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3 Signs You're Overtraining


3 Signs You're Overtraining

Overtaining is defined as “…a maladapted response to excessive exercise without adequate rest, resulting in perturbations of multiple body systems (neurologic, endocrinologic, immunologic) coupled with mood changes.” 

Simply put, overtraining occurs as a result of exercise without adequate recovery. This can cause, among other things, increases in body fat, a plateau or reduction of lean (muscle) mass, an elevated resting heart rate, increased levels of stress, increased likelihood of injuries, decreased performance, and a weakened immune system.       

It’s necessary to be clear on one thing: overtraining will NOT occur in a vast majority of the population. Most busy professionals simply don’t have the time to put into the gym that would cause them to fall into a state of overtraining - it is much more likely to occur in athletes. However, it is also necessary to note that when a person reaches a state of overtraining is largely dictated by their recovery time outside of training.

At the cellular level, exercise is stress on the body. From a strength training perspective, hypertrophy (muscle growth) occurs only after muscle fibers have been torn and subsequently repaired. When performed in the correct dosages and with adequate recovery, the net result will be a positive bodily adaptation (increased aerobic capacity, increased muscle mass, etc). However, if too much is performed, or the recovery period is inadequate, and this pattern remains consistent, then overtraining may occur. High-stress levels from everyday life could also increase the risk of overtraining. Your recovery may be inadequate if:

  • you sleep less than 7-9 hours
  • you don’t eat enough/your body doesn’t get the micro- and macronutrients required for proper recovery
  • if you don’t allow enough time between workouts.

Intensity is also a player in overtraining: the higher the intensity of the workout, the more time should be given to allow for proper recovery. So, a person performing HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) should ideally allow more time between sessions than someone performing a brisk walk or moderate intensity resistance training. Like I said, exercise is stress at the cellular level, so if you lead a high-stress lifestyle, HIIT is most likely not for you: the last thing someone who deals with high levels of stress needs is an exercise that will put much more stress on the body. High-stress individuals will often respond better to low or moderate intensity workouts.


As a trainer, I realize time and time again that less is more. People believe that they need to be pushed to their limits during each workout to achieve their goals, and that this is essentially the only way to do so. However, the body will only respond positively to a certain amount of stimulus, and after a certain point, this excess stimulus could potentially push you further away from your goals rather than closer to them. The point at which overtraining is reached is different for everyone, and depends on multiple factors. If you aren’t seeing results, or even seeing the inverse of your desired results, consider what you’re doing to recover outside of the gym, and consider whether or not your workouts are complimentary to your stress levels and lifestyle.



Gains on the Go Series : Guide to Maximizing Muscle


Gains on the Go Series : Guide to Maximizing Muscle

Consistency is one of the keys to a successful exercise program. No matter what your goals are, you need to subject your body to repeated stress to see the desired adaptation. Unfortunately, things like travel, unpredictable work conflicts, injuries, and plenty of other things we deal with regularly can make consistency a challenge. I'm here to share some information that you can use to maintain healthy habits in the face of life's hurdles.

Prescription for Muscle Growth

Muscle growth is something that many folks are seeking when embarking upon an exercise program. The benefits are many: whether you want to look better, perform better, reduce injury risk, or generally improve health and well-being, packing on a few pounds of muscle can help a lot. The reality is that muscle growth occurs slowly compared to the fat loss. It takes several months of consistent resistance training to see a marked change for the majority of people, and most of us have trouble sailing through the day, let alone months at a time without an obstacle presenting itself. Don't worry, I promise there's hope!

Open up any personal training certification text from the last several decades, and you will find a table describing the “hypertrophy rep range” as about 5-12 repetitions per set. Although this may be a good suggestion, it isn't the only way to accomplish your goals. If you look at the body of research on hypertrophy as a whole, heavier loads (anything you couldn't lift more than about 15 times) show only a slightly more favorable outcome with respect to muscle growth compared to lifting lighter loads. This is valuable information you can use to adapt your program to your life.

The reality is: hotel gyms suck. Although the intentions are good, often times the equipment is extremely limited, and it doesn't allow you to follow your routine as written. That's okay because there are plenty of options to ensure that you stay on track, even if you have to modify your plan. Use your own bodyweight, dumbbells, or even machines that mimic the typical exercises you do as closely as possible. If the weights offered are insufficient, then simply perform higher repetition sets instead. The variation in loading, and thus the type of demand placed on the muscle (greater metabolic stress vs high mechanical tension) may even be a useful variation for you to continue making progress.

Another situation where this type of training can prove useful is working around injuries and joint pain. Sometimes heavy loading is not well tolerated by a bout of tendonitis or an achy joint. However, lighter load training might be better tolerated. I love heavy lifting, but I definitely am not someone who interprets the phrase “no pain, no gain” to the extreme that I train through injuries. At the same time, I definitely recommend finding alternatives that cause too little to no pain instead, and this technique can be helpful in that regard.

There is one caveat associated with this method: training with lighter loads needs to be taken to muscular failure for it to be similarly effective to heavier loading for hypertrophy. Training to failure with lighter loads also creates greater discomfort because of the change in muscle acidity. So, if you're prepared to do some high rep pump and burn work, then you've added another tool to your arsenal to work around some of life's challenges.

