Muscle for life

8 Signs of Overtraining That Most People Don’t Know

8 Signs of Overtraining That Most People Don’t Know

Are your workouts dragging? Feeling fatigued all the time? Having trouble sleeping? These are all signs of overtraining.


Overtraining is an insidious trap because it goes against our natural instincts.

In most endeavors in life, you can expect to receive rewards in proportion to what you give in time and effort.

Work more and harder in your career, and you’ll usually grow your business or wind up getting promotions and raises. Spend more time with friends and family, and you’ll usually build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. Practice longer and more diligently on your golf swing, and you’ll usually shave strokes off your game faster.

Exercise, and weightlifting in particular, is a bit different, however.

There’s a point where exerting more effort actually becomes counter-productive. Most people are aware of this concept, but they aren’t aware of how easy it is to overtrain, and how to spot it.

You see people overtraining all the time.

The guys that spend 2+ hours working a single muscle group, doing set after set after set, are overtraining without realizing it, and don’t understand why they don’t get bigger or stronger despite their long, grueling workouts. The more effort they put into growing their chest, they figure, the more it will grow.

That’s not how it works, though. Your body can only take so much before it becomes afflicted with what’s known as “overtraining syndrome.”

Overtraining is simply an imbalance between work and recovery. When you put too much stress on the body and don’t give it the proper amount of rest, various undesirable things happen.

The common side effects cited clinically are a state of chronic fatigue, depression, and underperformance despite rest, but it’s not always that extreme or obvious. There are other, subtler signs of overtraining that you should know and watch for.

What follows is a list of signs that you may be overtraining. If you’re only experiencing one of the symptoms, it may not indicate overtraining.

8 Signs of Overtraining

1. You simply can’t finish a proper workout.

signs of overtraining weightlifting








When your body is overtrained, you won’t be able to lift the weights you normally can, you won’t have the energy to do as many sprints, you won’t have the stamina to run your normal route, and so forth.

Even though you’re hitting the gym each day, you’ll feel progressively weaker, slower, and more lethargic. I’ve had it so bad before that I couldn’t stop yawning in the gym and simply couldn’t push myself to do another set.

2. You’re getting fatter despite training hard.

Well, you think you’re getting fatter at least, but what you’re actually dealing with is an increase in water retention.

This is caused in part by the hormonal disruptions caused by overtraining (and this can be especially problematic when you’re restricting calories for fat loss.)


Namely, your testosterone levels can plunge while your cortisol levels rise, which causes a whole host of problems related to protein metabolisminsulin resistance, appetite, and more.

The end result?

You train harder and watch your diet closely, but you look fatter.

3. You’re training hard every day of the week.

symptoms of overtraining weightlifting

I’ve yet to meet someone not on drugs that can lift heavy, sprint hard, or engage in otherwise intense training every day of the week and still adequately recover.

Unless you have Wolverine’s gift of regeneration, it’s absolutely vital that you take at least two days off weights per week, and at least one day of absolutely no exercise.

What I like to do is lift weights Mon – Fri and do cardio Sun – Weds. Saturday is a full rest day.

You can intersperse your rest days throughout the week too, such as the following routine:

Day 1: Weights

Day 2: Weights & cardio

Day 3: Cardio only

Day 4: Weights & cardio

Day 5: Weights & cardio

Day 6: Weights

Day 7: Full rest

You can play with this however you want so long as you take two days off weights, and give yourself one day of no exercise whatsoever. If you want to give your metabolism a little boost, don’t take two full rest days in a row.

4. You’re restless at night and are having trouble sleeping.

signs of overtraining bodybuilding

If you do a lot of aerobic exercise and are overtrained, your sympathetic nervous system can remain excited at all times and you’ll feel restless and unable to focus, and your sleep will be disturbed and broken.

5. You feel overly fatigued and sluggish.

If you’re a weight lifter and are overtrained, your parasympathetic nervous system becomes overly stimulated, leading to a decrease in testosterone, an increase in cortisol, a crushing fatigue (mental and physical), and a stubborn tendency to hang onto body fat.

6. You have odd aches and pains in your joints, bones, or limbs.

signs of overtraining muscles








This is one of the first things that I notice as I approach the point of overtraining. My shoulder will start to ache. Then my wrist. Then my knee. Then my forearm.

It’ll usually take 8 – 10 consecutive weeks of intense training before these things turn on, and I just take a week off or “deload” for a week to let my body recover. They’re always gone by the end of the rest period.

(These things can also be signs of poor form, but that’s easy enough to diagnose. If you’re lifting heavy weights for the first time, you can also expect various aches like these right off the bat.)

7. You’re getting sick more often than usual.

You can throw a wrench in your immune system in many different ways. Increasing sugar can do it, as can a lack of vitamin D/sunlight, poor sleep habits, and even mental stress.

But if you’re all good on these fronts and are getting inexplicable little coughs, sniffles, congestions, or headaches, you may be overtraining.

Take a rest week and let your immune system build back up.

8. You feel drained and crappy after what normally would be a good workout.

overtraining muscles bodybuilding

The post-workout feeling of general well-being is one of my favorite things about training. The rush of endorphins just calms your entire body and mind and can last for hours. It’s great, isn’t it?

Well, if it never comes, and if you feel irritable and uncomfortable after working out, you may be overtraining. Exercise should elevate your mood. If you’re feeling negative instead, it might be time to take a rest.

Want a workout program and flexible diet plan that will help you build muscle and get strong? Download my free no-BS “crash course” now and learn exactly how to build the body of your dreams.

How to Handle Overtraining

overtraining symptoms weight lifting

Fortunately, handling overtraining is very simple. Once you stop it, all you need to do is take some time off the gym.

What has always worked for me is a week off weights, with nothing more than a few sessions of light cardio.

Getting a proper amount of sleep is also a key part of preventing overtraining–7 – 8 hours per night is generally considered optimal–as is a proper diet that fully provides your body with everything it needs to repair itself.

You’ll know the overtraining is gone simply by how you feel. After 3-5 days of rest, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to train again.


What are your experiences with overtraining? Have anything else you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below!


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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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Leave a Comment!
  • Ben Davy

    Hey Mike, yeah great read and it all makes sense. You do see people absolutely nailing the weights, and I think your right that they think that more is better than less, but not giving time to rest.

    • Thanks Ben, I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      Yup, rest is so crucial and in some ways counter-intuitive.

      Train hard and get in your rest! 🙂


  • Brian Peterson

    This is great info…….you just helped me realize my problem. Do you think taking a week off has any negative effects on postive results? I have a hang up with taking more than one day off….it seems like every fat person you meet says “Yea, I’ve been going to the gym BUT, Im taking this week off…” followed by a BS excuse.

    • Hey Brian,

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

      Nope, a rest week is 100% necessary when you’re natural. Every 8 – 10 weeks, you should either do no lifting (you can still do your cardio), or go do your normal exercises, but do nothing but warm-up sets (50% of your regular weight, not going to failure). The purpose of the latter is to just get the blood flowing into the muscles, which helps with recovery. You don’t want it to be strenuous.

      Trust me on this–proper rest is really important. I really like the light, “warm up” week and usually come back the next week stronger.

      I hope this helps and if you have any other questions, shoot me an email anytime and I’ll do my best to help.


  • Michael Gonzales

    First I would like to say thank you for publishing such a great book (Bigger, Leaner, Stronger) I read your book in 2 days and I have been applying your training methods for the last 3 weeks. I have made more progress in that short of a time than I have since 2007. I have been overtraining and not eating right. I am going to purchase another book soon. Thank you for everything.

    • Thanks for reading my book Mike! I’m really glad you enjoyed it, and I’m SUPER happy to hear it’s going so well for you! That rocks man!

      Keep up the good work and email me anytime if you have any questions!


  • Michael Gonzales

    I just ordered “Muscle Myths” I am certainly looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for keeping it simple. I will give you my feed back once I am done reading it.

    • Great, Mike!

      Please do let me know what you think once you’ve finished the book!


  • Aaron miller

    I read muscle myths cuz I was bored on orders for the army an it was so incredible I bought bigger, leaner, stronger. Both incredible books and tea both in 2 days. I’m actually going to school for exercise science so I love reading what everyone has to say. All I have to say is I figured out a lot of things wrong with what I was doing (and plateud) and you are a fitness genius. Never thought such simple workouts could work so well. I’m just starting week 2 and already feel stronger than ever, mostly because I’m not over training. But great job mike!

    • Awesome Aaron! Thanks for reading my books–I’m glad you enjoyed them. 🙂

      Stick to the plan and you’ll be amazed at how much stronger you get!


  • Steve Sorrentino

    In other words… listen to your body. The human body is amazing. If something is wrong it will tell you. You just have to recognize it. If I am hungry I eat, if I crave something I have it, if I am tired I sleep, if I am scheduled for a workout and dread it I skip a day. You get the idea. Awesome books Mike. I am getting stronger every week.

    • Yup, you’re totally right! If you’re really in tune with your body, you’ll have a really good sense of what it needs, doesn’t want, etc.

      Keep up the good work!


    • Dave

      Good point, but it’s not quite that simple. Just plain listening to your body only goes so far. An addict’s body may scream out for nicotine, heroin or alcohol. An obese person’s body may loudly protest any sort of exercise. A depressed person’s body may urge the person to keep sleeping when really they should be getting more active. A man might have a strong urge to force himself sexually on someone else – doesn’t mean he should listen to that urge! Someone may crave unhealthy foods for emotional and nostalgia reasons rather than physiological ones…..

  • Dave Adams

    I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed Bigger Leaner Stronger. Good solid routine that I’ve had no trouble following. I just took a week off after 8 weeks of training and I was excited to get back to the gym. Then on day two I strain my back trying to do deadlifts. I’ve been very frustrated trying to properly do deadlifts. I feel like I’m following the instructions, but I think I’m doing something wrong. The back pain screws up all of my other lifts especially squats.

    I would appreciate any deadlift tips you could give me. It is definitely my most frustrating lift. My weight isn’t going up (more like down). I feel like my only option left is to drop the weight way down and try to work on the form.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Dave,

      I’m glad to hear the program is going well for you, and that sucks with the DLs! If you’ve had lower-back issues in the past, it might be better to skip them. If you haven’t, then I recommend reducing the weight and ensuring your form is perfect.

      I describe the lift as accurately as I can in BLS, but I’m actually going to be shooting videos soon to show everything in action.

      Shoot me an email and we can discuss further. I’m curious where you strained your back in the lift (bottom or top).


      • Hey Tim,

        Great recommendation!

        I actually own this product and TOTALLY forgot about it.

        Thanks for sharing!


      • Aaron

        Until Mike’s videos are available I use bodybuilding.com for form questions to ensure I am doing the right lift the right way. I look forward to seeing your videos Mike. FYI Dave I had to look up Deadlifts and Romanian Deadlifts to know how to even attempt them.

        • Thanks Aaron. Yup, BB.com’s vids are good. Mine will be a bit more detailed, but they cover all the major bases.

          I will be shooting my vids in January.

    • Tim Ryan

      Hi Dave,

      I don’t want to advertise for another product on Mike’s website but… until he gets his videos together, you might want to check out the videos for a book mentions in Bigger Leaner Stronger: Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength videos:

      The production value’s not that great, but it shows Rippetoe coaching a few folks through a lot of the mistakes people typically make with each lift. They’ve helped me a good bit.

  • This is a great article. Love the Wolverine reference.

  • UnboundDarkness

    Dang, I think I am overtraining. Time to take a break for a week or more.

    • What’s your weekly training schedule like? What kind of exercise program are you doing?

      • UnboundDarkness

        I am doing “Insanity: The Asylum” program. But it seems that it is a little too much for me at this moment :s.

        • Ah cool. Those are good cardio programs, but yes, they’re tough.

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  • I am following your BLS book almost to the T. It has only been about three weeks but I have lost 7 pounds, I can see myself getting thinner on parts of my body, and I have been able to increase the weight I can lift every week. I thought the program would be hard to follow, but as I am geting into my routine it is getting easier and easier to continue. My question stems around dumbell use. I am using dumbells for bench lifts, squats etc. I wanted to see if, in your opinion, they were any more or less effective than barbell lifts. I do plan to switch up to barbells after my 8th week rest period, but right now dumbells seem to be easier to get access to in my crowded gym.

    • Hey Todd,

      Wow, great job! Those are awesome gains. Keep up the good work!

      DB press is definitely good for the chest, but aren’t a complete replacement for barbell bench. Dumbbell squats are definitely inferior to barbell. And dumbbell deadlifts totally suck.

      I’d recommend just incorporating the barbell now, if at all possible. You’ll make even better gains on the lifting!

      What do you think?


      • So I did squats and bench presses with barbells this week and you’re right there is not much comparison. I really felt like I put in much more of an effort with barbells.

        • Awesome! Yeah, they’re tough, right? They do wonders for your body though. Keep up the good work.

  • Juliette

    Had it last year…was following a stupid diet by a ‘sports nutritionist’ that allowed no more than 40g of carbs, training hard with no de-load, under stress at home…then my strength fell off a cliff, I couldn’t sleep, I was wired all the time,constantly coming down with bugs, I hated the sight of the bar…it took me 8 weeks to recover because I ignored the signs and ploughed on even harder

    • Hey Juliette,

      Wow that sounds HORRIBLE. Low-carb can be great, but you HAVE to make sure you compensate with increased protein and fats, and you HAVE to re-feed every week or two (by eating upwards of 2 grams of carbs per lb of body weight in one day).

      How are things going now?


  • Michael

    Hi Michael, I was curious what your thoughts are on P90X or Athlean X?

    Atlanta, GA

    • Hey Mike,

      They’re good for home routines for general fitness, but their marketing is a bit misleading IMO. The guys they feature did NOT get those physiques by following those programs. They’re veteran weightlifters.

      So the decision to do one of those programs should be based on your goals. What are you looking to achieve?


  • Bob

    Hi Mike,
    I really enjoyed your book (BLS) and I have been seeing some weight loss and strength gains. I have lost 11 lbs. over the past month. Thanks!

    • Hey Bob,

      Thanks for reading my book! I’m really glad you liked it.

      Wow, great gains! That rocks!

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted! Shoot me an email too if you’d like to be featured as a success story on this site!


  • Robert

    I’ve received better results in the past 3 weeks after following your techniques than I have in the past 6 months of working out. The 4 to 6 reps really I think is the key to my improvements. Before, I was focusing on 8.. The mind can easily focus on 4 to 6.. but 8 to 10 sometimes just left me being stuck at the same weight. I’ve actually increased by dumbbell bench press by a 25% increase in weight in this third week on your program believe it or not. And I have been working out solid for the past 3 years. One question I have for you.. I actually enjoy working out an hour and a half or so a day at the gym. I am fortunate to not have to work for awhile and I really enjoy my time at the gym. Am I completely wasting my time doing this or am I receiving benefits by spending double the amount of the recommend time in the gym? Thanks again. If your book was $10,000, I would have paid the price. The information inside is priceless.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow thanks so much for sharing Robert! That’s awesome.

