Overtraining is the biggest mistake you can make in bodybuilding. I'm not the first to say it, but I didn't always believe it. I love training. I tried to convince myself that by going to the gym 7 days a week I was getting more ripped. I wasn't, I was in denial about the waistline in the mirror, and the diminishing returns on my gym visits. Your gains will suffer if you work out before you're healed from your last workout. After a few years of hurting myself, I'm finally getting it, what some of the older guys have preached. I'm talking about the fact that muscle gains are a 3 phase operation.
- The workout, where micro trauma is affected on the muscle. The muscle is injured so it will grow stronger and bigger, usually in that order.
-The muscle grows after it heals from the workout.
-This is where we, as bodybuilders, want to get to. Too often in the past, as soon as a muscle group stopped hurting I'd go to the gym and tear it up again. It's tough, when you've fallen in love with training to wait and give yourself time to grow. It's worth it, though.
If you're taking steroids it's a totally different ballgame, and I don't pass judgement on anyone who is. I've heard a lot of natural bodybuilders accuse the juicers of taking the easy way out. Increasing your body's recovery time with drugs so you can workout longer, harder, heavier, and more often doesn't sound like the easy way out to me.
So the big question for those of us doing it without steroids is, "How do I know when I'm done growing?" I'm still looking for a simple answer. So far the only thing I've found is to listen to your body, watch the mirror, and keep a workout journal. Mike Mentzer used to say, "You don't know if your workout was a success until the next time you do that workout." So if the reps and poundages are consistently increasing in your workout journal, you are golden. It's perserverance, patience, and vigilance that will create the body of your dreams. The saying "no pain, no gain" had its run. I like to think bodybuilders are getting smarter, and realizing that what we do to our bodies today is creating our future. Overtraining is a surefire way to end up eventually needing a hip replacement, new knees, and shoulders.