|Missed Lift: OT or UR?|
“What are your thoughts on under-recovery vs overtraining? Any key indicators to be aware of to distinguish between the two?”
Great question for discussion and I am very interested in hearing other opinions on this as well. For the most part, overtraining and under recovery can be lumped together. They both can lead to the development of the other. I tend to define them separately, just for consistency and explanation purposes. Overtraining is fatigue and a decrement in performance due to too much training...or training stress. Under recovery is the accumulation of fatigue and a decrement in performance due to inadequacy of recovery outside of the gym, which includes restoration, nutrition, sleep, etc. I tend to think of under recovery as life stress. So, overtraining is strictly from training, and under recovery is everything else.
Overtraining is real, but it is very misunderstood and grossly overstated by most people. 99% of people will never experience overtraining, and maybe only 5-10% of athletes. Now, fatigue is common and a normal response to training. For full blown overtraining to occur that fatigue would have to accumulate over a period of months. Most people will take a few days off, or an overuse injury limits their training, before overtraining develops. If tendonitis flairs up in your knee and reduces your ability to squat, that is not overtraining. Two separate issue, overtraining and overuse (possibly a future post). Overtraining is a whole system issue which has effects on the endocrine, neuromuscular, and cardiorespiratory systems.
Competitive athletes are more susceptible because of the demands of competition, desire to win, etc., but mostly the inability to take time off due to their sport. Think about a post-collegiate athlete who gave up his day job to move to the OTC to train for the next Olympics, which also means lifting well at Nationals in May, Team Trials in August, Worlds in November, and other competitions throughout the year to keep their resident spot and monthly stipend.
Under recovery is a separate and possibly much bigger issue. Under recovery can effect all trainees regardless of training stress or training status and is caused by things outside of training; lack of sleep, inadequate nutrition, emotional stress, etc. Your life outside the gym has to support what you want to accomplish inside the gym. Things get tricky because of how we ultimately define or diagnose both conditions...a decrease in performance. We all know people that training like crap, eat like crap, and still make improvements. Whereas other people have everything "perfect" and continue to stall in progress. So, if performance does not drop off is an athlete really overtrained or under recovered? Performance can increase or decrease inspite of many things which makes it all the more complicated.