      I definitely don’t recommend working out for 1.5 hours following the BLS protocol (set, 2-3 minutes of rest, set, etc.). You’ll end up overtraining. What you can do though is do 12 heavy sets per workout, which will take about an hour, and then afterward do a stretching routine if you’re interested.

      I also enjoy working out but have to keep my workout volume moderate.

      I hope this helps and keep up the good work! Let me know how things go!

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  • Dan Strohschein

    I have some of the signs of Overtraining, but from this article it seems that overtraining occurs after chronically doing so for a while. I’ve only been training as hard as I have for two weeks, and yet I am exhausted, can’t sleep, muscle recovery goes on for days and days, and I keep getting the sniffles.

    I train like such: Mon-Fri 2 mile walk. Wednesday, Thurs, Fri, Sat weights (1 hour) Mon, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday 1 hour Tae Bo (after weights if its also a weight night).

    Recently I have added another hour of weights (different muscle group) 6 hours before the second one, a single day in the week – usually on Wednesday.

    I didn’t think this schedule was too insane, but I’m starting to wonder if I am overtraining…

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm it sounds like it, but it’s probably not training, but the diet. How are you eating?

      • Dan Strohschein

        Well, once I picked up your book, I adjusted my diet accordingly: 1800 cals a day, 135 grams of protein, 200g carbs and 50g of fat. I get this by eating protein shake (morning and casein at night), fruit, Vegetables (mostly raw), Brown rice, Chicken and Fish – every once in a while (like 1 time a week) some beef. Do you think I need to up my calorie count? I am on a cut phase, hoping to develop a little muscle while I cut.

        • Michael Matthews

          Hmm 135 grams protein? How much do you weigh?

          • Dan Strohschein

            I started at 170, and I am now at 157. I’m 5’7″ with a 34.5 inch waist. I’ve been using a bunch of online calculators to figure out the macros, BRM, and BF%. Perhaps they have lead me astray.

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay and are you wanting to bulk or maintain?

          • Dan Strohschein

            Well my BF% was 21 at 170, so I thought I would cut first to get down to the right lean body mass (10%), and then bulk my lean body mass back up to 170. Clearly I have no idea what I am doing. So right now, at 157, I’m not at my 10%, so I am still in the cut phase.

          • Michael Matthews

            That’s definitely the right idea.

            First we need to change your macros. 180 protein, 160 carb, 35 fat.

            Next, when’s the last time you took a week off the gym?

          • Dan Strohschein

            Well, I’ve only been seriously lifting with any regularity for about a month. Previous to that I was only doing cardio (Tae Bo). I was planning on taking a week off when I reached my 8 week point (as per your awesome book!) which should be sometime towards the end of October. Or should I take a break sooner, since I have been doing cardio everyday for 3 months?

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool. Let’s do this:

            Let’s fix your macros and see how your body feels. If you still have overtraining symptoms, let’s take a week off.

            Prolonged endurance cardio can actually cause overtraining quicker than heavy weightlifting.

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  • Shaun Yurtkuran

    I am on week 9 of your program (it works great btw, thanks!). I didn’t take a recovery week after week 8 ( I am lifting Mon-Fri & Saturday just cardio & off on Sunday), well I left the gym today after working back & calves & doing the stationary bike for 20 mins & felt sick and like I was almost going pass out when I got to my car. This week I also started dreading going to the gym. Am I overtraining? Should I take a recovery week now? Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m glad to hear it’s going well!

      Yup time for a week off. You can do a bit of cardio if you’d like, but no weights for at least 4-5 days. You’ll feel good to go after. 🙂

      • Shaun Yurtkuran

        Is this going slow my progress at all? Or am I going gain weight by laying off for that long? I have noticed that my bench is stuck at 255lbs for 4 reps for the last 3-4 weeks as well. Thanks again!

        • Michael Matthews

          Nope, a week is totally fine and actually necessary. In fact you may even come back stronger.

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  • Jo

    Hi I have read your book it was fantastic I only have free weights at home do you have a good program for a women in 50,s and I’m quite week at moment ie push ups I find so difficult but not giving up I’m having trouble finding something that would suit or ,maybe just looking in wrong places

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  • Jennifer

    When one needs to take a week off from training due to overtraining – what should their diet be like? Eat at maintenance? Slightly below? Lower carbs since much lower activity? Or keep it the same?

    • Michael Matthews

      If you’re cutting, you can leave your calories the same. If you’re bulking, you can drop them to maintenance. Pretty simple. 🙂

      • Gabriel Cortez

        Makes perfect sense! I always kept my calories the same regardless because I’ve never read anything to the contrary. I’ll give this a shot on my upcoming rest week.

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  • Whiplash

    Great Article. Over training has been my nemesis for years. I think I am addicted to the gym! Haha.

    Do you think using a foam roller and stretching (traditional static or yoga) on rest days/cardio-only days would help with recovery and injury prevention? I have been training for about 8 years but I NEVER stretch. My flexibility is no where near what it was before I started strength training.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man and yeah it was my problem too. I used to train for 2-3 hours 5-6 days per week. Yikes.

      Yes it definitely would. Check out my articles on mobility and foam rolling. You’ll like them.

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  • William Lim Jr

    Hi Mike,

    I think I might have overtrained my lower back. I just finished my BLS Phase 2 last week. I was a bit achy during the week from Day 2 deadlifting. I thought I should just be fine, but when I tried to do a Romanian deadlift for Day 4 Leg day, I felt a sharp pain on my lower left back on my first rep. I of course stopped right there and ended my workout, laid off, and used ice packs since then, . Luckily this week is my scheduled rest week and my back is feeling better each day. Everything else feels good and normal.

    Do you have any thoughts on how i should approach back exercises (or even the entire routine) when I start Phase 3 next week? I was thinking of holding off the deadlifting for another week but doing all the other exercises as normal, just to make sure my back is fully recovered. I’m quite excited for that phase because it doesn’t have both deadlifts and romanian deadlifts, also because of the new exercises I’ve wanted to try.

    So I guess, I learned a lesson firsthand here. Overtraining is not good at all. haha


    • Michael Matthews

      Arg, stuff like that can happen. You can switch your arms and legs days if you’d like. Gives your legs a little extra time to heal up.

      Yeah start light on your next back workout and see how it feels. If all is good you can get going heavy again.

      Haha not a big deal. It has happened to us all.

  • PMH

    What’s the difference between taking a week off and a deload week?

    • Michael Matthews

      Week off is no lifting and a deload week is 3 – 5 workouts with about 50% of your normal weight. You’re just getting a pump.

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  • Carlos Erreguin

    Hello! I hope you can help me here. Im 36 years old and I began doing exercise about 6 months ago, at the beginning I think I over reacted, Iw as doing Krav Maga twice a week, pilates reformer twice a week and training in gym twice as week as well. 5 moths ago I began to feel strange feelings, pain in upper back, lots of burping, tight abdomen ( as if i had a duck tape around it), pinches in my arms, fingers, numbness in fingers of my feet and the list continues. I got worried and I went to have medical checkings of my heart, they turned out fine, however all the symptoms match those as a heart attack, I levee in permanent stress that this is not the training but my heart, even though i had an EC, a heart ultra sound and blood tests…question is…due to training in gym focused on building muscles can i feel symptoms that are alike to those of a heart attack? Please help. I can’t find on the web anything like this, but what i do find is that my symptoms are similar to heart attack. Could you please tell me if it is possible similar symptoms?

    Thank you so much!

    • Michael Matthews

      Ah you’ve already seen a doctor.

      Honestly I don’t know what those symptoms could possibly be. Does it happen no matter what type of exercise you do?

      • Carlos Erreguin

        Actually, I have been feeling this symptoms for 4 months. When I train I feel great, no symptoms, pretty good actually. The strange feelings and burping come in resting days, I was wondering (and hoping) it could be just normal pain due to weights lifting and perhaps, since the posture of my spine has change ever since i make exercise that it could be that.
        Like i said, I had two blood tests, ruling out any heart problem or other illness, i had an ultrasound of inner organs and a head scan, all came back normal. Maybe Im just freaking out and my mind plays tricks on me, so I was hoping in your experience you have seen anything like this,

        • Michael Matthews

          Hmm could it be related to what you eat on your rest days?

  • Carlos Erreguin

    Hi Mike..I posted a question but maybe i didn’t, i can’t find it.
    Im 36 years old and Im experience weird feelings, pain upper back, numbness in feet fingers, pinches in my arms and fingers, tight abdomen (as if i had duck tape around) burping. Symptoms that are alike to heart attack symptoms.
    Could feelings after workout be similar to those symptoms as a heart attack?
    Im hell worried, been feeling like this for 5 months or so, i did all the possible checking related to my heart but anyway Im worried with this feelings. Please help. Thank you.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey man!

      Hmm that sounds sketchy. I’d highly recommend you see a doctor so you can find out what’s going on…

  • kengerald

    Hey Mike, if i take a week off can i still do cardio or should i just stay clear of any activity?

    • Michael Matthews

      You can do some yes, but I would limit to 2-3x.

  • Luke

    I do my chest and arms one day, then shoulders and back the next day. Rest the day after that then do my mid and lower body. Rest another day then start all over again. Every so often I take 3 days in a row off and i do alright. Definitely need sleep and good food. I’ve over trained before, no doubt. Ive had most of the symptoms before, no fun. Lots of stretching is good too.

    • Michael Matthews

      You can do that but you have to watch your weekly volume. As you know it’s very easy to overtrain on that type of program.

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  • goldstargay

    So yesterday was my first day back at the gym after taking off 6 days (after about 12 weeks of consistent workouts) and I did about a 45 minutes of chest directly followed by 20 minutes of HIIT on the Arc machine. All of a sudden, last night I was intensely irritable, fatigued and had insomnia with an elevated RHR. So my question is should I take more time off before starting back or what?

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow. No that should be plenty of rest. Anything else that could have caused this?

      • goldstargay

        I’m not sure, I am on my feet and moving the entirety of my job during the day so I don’t know if that activity coupled with 75-90 mins of exercise (including the HIIT) may be triggering such a response? Could it possibly just be a cortisol response?

        • Michael Matthews

          Ah yeah that could def be it. I would limit lifting to 60 min and if you’re moving around all day 5-7 days per week, cardio might not even be necessary?

          • goldstargay

            Great suggestion, I will cut back cardio to just my off-work days and see if that helps, thanks!

          • Michael Matthews

            Great! LMK!

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  • Allen

    I’ve been doing the BLS program for about 6 weeks now, and this week has just been hell – poor mood, lousy appetite, zero energy. The weight on the deadlift bar yesterday just felt heavier than usual and my form suffered. I attributed this to the 3-day weekend, but maybe it’s time to take a few days off?

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow. It could be. Are you cutting? How has your diet been?

      • Allen

        Yes, I’m cutting. Eating 1993 calories per day, working out 4-5 days a week. Diet has been fine but I’m craving sugar more than usual. I have about 3 more lbs to lose before I start bulking.

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay no worries. Sometimes you need a rest week a bit early when you’re cutting.

          Deload this week and see how you feel by the end of it.

  • Dave

    When your weightlifting and do a certain amount of reps and sets it is normal for the reps and sets to get progressively harder right? But, when I lift for example, I start off with the first few reps strong and I feel okay, but then I can squeeze 1 hard rep out and that is it. Is it normal to not be able to squeeze out any more reps? because my spotter noticed I use to push out more reps before I was completely drained could I be overtraining?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah that’s normal. Over time your muscle endurance will improve and you’ll be able to maintain weight and reps better.

      I like to push until I know I can’t get another rep by myself. You don’t have to go to absolute failure every set.

      • Dave

        But if I used to be able to push out more could I be overtraining by pushing to failure each set?

        • Michael Matthews

          There’s a distinct lack of good research in this area so it’s hard to say but I would think yes, going to absolute failure every set would lead to overtraining.

  • Dave

    if you cant push out as many struggling reps at the end of your sets as you used to, I push out 6 okay reps then 1 super difficult rep then I cant get as many of those struggling reps as I used to.
    oops didn’t see my old comment…

  • StuDawgStu

    “No such thing as over-training” The words of CT Fletcher. I can attest to this. I workout 6 days a week, 2 + hours a workout twice a day, working each body part 3 times a week and Im seeing massive gains in strength and size. As long as you consume enough calories and get enough sleep it can be done. Your body will adapt to it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry but you’re either lying or have superhuman genetics and should donate your body to science when you’re done with it, haha.

      • bigugly

        I used to think I couldn’t over train but after 10 years of going 110% its caught up to me. cant sleep, no libido, always tired and sore from a wo for several days. I took the last 3 days off and im already starting to feel better. gonna take a week of and then deload for another week. I do think the term over training is thrown around way to often. most people will never over train simply bc they don’t train hard

        • Michael Matthews

          I totally agree that most people don’t train hard enough to every overtrain but if you lift heavy weights and really push yourself, everyone can overtrain.

  • StuDawgStu

    There is no such thing as over-training, there is only under-recovering.

    • Michael Matthews

      Ehh. You mean under-drugging. 😛

    • Marcus Colone

      You are correct. As of now, there is no proven method to measure whether someone is experiencing overtraining (or as it’s know in the research, overreaching). According to McKinnon, “At present, there is no single objective marker to identify overtraining syndrome.”

      Definition: “Overtraining syndrome is a neuroendocrine disorder characterized by poor performance in competition, inability to maintain training loads, persistent fatigue, reduced catecholamine excretion, frequent illness, disturbed sleep and alterations in mood state.

      However, no one knows if all (or any) of these things are caused by too frequent training. Due to the complexity involved in figuring out whether or not someone is overtrained, it’s likely that there never will be a definitive test.

      Overtraining is also overwhelmingly associated with Endurance Athletes in the scientific literature. It seems highly doubtful that the average weight lifter hitting body parts 1-2 times per week for 60 minute sessions is ever going to experience overtraining.

      One could assume however, that if you added a huge calorie deficit at the same time, the metabolic damage could produce a lot of the symptoms above.

      • Michael Matthews

        Great comment! Thanks for sharing.

        Speaking from experience with my body and with thousands I’ve worked with, there IS a point where regular intense weightlifting begins dragging you down and where a deload week handles it.

        While we don’t know WHY, everyone I know/work with experiences it…

      • Chuck

        I am training to eventually go to BUDS. I found this article very helpful. Overtraining is constant problem for me because I do intensive cardio, calisthenics, and weightlifting on a daily basis. Weightlifting doesn’t usually cause me problems, its mainly an excessive amount of calisthenics that gets me; coupled with running. Sometimes it is hard for me to know when I should take it easy for a day, because I have conditioned my mind to ignore what my body is telling, over time. It is refreshing to know that I should take a day off once a week because I normally would think that I am cheating myself. Stretching is something that is article does not mention in depth. Foam rolling and stretching is vital to dealing with overtraining and it is obvious that I greatly helps with the recovery process! Thank you for the help Michael!!!

  • jack pulos

    hi mike. just want to hear your advice about this. I train 3x a week with a Bls routine. I Push myself very hard everyweek to beat my previous best. After a month of punishment, I plan to do a deload week or even a full week rest.
    Does this interfere or slowdown my progress?
    ps. I add weight each week atleast 2.5lbs and strictly comply with proper form.


