#26 – Are You Overtraining? Part 2: Prevention and Treatment

Last week Coach D discussed the signs and symptoms of overtraining. Today he talks about strategies for preventing overtraining and treating it when it does happen.


  1. Nutrition– this is one area that blocks the progress of many novice trainees. Your eating habits need to support your training. First and foremost, make sure you are getting enough protein. For most men, this is going to be at least 200g per day, and for most women 150g a day. The majority of that protein should be from animal sources. Secondly, don’t ignore carbohydrates! As you advance in your training, you will need adequate stores of glycogen to complete heavy strength training and HIIT sessions, and skimping on carbs will impair your performance. How much carbohydrate an athlete needs will be specific to the individual, but most of them will require moderate to high carbohydrate levels.
  2. Sleep– sleep is the body’s time to repair, remodel, and build new tissues, and thus it is a critical component to the recovery process. You can’t short your sleep for very long before it becomes a drag on your recovery. Aim to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
  3. Mental health– psychological stress is a form of stress! Not all stressors are physical in nature. If you have significant psychological stress, either from your job or family or any of the curveballs that life is known to throw from time to time, then that is likely impacting your ability to recover from workouts. Take some time to ensure you are giving yourself space to relax, to let your brain rest, on rest days. Small habits add up here. Try to turn off electronics an hour before bed. Sleep in a dark room. Take a walk everyday. Try yoga or meditation.
  4. Programming– all programming only works for so long. If you’ve been training consistently and hitting it hard for awhile, it may be time to adjust your programming. There are many ways to approach this, but it could be as simple as reducing the volume or frequency of your workouts, or cycling the intensity so that you’re going heavy fewer times per week.
  5. Review your progress and change programming if necessary. Have you made progress in 6 weeks? 3 months? The more advanced an athlete you are, the longer it will take to make measurable progress. But if you’re not making progress on a timeline appropriate for your level of advancement, it may be time to change your programming. This is where your training log is a critical tool!


Additionally, for novice strength trainees an excellent resource is Mark Rippetoe’s The First Three Questionsarticle. Many novices end their LP prematurely by failing to account for some basic recovery issues, especially nutrition. Rippetoe lays out the first three questions a novice should ask themselves if they find themselves stuck during the novice linear progression.


Interested in learning the barbell lifts, but don’t have a good coach in your area? Visit our friends at Starting Strength Online Coachingto get paired with a top notch Starting Strength Coach who will coach you through all the barbell lifts and manage your programming on a daily basis.


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