17 May 2010

You're Overtrained, huh? It's All in Your Fucking Head.

I find it astonishing, and incredible, that people are so wedded to the idea that overtraining is a common affliction from which everyone on Earth with a decent physique must be suffering, or they're juicing. Actually, I take that back. The pervasive and deleterious belief that overtraining is a common training malady is undeniably rooted in the precipitous decline of the physical and intellectual fabric of the modern western male. People insist that the only way one might succeed in amateur physical pursuits is to do one of two things- 1) do LESS, or 2) take a shitload of drugs, at which point your herculean efforts are completely obviated by the fact that you've utilized a chemical shortcut. The first option simultaneous reflects and exacerbates the societal cancer of fatassedness, stupidity, and sloth with which we are constantly dogged. What, you need more time to watch reality television, so that you can see a bunch of vapid, shallow people live impossible lifestyles and then work harder at a job you detest to buy shit you can't afford, so that perhaps other shallow people will look at you and associate you with the anal barnacle they saw on tv? Sweet. The second is ridiculous for several reasons, but the bulk of which is that no matter whether you achieve your success in physical culture through use of aas or not- everyone will accuse you of using everything from insulin to steroids to GH.  As such, you might as well use gear, because either way, people will find a way to deny your success because they will believe it is impossible. They will do this because modern man always believes that his problems are everyone else's fault, and that they're none of his own doing. Therefore, the fact that they cannot compete with people who try far harder than they must inviolably and indisputably be the result of cheating on the part of the victor.

These issues are even more ridiculous given the fact that professional athletes and Olympians are considered to be driven, somehow superior, and above these criticisms and illogic.  Thus, they should be dismissed out of hand as absurd and beneath contempt, but given the omnipresent air of ignorance and stupidity driven by misinformation, a closer look is required.

Roy Benavidez- an unstoppable killing machine during the Vietnam War who was essentially shot in every single part of his body, yet carried a squad of injured soldiers to an aircraft by himself, getting progressively more injured, then hung around and called in airstrikes, even after taking grenade shrapnel and more bullets, simply because he didn't feel like fucking dying.

This brings us to the crux of the matter- the power of belief. No, I'm not referring to you religious views. They're completely immaterial, except in that should you believe yourself to be endowed with some sort of metaphysical power, you will be, simply because your mind fills your body with strength. Sgt. Rory Miller, author of what is in my opinion a seminal psychological work, Meditations on Violence, discusses at some length the fact that people will often die in violent situations because they are conditioned to do so by television. how many times in the movies have you seen a person die of a gut shot? Often, and nearly instantly. In reality, abdominal gunshot wounds can take weeks to kill you. Police officers, however, are conditioned to the belief that a gunshot will kill a person, and thus, frequently, die of otherwise survivable wounds simply because they believe they must. (pp. 61, 83)  

As it turns out, overtraining works in the very same way, though in the Eastern Bloc, they refer to this phenomenon as "staleness".  According to Zatsiorsky, "staleness" is a phenomenon that occurs due to the psychological stress that is created by continually training at near-maximal training volumes.  Doing so frequently is incredibly mentally exhausting, and this mental exhaustion, as mental issues are generally wont to do, manifests itself physically.  The symptoms of "staleness" are as follows (Zatsiorsky, Vladimir, "Intensity of Strength Training Facts and Theory Russian and Eastern Approach", p. 15):
  • decreased vigor
  • elevated anxiety and depression
  • sensation of fatigue in the morning hours and perception of effrt while lifting a fixed weight
  • high blood pressure at rest
Horribly overtrained.  Horribly.  You can tell because he's... retardedly strong and jacked, I guess.
Sound familiar?  It should, because every fucking bodybuilding rag on the planet lists these as physiological responses to physical exhaustion created by overtraining one's body.  This, my friends, is important, as it blasts a giant fucking hole into a theory that should already be on extremely tenuous logical footing in any thinking person's brain.  Additionally, it certainly fucks the "you can only train like that on steroids" bitches in their ears, unless they're going to alter their argument against steroids to the myriad positive effects of high testosterone levels on psychological well-being, which would in turn destroy their "roid rage" argument.  