    • Michael Matthews

      Great job man. No a deload is 100% necessary to keep you from overtraining.

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  • John

    Mike, i burn around 410 calories in a time span of 30 minutes using the ellipticals. I am sweating excessively but at the end of the day i do feel better after small breaks. After my 30 minute cardio, i switch over to muscle training which seems much harder for me. Is it because im overtraining? I thought it was good to push your body to its limit. My avg. heart rate during ellipticals is 197-204 im 17 years old

    • Michael Matthews

      I would be skeptical of that number. I burn about 250 calories doing 30 minutes of HIIT on the recumbent bike. Are you basically sprinting the entire time?

      I would do the cardio after the lifting. You won’t have the energy for proper lifting doing it the way you currently are.

      • Nicolai

        Hi Michael,

        Just a follow-up question on your reply to John:

        “I would do the cardio after the lifting. You won’t have the energy for proper lifting doing it the way you currently are.”

        What about your protein / carbs – intake in this scenario?

        Would you:

        1) Lift weights
        2) Take a shake and / or a banana (or what ever one might eat for carbs) and then do the cardio

        Or just lift weights and do your cardio and THEN eat proteins / carbs?

        Thanks in advance!

        A true fan

        • Michael Matthews

          Good question. Personally I would lift, have about 20 g whey, cardio, then do a post-workout meal.

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  • Zeke

    Overtraining is definitely something to take seriously. My wrestling coach had me and my team doing a similar strenghth program you describe but on top of that we would also do dropsets and sets in 10-12 range. And on off days we would do a body weight circuit ( pushups, dips, pullups etc.) 2 months in the team was fatigued and tired all the time. Also we had some serious injuries ( about 5 people icluding me) herniated disc, shoulder problems, knee issues. I definitely take over training a lot more serious now. Thanks Mike

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow yeah that’s WAY too much. Yikes.

  • Tania Botelho Tavares

    I workout practically everyday, mostly cardio and about 20 mins of weights but I can’t seem to lose weight. Last year I lost a lot of weight but had to regain cause my weight was too low.,. Now my weight just does not change…I’m i just overtraining?

  • Tania Botelho Tavares

    I workout practically everyday, mostly cardio and about 20 mins of weights and sometimes workout twice in a day but I can’t seem to lose weight. Last year I lost a lot of weight but had to regain cause my weight was too low.,. Now my weight just does not change…I’m i just overtraining?

  • RoniT

    Hey, great article.
    I’ve been lifting seriously since about november. Since then have really increased my training knowledge, intensity and volume.
    I have starting doing legs 3 times a week with 2 heavy days and one light weight/ plyo work, with upper body work 3 times a week as well (so I know I am already training more than you stated)
    And I was just wondering if I started to cut back on the number of exercises a workout or sets, if that would decrease my chance of overtraining (I’m not quite sure if I’m overstraining yet but I am definitely seeing some signs I may be)
    And I don’t want to take a full week off because I have been making gains in my lower body and really growing my glutes and quads (the upper body gains easier for me)
    Anyways, I guess my question is by doing less exercises per workout, still high intensity will that cause me to detrain my muscles? Or will that maybe help with recovery?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Great job on working so hard on your exercise.

      Check this out:


      • RoniT

        Wow that was a great video thank you!
        So you switched from a program probably similar to the frequency of what I’ve been doing to only training each body part once a week and made more gains?
        How did your body react right away?
        How many exercises do you do per muscle group?

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Yep. My exact program is in my next book, which is coming out very soon.

      • Jessica Ann Self

        Wow this is so true, awesome video mike. I have been doing 2 upper body days and 2 lower body days with 3 hiit cardio days. (Compound lifting, heavier weights, less reps)This is my 3rd week and this week I have been a mess. Depression, irritable, restless sleeping and so forth. I wasn’t sure if I was over training or not, because like you say we are so use to thinking more is better and this has clouded my judgement. It makes sense and is common sense that you work multiple muscle groups with all varies types of lifting (mostly compound) and that we don’t have to work as much as we think because its an over kill. I knew this all along but felt I needed the proof and for someone to say, “hey your doing to much.” So thank you so much for putting your info out there and your videos. At this time I am anxiously waiting on your book to arrive; thinner, leaner stronger and am now wanting to go get your knew one.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah I know how that goes! I’ve done the same in the past and learned my lesson the hard way, haha.

          Thanks on the book! LMK what you think!

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  • Jonny

    Hey Mike, great article. I recently started the BLS training program. Two workouts in, I’m finding the workout to be a bit short for me. To be fair, I am accustomed to overtraining, not having known better before reading your book. With 12 sets (11 rests) I’m at 22 minutes of rest (I generally prefer resting 2 minutes to 3) and about 5 minutes of actual lifting (4-6 reps don’t take too long). Even with the warmup it takes just over 35 minutes. I like to spend closer to an hour lifting. Do you think I can add one or two workouts without running the risk of overtraining?

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm I would cut it off at 12 sets per workout. I’ve tried more and it becomes a bit much for me and I’ve been lifting for 12 years.

      That said, if you increase your rest times to 3 minutes you may find you can lift even more on each set, which is productive…

  • ak

    I think this is what is happening to me. In the beginnig, my daily workouts were helping alot with sleep. But lately, I’m having lots of problems falling asleep, & I don’t sleep late or take naps so it isn’t that. Last few nights it’s taken me til 3am or later to finally fall asleep. And I do feel less energy during workouts & my heart rate’s higher than usual during workouts. I’ve been training approx.10 or so hrs. per week-is that too much?

    • Michael Matthews

      It could be related to your training but it could be dietary as well. How are you eating?

    • Paul

      In my oppion the answer to your question is yes, I was gaining an amazing amount of muscle when training 1 hour 20 mins I then started training with a gym freak and up ed it to 2-3 hours 5 times a week and have had trouble sleeping , deprression, low sex drive too andlost a lot of muscle and gained fat also I wasn’t sleeping properly and as a result I now have gone backwards so I’ve dropped off the training time to 1 hour 15 mins and hope to see a difference good luck give it a try before u over do it 🙂

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  • Sotiris Zooulas Kyriakides

    I’ve got a question i have just recetlystarted 5 day split i do about 20 sets for each body part and it takes about 4-5 for the soreness to pass i just wanted to know if that is optimal or not. How many days should you be sore for? Am i overtraining? maybe you could do a video and explain it better

  • Renier

    Hi mike, hope you are having a wonderful day, I have been doing your workouts for 6 weeks (today is the end of week 6) but in this week i couldn’t get a pr even though I’m eating enough and sleeping correctly, the weight that i always use felt heavier and I’m kinda stuck on 185 incline barbell press, 265 squat, 315 dead, the first 5 weeks I did wonderful progress but since week 6 my performance is lacking a bit and feel like I’m gonna get sick, do you recommend me to do a deload week? Thanks, appreciate your help brother!

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m good thanks! That’s great you’re rolling!

      Are your reps moving up? What is your body weight and diet like right now?

      Yes if you’re feeling a bit run down then definitely deload.

      • Renier

        Thanks so much, my reps have been moving up every week my diet is 1 gram of protein per pound of bw, 20% fat and the rest on carbs my bw should be aroud 168 or 170, So i will do this deaload week and see how it goes because I was sure that I was gonna get sick but now I feel a bit better, thanks for you help

        • Michael Matthews

          Okay cool well it sounds like you’re doing everything right. Enjoy the deload. 🙂

  • luke c

    hey mike, i did a deload week last week and back to normal this week but im still feeling tired, im very strict with my macros, i train 5 days a week just as mentioned in bls and im also on a cut, any advice would be great

    • Michael Matthews

      How long have you been cutting for?

      • luke c

        thanks for the response ive been on a cut just over 2 months as i have a lot of weight to lose so thought id do it a bit slower,

        • Michael Matthews

          Hmm and what are your macros and weight like?

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  • lazar

    I cant finish my chest workout.After flat and incline bench press,when i start third exercise like decline or dumbell press i start to feel pain in my right chest(the part of chest next to arm )and i cant do anymore reps.I have strenght to do it but i cant because it really hurts.Please help me!

  • Hi Mike, is it possible for the body / central nervous system to be overly strained / overworked on a high intensity routine of three workouts a week? I don’t have the usual symptoms but I my body gets sleepy way too early in the evenings and wants to sleep more than I am used to. Instead of 7-8 hours I now seem to have to sleep 8-9 hours. I didn’t have that before drastically increasing intensity.

    • Michael Matthews

      Probably not unless you were doing ridiculously long, grueling workouts on those 3 days.

  • dee

    Hi mike what’s your thoughts on abbreviated training routines?

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  • Iskren Marinov

    Hey man , great article , thanks for it 🙂 . My question is I struggle with over-training “syndrome” or adrenal fatigue , or whatever you wanna call it , both a pretty much the same for me . I am a mixed martial artist and I was under severe physical and emotional stress for a long time . So I had fatigue , brain fog , couldn’t exercise etc. It’s been 8 months now and I still have symptoms , but I only started on my new regime 2 months ago . I was pretty bad in the beginning and a lot of people are telling me that I won’t be able to compete again and train again .
    I am trying not to listen to them , but I feel demotivated a lot . So I just wanted to ask you what do I do to get back on track , to become myself again . To start living and fighting like I used to . Thanks in advance . OSU

  • eric

    Hey Micheal, this question is regarding whether you’re overtraining or under-eating.. Seems to be a bit confusing to me to understand if eating a bit more would make the fatigue go away.

    My training schedule goes as follows.

    Mon- 1. Flat bench 3 sets 8 reps each. 2. Incline Bench 3 sets – 8 reps each. 3. Chin ups 3x max good form. 4.inverted row 3×8.

    Tuesday- Plyometric/agility workout. (consists of many body weight squats jumps and footwork.) very intense for roughly 30-40mins much like HIIT.


    Thurs.1. OHP 3×8 2.Curls 3×8 and tricep extension 3×8

    Friday-yoga (40 mins)

    Saturday- 10 sets of plyometric jumps 15-20. 10 sets of chin up variations. ( i love calisthenic only routines)

    Sunday- off


    I normally go 3 weeks on, 1 week off or deload.. however recently i took a full week off, and came back feeling great on my first day back. Gains were made in the monday workout. However it wasn’t until my HIIT the next day were I couldn’t even complete my workout. I bonked and my legs just felt heavy..

    I currently weigh 190 (long story but I battled with hypogonadism for a few years and finally overcame it, however my hormones were very out of whack and I ended up gaining nearly 80 lbs). my goal weight is to get back to 150-160 and I’ve been eating around 2200 calories and have lost 20 pounds without suffering stamina/strength in the gym. However, I would think after taking a full week off I would come back and just kill it in the gym all week, but I’m feeling super lethargic. (sleep is in check and macros in check as well). I’m thinking Im too active and not eating enough based on my performance. I was thinking bumping up calories to 2400… I hate having bad workouts.

    What would your thoughts be on this? Also do you think the routine is too much volume/over stimulating?

    Appreciate all the articles and advice!!!

    thank you much.


    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Eric,

      Hmm your routine doesn’t sound overly strenuous so it could be related to diet.

      Check out your macros against this:



      • eric

        So i checked it out and my diet really coincides well with your philosophy in regards to macros/eating. However, being in college, I don’t have exact measures living in the Dorm housing, but I’m very good at eyeballing and measuring. My macros come out to be

        Carbs- 300

        I would need to consume roughly 2,900 calories to maintain this current state I’m in, but a lot of that weight is fat. My normal physique at roughly 8-10% body fat I weigh in anywhere from 150-160. I never had a medical condition that caused such severe weight gain, so I never would of dreamed of having to cut.

        So my BMR would be around 2500 at my ideal weight, according to the calculator so at roughly 2000 calories would be a good deficit. ( on workout days, Ill consume a post workout meal which normally bumps me to 2200, or 2300.)

        ill try to up my protein (while adjusting carbs) and see if this helps with my energy since my carbs are already high, but always keep calories no higher 2300… at least for the next few weeks to see how it goes.

        Appreciate the help and articles!!!



        • Michael Matthews

          Hmm I think you mean TDEE and not BMR? Your BMR will never be 2,500 (mine is about 2,100 and I’m 6’2, 190 pounds, 7-8% BF).

          That said, yeah around 2000 cals per day is good for weight loss and rebalancing your macros may help. Low-protein dieting in a defcit sucks.

          Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

          • eric


            Yes! TDEE. over the past few weeks i kept it at 2000-2300, just to keep it flexible. My energy returned after bumping the calories up for a few days to 2300, so that was a relief. I threw in a big reefed at 2900 calories the other week and I had a massive “whoosh” effect and woke up weighing 5 lbs less. I also reduced my volume on my plyometric days and leg days. I’m experimenting with a 5×5 deadlift followed up with 6 sets of sprints which is a blast to do, but I’m feeling much better overall. I’m going to start doing a deload week every fourth week now which will consist of calisthenics and yoga (still challenging, however not over taxing). I’m finding it impossible to sleep and stay awake during the day after my third week of training while in a deficit (also fast heart rate in the mornings). But I think its a good strategy :)! I’ll keep you posted! Again thanks for the help and advice. Greatly appreciated.

          • Michael Matthews

            Awesome man I’m really glad to hear you’re dialing everything in.

            Keep up the good work brother and definitely keep me posted.

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  • Mahesh Anil

    Over training can happen when u don’t give at least a day rest for that particular muscle right? My rear delts are lagging so much so I do 2 workouts for rear delt & one for middle delt. With 10 reps. I do give enough rest. Can this be overtraining?

  • Daniel

    Hi, like to maintain strength by using the gym twice a week, one of these days is leg orientated, play soccer three to four times a week and sometimes i feel im overtraining my legs. I train legs monday and have soccer tuesday and thursday and either saturday or sunday mostly, any recommendations of a good leg workout for me to maintain leg muscle but yet not drop soccer performance?.. thanks

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  • Derrek

    How many sets does Mike Matthews recommend doing? Mike, do you have any articles besides this one on overtraing (http://www.muscleforlife.com/8-signs-of-overtraining/)? I enjoy weightlifting and I can been fitting in a lot of sets in. I tend to say well my form was bad on that and am worried I am not doing them properly so I do extra sets. Any thoughts? Especially like leg days for squats and front squats.

  • goldstargay

    I recently started doing 3 HIIT cardio sessions a week instead of 2 and totally fell into overtaining mode (pretty quickly), but the thing is my body was actually responding to the extra HIIT session. I am taking Phoenix and watching my macros pretty carefully so do you think just scaling back on the HIIT, continuing to lift heavy and monitor my diet will get me the same results? Thanks!

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Deepan

    i am having normal weight only but i need to fit with some muscles too… so i am going to gym in the evenings… but i find i am lacking in energy while doing workouts what are the food items i need to eat everyday so that i can have energy to do workouts… i dont need to loose weight but i need to be fit with some muscles too… pls help…

  • Samoloh Zhang

    Hey, Mike.
    My strength has been seriously decreased because of overtraining. Am I able to be recovered in a week…..? Because my winter vacation is the only time that I can have a proper diet. So, I am looking forward to recover my strength and mass as soon as possible. Is there any special method specific to this kind of situation?