Getting Creative

Exercise guidelines for cardiovascular fitness often suggest pretty lengthy bouts to maximize the health and performance benefits. Although that might work sometimes, we often have trouble carving out enough time to meet these guidelines. Fortunately, research shows that you don’t need to perform all this exercise in a single bout to reap the benefits. I have seen research showing the benefits of bouts as short as 10 minutes in duration, assuming enough total exercise volume is accumulated through the day. That is to say, 3 x 10-minute bouts of cardiovascular exercise is similarly effective to a single 30-minute bout. As well, resistance training bouts don’t have to be done all at once either. Although I have not come across much scientific literature on this matter (there is a small amount), there is a lot of empirical evidence to suggest that splitting your weight workouts into AM and PM sessions, or performing several shorter workouts a week instead of 2-3 longer ones, is totally viable. Thus, if short and frequent exercise bouts fit your life better, use them!

Another viable strategy for those strapped for time, or who simply don't enjoy traditional cardio training, is to try circuit training. The idea is that you perform resistance exercises that stress different muscle groups in a circuit, for moderate to high reps, with limited rest periods, and you get some of the benefits of cardiovascular training and resistance training all at once. It's not quite as effective as either activity for the respective goal, but may be a good strategy for those who want a little of everything on a time budget.

Don't be afraid to get creative. If you have a short attention span, try performing alternate 10-15 minute bouts of resistance and cardio exercise. Try group classes at your gym that involve bodyweight exercises and light resistance in circuits to keep up your heart rate. Try jogging or riding your bike to work each day. All of this adds up, and you need to make it fun, enjoyable, flexible, and sustainable.


Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Don't let normal occurrences in life become excuses - instead, find solutions. Try new ways to stick to your goals and be healthy. If you read this blog, then you're on the right track. You're taking the time to make sure your exercise routine is flexible and adaptable enough to keep making progress. Where there's a will, there's a way.

For more guidance on making a healthy lifestyle work for you, come check out our facility on Market Street. We have a lot of well-educated coaches at the ready to help you reach your goals. Until then, stay healthy, happy, and active!


No Pain, No Gain | Truth or Myth?


No Pain, No Gain | Truth or Myth?

Should we be working out until we're sore?

As a competitive athlete and chronic over trainer in the past, getting “sore” muscles during and after my training sessions was something I took pride in. Having sore muscles was something I paid particular attention to because I was somewhat of a masochist who mainly trained for contact sports like football and boxing. Sometimes it seemed that it was about how much pain I could endure.

Okay, okay other than being a crazy person, I did understand that muscle soreness should happen when I started a new training program. My coaches and trainers told me that it usually lasted for a few days and it would happen every 4-6 weeks as I slowly altered the intensity of my training program during new training phases.

Measuring the productivity or effectiveness of the training based on soreness has exponentially risen this day in age with the popularity of boot camps, spin classes, heart rate monitors, and other forms of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Over the past couple of years I have increasingly noticed that many of my athletes and clients have become very concerned if they are not sore after their coaching sessions or small group training.

Because I trained for several years with the mentality of getting sore, I developed a bad relationship with exercise, believe it or not. I was chronically over trained and my performance suffered at times because I focused on high intensity all the time. So when Justine and I created Perform for Life, one of our main goals was to make exercise an enjoyable lifelong process. Our movement specialists focus on mastering movement before intensity and building rather than breaking down the individual. However, we are still see a growing concern for and attention to intensity. I could do a 50-page paper on the benefits of High Intensity Interval Training, but I could also do a 50-page paper on HIIT and its catabolic effects on the body -  in other words, how it stresses our bodies out and we end up breaking muscle down and storing fat.

Although I really want to go deep into it I am here today to focus on SORENESS. Is it good or bad? And should we always strive to be sore? So Coach Charles and I decided to put together some research and here is what we found…..


  • Research shows progressive overloads leads to improved fitness. Changing the mode of the activity, volume, and intensity should be gradually done overtime. Exercising constantly to be sore can result in overtraining or overuse injuries, which can hinder your progress and goals.


  • Studies have shown on a scale of 0-10 that muscle soreness is a poor correlation between muscle growth and adaptation. Soreness could affect us in different ways based on our athletic abilities and our genetic make up.  


  • Although being sore after working out can indicate that you have trained a muscle differently than you usually do, you don't need to be sore to build muscles. Extreme soreness can lead to less training days which does hinder muscle growth.


  • After beginning a new training program, you should be sore. It’s actually okay. After a few days, the soreness should be reduced, which means soreness isn't an indicator of having trained at high intensities. Soreness is actually the body’s way of saying it needs time to recover. Training to be sore can lead to overtraining.


  • In order to get the most out of your training, consistency is needed. If you are too sore, it can reduce your overall effectiveness of your program goals. Mastering movement is the key before training with intensity.

In summary, a lack of soreness seems to just mean you have adapted to the type of exercise program. So a solution would be to SLOWLY adjust training variables such as the load, reps, tempo, etc.  We’ve also concluded that constantly being sore can result in overtraining which hinders results. Instead, we should be refocusing our attention on what your muscles feel during your workout. Basically, it matters how you activate muscles and if you contract them correctly in order to get the lean muscle and performance outcomes you desire. In summary, it really doesn’t f*#king matter if you are sore or not.



Daly, A. (2013, November 19). Does Muscle Soreness Mean You Had a Good Workout? Retrieved July 23, 2016, from

Duvall, J. (n.d.). Trainer Q&A: Should I Be Sore After Every Workout? Retrieved July 23, 2016, from

Gonsalves, K. (2013, October 08). Should You Always Be Sore After A Workout? Retrieved July 23, 2016, from

Matthews, J. (n.d.). Should My Muscles Be Sore After a Workout? Retrieved July 23, 2016, from

Yu, C. (2014, July 17). No Pain, No Gain? 5 Myths About Muscle Soreness. Retrieved July 23, 2016, from