How Is Daily Heavy Work (As Detailed In Your Nemesis WODs) Doable Without Overtraining?
“I have a question Nick: I have read that 3×10 at 60-70% is good for Sarcoplastic Hypertrophy, whereas heavy weight, low reps (per set) and lots of volume is good for strength/Oly lifting, as the CNS is trained, is this the reason why you have found that daily heavy work as detailed in your Nemesis WODs is doable without over training becoming an issue?”
I’m going to say something many people in the fitness industry will get pissed at me for. But I believe it to be true (within reason).
OVERTRAINING DOESN’T EXIST
That’s bullshit, of course. Overtraining is a medical syndrome that some people do get themselves into. But… it is EXTREMELY rare, and YOU have never had it.
I want you to avoid ANY thought of overtraining. In all of the years I have been coaching, I have not EVER overtrained a single athlete. Ever.
- CNS fatigue is not overtraining.
- Feeling tired is not overtraining.
- A loss of appetite is not overtraining.
- Being massively sore is not overtraining.
- Watching your numbers and performance fall is not overtraining.
All of that is part of the adaptation process. You are SUPPOSED to feel like you are getting your ass kicked during a loading phase. If you didn’t, you weren’t loading hard enough.
Lifters always come up to me saying that they have been feeling tired and sluggish, and they wonder if it is time for a deload/taper. My answer is nearly always NO.
Why? Because feeling like shit is part of the point.
You don’t get stronger by only doing light weights that feel easy, do you? Of course not. You force your body to deal with weight that is actually TOO heavy to do comfortably to FORCE the issue. That’s what progressive resistance is all about.
Loading and deloading are simply applying those progressive resistance principles on a grander scale. A well-designed loading phase FORCES your body to adapt to a stressful situation. Without a massive amount of stress you don’t get to have massive gains. Sorry, that is just reality.
Slow gains are very common in the gym in large part because people don’t do enough work. My programs produce infamously fast gains because I make people do more. It’s not magic, it’s nothing special, it is just focusing in on the ultra basics in a big way.
Do work, son.
Every Pro Football Player Is Overtrained?
Here are some examples of groups that are all apparently overtrained by the definitions used in the fitness industry:
- Navy Seals
- Pro althletes
- Everyone in bootcamp in the military
- Everyone in grad school
- Construction workers
- Anyone with a physical labor job
- All animals on the earth
In other words… anyone who is doing what it takes to become better at something in a real way and/or simply trying to survive is overtrained? Really?
To me this kind of thinking is begging an important question. If the kind of work it takes to succeed in a big way, to be the best, to reach your FULL potential requires you to “overtrain”, then why do we call it OVERtraining? Shouldn’t it simply be called training?
It is supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t work.
What Do The Best Athletes REALLY Do? More Work
An example is one of our lifters Anthony who (until recently) was a professional indoor football player. He does our programs to the letter, and always adds stuff at the end. Compared to what he was used to in football, our Nemesis-style training is just not that big a deal.
Many pro athletes train a minimum of 4+ hours a day. Child gymnasts do upwards of 10+ hours a week, and adult gymnasts can be upwards of 30+ hours a week. I have had plenty of lifters doing more than 20 hours a week of work in the gym. And many of those were people in their 40’s.
It’s Not Just Athletes – It Is ALL Successful People In Every Profession
When I was learning to play guitar, I played for 6 to 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. When I was in music school, I did music ALL day every day. When I was going to school for mathematics I did math from the moment I woke up till I went to bed – I would even dream about math (talk about exciting!).
Nothing about that is weird. It’s perfectly normal… for those who get really damned good at things. Everyone else complains, wondering why they never learned how to play an instrument, or that they suck at math… because they never actually PRACTICED enough. Of course they suck at it!
Who is going to be a better trumpet player? The girl who practices 8 hours a day, or the girl who practices 3 times a week for less than an hour each time?
Let’s get real.
Getting good at ANYTHING is going to require a phenomenal amount of work – far more than you really want to do – far more than is comfortable – so much it will make your head spin.
- You will suffer.
- You’ll struggle to stay motivated
- You will want to give up
Most people will.