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  • MegaMigg

    Hey Mike,
    Great article by the way. In relation to overtraining, if I am used to lots of volume(drug free) what’s a good way to cope with feeling of “undertraining”? After reading this article, I feel like I am overtraining by a lot. I focus on the core lifts(deadlift, bench, over head press and squat) up to a 7 sets of 3 reps, followed by a deloads and everything else is accessory work. After reading this I need to completely rewrite my training program since it takes about an hour and half to complete. Also, I just received my cutting plan meal from you guys, and was wondering what’s a good way maintain or supplement weightlifting while working with a smaller amount of caloric intake? Thanks again for everything, AWESOME website!

    • Thanks!

      Wow that sounds freaking INTENSE. Check this out:



      Sorry but I don’t quite understand your question regarding the meal plan?

      • MegaMigg

        Hey Mike, thanks for reading my post and sorry for the confusion. I was trying to ask if there was a way to maintain PR’s and training volume while on a caloric deficit. Or is it inevitable that my “lifting numbers” will go down as a result of a more restricted diet.

        • Oh right it depends how long you’ll be cutting for and how lean you’re going to get.

          Personally when I cut below 10% I start losing reps at about week 4/5. Not too bad though. Maybe 2-3 reps across the board.

  • I am incredibly frustrated…I am a 44 year old female, and I have been doing 2 a days (weights 60-90 mins and cardio 45 mins in each session) nutrition is on point, then found out about Cortisol…….URCH!! Put the brakes on, re-vamped the program, and now, 8 weeks later, I am STILL at the exact same weight, same body fat percentage, and only 1 inch lost….EXTREMELY disappointing!! My program now is weights (30 mins lift time) and HIIT cardio 20-30 mins…ANY suggestions?!?!?

    • Hey Terra!

      Let’s first check your diet:


      • Yep, as I said, nutrition is on point, doing exactly what I am “supposed ” to, and still nothing. I can cut calories, increase calories, and no change…no weight loss, no body fat loss. It’s so frustrating.

        • Haha well yes but what many people think is “on point” actually isn’t.

          What are your macros and cals? And what’s your exercise schedule exactly? And what do your cheat meals/days look like?

  • Jose Garcia

    I think this is dead on. Lately I been working out with my little brother and, I can’t pick up even the lightest weight after about my 2 set, or even do a push up that is mind blowing to me. Because I was in the military not too long ago and I was pushing wayyyyy heavier weights before. I feel sooo weak also the parts I feel I have overworked are not even sore, they just don’t let me workout. They were sore before I waited until they stopped being sore, by drinking protein to help rebuild. My soreness went away so I tried to do a couple of pushups, and I couldn’t do more than 2 which has NEVER been the case am I the perfect example of over training? Or do I just need to go workout more?

    • Hmm when I hear about rather extreme examples like this my standard recommendation is you may want to see a doctor.

      I’ve had quite a few people find out they have viruses, for instance.

      • Jose Garcia

        Really you think? Well thanks for the reply man

  • Alex

    ‘Bigger Leaner Stronger’ for men and ‘Thinner Leaner Stronger’ for women? Ugghh, please, we really could do without this sexism and gender stereotyping. Perhaps some women want to be bigger?! (And some men smaller?)

    • Sure but generally speaking, most guys want to be big, strong, and lean, and most girls thin, strong, and lean. 🙂

  • mindswapper

    It doesn’t matter what you want to call it, there’s a point that you find yourself depleted. Gains stop and your motivation dwindles. I can actually gauge when I am headed into “overtraining” by how well I sleep. I workout hard and I have a physical job. I find it very easy to go into a “deficit” of energy if I don’t watch myself.
    This intermittent fasting is definitely not a miracle of some sort. And it doesn’t work like they say it does. You still have to go into a calorie deficit to lose weight. What I find is that my energy levels are higher when I do intermittent fasting compared with a regular reduced diet. My body also seems get accustomed to the fast. I do 18 hours of fasting. On the last hour of the fast I do my workout. I immediately have a couple of apples and a protein drink, then one hour later, 10 scrambled free run eggs mixed with cheese, and four small sausages, 1600 calories. That leaves me with 1000 calories left for my 400 calorie deficit. I usually mix a bowl of organic high fibre cereal with 30 grams of protein mix for a small meal later on. Then have a bowl of steamed organic broccoli. Then I’ll have some chicken from the open nature section of the grocery store. I save 100 calories for a few nuts before starting my next fast. I can eat a lot in a short amount of time.
    My wife and I have both noticed higher energy levels than normal. We are both losing about a lb a week (she eats much less than I do) I have maintained my strength while I’ve lost 10 lbs in 2 months, so it seems to work. My energy is very high and I have a lot of motivation while working out in a fasted state.
    During my two months of intermittent fasting I have been doing the heavy compound exercises that Mike recommends, but on an 8 day cycle; this suits my work schedule. I will go to a 7 day cycle when I am back on a bulk. That’s when I will see how his system works for building. So far it is working to maintain while losing fat.
    Legs today

    • Sleep is definitely a good indicator and ensuring you’re not in a deficit (unless you want to be) is important too.

      Glad to hear you’re doing well. Keep up the good work!

  • Katie

    Hi Mike! Thanks for this article! I feel I am experiencing some of the symptoms of overtraining, specifically not sleeping well and just feeling weak. My current routine is listed below and I’m wondering if you have any ideas on how I should adjust it?

    Mon- HIT class (biceps and back high reps circuits with cardio) non-stop 50 mins
    Tues- Hot yoga (full body with glute/ab focus) 1 hr
    Wed- HIT class (legs high reps circuits with cardio) non-stop 50 mins / abs
    Thurs- Heavy shoulders, tri, chest (gym) 1-1.5hr
    Fri- LISS (treadmill or stairclimber) 25 mins and abs
    Sat- Heavy legs (focus on glutes) 1-1.5hr
    Sun- Rest with optional gentle hot yoga/abs 1hr

    • Katie

      Tues is actually hot pilates with light ways

    • Katie Thompson

      Tues is actually hot Pilates with light weights

    • That’s quite a bit of exercise. If you’re restricting your calories I’m almost positive it’s too much.

      What are you doing with your diet?

      • Katie Thompson

        I’m petite framed, 5’2 weighing 111lbs and I typically eat between 1350-1650 cals trying to hit 45/35/20 c/p/f. My diet is mostly lean proteins, complex carbs, veggies, some fruits and nuts/nut butters. I limit dairy. I take BCAAs and glutamine but not sure if I should add any other vitamins/supplements to help with my energy/recovery. Thanks in advance!

  • KrisOG

    So i work out almost every day and lately i just feel so crappy i can barely move sometimes my arm goes numb from an incident that happened awhile ago and im hopefully gettting help for it soon but yes my legs, arms nd lower back feel so bad all the time i usually do 100 squats a day and weight train with cardio i stopped doing tht many squats and went to 1x a week of 100 squats and i always lift and do cardio now less than before becuase my legs hurt and i feel depressed all the time and cant sleep well i was thinking if im overtraining? Cuz i have been working out intense i was able to work out every day and not be bothered or tired but now it seems everything just hurts so bad im on prozac for anxiety and depression i have an eaiting dissorder not so much now but a couple years back so i was just wondering is it over training

  • Logan Shoen

    Hey Mike. I have been feeling the majority of symptoms of over-training that you discuss in this article, but I have been cutting for about 3 weeks. I feel I need a rest week rather than a deload week so my body can fully heal. Would you recommend this with the same amount of calorie intake I am at in my current cut (2100 cals at 193.4lbs, 11%) or take a deload week to maintain some strength?

  • OKD

    I’m 15 years old
    If I did 15 heavy sets (3 exercises of 5×5) would I be overtraining i have never felt bad after a workout or what symptoms you explained above

  • Chris

    I searched and found this because I’m worried that I may have hit the overtraining mark. I’m on Phase I week two your BLS program but I’ve been doing heavy lifting since Feb without a week off. I’m feeling tired all the time and getting a little lightheaded after a heavy set (goes away quickly), but I’m still gaining on my lifts. Another factor may be that I work overnight? Would you suggest a deload week?

  • Kim

    Hi Mike. First off- great article and super informative which I really appreciate it.

    Here is my question/current challenge:

    I’m 5’1, weight approx 100-105 lbs, I’m pretty small in stature to say the least. I’ve been active my whole life, athletic but was never consistently devoted to eating healthy or exercising until maybe 5 years ago.
    I’ve been striving to get myself trimmer and leaner. I prefer small muscle but my legs tend to carry muscle easily.
    I eat really clean, my diet has been great for the past few years now and I find it to be one of the easier things for me to maintain.

    My current workouts consist…please be open minded bc I don’t have enough days in the week to spread it all out!:

    Monday-Kickboxing. This is done at an MMA studio so theres no bag work- its all mitts and pads, partnered up. The first part is a warm up with hurdles usually about 10 minutes, then there’s body weighted exercises done across the mat like burpees, crawls, leaps/jumps- a variation of those kind. Then after the warm up I partner up and do maybe 3-4 rounds of kickboxing combinations, time is usually 3 mins each round. Then I finish with core and planks.

    Then I do MMA for about an hour and a half- wrestling, bjj and sparring- it all varies depending what we want to work on.

    Tuesday: Lifting, I just started to lift mod to heavy with low rep range- I used to do a WHOOOOLE bunch of different exercises just for my arms with light weight and high rep but I felt it wasn’t doing anything but creating a pump so I did some research and figured okay time for moderate to heavy…I know I shouldn’t be afraid to go heavy so this is why I decided to bite the bullet.

    Wednesday- REST

    Thursday: Hill run- 4.5 miles.
    Kickboxing or boxing- again, no bag work just with a partner on mitts and pads. Theres usually circuit stations divided into maybe 7-10 workouts involving kettle bells, sliders, jumps, some weights, bands. End with core and planks.
    Then the last workout is MMA: Sparring, wrestling and bjj combined. It can vary depending what I want to work on as well. Sometimes its all just take downs or grappling.

    Friday: Used to be my rest day until a few months ago, then I realized I needed a second day during the week dedicated for lifting so I added Friday as a lifting day.

    Saturday: Boot camp in the morning consisting of sprints, Bulgarian bag throws- its a full body workout so it changes up a lot but it focuses a lot on calisthenics.

    Sunday: REST

    I love to move. I love to be active. I’m naturally athletic and find agility to be in favor of me. I also know I don’t have to do as much as I do but I really love it.
    I don’t always get the amount of sleep I need bc I wake up SUPER early for work three days out of the five (4 am). My personal fitness goal is to have nice svelte lean arms. I feel as is my triceps lack that pull in look- and I don’t know what i could be doing wrong. I’ve tried light weights, high reps- I’ve tried heavy now (this is week three I believe) and I don’t see any significant difference. My arms were smaller 2 years ago when I first started getting really serious….and now I’m confused as to why my arms appear bigger. I don’t want that. When I raise my arms out a bit, they have this beautiful nice lean muscle look..when I lay them to my sides, my rear delts look…blah. My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy bc he says how much smaller am I tryign to get but I’m not interested in what I see on the scale- I’m much more fit now than I was 2 years ago…but I know based on measurements AND pictures, my arms are a bit larger than they were before.

    So my question is, besides the fact I may be over training…what else could I try to get my arms smaller, specifically my damn triceps which seem to NEVER change.

    It can’t be my diet- I keep within my macros, I’ve been IF since last year (which is such a natural part of my life now).

    I feel I need extra guidance..please help me.

  • Jay

    Hey man just finished phase 1 of the 1 year challenge. Was wondering whether it would be best to take 3-5 days of complete rest or follow a deload week? Currently trying to bulk so best to reduce calories slightly during this week?

    • Awesome! I prefer deloading and yeah you can drop cals by 200ish per day on the deload week.

      • Jay

        Thanks for your speedy reply man – unrivalled assistance! Sounds good! Final question – Abs circuits during deload or no?

  • Guest

    Hi Mike, i currently do 5 sets of 5 on a compound lift, followed by 5 of 5 heavy isolation followed by 5 of 8 isolation for one muscle group. H
    itting two body parts per session would this constitute overtraining?

  • John Cobain

    Michael, I got your book a month ago but still hadn’t had a chance to read it yet. Bigger leaner stronger that is. I’ve been training for almost 1 year and half now, have built muscle but it looks like it stopped. I’m not sure, as I’m not photographing myself. I want bigger arms for sure, but they do not seem to grow. I’m following your 6 rep rule and getting max out of my muscles. My nutrition isn’t great as school is stressing me with exams so I don’t have too much time to prepare my meals… 5 meals a day is too much for me. During summer I will try my best to get best nutrition I can and I hope to grow a lot during these 3 months. Could you help me out figure what’s the problem?
    Thanks, I’m a big fan of yours.

    • Thanks! You gotta give it a read brother! There’s a bit more to know than what I cover in articles here on the site.

      Check this out:


    • Ryan

      It’s not really my place to comment but obviously you have hit a plateau. I’m sure you realize this but the question is getting out of it. You have been doing the same routine roughly for a year so I’m guessing you need to completely alter your workout. Try doing all body weight and extra cardio for a couple months and then go back to what your doing. Muscle confusion is key.
      You could spend less time in the gym for a week and focus your eating. I make my meals for the week every Sunday. A week off can help push you over a plateau as well

  • Mohd Alaiti


    I read all of your articles but I have a few questions. I work out at home so I don’t have a lot of equipment available for me. Only Dumbbells and their weights. I also have work everyday so I don’t have time to go to the gym.

    I work out 3 days a week. M-W-F. Same exercises every work out day with a full days rest in between. Rest on weekends as well.

    My workout consists of:

    4 Sets diamond push ups. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Inclined push ups. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Inclined dumbbell press. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Flat Dumbbell press. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Flat Dumbbell Flys. 10 reps each

    I take around 1 minute rest in between each set. I don’t increase the weights after each set. I leave them the same.

    I do this workout the first thing in the morning at 7 am and it takes me around 30-35 minutes to complete it. My weight is around 63 KG with height around 172 cm.

    Is this considered a good workout for my upper body as a whole?

    I’m trying to concentrate more on my Chest and Arms.

    If I add 4 sets of Dumbbell curls to workout my arms, will it be enough to build biceps/triceps or do I need more exercises/routines ?

    As I said above, I don’t have much time to exercise so i’m trying to find the best possible work out routine that will get me a great upper body look with minimal exercise time. (Around 30-40 minutes per workout session).

    Maybe you can help me adjust my routine so that I can get a great upper body with the very short time that I have as workout everyday.

    Hope you reply soon.

    Thank you. 🙂

  • Mohd Alaiti


    I read all of your articles but I have a few questions. I work out at home so I don’t have a lot of equipment available for me. Only Dumbbells and their weights. I also have work everyday so I don’t have time to go to the gym.

    I work out 3 days a week. M-W-F. Same exercises every work out day with a full days rest in between. Rest on weekends as well.

    My workout consists of:

    4 Sets diamond push ups. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Inclined push ups. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Inclined dumbbell press. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Flat Dumbbell press. 10 reps each
    4 Sets Flat Dumbbell Flys. 10 reps each

    I take around 1 minute rest in between each set. I don’t increase the weights after each set. I leave them the same.

