.

So how do we ensure we are staying within our work capacity?

The answer is different for everyone but the best advice I can give you is:

- Seek out a top-notch exercise program, follow it religiously and advance through the progression ONLY when your own progress allows you to take the step up.

- Follow a solid nutrition plan catered to your goals, if you aren’t a 55 yr old mum who hasn’t exercised for 20 years, don’t follow a diet plan designed for 55yr old mum’s! do your research and avoid fads.

- Sleep! Get your head down early and avoid playing on your phone or tablet 30 minutes before going to bed.

- Rest! Resting is nearly as important as the actual workout, especially when we start on a new journey we want to do everything we can to get there as quick as possible, take your foot off the pedal, allow your body to recover and stick to exactly what is required of you from your exercise program and trust the process.

Yours in Fitness,


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