Overtraining is a Myth – Hard Work is a Reality

There is a certain school of though that teaches people to be afraid and run away from hard work. This occurs in the fitness world as well. We are taught that if you train too frequently or with too much intensity you would not only limit the amount of muscle you can gain but even lose muscle from exercising too much.

After all, we grow while we sleep right. Or better yet, we fall for the myth that is we “eat big” we will “get big”. All we need to do is go to the gym and do a couple sets and then head on over to the supplement store and buy yourself a protein powder that taste like chalk instead of actually buying any gym chalk.

The stimulus is training. Our bodies undergo certain physiological changes to adapt to the stress placed on it. If you don’t train, nothing happens. This is reality for most people – not making it to the gym at all.

Take a look at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pre-contest bodybuilding routine. The volume of his workouts are insane. Arnold used to train like this for up to three hours each day while still continuing to perform his regular military training duties. Most people can’t complete Arnold’s workouts let alone repeat them. However, the body always finds a way to adapt and your physique changes as a consequence.

People tend to forget how much the human body is physically capable of enduring.

There is a group of indigenous people in Central America that hunt deer by chasing them for days. When the deer sees the predator is panics and runs away flat out. The hunter slowly jogs behind the deer knowing to pace themselves and chases after the deer for days.

I remember a case study about a man who fasted for 3 weeks while continuing to work his regular job as a physical laborer. At the end of three weeks he reported only losing several pounds of bodyweight and claimed his energy levels to perform his job balanced on their own naturally within a few days of starting the fast.

Our bodies are designed to endure extreme physical endeavors and fast for extended periods of time while enduring physical challenges without breaking.

Don’t fall for the myth of overtraining. Instead, believe in the reality of hard work and working hard.

Monday – Push Workout

  • Bench Press
    • 205 lbs x 2 reps
    • 225 lbs x 2 reps
    • 245 lbs x 2 reps*
    • 140 lbs x 20 reps
  • Floor Press
    • 205 lbs x 2 reps
    • 225 lbs x 2 reps
    • 245 lbs x 2 reps**
  • Box Front Squat (w/ belt, 12″ box)
    • 205 lbs x 1 rep
    • 225 lbs x 1 rep
    • 275 lbs x Failed
  • Front Squat (w/o belt)
    • 160 lbs x 15 reps
  • Low Bar Back Squat (w/ belt)
    • 275 lbs x 2 reps
    • 295 lbs x 2 reps

Comments:

* I failed on the second rep but it was close. I got stuck at the sticking point and will probably try again the next workout or attempt 255 lbs for a single.

** I failed on the second rep. However, this is a new 1 rep max PR for me in the floor press. The amount of weight I can lift in the bench press compared to the floor press is close and have come to accept the it as an accurate conjugate. If I gain 20 lbs in the floor press it is safe to assume I will have gained 20 lbs in the bench press. The floor press reduces the amount of stress on the front deltoid making it an excellent alternative to the bench press if you have shoulder problems.

Pullover and Press

The pullover and press is an exercise used back in the day before there were weight benches available. In order to do a floor press – old school version of the bench press – without a spotter, you had to pull the weight off the floor yourself.

Today this movement is performed on a weight bench.  The distance the bar travels in the pullover position, when on the floor, is far shorter than what can be achieved on a bench.

This is an exercise designed to allow you to lift a heavy weight and not intended to stretch the ribcage or lats. Far too many injuries occur from overstretching in this exercise with far too heavy a weight. If you are trying to expand your ribcage, dumbbell pullovers lying across a bench are designed for it. I prefer the floor version, as it is safer and you do not need a spotter to hand you the weight.

The pullover and press is a combination of two antagonistic exercises: the pullover phase is first because the traditional version requires you to lift it off the floor, followed by a close-grip bench press.

Start with the barbell overhead on the floor, with your elbows bent to alleviate stress and handle more weight. Your grip should be close and your elbows should point toward the ceiling.

Without changing the elbow angle, pull the barbell off the floor and to the chest in a circular manner. Your elbows will touch the floor preventing the bar from touching your chest if you are lying on the floor.

Once you have pulled the weight to your chest, you are basically in the start position of a floor press or a close-grip bench press.

Press the bar to lockout position, lower it again to the chest, and then reverse the circular manner in which you brought the bar to the chest and lower the barbell back down to the floor.

This exercise will build your lats, chest, shoulders, and triceps. However, it is best known as a triceps builder. The bent-arm pullover and the close-grip bench press both heavily involve the triceps but in opposite ways.

The pullover is a pulling exercise using the lats and rear delts while the press is a pushing exercise that uses antagonistic muscles – the chest and front delts. Alternating between a push and pull exercise allows the triceps to be worked in a unique way that no other exercise can do.