I respect Rodney Roller for being a freak, and he's a strong fucking guy, but this advice is pure, unadulterated horseshit. I've posted at great length about what a load of fucking bollocks overtraining is, and that it's generally mental burnout that's what gets lifters, rather than actual physical overuse issues. For those of you who can't be bothered to click links, here's the crux of that post: overtraining has exactly the same symptoms as the phenomenon known in the Eastern Bloc as "staleness". According to Zatsiorsky, "staleness" occurs due to the psychological (not physiological) 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. (Zatsiorsky, Vladimir, "Intensity of Strength Training Facts and Theory Russian and Eastern Approach", p. 15) Overuse, on the other hand, generally manifests itself as actually injuries, rather than a general malaise, and is thus far easier to diagnose, and easier to avoid.
One of the great benefits to being a beginner is the excitement and enthusiasm one has for training, and it's important that we encourage new lifters to harness, rather than stifle, this enthusiasm to ensure that they build an awesome foundation for the future with their training. Additionally, new lifters get what's known as "beginner's gain", in which they have massive gains in muscular size and strength as their bodies adapt to to the workload placed upon them. Provided that they eat and sleep enough and lifting in the right way, this is the best opportunity to train until their fucking faces fall off, rather than huddling in the fucking corner with a Goosebumps book, a flashlight, and their blankie, hoping the light will scare off the overtraining boogeyman that Mark Rippetoe assured them would arrive at any moment to steal their souls and the left sock from every pair in their sock drawer. For those of you who remain unconvinced, and truly believe that overtraining is coming for you, some things to consider:
- it is "easier to cause a performance decrease in athletes dependent on prolonged monotonous extensive training at a high training load than on intensified training of 1-2 hours per day."(#1, pp. 9-10) Thus, if you're not boring the shit out of yourself with high rep, low-intensity bullshit like three sets of ten for eight hours a day, you're probably going to do just fine busting your ass in the gym as a beginner.
- it's characterized in a nation that lacks a phobia to physical labor (China) as "generally a condition or status which is caused by constant severe training that does not provide adequate time and modalities for recovery." (#2)
I've stated before that I don't generally deal in beginner routines, due to the fact that beginners rarely listen to anyone with a modicum of education in strength training in nutrition, tending instead to devote the entirety of their attention to the guy they see curling and benching the most. That sad fact aside, here are my recommendations for male beginners:
- eat your motherfucking face off. Unless you're fat as shit, no calorie is going to be a bad calorie for the first 6 months you're in the gym, provided you're murdering weights like you're a modern day Vlad the Impaler and the weights are Turks who want you to adopt their desert mythology in lieu of whatever else you might feel like doing. I went 351 consecutive days of eating Taco Bell my junior year of high school, because I could get 10 tacos with just meat on them for $4 after figuring out a loophole in their pricing system, and I've got massive calves to show for it, since I had a fascination with weighted calf raises that defies explanation. Just make sure you're getting protein with EVERY meal, and a shitload of it. The old adage that you can only absorb 30-40g of protein at a sitting defies both science and common sense. More is better.
- spend the majority of your time getting stronger, not prettier. If you really want to get pretty, save that for the second half of the year. The first 6 months should be all about getting as strong as you possibly can. The heavier you go, the better your neurological adaptation to lifting will be, and the more gains you'll see in the future as a result.
- skip the pansy-ass machine bullshit. Great strength and physiques are forged in heavy free weight exercises. You'll get much bigger arms from heavy rows than you will from machine curls... and as we all know, getting bigger arms is the primary, secondary, and tertiary goal of every new jack in the gym. up.
- make sure you're squatting, deadlifting, cleaning, and overhead pressing more often than you're engaging in any other lifts. These lifts will have the greatest carryover into other exercises, will have the best crossover into sports training, and will precipitate the most extreme metabolic changes. In other words, the more you do them, the leaner, stronger, and more muscular you'll get, faster than you would anything else.
- have fucking fun. Lifting should be a good time. Thus, if you have an exercise that you like doing, or at which you want to get good, have the fuck at it, provided it's not cable crossovers or hercules curls. If you love those exercises, go take a shit in the toilet, don't flush, and then jam your head into the bowl and drown yourself, because next to Sarah Palin, you suck more than any other person of whom I can think off the top of my head.
I realize, for the sticklers, that I've not generated a routine. There's a reason for that- I don't think beginners need one. Instead they need to be pointed in the right direction, need to find someone who can teach them good form, and then go lift some weights. Beginners rarely follow routines, so it's useless to design them anyway. I just want people to realize that just because they're beginners, they don't have to lift like bitches.
Tell beginners to err on the side of maniacal.
- Lehmann, M. J., Lormes, W., Opitz-Gress, A., Steinacker, J. M., Netzer, N., Foster, C., & Gastmann, U. (1997). Training and overtraining: An overview and experimental results in endurance sports. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 37, 7-17.
- Bin Bu, Quansheng Su, Junzhi Sun (2003) "Overtraining research advances in China."Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness (2003), 1(2):125-128, citing Qu & Yu 2003; Cheng 1996; Chinese Medical Encyclopaedia 1989.