But if you stay the course, no matter how you feel, you’ll kick their ass. It worked for the Tortoise, remember?
Overtraining is over-hyped beyond belief.
Overtraining is a real and very serious medical syndrome, to be sure. But it is basically non-existent in the athletic world because of how hard it is to make it happen.
My 21-day squat challenge regularly puts about 30 to 60 pounds on a males squat in about one month. That is rather normal for us. But everyone finds these results shocking. Why? Because they still worry about overtraining. They don’t do 1/4 of the work I would require of them. They cower every time they feel tired. When they have a bad day in the gym, they bitch and moan and take a day off… they fail because they don’t get it.
You must push through this “pain period” (as Arnold would call it). Not because of some “bro-like” machismo. But because the gains you make are a DIRECT result of your ability to deal with the stress of training.
More stress = more adaptation.
Crying On The Biggest Loser…
This difference between fatigue and overtraining is similar to how soreness in your muscles is NOT the same as a tear or injury.
A rank beginner doesn’t know that, and it’s why all those people on the Biggest Loser cry constantly about their training… their brains honestly interpret those signals as injury… they just aren’t adapted yet.
I find it takes a good 3 weeks or so for someone to start adapting to this style of training. Which is why I sneakily created the 21-Day Squat Challenge 🙂 It’s a fun way for you to test the waters. It has an end date. So if you decide you don’t want to follow this any further you can stop and take the gains you made as a bonus.
OR… you get hooked, and you learned something about yourself: You are capable of something FAR greater than you ever thought possible.
Gained 68 Pounds On Her Squat In 90 Days
I like to use Tamara as an example, because she was ALREADY a nation-level lifter who had been doing 3 straight years of daily (sometimes twice daily) workouts in Olympic weightlifting to get to where she did.
And yet, I looked at what she was doing and told her it wasn’t enough. She thought I was nuts at first, LOL
But adding 68 pounds on her squat in about 3 months changed her mind completely 🙂
She does more volume/load in one squat session than most lifters do in a week. But – again – that’s not something magic, it is inline with how most champion lifters train. The entire Chinese team trains that way, so do Russians, Cubans, Bulgarians, whoever… they all have different LOOKING routines, but under it all is a solid stream of massive workloads beyond most peoples imagination.
Once she raised her workloads to the “standard” level, she saw gains like she couldn’t believe. I’ve found this to be normal.
All I am doing is bringing to “regular people” the truth about how athletes at the high level do what they do: more work.
Cry Foul Time: Genetics & Steroids
Of course, there is always genetics and the nefarious steroids issue at that level of sports. But I will ignore steroids.
Yes, everyone in every sport at the top is on something. They are guilty until proven innocent in my book. I could care less on a moral level. But I’m a realist. Sports bring out the uber-competitor in people and steroids certainly DO work.
But focusing on the fact that other people use juice is meaningless to you. The goal is to do as much as YOU are capable of – no holding back. That has nothing to do with what someone else is injecting into their ass.
You should also ignore the genetics arguments, though it is just as clear that “good” genes help.
The problem with “genetics” is twofold:
- We don’t know what “good” means in a comprehensive sense
- You never really know if you have these magical “good” genes until you give it a go – genetic testing aside.
Today, Tamara is 5’8″ tall, 180 pounds of power, and thick boned. It would be easy to point a finger at her and say: look at those genes!
But, it only appears obvious now that she has ALREADY done the work.
Tamara was ALWAYS very skinny throughout her 20’s. Then she got fat after she had her kids in her 30’s. It wasn’t until her mid 30’s when she started weightlifting and strength training.
Looking at her, you would have always believed she was a distance runner “type”.But underneath it all, she had the raw material for a strength athlete – and a damned good one. Who’d have thought?
I’m the same way. I was 128 pounds when I graduated highschool. I was TINY. But I ended up bulking into a 205 pound fire-hydrant at only 16% bodyfat. I never would have believed that was possible when I was 18. Never. It took me till I was in my 30’s to pull that off.
My advice to everyone is to ignore genetics and just go for it anyway, because you are probably far more built for this than you think you are now.
Hope that helps!
When you’re finally ready to see the gains you are capable of, check out our Nemesis WOD’s.
Now go lift something heavy,