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Question
Posted by: scorpio | 2006/10/31

overtraining vs undertraining?

How come, that after training excessively for about 3 months and then having a cooling off period and not exercising for about 2 weeks, and then you suddenly start again, that you feel so great? Does your body just get tired of all the extra stress that it is placed under when exercising and when you start taking it more easily i.e. istead of going 7 days a week, you go 4 times and then you take a complete week off, it recuperates? Is training too hard bad for your body?

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Our expert says:
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Hi Scorpio

There is a saying in training that you don't get better by training, you get better by RESTING. And it's true - the body does adapt incredibly well to the stresses of training, but it's only when it also recovers that you really start seeing the effects of the training. So you have to distinguish between training for fitness and health, and then training to improve performance. What you are seeing after your little layoff is that performance has improved. I doubt that your fitness will have improved at all though. So the take-home message from this is that the body does need recovery time in order to fully maximize the effects of training. If you don't give it that recovery, then what happens is that the body gradually loses its ability to adapt to the training and you end up feeling flat and overtrained. So my advice is always to have a day off per week, and a week of easier training off per month, and a month of very easy training off every 6 or so months. During these easy weeks or months, you back right off, and just do enough to keep fit, but not get fitter. I hope that helps you see the importance of rest.

Good luck
Ross

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