Overtraining in Calisthenics: Everything You Need To Know!

Overtraining syndrome occurs when training outpaces rest and recovery. To get a better understanding of overtraining, why it occurs and how to prevent it keep reading!

Understanding Overtraining in Calisthenics

Overtraining syndrome occurs when training outpaces rest and recovery. To get a better understanding of overtraining it is important to have an understanding of the three levels of overtraining.
The first is functional overreaching, which is a controlled and planned phase of training designed to induce temporary fatigue lasting anywhere from a few days up to 2 weeks once the training load has decreased this results in a supercompensation of performance.
Non-functional overreaching is an unintended and more severe form of overreaching, with performance drops lasting anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. After the training load is reduced the performance only returns to baseline.
Overtraining is a detrimental and chronic state of fatigue and decreased performance caused by chronic, excessive training without adequate recovery, leading to a decrease in performance for over 2 months. Once the training load is reduced performance returns below baseline.

Overtraining Causes and Symptoms

Excessive volume is often associated with overtraining because it can exacerbate the risk of overtraining by increasing the overall training workload (without any benefits).
Under-recovery, on the other hand, occurs when you do not allow the body sufficient time and resources to recover from training-induced stress.

Joint stress is a form of overtraining and can contribute to overuse injuries, such as tendonitis or stress fractures, which are associated with repetitive joint stress. These injuries occur when the same joints and muscles are subjected to continuous strain without sufficient rest, and especially relevant to avoid in calisthenics where there is a lot of stress on the elbow joints during exercises such as pull ups and straight arm movements.

Systemic fatigue, also known as whole-body or general fatigue, refers to a state of tiredness or exhaustion that affects the entire body rather than being localized to a specific area or system. It is a pervasive and profound feeling of weariness that can impact both physical and mental performance.

Additionally, if you’re overtraining or under-recovering you might notice signs such as disrupted sleep patterns, loss of motivation, and a compromised immune system.

How to Prevent Overtraining

Overtraining is often not what is causing the decrease in performance, but under-recovery appears to be the more significant problem causing a decrease in performance, at least for most people training recreationally or even quite seriously. Therefore, the primary approach to managing fatigue should emphasize recovery strategies and proper nutrition.

The body experiences a temporary dip in performance after training due to fatigue and microtrauma to muscles. However, with proper recovery, the body begins to rebuild and adapt, increasing performance capabilities above the baseline level. This is known as supercompensation.

Adequate rest and sleep are crucial for recovery. During deep sleep, the body undergoes repair and regeneration, including muscle growth.

  • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
  • Avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Develop a calming pre-sleep routine, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like meditation.
  • Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. A comfortable mattress and pillows are essential for a good night’s sleep.

Proper nutrition is essential to provide the body with the necessary nutrients to repair tissues and replenish energy stores.

  • Aim for a protein intake of about 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This range can help support your muscle growth and recovery.
  • Aim to consume a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and oatmeal, provide more fiber and nutrients. That can help with sustained energy and avoiding energy crashes.

Take deload weeks: Deloading is a planned reduction in training volume and intensity for a specific period, typically lasting about one week. The purpose of deloading is to provide the body with a break from intense training, allowing it to recover and adapt while minimizing the risk of overtraining and injuries (read more about deloading)

Final thoughts

Pay attention to signs of overtraining/under-recovering, such as persistent fatigue, decreased performance, and joint stress. Gradually increase the intensity and volume of your workouts to allow your body to adapt. Avoid sudden and excessive jumps in training loads. Prioritize recovery strategies, including adequate sleep, proper nutrition, hydration, and stress management.

Calisthenics progress is a gradual process, and recovery is an important phase because your body rebuilds and becomes stronger when you are resting. Best results are achieved by setting attainable goals and remaining patient throughout your calisthenics journey.

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