We're watching a whole bullshit house of cards come crashing down on the heads of a lot of pussies, who will hopefully curl the fuck up and die now.  Unfortunately, however, as we learned in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, one of the greatest films of all time, "slandering others anonymously" is "what the internet is for", so I'm sure all of the silly little pussies talking shit on forums across the internet will continue their ill-conceived an baseless assaults on lifting to justify their next Ho-Ho and their sub-bodyweight overhead press.

Zatsiorsky's resolution is to only train with maximal or near maximal competition weights 600 times a year.  I suppose that seems reasonable, given that the Bulgarians do it 4000 times a year.  

Sure, they can train around the clock, because that's their job.  That's the next argument against high training volume, isn't it?  Invariably, they fall to that- people who train like that have no lives, they have no other interests, they have have no kids, no wives, no other interests, no blah blah bullshit.  You know what those arguments are?  A tacit admission that the real reason that people refuse the efficacy of high-volume, high intensity training is because they don't fucking want to train like that.  As such, they don't want others to do so either, as it further degrades their personal opinions of themselves.  

An aside you can skip if you want:
An amusing outgrowth of of this mindset is the recent suggestion by the mental health community that exercise might be addictive.  That's just fucking dandy.  I'm sure they're simply pissed off that they massive amounts of psychotropic drugs and estrogen the government has already put or allowed in the drinking water haven't made us into the sheeple that the government wants- we're not weak and complacent enough for them yet.  Perhaps they;ll start restricting the amount we're allowed to enter the gym soon, so that our neo-fascist nanny state can save us from ourselves, and all of the fat motherfuckers populating mall food courts and buffets will once more feel good about themselves.  There's no such thing as an exercise addiction, and even if there was, our sorry fucking medical establishment is hardly the crack team of exercise experts qualified to make that diagnosis.  Certainly, there are crazy people for exercise far too much, without eating enough, in the wrong way.  They suck, and they've probably been driven crazy from the knowledge that shit only appears to be getting worse, rather than better.  Throw into the mix the estrogen poisoning, refined white sugar, too much television, a society allegedly predicated upon free expression that suppresses it whenever possible and such a profound dedication to mediocrity that the mind would be boggled by it if it were not in a stupor from the blandness of the phenomenon, and you've got a recipe for disaster.
Up next, I'll cover methods to circumvent this mental fatigue, condemn those who continue to assert the existence of overtraining, and explain why we should abandon the theory altogether and start enslaving the weak.


  1. Once again, another great post Jamie. This is why I always camp on your site waiting for your next post. I always get that 'overtraining' look when working out and the remarks 'is he a boxer?'.
    NO! I work out cos its fun to challenge myself, to become one with my mind and make my body tap out and yell 'UNCLE!'. Too bad most people are too afraid to walk a mile in my shoes and prefer to stay on the sidelines talking shit by the way I train. How soft the modern man has become... PITIFUL!!!

  2. "Somebody's poisoned the water hole!"

    Yeah, pretty soon we're going to be paying to eat dirt sandwiches.

    Sprinkle some Teflon flakes on top and spread some fluoride on it.


  3. Spot-On, mate. Overtraining can go fuck itself. If you are overtrained, harden the fuck up

  4. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. This is Stefan. His name, is Stefan.

    Harden the fuck up Stefan.

  5. Thanks for this post Jamie. I've been trying to make this point over on the Viking Hall but I don't think I'm having any luck. I mentioned your 7 day challenge and how I thought it was as much a mental thing as a physical one but I'm not sure the guys are getting that.

  6. I think one of the main reasons for this is because the strongest lifters at the Hall do not train in such a way.

  7. He comes through again. Just when I was feeling like taking a week off... The weights get murdered tomorrow. And the next day.

  8. Wait so does this mean you can train a lot more as long as frequent heavy weights don't stress you out or scare you?

    This is quite enlightening.I found I could train more often myself when I stopped "hyping" myself up for lifts.


  9. This picture of Jay and Silent Bob came from Clerks 2...

  10. Hmmm... Apparently steroids make you paranoid.

  11. Really? What kind?

  12. Yet another great post Jamie.

    Thank you for continuing to kick lazy fucks like myself in the ass; we need it.

  13. Hahaha. No worries. The second half is even better, in my opinion. I spent enough fucking time on it- it should be!

  14. I link people this post all the time. Love it.