    I do this workout the first thing in the morning at 7 am and it takes me around 30-35 minutes to complete it. My weight is around 63 KG with height around 172 cm.

    Is this considered a good workout for my upper body as a whole?

    I’m trying to concentrate more on my Chest and Arms.

    If I add 4 sets of Dumbbell curls to workout my arms, will it be enough to build biceps/triceps or do I need more exercises/routines ?

    As I said above, I don’t have much time to exercise so i’m trying to find the best possible work out routine that will get me a great upper body look with minimal exercise time. (Around 30-40 minutes per workout session).

    Maybe you can help me adjust my routine so that I can get a great upper body with the very short time that I have as workout everyday.

    Hope you reply soon.

    Thank you. 🙂

    • Mohd Alaiti

      sorry I reposted by mistake.

  • Quick Easy Fit

    Hey Mike, great article and excellent advice at the end for recovery! We just wrote an article on overtraining and we’d love to know your thoughts, here’s the link: http://www.quickeasyfit.com/am-i-overtraining-signs-of-overtraining-and-how-to-recover/

  • Ryan

    I love your explanation of mixing cardio days with weights with full rest. I do the same thing except not routinely. I just do what my body feels like doing and usually results in a full weight day, 4 cardio/weights, and a full cardio day. (I like saving the full cardio for a morning where you are still feeling last nights beverages). I’m just recommending following your bodies needs. I lost 40 lbs in about a year doing this. I did not gain the amount of muscle I desired but had clean weight loss with little no skin sag. Try to keep the loss around 1-2 lbs or a kg per week or the sag will occur. That’s only a 500-750 calorie deficit per day. If your following a good routine with the cardio you should be able to still consume 2000-2500 calories a day

    • Happy to hear you like it and cool that you’ve been doing it!

      Good job on the results you’ve gotten already! Keep that shit up!

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Jhor Vi

    You forgot to include a relevant indicator of OverTraining. It’s “Weak or no Erection”!

  • E

    I would normally be able to do bicep curls very easy/very little effort. Now the past two days I can barely do a few with the same weight.. Is this caused by overtraining & is a break the only way to fix it?

    • Probably not because overtraining doesn’t come on that quickly.

      What has changed recently?

      • E

        Nothing really changed other than a full week without bicep curls while I was working on my chest with dumbbells on the bench. However I feel that I’m getting back on track slowly starting to do the curls again. Im guessing since I worked on my chest for a while, it made my deltoids very sore which was maybe the reason for the weakness I was feeling..but I’m just guessing…what do you think?

        • Okay. Yeah could be residual soreness from something else.

          • E


            Thanks for taking the time to reply.

            What you’re here is great..

          • My pleasure man.

  • E

    Forgot to mention that I stopped doing curls for about a week while I was working on my chest on the bench if that matters.

  • Loraine

    I am a female, and came across your article. Found it very helpful, thanks. Just a question though. I understand the signs of over-training and believe after reading this I am suffering from this. I train 5 days a week (weight training morning’s and cardio evenings) this is due to lack of time in the mornings to do both. Both sessions last an hour. Then on Saturdays I run. Sundays are my rest days. I have not taken much “time off”, and I am not getting that “feel good” feeling after training…. I feel like it’s becoming a mission to get to the gym lately. I still go though, as not going I feel guilty……..Any tips? Or am I over-trained?

    • It’s very possible you’re overtrained.

      When’s the last time you took a week off or had a deload week?

  • Meg

    I’m not sure if I’m overtrained or overtraining. My goal is to get toned and lean, so I have been working out everyday by doing 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by a 29 minute full body weight circuit provided by my gym. I use manageable weights, so nothing too heavy. This is a new routine I’ve been trying but I’m not sure if it’s too much to do everyday. I haven’t noticed any signs of overtraining exactly but I still don’t want them to appear anytime soon either. Is this an acceptable workout or should I try doing a split workout instead?

  • Charles Swanborough

    Mike, I probably need a trainer but that must wait until work improves… I am 179cm, 82kg and 63. I am physically in good shape although have mild COPD which limits me on supersets. I am training 6 days per calendar week with a routine that repeats every 4 days. I try hard and push myself on every muscle group, typically 4 or 5 exercises (rarely 6) in 4 sets of 10 per muscle group. I frequently feel worn out though not exhausted but my sleep is very erratic and my mind active. My shoulders are permanently tired and prone to pain/injury. I am struggling to put on muscle and suspect I am losing a bit. The weights are not increasing much either. Is this overtraining? I am going to try the 4-day routine and then a day off to see if it makes any difference and work around the gym closing on Sundays. Any advice will be appreciated.

  • Syed Akbarali

    Hey, I’ve been inactive for few months and just returned this Monday. Been doing great with first day chest, second legs. I included abs workout at the end of the days. Today I can’t stand straight cause it feels like my stomach is tearing apart. If that’s not enough, I’m also experiencing pain on my both chests, triceps to the point I’m not able to lift my arm straight upward. Guess it’s going to be legs pain soon since I can feel a little cramp when I bend legs around. Is that some serious sore or I’ve got torn abs or anything? Please give some advice on my issue and suggestions on getting better.

  • Emna

    Hey Mike,

    Great article, I’ve been a huge fan for a long time 🙂 I’ve been doing a lot of reading about overtraining as I’ve recently (reluctantly!) accepted
    that’s what I’ve been doing. I competed in my first figure show in May
    and had an intense, pretty ruthless 10 week prep. I came in crazy lean – around 9% BF and felt great. After the show, I wanted to keep
    going so I got straight back to the gym and after a few BIG cheats, got more or less back on diet too. But somehow the “buzz” was gone. I put it down to post-comp blues and kept going, but became more and more frustrated at not being able to increase my lifts or seemingly progress at all.

    Eventually I realised I needed a deload, so I took a week of doing low volume, low weight stuff and some barbell complexes. The following
    week I got back to my new routine feeling excited and rejuventated. Problem was, the new programme was even more intense than my comp prep programme. Long, heavy sessions with HIIT finishers every day. After another week, I was back to feeling even worse than pre-deload. The biggest
    indicator for me was the complete and utter loss of appetite and crippling DOMS lasting 5-6 days. Food is quite possibly my favourite thing, and I had zero interest in it all of a sudden. Then I got my body comp checked and, lo and behold, fat UP, muscle DOWN. What a killer.

    So, I took 5 days off. Complete rest, no gym time at all. Again, felt great. Got back in the gym with a heavy legday last Monday, seemed ok but still not 100%… 4 days later appetite goes AGAIN, cannot achieve any pump whatsoever, and I’m more miserable/anxious/stressed than
    ever. My muscles are flat (even after upping carbs substantially), vascularity has totally gone, and I look soft and watery.

    I’d be so grateful for your thoughts. I understand that everything I’ve described means my cortisol levels must be sky-high, and I dread to think how low testosterone is. Do you think I should be staying away from the gym completely? Do you think a week will be long enough? I am so keen to get stuck into off-season and build some muscle, but realistically, will I be able to any time soon?

    Thanks so much in advance 🙂

  • Fernando

    Hey, Mike

    How’s it going?

    So, I’ve just completed week 7 of the BLS Year One Challenge, and I hadn’t been training for quite a while before I started, and have never trained “propely” before, meaning the way you recommend, heavy, 4-6 rep range, and everything. I’m currently bulking, and I’ve been in the process of upping my calories since I started, since my weight hadn’t been going up (it actually went down at first). For the past few weeks, like 3 weeks, maybe even more, but it’s definitely gotten much worse this and last week, I’ve been feeling REALLY sluggish, dragging through my whole day, and, of course, my workouts. I still keep on seeing strength gains, but I just got to the point where I really couldn’t train anymore. Today was it. I almost passed out after a set of heavy squats and all. Anyway, I thought that might have something to do with the fact that I’d been upping my carbs, and I’ve heard you say that some people don’t really do well with a lot of carbs. I’m currently eating around 300g of carbs, on a 2600 calorie diet. My weigh in today showed 60.4kg, around 133 lbs, I’m 5’8″ tall, and I started my bulk on around 1900 cals. I remember feeling much better at the beginning, both in my workouts and during the day in general, but I couldn’t tell if the tired, dragging, sluggish feeling could be from all of the carbs or if it could actually be overtraining. Also, I’ve tried but some of the longer days in the BLS program just are not possible to be finished in less than 1:30h for me, I’ve tried going from 4min rest to 3 in every exercise, focusing, I don’t talk to anyone, the only thing I can think of to reduce time at this point would be “supersetting”, but I know you’re not a proponent of it, and I don’t know if it would affect performance. Anyways, I was wondering if the time I’ve been spending at the gym, even though I’m doing the exact routine laid out on BLS, could be making me overtrain. Lastly, would it be possible for me to overtrain given all of the above in “only” 7 weeks?
    I am taking this week off anyway, and probably restructuring my meal plan to reduce my carbs and up my fat intake proportionally. Do you think that sounds like the way to go? I also got some glutamine and leucine, the glutamine I think will help with the overtraining, correct?
    Should I keep my cals the same during the week off?

    Thanks so much, brother! I really enjoy your website and all of the awesome content, keep up the good work!!

    Best Regards,


  • Sql

    Speaking of sleep, and 7-8 hours is optimal, … etc., my question is if one was not able to sleep as much as one should during the night then does it help if one picks up some nap during the day? That is, does napping during the day count as part of your recovering sleep in a 24 hour cycle? Why or why not?

    • Definitely does. Check out polyphase sleep to learn more about it.

  • Zach

    Hey mike I would like to have your opinion I’m fairly new too weight lifting and I was wondering if I’m over training I usually do around 25-30 sets for each of my workouts (4 a week) I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep and I’m in a calorie surplus. I haven’t really showed any signs of overtraining except feeling tired after a brutal leg workout. Do you think I should Lower my overall sets? Thanks

  • Robert van Vuuren

    Yo mike Good article , I’ve was perplexed been back in gym 6-7weeks years after stopping been pushing hard on the shakes,creatine ,animal m-stack but been feeling tiered and today and the past week have not been feeling the usual power and after gym ecstasy , I gym every 2nd day but is it possible I’m still overtraining etc ? Had a change in my work routine which means I’m up a lot earlier by i try to get 6.5-7 hours sleep atleast.What u think? I need to take it easy?

    • Are you experiencing any of the points above?

      How long are you at the gym when you go and how many sets do you do?

      You could also stand to sleep more. More sleep will help for sure.

  • Miller

    This is a great article, Mike! On July 1st I began four weeks of rigorous military academy training, two a day workouts + other activities all day long. It has been four weeks or so since that training ended but now my days are filled with classes and Regimental functions. A typical day for me begins at 0500 and ends at 2200. We aren’t allowed to take naps or rest at all, the food in the dining hall is ok – not high quality food by any means. I have been going to the gym because it is the only place I can release myself from the daily stressors of the Academy but I am absolutely exhausted. I was wondering if you had any idea how I can handle such a busy day and have enough energy for working out? I don’t know how to get myself back on track because I want/need to be working out but I feel like I am headed on a downward slope.. Thank you!

    • Thanks!

      Wow that sound quite intense!

      Honestly it might be best if you cut back on the lifting to avoid overtraining. Personally I would go down to 2 x per week (upper/lower) given everything else you’re doing.


  • I think this has happened to me.Training for a marathon and noticed all of this stuff-so frustrating

    • Gotta make sure you listen to your body and do the necessary actions to get it taken care of.

      • I am, took the day off:) No running, no spinning. I just need to get rid of that guilty feeling I get every time I take a break.

  • Farhana

    Hi, firstly this article is great!
    I would love to hear ur thoughts on my training schedule and if u think it could lead to overtraining!

    I am female and 35 years old.
    I get up at 4.am (sleep approx 6hrs- have 2 kids under 5) to train as its the only time I can fit it in! I do 2 – 45 mins GVT style lifting sessions per week and 3- 45 min resistance circuits (focusing on different body parts) and 3- 45 mins liss sessions and also 2-3 15 min hiit sessions per week. I train 5 days s week. I train fasted and eat 125g of carbs per day and consume 65% of that post training. I eat 120g of proteins and 50g of fat per day, calories are approx 1500-1600. I am tiny under 5ft and weigh 86lbs but have some belly fat still to lose.

    I am trying really hard to give my body the best and train at optimal levels but always seem unsure as to if its too much?

    I would really value your thoughts?

    Thank u in advance.

    • Thanks!

      Hmm I wouldn’t recommend GVT. Focusing on heavier lifting is going to serve your needs better.

      Otherwise I think you’re doing well. I don’t think that’s too much training each week and your cal intake is fairly high for your size.

      How is your body responding?

      • Fg fitness

        Oh thank u so much for your reply!

        Why do u not recommend GTV out of interest? I lift as heavy as I can, do u think I’d be better off with a different form of lifting? Up until a month ago I was doing dtp style. I guess I’m not sure what I’m doing as I’m confused?

        Up until recently my bodies been responding well I’ve gained quite a bit of definition, it’s just a tiny bit of belly fat (I had 2 c sections ) and it is so stubborn! Do u think I should cut calories? I burn about 1600 calories a week from my training. I’m never sure if I’m eating too much or too little.

        Thank u again wholeheartedly!

  • P Mort

    OK, so I’ve come back to this. I’ve had some problems with lifting over the past several months, getting extremely exhausted, taking a week or two off (sometimes the latter is necessary), getting back into it, only to be wiped out two or three weeks later. During that period my cardio had suffered as well.

    Now, if I do a day of just cardio, I sleep great and feel great throughout the day. But if I do weights, I have that restless sleep. Even if it’s just one day. This week I’ve experimented with cardio only (and light, easy-going cardio…not HIIT or 60 min runs at a race pace), and did just one day of lifting (which I kept simple, doing just some squats and pull-ups). Did the weights yesterday, and slept HORRIBLY, and have been really achey. This has been going on for months and I’m not sure what the problem is.

    • Very interesting. Have you seen a doc?

      • P Mort

        No, not yet. We have a corporate health assessment coming up in a few weeks and I’m sort of easing up prior to that. We’ll see if the blood draw they do finds something. Light cardio and just even getting out and walking seems to be helping, and laying off the weights entirely. Even going back to lift for a single day a week is bad.

    • kari

      hi I’m no one important just wanted to say I have similar result though i got by 2-4 hours sleep a night for 14 months just cus I began a desk job instead of manual labor and thought sleep was not important (now I see it is and get 6 a day)I i used to also dance fast 12 hours a week and train aerials 6 hours week and I was pretty cut from loading trucks at work (if only I knew anything about nutrition back then!!) . Now just weights, but sleep is awful unless I do cardio even though I hate cardio and love lifting, I found out my twin brother and father do cardio everyday to sleep a good sleep.Even if its just walking a few miles on rest day. They also have a desk job now. I am thinking our slow day jobs is at fault and we just need to do more to make up for being forced to sit still so long? Not sure if this helps anyone but I’d prefer to dance an hour on lunchbreak or go for a jog than take insomnia meds later. if i cant squeeze in a cardio session, finding reasons at work to get up to discretely go up and down the stairs real quick each hour helps me sleep better especially on lift days

      • P Mort

        My cardio sessions have been helping but I’ve read you can overdo it in that direction too (aerobic & anaerobic exercise seem to have their own types of stressors).

