Back to Overtraining

I’m a bit short on time (read: behind) this week, so this won’t be a big update.

I highly suggest a look at The Death of Heavy Days: How To Do More Work with Less Obsession by Nick Horton of PDX Weightlifting.

I’ve recently become aware of Nick through Glenn Pendlay’s forum, and we are very much in agreement on the mindfulness or — pardon the somewhat overused expression — ‘Zen’ of training.

Speaking of Glenn’s forum, there have been quite a few interesting threads popping up recently. This one on specificity vs. variation in training is worth a read, as is this one on the current popularity of “Bulgarian” training (pay special attention to post #53 /shamelessplug).

I started back on a full John Broz-influenced powerlifting routine this previous week, based on this post of John’s. As of this writing I’ve squatted to a max six days in a row, pulled three times, and pressed three times (alternating push presses and incline benches, as I’ve completely dropped the bench press) — and I’m ready to do more.

The deadlift was my bane last time I tried this method. I could not figure out how to fit it in, so I’m giving his suggestion a try — lots of doubles at reasonable percentages and varied mechanics (all off the floor for now). I’m rotating between clean pulls, snatch pulls (using straps when the hook gives out), and then one day of more traditional roundbacking. Hook gripping is mandatory, as another way of ‘training weak’ to compete strong.

There’s a sweet-spot with this kind of training. You want to get enough to stimulate the nervous system, to get the potentiation effect, without going overboard and leaving yourself exhausted. There is a learning curve (though I suspect most anyone with a year or two of ‘serious’ training could pick it up quickly). Once you hit that zone, you go on cruise-control. Training makes you feel better, almost like you need to squat to a max to feel right.

Which is, of course, the desired effect. You want the extraordinary to become normal. When maximum lifts become as casual as getting out of bed, you’re in shape to do some amazing things. Like this lifter of Broz’s, lifting in a completely raw AAU meet:

Also worth reading: Broz on dealing with injuries. There is much truth in what he says about, effectively, hardening up and going to lift. Popular forum wisdom says that training more often will lead to greater injury rate. Yet I’ve noticed exactly the opposite — the more often I train, the less my old injuries bother me. Sure you get the floating Mystery Pain that changes from day to day and is more an annoyance than a real injury. What has yet to happen is the larger muscle tears or joint kinks that have always happened when I was only training a lift once or twice a week. There’s another piece of forum wisdom to disregard.

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7 thoughts on “Back to Overtraining”

  1. MP,

    Just out of curiosity, based on John's outline:
    "day 2,4,6 deadlift 2-3 x 10 sets all from floor. vary % based on positions and back health"

    What are you doing for deads?

    I'm playing around with your SPP/PLP Bulg setup and I'm beginning to think that something other than a max single every deadlift session might be in order.

    Maybe it's just the "dark times" talking though…

    • I'm rotating through clean pulls, snatch pulls, and regular roundbacked deadlifts for 6-10 sets of 2 at a light to moderate weight. I think that with all the squatting, that's all you'll need to drive DL strength.

      • Thanks for the reply. Now that I've re-read the original I see that most of your answer was already there. My apologies.

        Second question if you don't mind, for light weeks would you keep the frequency and just lower volume and intensity? I saw half the volume at no more than 80%. Just curious.

        I haven't yet hit 6 days in a row so I'm not feeling the need but it was a curiosity.

  2. Interested to see your progress – what made you go back to it?

    What do you do in terms of backoff sets? Auto-regulated a la RTS, or drop a given % of load and work back up?

    • Borge I mainly just got bored of the minimalist training of dieting. I'm down 8-9kg since the first of the year and as you can imagine strength (especially squatting) took a huge hit. I wanted to spend a little time getting lifts back up to par without getting fatter, and this is the best way I could think to do it.

      For the backoffs, I'm just doing 3×2 at ~10% off the top set for most days. Sometimes that turns into 4-6 singles if it's a bad day. That'll start to creep up a bit as weeks pass — last time I did this, I was averaging 5-6 doubles or equivalent reps in singles. I use a combo of time limit and RPE to figure out when to stop, usually 15 minutes or getting tired, whichever comes first.

      The work-back-up method is something I could see getting into later on down the road, but I have a strong suspicion that I'd need to have spent some time building up work capacity before that becomes useful. As it is now, I'm already feeling pretty gassed by the end of the backoff work.

  3. I don't have any research to show it yet, but it appears that deadlifting from different stances allows you to pull (in some form) at a much higher frequency. You mentioned this too.

    Have you done much for other styles of pulling such as Jefferson, B-stance, trap bar, etc to vary the mechanical stress on the tissue, yet still be lifting heavy things off the floor?

    This should also strengthen the tissue from multiple angles.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    • I've been sticking with the clean-style and snatch-style pulls — focusing on the second pull and shrug at the top. One day a week of normal hunchbacked deadlifts to round it out. I haven't considered doing other styles, mainly because holding the Oly positions seems to translate very well to pulling strength in general.

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