04 November 2009

*... And On The Seventh Day, He Rested

The Barbarian Brothers were famous for their belief that "there's no such thing as overtraining; just undereating and undersleeping." My contention is, and has been, that this is very nearly 100% true. That's not to say that overtraining doesn't exist- it simply means that people are by and large pussies who are so pathetic in their refusal to actually do work that they'll find any excuse to skip a day or week of training.

Personally, I like to train. Fuck that, I love to train. I'll train through injuries, sickness, boredom, stagnation, shitty weather, and global cataclysms if need be, just because I actually LIKE to be in the gym.

You'll notice that my schedule rarely includes multiple days off a week. I might have light days necessitated by soreness, exhaustion, or scheduling conflicts and time constraints, but I will by and large be in the gym 6 days a week come hell or high water.

But what about the fact that a muscle NEEDS 72 hours of rest after training? That's a FACT! Oh yeah? Tell that to lumberjacks, or the guys who used to lay bridges at the turn of the century, working 6 days a week and swinging 18 lb sledges all day long. Think they worried about overtraining? Nope. Probably because they were too busy admiring their 17 inch forearms and eating and sleeping. Tell it to Eastern European olympic weightlifters who train for hours a day, 6 days a week, using over 80% of their 1RM the vast majority of the time. Think they worry about overtraining? Probably not, because they, too, are too busy eating or sleeping.

In case you're curious, here are the recovery times decided upon by Eastern European sports scientists:

Training Load of 1 Workout / Restoration Time (in hours)
Extreme ---> >72
Large ---> 48-72
Substantial --->24-48
Medium ---> 12-24
Small ---> 12

Zatsiorsky didn't elaborate on these training loads, so they seem somewhat arbitrary, but I'd state that they are dependant upon the individual as well. Go with your average training workload and adjust accordingly. That is, in effect, what I do, and the reason why I can justify training the same bodypart multiple days in a row. It is also an explanation for why I can be successful with the methodology I espouse- aside, of course, from the fact that I am a flaming asshole and not a total pussy.

Additionally, when I state that I generally train 6 days a week, this means I generally train 6 days a week over the course of the year. None of that programmed "week off every five "nonsense for me. Know why not? It's retarded, unnecessary, and motivated by sloth and a willful misunderstanding of the establishment of that methodology.

For those of you who don't understand it (I'm referring to you, Rippetoe), here's how the one week off every five system began:

The idea that one should take an off week once per five weeks is one that arose as part of the Eastern European training methodology. The Eastern Europeans based their training on a centralized method, whereby they would take their athletes from their home for a month at a time, forcing them to train around the clock in state-run gyms, often fueled by sub-standard food and under stressful, prison-like conditions. As a result, the athletes required a full week of rest thereafter, when they would travel home, visit with their families, refuel and recharge, and then return to their around-the-clock training. Westerners never train under such ludicrous conditions, and nor do they subject themselves to the volume of training that do Eastern Europeans.i As such, a week of rest after four weeks of “hard” training is not only unnecessary, but a laughable and pompous aping of the actions of people with no other choice, and who logarithmically out-train them even on the lamest and most pathetic of training days. Thus, if you take a week off every five, you are either retarded, tremendously weak of spirit, or training in a Soviet-era gym eating grade F meat and potatoes for every meal.

So, in essence, if you insist that you train so hard that you need a week off every month, you are a pussy, a liar, and generally a bag of shit. you should strongly consider drinking bleach the next time you're in the kitchen. You should never, ever, find yourself in the same room as a real man and open your mouth to do anything other than fellate him, as a token of your appreciation of his overwhelming awesomeness.

So, you might be wondering, when is it ok to take a couple of days off? Well, I'll tell you when I know that it's time:
  1. When I have an injury of a sort that actually prevents me from doing any meaningful training. This does not include wisdom tooth extraction. I trained the same day I had my three impacted wisdom teeth extracted.
  2. When I am suffering horrible cramping in a major muscle group, such as upper back or quads.
  3. When you're on vacation.
That's it. I cannot envision another reason that would necessitate multiple days off in a row. If you have better shit to do, fine, but don't run around screaming about how you're averting overtraining, because you're being intellectually disingenuous and generally annoying.

Once more, no one ever got better at something by doing less of it.

iZatsiorsky, Vladimir M. Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign: Human Kinetics, 1995. Pp 110.

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  1. I swear if you had the ability, you'd sport that mullet.

  2. When training through sickness, you're referring to the cold or cold-like symptoms I assume?

    Anyways, I did my first chaos and pain squat day. Planned out 10 sets of 90% of 1rm, ended up doing 5 singles of 160lbs, 5 singles of 165lbs, 2 singles of 170lbs, a triple of 170lbs which was awesome. Fell on mattress and rehabilitated, then hit a single of 180lbs. Thats 10lbs over my bodyweight! Can't wait for next squat day, I love hitting heavy singles.

  3. just t congratulate you for your kickass blog...

  4. I used to be piss weak on pullups and back excercises... tried doing back work 6 days a week for two weeks and my Rows and Pullups caught up with the rest of my lifts.

    Gonna try this for arm hypertrophy for the next two weeks on my odd days. 20 sets of 10, half for biceps, half for triceps, 10 total supersetted, and no more than 45 seconds rest at a time.

  5. Awesome!

    As to the cold question- I would have to get AIDS to have a normal immune system, but in the rare event that I have a fever, I train through it.

    I like the supersets for arms. that's about all I do, honestly, if I do triceps. If you can do them with a fat bar, do them that way- you get the forearm work as well.

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