        I think honestly I’ve just been dealing with a cumulative load of stress this year in particular, both physical and psychological, and it caught up to me and was severely impacting my workouts. I’ve been feeling much better after giving the weights a break, and I haven’t lost too much muscle (I still do about 1 session week of squats just b/c I hate leaving those go and being super sore when I get back to them).

        • Yep, you can. Check this out:


          Glad you’ve been feeling better!

          • P Mort

            Thanks. Was doing about 2 HIIT sessions/week but pulled back on a lot of that because I felt it was compounding the stress. Our gym just recently ditched their rower which was my HIIT workout of choice so now I have to rely on one of two really bad spin bikes.

          • NP. It’s important to listen to your body.

            Sorry to hear about the bikes. :/

  • kat

    I would really appreciate an outside opinion on my “training” rituals as i am very self-critical and worry that im not overtraining but making excuses because i’ve lost interest…. firstly i am a recovering anorexic and am aware that I have developed into a compulsive excerciser. I do at least 2.5 hrs of moderate cardio everyday if not 3 and spend another 1.5 – 2hrs everyday doing at home strength excercises. I do this w/out fail everyday. I first started to build back fitness and muscle after the anorexia destroyed my muscle, strength and metabolism. At first i did see results, but it (the excercises)gradually became more and more. At present i am sore all over, wake several times a night but am lathargic during the day. i am finding my routine excercises harder than usual despite having increased the intensity and length of my excercises. I think i have reached a plateau but being self-critical am not sure if i am being just lazy and not overtraining at all??? the problem is I can’t stop excersing bc of the psycolgical guilt and my stupid worry that one day off will make me lazy, fat and out of shape but but but… I then worry that if i am overtraining, i am not going anywhere with my goals anyway or even making myself fatter with overproduction of cortisol. I seem to develop hormonal acne whenever i put my body under extra stress … cortisol -the stress hormone???? ahhh, i don’t know? someone please cut my stupid head off and replace it with someone’s that can think rationally.
    thoughts appreciated. cheers,
    kat, 24, Australia.

  • Brandon williams

    thanks for this guide, i have been exorcising every day for the last 2 weeks now. and i think i hit that point where i have been over training, let me explain a few months ago i was 318 pounds and i have worked myself down to 274 but i’m not going any lower. so i figured redoubling my work out would help. however my body aches, it feels like i’m getting sucker punched when i stretch and i am having trouble sleeping as when i try it’s like my body is fighting it. after reading your guide i realized that i am suffering from over training, and that i need to take some time off to let my body recover. thanks for having this here for people to have this information.

  • Chris Levine

    Hey Mike,

    I sent you an email on my current situation, i’ve been at it for 3-4 months, dropped close to 30 pounds, workout 5-6 days a week for an hour or 1.5 hours each time. I sleep 6.5 – 7 hours (if i go to bed any earlier it would be 8pm which means no time with my family).

    I workout at 4:30am everyday. Im feeling sluggish, exhausted (dark circles under my eyes) and feel like i don’t have the full effort in the gym) Should i take a week off? and if i do can i at-least do body workouts at home? like hand stand push ups, elevated push ups and sit ups/leg raises and maybe jump rope and box jumps? (I haven’t gone over my maintenance calories once in the last 10 weeks, usually stay below by 500)

    During my week off should I do maintenance calories or stick with my deficit?

    • I answer all emails! I just run a few days out due to the sheer volume. If I haven’t answered you already, I will!

      Good job on the weight loss!

      It may be time to do a rest or deload week. Check this out:


      What do you think?

      • Chris Levine

        Took a week off, kept eating my deficit calories (1 day i actually ate almost my maintenance calories) and i think i’m good to get back in there now at full strength. I do feel extremely lazy but i’m not giving up on the body i want!

  • Shahzeb Ahmed

    Hi Mike,

    This article was really helpful. Although, I still cant make out if I am over training or not.

    I am an athlete and have been into sports since the age of 15. I was never into weights until 2 years ago. I started working out with my elder cousin who has been into weights since over 8 years now. You can say he was my basic trainer and I have not trained under any professional trainer ever.

    To give you idea about my routine, my chest day would comprise of 4 sets of flat bench press, 4 sets of inclined bench press, 4 sets of decline bench press. 3 sets of parallel bar, 3 sets each of flat, inclined and declined dumbbell press and then finish it with 4 sets of flies. This gave me miraculous results and they still do. I have a similar regime with all the other body parts too.

    Lately, I have joined a commercial gym and my trainer has cut down my regime. I am worried I would end up under training as my body is used to the rigorous training that it used to get before. Could you please help and explain how will this change effect my body?


    • Thanks Shaz!

      There’s no question that some people can get away with more training/abuse than others.

      How are you feeling? Any symptoms of overtraining?

  • Savino Livornese

    Hi Mike, I play football/soccer 5 times a week as I play for an college academy team I’m 17 years old. I’ve been working out for about a year now, only doing bodyweight exercises. I have recently just joined the academy and finding it hard to fit in my workouts around this but find it Hard without feeling the symtoms above and I try to workout 3 to 4 times a week, I was wondering if you have any suggestions as i don’t want to lose the progress I’ve made.

    • Savino Livornese

      Sometimes I try to get my workouts in before practice (in the morining) is this the right thing to do ?

      • Savino Livornese

        I have one full rest day on a Sunday witth no exersise whatsoever but the 6 other days I do cardio/workout apart from Friday where I’ll just do my workout. Is this enough rest ?

        • Jeff cape

          Yes it is I exercize every day

        • Good on the one day of no exercise. That should be enough.

          Just make sure you pay attention to the signs of overtraining and adjust as needed.

      • Yep, that’s totally fine.

    • With the amount of cardio you’re doing with soccer, I recommend you stick to a 3-day workout split. Anymore could lead to overtraining. Check this out:


      You can calculate your cals and macros here:


      Make sure you count both weightlifting and soccer in your activity.

      What do you think? LMK.

      • Savino Livornese

        Thanks mike them articles have helped I’m currently doing casthetics beginner workout twice a week with some leg pylometrics in between the articles have been a great help

  • Louisa Temple

    Hi Mike , i am training at the moment with the intention to compete next year , i am in my 3rd month of intense triaining, i feel stronger , i have just started to do fasted cardio in the morning and weights in th evening i have 1 or 2 days off a week , and i eat 6 meals a day little and often, i also drink lots of water and have protein shake after workouts . I am starting to feel very tired, not sleeping very well and im also not noticing a different with my weight it has stayed the same for a month , byt my measurements have gone done. please help what am i doing wrong?
    thanks louise

  • Joe

    Hi Mike,
    I have been hitting it hard for months without any significant break from lifting. I know that now is the time for a rest week (tendinitis, fatigue, etc.)
    but I fear loss of muscle mass. Is there any reason to be worried about taking 5-7 days off from exercise but continue eating healthy?

    • Yeah sounds like it’s time to take a break. You won’t lose muscle until at least 3 to 4 weeks of no training. Don’t worry.

  • Tim

    Hey Mike,

    Ive been bodybuilding for 7 years now. I’ve been cutting for 8 weeks, very high intensity weight training with Light Intensity cardio and seeing amazing results and motivation was sky high and getting crazy pumps. Just in my last week, I woke up one day with significant weight loss, it really demotivated me. I couldn’t even complete my workouts and I don’t get any pump whatsoever. My muscles feels very flat and many family members commented saying I’ve lost significant weight. I am extremely demotivated and tired towards the end of my workouts and dont have the energy to complete them. What do you recommend I should do at this stage.


  • Davey McCrazy

    Hey Mike, do you REALLY feel great after a big workout? I do get the positive effects from minor exercise – doing some jumping around or bodyweight work while watching TV, going for a bike ride etc. But when I finish a big lift day, & I’ve done bench or deads or whatever big compound movement I was doing that day, I’m a total Zombie for hours afterwards. It doesn’t really seem to matter if I go overboard, or just squeeze in a 45 min session before closing, if I move big weight, I’m “done”.

    I had always assumed this was normal, and always felt anyone who said “oh, if I don’t work out in the morning, I have no energy that day” simply wasn’t working very hard in their workout… But you clearly work hard… So that leaves me wondering what is “normal” after big lifting…?

    • Honestly I do. I leave the gym feeling energized. Some workouts are definitely harder than others but within 15 to 20 minutes of finishing I almost always feel good.

  • Kalin Stoev

    Hey Mike , if I eat huge amount of calories everyday,I sleep 10 hours a day and I workout for 3 hours a day , am I going to be overtraining ?

    • Yeah probably. 3 hours per day in the gym is going to be brutal…

      • Kalin Stoev

        Yeah , but when I listen to guys like Rich Piana and Ct Fletcher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRKLLqZXfVs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW2UOyjO1bM
        They basically say that there is no such thing as “overtraining” (no matter if you are on roids or not) as long as you eat properly and get enough rest .However Rich Piana is open about his drug use , but Ct Fletcher claims to be life-time natural.

        • RP is open about his steroid use, which changes things quite a bit. He also trains with lighter weights because he says he found his body responds better to it while on drugs than the really heavy stuff.

      • Kalin Stoev

        Also I just wanted to say thank you.You are an amazing person Mike , Im amazed how you manage so huge website like muscleforlife and how you answer to all of the questions of your visitors.All the articles and stuff , that’s just amazing , keep up the wonderful work.

        • Thanks man. I appreciate the kind words. 🙂

          • Kalin Stoev

            Mike is there any way to connect with you so we can have a faster discussion , because here , we have to wait with days.

          • Sorry! It’s tough with the amount of emails, messages, comments, etc. I get, but I do what I can.

            Feel free to email me at Mike @ muscleforlife.

      • Kalin Stoev

        Im bulking right now and I usually train about 2 hours per day.However I tried some of your workouts from “The ultimate workout series” but I can’t even sweat during the workout.I don’t have any muscle soreness the days after the workout and etc.(Is all that normal) Basically I just feel like this is not enough work.

        • I hear you. Check this out:


          Soreness isn’t necessarily an indicator of a good/effective workout.

          That said, if you feel you have more in the tank, you should check out my Bigger Leaner Stronger program. It’s very similar to the ultimate workouts but has a bit more upper body work. I could help you increase the volume a little bit more too if you’d like.

          • Kalin Stoev

            Yeah , it will be great if you can do that , I feel like I need a bit more volume.

          • Great! Check it out:


            LMK what you think.

          • Kalin Stoev

            Well I guess the book is great , however I will have to take it as ebook or audio one , because Im pretty sure that the shipping to Bulgaria will be way to expensive.

          • Great. Yeah, the ebook may be your best option.

  • raj

    my arms getting harder and stop growing by over training in gym..
    which is the best cream to lose the hard muscle….plz

  • Elvina Lingas

    Hi Mike, I purchased your ebook Thinner Leaner Stronger a few weeks ago and I have been using it as a guide to devise my workout and meal plan. I used to do a lot of “fancy” workout moves in my plan and ended up being fatigued all the time without seeing real results. I started incorporating your exercise and diet plan into my routine and it has been working out great last 2 weeks. I felt energized after every lifting session and still managed to do my other responsibilities. The problem is that this last Monday I usually did only legs without cardio; and I did 60 mins cardio in the afternoon (legs AM). I proceed with my usual cardio +weights day on Tuesday; and I felt so tired I got so lightheaded during the exercise I couldn’t even finish it. I slept fine though; however today I woke up feeling sluggish and I decided to take a day off today. I feel a little disappointed that I couldn’t finish this week’s plan spotless; however I am worried I will get dizzy again.

  • Alex M

    Hey Mike, I’ve been using your routine from BLS (for cutting) for about three weeks now, lifting 5 days a week, and I’ve seen really great results so far! My BF has decreased and I look overall much leaner. However, I’m noticing for the past couple of days that: I’m significantly hungrier; I feel I have less energy for my workouts; I feel fatigued at work (sometimes I get up from my desk and feel dizzy); I’ve been having trouble sleeping and usually wake up hungry etc. So it sounds like I’m overtraining.

    Here’s my question: in your book you say 5 days is better than 4 days which is better than 3 days of weightlifting, and that you shouldn’t change anything between a bulk phase and a cut. I’ve read that in a caloric deficit though, the body is not able to recover as easily, so 5 (and even 4 days) is too much weight lifting during a cut, and 3 is preferable. What is your take on this? Should I switch to 3 days a week of weightlifting?

    The other thing is that when I use your macro calorie calculation, my daily caloric goal ends up being the same as my BMR. Granted I don’t always hit this number exactly, and a few days a week I go over this amount, but it is what I’m aiming for, and I’m wondering if maybe it’s too low?

    So I’m not sure if I should decrease workouts, increase calories, or both. I really appreciate any help you can provide!

    • Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it. Anything you could do to spread the word would rock too! 🙂

      And great on the results!

      Hmm let’s check your food intake first. Compare your current intake to this:


      (Some people find they can eat a bit more than the book’s formulas allow.)

      If your food intake is okay then yes I think we should dial back the exercise.

      3 x lifting and 3 x HIIT cardio (20 to 25 min per session) per week will be fine.

      • Alex M

        Hey Mike, thanks for the advice! I’ll pull back a bit and see if that helps.

        Any reason why the book has carbs at our body weight in grams, while the article has carbs set at the rest of calories after calculating 75-80% of total expenditure? When should each approach be used?

        Also, in general, why is fat intake so low? I find that just by eating everyday foods (turkey slices, eggs, chicken, salmon, 30g of hummus (which is practically nothing), a little salad dressing, 1% fat yogurt and some protein powder with 2g fat per scoop etc), I get to ~30 grams of fat in no time, so I can never fit things in like nuts, avocado, etc, and even the occasional piece of chocolate would put me over :/. Even a refeed day when we get a chance to “let loose” allows for even less fat intake than usual. I know you say dieting doesn’t need to be hard and you don’t have to feel deprived of foods, but when there’s little room to add fat, I’m not sure how to eat food with more fat that I enjoy while still reaching the high protein intakes required on a cut.

        Do you suggest low fat intakes because you find they simply work better for fat loss? Is it because more calories can go to carbs? Do you set the goal low since fat calories can add up quickly (i.e. aim low so there’s more margin for mistakes)? Bottom line though, does eating higher fat have a huge impact? If so, would it be detrimental to have like one or two higher fat days a week? If low fat really does work better I’ll stick with it, but it is very hard for me. Very curious to hear what you have to say about this. Thanks for your help!

        • Just different ways of arriving at more or less the same thing, really.

          I generally wanted to keep the book formulas as simple as possible though.

          Check this out on the fats:


          You’re welcome to go higher in fat but you’ll have to reduce your carbs, and that’s not ideal for training and muscle-building purposes.

  • Filippo Bonadonna

    Hi Mike,
    first of all, keep up the good work 🙂 .

    Second, I don’t know if I am having an overtained moment or if I am simply coming down with something. For the past 2-3 days, my head feels like it weighs 100lbs, I feel sluggish and I have problems sleeping (although I feel sluggish enough to just lay on the couch/bed all the time). My apetite is also not what it once was….all signs seems to point that I am in the overtrained mode, but I don’t understand it since I have been following your BLS one year challenge for the past 3 weeks and I am an experienced lifter too.

    What is your suggestion, should I still train like nothing is happening and see how things turn out or simply take 2-3 days off and see how it feels by then?

    FYI, this is what my workout schedule looks like:
    M: Weights
    T: Weights
    TH: Weights
    F: Cardio
    SAT: Weights
    SUN: Cardio

    I may do like you and have 1 full day of rest without any cardio or weights, would that be beneficial or it makes no difference?

    Thanks again 🙂

    • Thanks brother. 🙂

      Hmm exercising 7 days per week is a LOT, and is most definitely too much if you’re cutting. If you’re bulking, you may be able to get away with it.

      That said, it sounds more like your body is fighting off a bug because in my experience overtraining doesn’t come on that quickly. It progresses in gradual “stages”…

  • chrismwpcs

    Hi Mike, Great article. I may be in this trap myself. I started my current routine back in October 19th and have been steadily training working around my job life. I have been on vacation since December 5th and have only had one day off on Christmas day. Today when I did my first rep on my first set in the gym (bench press) I knew it was going to be a bad session.

    I feel pretty washed out today and I have noticed on my Fitbit history my resting heart rate has gone from 58 to around 65. My routine today had me drop weights and even then I struggled to get a set out or failed literally 3 reps to 5 reps in.

    I am 50 years old and this is the first time I have done weights in years. I have just purchased some Aminolast and TESTOMAXXX to supplement my whey protein shakes. Does this sound like over training to you? I picked up the extra supplements as I have not been using them before and I know at 50 testosterone levels are a lot lower than when I was a younger chap. I am taking 3 days off complete rest to see if I can start to undo what I think you have described in your article. Cheers

  • Kal-El

    Hey Mike,
    I lift weight five days a week. I rarely do cardio when I’m bulking. I was thinking of training lagging parts on the sixth day. Is that a good idea or will it result in overtraining?

    • That’s totally fine! I’d go higher rep on your weak point training day though.

      • Kal-El

        Yeah? What rep range do you suggest?

        • Yep. 8-10 reps is good. About 75% of 1RM.

          • Kal-El

            Why 8-10? Is it better than 4-6?

          • The focus should always be on the 4-6 rep range, but for the extra sets, I recommend 8-10 reps to prevent overtraining.

  • chubby runner

    Hi, Mike!
    I’m not sure if it’s really possible to overtrain by just running, but I’m wondering if that’s my problem. I have run every day but 3 since 1984 (missed the 3 in 2001 due to knee surgery), and I generally run for a minimum of 90 minutes a day. Several days a week I run twice a day. I lift a little, and I do sit-ups and push-ups, etc. My runs are horrible, I’m always tired, my knees, hamstring and feet hurt, and I CANNOT lose weight (and I truly need to do so–I’ve put on quite a bit of weight and body fat over the years). I’m a vegetarian, and I watch what I eat very closely; I have tried eating less than 1200 calories for periods of time and have not lost a single pound.
    What do you think?

  • Emily Rose

    Hi there, so I’d like a bit of advice if possible. Im a 32 year old female and I currently weigh around 153lbs. I am joining the military in a few months and my goal is to get as fit as possible, gain muscle/strength and also lose fat. I want to get to 20% body fat ideally, with a weight of around 135lbs. I’m currently doing Crossfit 4 times a week and also some fairly intense boxing training 3 times a week. I don’t have any rest days without exercise, but I’m sleeping 8-9 hours per night and there’s always 24 hours between exercise sessions. I’m eating 1700-1800 kcal per day with macros of C20/F45/P35. Now you might think that the carbs are on the low side, however over the years I have noticed that I am particularly carb sensitive. I was previously trying C40/F20/P40 but wasn’t seeing the fat loss results at all. Now, I’ve been doing this new routine for a couple of weeks now, and previously I was simply lifting moderate to heavy (mainly compound) 3 times a week with perhaps 1 day of just cardio in addition. During this period I was seeing perhaps ‘newbie gains’ type muscle and strength gain, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. My diet wasn’t entirely on point (although not that bad) plus I was doing 40/20/40 as mentioned before but I just wasn’t losing fat, like at all! I’ve not really had any of the most common symptoms of overtraining like problems sleeping or chronic muscle fatigue, however, since undertaking my new routine I have noticed that I don’t seem to be building muscle or getting stronger, in fact I feel like I’m getting weaker. I’m not able to lift as heavy, and my endurance seems to be decreasing. I think I am losing fat but at a very very slow rate which is very frustrating. I’m really at a loss as to what to do, and I’m running out of time before I go in the Navy. Should I dial back with the crossfit to say two sessions a week (the boxing needs to stay at 3 days as I’m in training for a bout in March), and have two complete rest days per week? Do you think my macro and kcal intake is appropriate? I should also point out that I do take BCAA’s, multivitamins and whey protein, and I don’t eat anything processed or any meat. Can you offer me any solid advice?? Thanks, Emily


    hey mike, I would like some advice. Ive been weight training for a ayear and half now seen some good gains. My weight has fluctuated alot since through illness and also i had little knowledge on bodybuilding and diet. Anyways im 80 kg now 6ft tall, I believe that I’ve overtrained. I love going to the gym, wen I don’t go I feel like shit basically. Nowadays when I go gym I cannot lift what I was lifting before especially bench press/and deadlift). I want to gain mass now im just wondering if you know any routines for me who is basically ready to start again after I take 5 or so days off ?

  • erik

    This is good advice. Less is definitely more. I train extremely hard and it’s taken me almost a decade to really listen to my body and grow. When i began training I could train a 3 day split without problems and make good progress
    . It wasn’t until I developed a significant amount of strength that I stopped making solid gains. I think a lot of people (me included) accept that after beginner gains it’s normal to expect slow gains. This info most likely fools people into continuing to train hard and frequently while being satisfied with the expected slow in progress. I’ve had to cut down to training each muscle group every two weeks and it’s the best decision I ever made. One workout each week alternating lower body and upper body.

    • Thanks! At a certain point, it definitely is!

      Great to hear you found a routine that worked for you! Everyone is different and on those things you just have to listen to your body and find the sweet spot.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Jason

    Hi Micheal I have been training for the past year on and off and I have been doing all over body training. Quads, calfs, hamstrings, chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. 3×12 reps on quads, chest, shoulders, back. 2×12 on arms, calfs, hamstrings. Always within 2 weeks my diet drops off (which is generally clean and well within calorie range) and I hardly eat, I hardly sleep, feel very run down and depressed and become sick usually with a cold or something similar. Could I be over training? I train Monday Wednesday and Friday and I’m 44. I’d really appreciate some help as its driving me mad this constant stop start vicious cycle. Many thanks

  • MardyZ

    Hi mike

    I’m on TLS month 4 now and I’ve followed your program to a T. I’m cutting so my calories are 1500 40% protein 40% carb and 30% fat. I hardly ever reach my fat target and almost always reach my protein with s bit of carbs leftover. I plateaued few weeks ago but my scale has finally moved. Body fat down from 35% to now about 22-25%. Weight down from 80 to 74kg. I’m 29, I work out 5 days a week lifting as per your program, HIIT on treadmill 15-20 minutes 3-4 times a week. I rest Saturday with optional cardio on Sunday. My cheat meals are planned and cooked by me. All food is tracked.

    I’m a housewife and I’m always on my feet doing chores and cooking, I rarely sit in front of the computer. I get 5-7 hours of sleep. I take a multi, fish oil, spirulina, vitamin d, calcium, echinacea with zinc. I eat my vegetables (green beans, Brussel spouts) I have two servings of fruit every day.

    Yet after my workouts I feel like I have to drag my feet to do my housework. I often wake up feeling like I’m catching a cold but never fully catching it. Today was supposed to be squat day and it’s my favourite workout but I just don’t have the energy and feeling rundown. My lifting have been slightly plateaued but I can maintain my rep range well I just can’t add weight yet. I’ve had a week off training last time to recover from feeling like crap. But I feel like it’s here again today. What am I doing wrong? Am I overtraining?

    • Thanks for all the info. Cool on everything you’re doing and taking. I get where you’re at.

      Aside from the TLS program, are you doing any other exercise? Cardio? If so, how much?

      Have you tried getting more sleep? That may be part of the issue.

      Also, are you having a proper post-workout meal? Check this out:



      • MardyZ

        Hi mike thanks for your reply really appreciate it.

        To answer your question, I don’t do anything else besides your program. Only 3-4x HIIT cardio after lifting usually after chest, shoulders and arms. I read your post workout nutrition article you recommend and I’ve been doing all that the article is suggesting. I train fasted in the morning before breakfast coz my stomach feels heavy / get cramps when I do HIIT and have food before..even just eating a tiny piece of fruit. So my post workout meal is a protein smoothie with 35g of protein (whey, creatine, berries, banana / honey, choc pb2, almond milk, spirulina) and I drink it while I make breakfast (45g protein with some carbs: tuna cakes made with small potato, canned tuna, Lupin flakes, nutritional yeast, red curry paste).

        I’ll try sleeping more but I think you and me are similar in a sense that if we could do without sleep we would! During the weekends I sleep a lot more though, so I thought I was getting along fine with my sleep. Do you think i should eat more / increase calories? I really can’t see what else I can do and I feel demotivated when this happens as I hate taking days off the gym. Thanks again mike!

        • YW! Well, I’m glad you’re doing everything right there. 🙂

          Yep, let’s try getting more sleep consistently and see how you do.

          How much weight are you losing weekly? Also, how close is your current intake to your BMR? You can calculate it here:


          Oh and when was the last time you took a week off/deload week?

          I know how you feel! I hate missing days too, but it’s important to give your body a break.

          LMK. Welcome! Talk soon.

          • MardyZ

            Hi mike, thanks again for that link. I used the calculator off this site before and I’m about 100 calories off my bmr. Tbh my scale has not been moving much, i find it stuck at 77kg for 4 weeks and now it’s only moving to 75kg. I see major changes in the mirror, clothes and fat percentage & people complimenting my weight loss..is it safe to ditch the scale? Anyway for that reason I didnt want to increase calories anymore incase I gain more weight.

            I think sleep has been helping me as I feel a lot better after sleeping early for a few days. So thanks for that!

            My last deload / rest week was about a month ago when I got sick. since then I’ve been feeling like crap after each workout as I do my daily chores. I think I took sleep too much for granted. Maybe you should talk about rest week, sleep and having balance in one of your podcasts? I listen to it while i work out and I love that yours are long 🙂

            Your books, site and podcasts are my reference point when I’m stuck and clueless so I can’t thank you enough for changing my life and how I view nutrition & fitness. So much respect and admiration for you:)

          • Welcome!

            Hmm. Sounds like you’re building muscle and losing fat. In that case, yeah, let’s forget the scale. Instead, measure your progress by tracking your composition:


            As long as you’re getting results, you can keep your intake the same.

            Good to hear on the sleep! YW. 🙂

            Cool on your last deload/rest week. Good idea for a podcast episode. Glad you’ve been enjoying them!

            My pleasure for everything! Thanks for all the love and support!

            Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Ben

    Hi Mike,
    What do you think of working out twice a day? would you recommend it? how to apply it, should I train different body parts? when does it become overtraining?
    I’m currently done with school and work so I have a lot of free time for the next 2 weeks so I was considering training twice a day since I love spending time at the gym, maybe 2 x 1h30.
    Obviously by following you, my diet/calorie intake/macros is all checked:) I will increase a bit my calorie intake but I would stay on a deficit.
    I would like to have your advice on that,
    Thanks for your time

    • Hey Ben! I don’t do it personally, but you could do it fine. It really comes down to weekly volume.

      I can tell you right now though, two 90 minutes sessions a day is too much. Check this out:


      Sounds good. LMK what you think!

      My pleasure. Talk soon.

      • Ben

        Hi Mike,
        perfect, I take notes of your advice and tips. The article is really relevant in my situation. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer me.
        Thank you.


    i train chest 2 times a week! high volume! now my left pec is numb! and some pain goes to my shoulder, mid back, bicep, and forearm. also feeling anxiety at night thinking im about to have a heart attack! can barely sleep at night! is this over training symptoms?

    • It sounds like it. When was the last time you took a deload/rest week? Some of the other things you have going on are odd, though. I recommend taking a rest/deload week and checking with the doc to see what’s going on…

      • REALLY NIGGA!?

        i never taken a week off. always 4 days on one day off. then, 5 days on, 1 day off. doc couldnt find anything. i went to the hospital today.

        • Yikes. I recommend taking a week off every 6-8 weeks when cutting and every 8-10 weeks when bulking.

          LMK how it goes at the hospital. Let’s start with taking a week off, though, and let’s start doing that regularly.

          • REALLY NIGGA!?

            doc say maybe its overtraining. i took a week off! im back , lets see how this next week goes.

          • Sounds good. Keep me posted.

  • mekerel

    I’m literally overtrained from 2,5 years. I lifted weights a lot and very stupidly trained(when i was sick or tired and don’t made breaks). I feel wired and tired all the day. one year ago I made labs and had and have low testosteron and cortison over norm. I can easily fall asleep but everynight I wake up at night and cant fall asleep again. I changed diet nearly year ago. You are writing here that one week help, one week can help if it’s so called functional overtraining ( or nonfunctional overreaching) with very subtle signs like light muscle pains or sleepiness after meals. Any advices?

    • Yikes! Let’s start with taking a week off and see how you feel then.

      Also, make sure you have 1-2 rest days per week when you return to training and that you’re sleeping enough too.

      LMK how it goes!

  • Bryan

    Hey Mike,

    I know you recommend no more than 40-70 reps per muscle group per week to avoid overtraining. My question(s) pertain to how to classify exercises into muscle groups. Certain exercises hit several, bench press for example. Would press count as chest only? Chest and tricep? Etc…

    Also do you count the higher rep off day work (8-10) recommended for shoulders/chest as part of the 40-70 reps?


    • Yeah there’s definitely overlap, which is why a bit of workout programming is trial and error. Some people’s bodies can take more abuse than others’.

      The 70 reps per week range is most relevant to the heavy 85%+ 1RM work that you’re doing. If you’re doing some lighter work on top of that, again, it depends on your body. If you’re maintaining or bulking, you should be fine.

      This may help you BTW:


  • Joanne

    I do weights M, W, F – full body and cardio T, Th. I take Sat off and do something light on Sun if at all. It doesn’t sound like much but from reading the article I have a lot of the symptoms you’ve described for overtraining. Always tired, fighting depression, listlessness, fat retention, etc. Would you still recommend taking a rest week even though it doesn’t sound like I’m doing much? I’m really discouraged.

    • Yeah I still would. When was the last time you took a deload/rest week? I recommend them every 6-8 weeks when cutting and every 8-10 weeks when bulking.

  • Joanne

    My cardio has been a type of interval training but not quite like HIIT and after reading what you have to say about it, I’m going to change it to HIIT. I’m watching my calories (1250 is recommended on one of the calculators on your site) but I’m no where near the protein requirements. I’m also vegan but I’ve read that being vegan shouldn’t be a problem. Is the only way to get the recommended protein amounts to take supplements?
    Also, the reason I do my workouts as mentioned before (weights 3 days/wk, cardio 2 days/wk) is because the only time I have to work out and the best time for motivation is when I first wake up in the morning and I don’t have a long enough window of time to do both weights and cardio on the same morning so I space them out–will that not be enough weight training??

    • Sounds good!

      Cool you’re vegan. To help with your protein intake, check this out:


      Understood on the time you have to workout. Don’t worry. You can make great gains on a 3-day split.

      I look forward to seeing your results. Talk soon!

      • Tanish Alfonso

        This doesn’t really relate to your article but I’m hoping you could maybe still help. I’ve been going to the gym for three months now and after the first week or so, I stopped getting sore! I don’t know if this is a bad thing or what but it’s a concern for me. I’ve been told to try not weights or mor reps and I have but still no soreness and I know that I’ve been working out until I have used all my energy so I don’t what the problem is. Could you please help me out? I’m 15 by the way.

        • Tanish alfonso

          More weights or more reps*

          • eric pedigo

            Both but don’t overdo it

        • Hey Tanish,

          Soreness isn’t necessarily an indicator of a good workout. Genetics, nutrition, and conditioning all play a role.

          Check out my article on this:


          As long as you’re getting in your 9-12 heavy sets per workout with good form, you’re doing it right. And you should see results to prove it–your strength should go up and you should gain muscle. That said, if you’ve been training for quite some time, I recommend bumping the workouts up by 3 more sets. Just add one more exercise, and do 3 sets.

  • Jason

    Hi Mike,
    I’ve been cutting for over two months and still have one or two weeks to go until I can get back to lean bulking. Unfortunately, I ended up overtrained. Ideally I would like to stay in a deficit and have a deload week. Do you think I could get back on track like that or do I have to completely stay off the gym and go back to maintenance for a week? Thanks a lot!

  • Dan

    Hi Mike,
    I found this article as I was searching for help… (Love the site & will be signing up BTW!!)

    I’m a bright guy, who trains hard, but I openly admit that I don’t train smart… For the last 18+ months I have regularly been training twice a day during the week (I work away in hotels) and this training has been primarily Cardio based.

    I have introduced some weights and resistance programs to add some muscle mass, but that has been in addition to Cardio rather than necessarily replacing it…

    Daily program usually looks like:
    Morning – 1 hour intense Cardio (Run / xTrainer / Bike)
    – 30 mins resistance
    Evening – 1.5 hours Cardio – xTrainer & Bike (or run if didn’t run in the morning)
    – 30 mins resistance
    Then at the weekend I would do long Run + some kettlebell & body weight routines

    Initially I lost some weight and trimmed right down (losing 2 trouser sizes). However, recently I my weight has increased again (from around 74kg to around 80kg). My fat percentage has remained between 11% and 14%, and my muscle mass accounts for most of the weight gain (from 61 to 65kg).

    I am also unable to shift (and feel like I am adding) abdominal fat.
    I believe I should be seeing much better results for the time and effort I am putting in. My concern is that I’ve battered my body so much (I’ve been very lucky avoiding injury etc) that my Cortisol levels are shot (I am getting these tested soon)

    I am acutely aware that I need to change things as I am not working smart AT ALL…

    I need help / advice / guidance on what to do next. I am clearly addicted to exercise and the feeling I get from blasting out some Cardio, but the ‘lack’ of results is now depressing (not clinically depressing) and I’m concerned I’m stuck in an exercise rut…

    Any thoughts / help would be hugely appreciated…


  • Anderson Anderson

    hi Mike ,
    i’m relatively beginner(not so beginner) in terms of weightlifting ,have slight experience in past,this is my fullbodyworkout ,i started lifting again 4 weeks ago
    week 1 week 2 week 3
    barbell bench press 3 sets @8-10 reps
    incline bb bench press
    shoulder dumbell press
    lat pulldown
    seated row
    dumbell shrug
    each exercise i done 3 sets wtih 8-10 reps 3 times a week ,monday wed friday

    in week 4 i change still fullbody 3 days a week with 4 sets of 8-12 reps
    squat 5×5
    bench press 4 sets 6-12reps
    overhead press 4 sets 6-12reps
    bent overrow 4sets 6-12 reps
    recently about 3 days ago , i feel occasional weird left chest pain and in ribs below armpit , two days i have trouble to go into deep sleeping as i would keep waking up all night , i notice my heartbeat is quite strong when trying to fall asleep, based on my routine , do u think i suffer from overtraining?


  • Nick kp

    Hi Mike, I’m a beginner at lifting weights and after a day at gym I had pain in my arms and then after two days the pain is gone but I can’t do a single pushup. Now it’s been a week I’ve been going to gym but still I can’t do a single pushup or even I can’t even lift myself with the help of my hands. Please help me man

    • Hi Nick, if you were able to do a pushup before this, and you have given your arms a break, then consult a doctor and get that checked out!

  • Rodrigo

    I suspect I’m overtrained because of the symptoms I’m having, especially in relation to sleep at night. I did a full week of rest apparently has improved , but when I returned to training , I returned to wake up several times at dawn . How should I proceed?

    1- I get 1 more week and try to train again, or try two weeks at a time?

    2 – Making one week of rest, in theory resetaria cortisol. This first day of training I did to return could undo all the gains from home I had ?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Rodrigo,

      That’s great you felt better after the recovery week. Did you change your training routine once you finished the recovery week? Or did you go back to the old routine?

      • Rodrigo

        Roger , my level of stress improved quite a week of rest and so returned to training. Upon returning , even changed the training time ( before was going at night and thought that was holding me to sleep ) . I was at lunch , but even so the sleep I again felt the previous symptoms at week break, waking up several times at night.
        With regard to training , increased the time of rest between sets and a little volume compared to previous weeks , but returned focusing on low repetitions (4-6 and 6-8 ) and high load.
        So I do not train yesterday and today today I woke up a few times early, but without getting too ” electric ” and anxious.
        What should I do? Another week of complete rest or at least 2 more weeks?

  • Gregory

    I had taken a deload training a few weeks ago. After a very hard workout on Monday, I felt very tired and sluggish the following day. Should I take a few days off the gym, or should I take a deload training again? If its the former, how many days should I take off from working out?

    • Hey Greg,

      You rest and recover all right on Monday night? How was nutrition? Properly fueled? Are you on a cut? These are immediate factors that come to mind that would have caused it. Take one or two days of good rest and diet and see what the rest of the week brings. LMK how it goes.

      • Gregory

        Well, my diet is far from optimal due to lack of money so I just eat everything that comes along. I didn’t hit my macros but I think I was still in a calorie surplus since I put on some fat the next day, but I felt tired the following day (Tuesday) and the next day (Wednesday) but I know I feel better.

        I know that protein is very important but what If I’m not able to eat enough protein (1 pound per bodyweight) but still eat enough calories to put on weight? Would I still make progress? I’m an ectomorph by the way.

  • Marc

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve recently started a Push-Pull-Legs-1day break programme, and I already feel kind of fatigued and I sometimes wake up during the night. Do you think it’s a bad idea to train heavy 5 days a week, hitting every group twice? Thanks!

  • Shawn An Sharae Beasley

    Hello my name is shawn and I have started working out its bin a little over a week now and I’ve lost 10 pounds I am obese and scared for my health so I’ve started working out I was 298 I am now 289 but my legs hurt and I was running/ walking 3.8 miles everyday started lifted weights as well anyways getting to the point I need some pointers on a good scedual to do my walks and lift weights can anyone please give me a little advise on my long journey thank you so much 🙂

  • Britt

    Hi! I’ve been working out at the gym 4 times a week for 6 months now. On the days I don’t go to the gym, I go for a 30 min. walk (usually 2 days/week). For the past 2 months, I’ve been doing HIIT for 30 min. on the elliptical 4 days a week. I also do weight training 2 days a week. For the past 2 weeks, during cardio, I’ve noticed that my heart rate hits its peak (170+) very quickly and I can’t seem to get it to come down even when lowering both the incline and speed. It seems like my heart rate gets stuck in the peak zone, even though I back off and go as slowly as I can. I could previously go twice the speed and intensity and still not have my heart rate as high as it has been lately. I’ve also been feeling like I don’t have the energy to complete the workout, and sometimes I get lightheaded. What do you think is causing this and what do you recommend? Thank you in advance!

    • Hey Britt,

      Assuming diet and rest/recovery habits have not changed, I suggest that you take a deload week and have a break.

  • P Mort

    I’m not sure what’s up, I took a week off a few weeks ago as I was feeling these things, jumped back into weights again after that week, but am feeling just as exhausted. I’m not sure a week is enough, I’ve been going pretty hard prior, joined the 1000 lb club in the process, but uninterrupted sleep is nearly impossible for me and my heart is racing, I’m always exhausted, and I look/feel all poofy. Not sure what to do besides just keep resting, but that one week wasn’t enough.

    • Sounds like you need some serious time off and actual quality sleep plus de-stressing.

      • P Mort

        How should I be adjusting my calories? I was on a cut. And during “serious time off” should I still be doing active recovery (walking, very light low intensity biking, etc)? Hopefully the sleep will come, I do nothing but read an hour or more before bed, still dealing with those effects though.

        • Low intensity activities are fine. Just limit cardio to 1hr a week. You can stay on your cutting cals during your deload.

    • raz3

      you need to stretch to release stress, and lots of rest inbetween, or it just stays in there.

  • NoraS

    I do mainly intense legs/glute workouts 4 days a week, having a day of rest in between. 1. one legged chair glute bridge (15 x 3 ea leg) 2. Donkey kicks (20 x 3 ea leg) 3. Clam w/ band (15 x 3) and 4. 50 lb. unelevated glute bridges (8-10 x 3). I eat a very healthy diet of absolutely no sugar (only honey as sweetener and home made dehydrated fruits/fruit juice) or junk food. I’m feeling sleepy during my workouts and I get very hot, to the point where I have to exercise with almost no clothes and have a fan blasting me to cool off. I drink at least 2 liters of water a day. I also consume absolutely no caffeine Am I overtraining or what am I doing wrong? I’m not trying to lose weight, just wanting to lose lower back fat and gain more shapely glutes which seem to be happening after about 8 months of consistency.

    • Hey Nora, you’ll have to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose fat. Have you set your macro targets?


      • NoraS

        Thank you, Mike. I thought I should be at the 2,080 calorie range, but perhaps I only qualify for 1,840 to maintain – I do an hour long workout three times a week, so maybe it’s more on the lighter side? I’m confused with the calc’s intended definition of “weight” because I primarily need to gain muscle/shape in the glutes and lose a bit of fat that is hardly noticeable. I’m paranoid of dropping my calories down and possibly losing muscle and especially when wanting to upgrade the intensity of my workouts. I also seem to be having difficulty getting enough salt/sodium in my diet, as I’ve only been getting 1/8 tsp of salt along with my medication that acts as a major diuretic. Some sources say I need approx. 50 protein, while others say I need closer to 100, which I feel is too heavy for me; not sure what to do there. I feel like I could use less protein and more carbs both pre-workout and for muscle recovery. I’m very new to macro targets, so I’m sure I’m making errors and at least one misunderstanding somewhere.

        • NP.

          “Weight” is your current body weight.

          If you want to lose fat, then that’s a 20% deficit from maintenance calories. Macros will look like this:

          Protein: 1.2g/lbs body weight. 4 cals per gram
          Fat: 20% of total (cutting) calories. 9 cals per gram
          Rest goes into carbs, which are 4 cals per gram

          You won’t lose muscle with weight training and high protein intake while on a cut.

  • P Mort

    I think I’ve narrowed down my sleep issues to potential low blood sugar problems (I just moved, looking for a doctor to make this definitive, but this seems to be the only factor) as a result of overtraining. Not sure what I should do as I’m still overweight so I don’t want to stop working out but obviously my body is not liking how much I’m doing.

  • Amy

    I’m pretty sure I’ve reached a total central nervous system overtraining point, possibly largely due to a bunch of mental stress that started back in May (job loss, guy issues, etc). Since then, after a few weeks of working out, all of the above mentioned symptoms appear so I keep taking mini breaks, but going back. I work out 7 days a week, but only 5 lifting for the past year…. So I just took two full weeks off all lifting only to come back, not even finish a week of lifting and all of the symptoms (namely not sleeping, emotionally shot, shaky and weak) came back. I’m really bummed, I don’t want to lose the progress I’ve made in only my first year. Do you have any experience / advice with/for the recovery periods and time frames if a week isn’t enough? (I’ve also been cutting for over a year and have lost 50 pounds)

    • Hmm. How long are your workouts? How many sets are you doing each workout? How about cardio? How much cardio are you doing weekly? Are you sleeping enough? Are you cutting? If so, how steep of a deficit are you in?

      All of these play a role. LMK!

      • Amy

        Work out length – about 1.5 hr. I try to follow your protocol and do about 12 sets daily, no more than 1.5-2 hrs of cardio per week. (schedule below)

        I sleep 7-8 hours a night. I have been cutting, but not super strict, I’ve lost 50 pounds in the last year, got your eating plan, followed it closely for a few months, then sort of wing it now, so I don’t know my exact macros.

        The only thing I can think of is technically I am not having a total rest day. Also, I only just read in your book that I was supposed to only do the lower reps (4-6) for the first exercise and the others were supposed to be 8-10 reps (right?) I have been attempting to do ALL of the sets at max capacity for the past year. Also, I was taking all of your stimulants and drinking a lot of coffee.. and I had a significant emotional setback in May, when it started…. I would think that the numerous 4-5 day rest / deload periods + vacation I have taken in the last 5 months should have eliminated it though. Maybe it’s all mental stress…I know the connection between mind/body is huge. ?

        Monday – chest 12 sets (sometimes 20 mins cardio if I have energy)
        Tuesday – back, butt, abs – 12 sets (+ non-weighted approx. 250 stomach crunches & 60 squats)
        Wed – 30 mins of HIIT cardio (bike, stair or run)
        Thurs – arms & abs – 12 sets + abs (same as abv)
        Fri – 30 mins of HIIT cardio (bike, stair or run)
        Sat – legs – 15 sets + 60 non weighted squats
        Sun – HIIT cardio or steady state for 40 depending upon how I feel

        • Thanks for all the info. Let’s check on a few more things and make a few changes.

          Let’s get those workouts down to 45-60 minutes and let’s keep them at 9-12 sets max. 9 sets would be better since you’ve been overtrained and are cutting.

          Let’s make sure you’re getting 1-2 complete rest days a week, and let’s change the workout so you’re only working in the 4-6 rep range for the first 3 sets. All sets after that should be done in the 8-10 rep range.

          Also, let’s make sure you’re not in too steep a deficit:


          Lastly, let’s take a week off from all stimulants every 6-8 weeks. You can align it with your deload week.

          Let’s give those a try and see how you do.

          Oh and great job on the weight you’ve lost!

          • Amy

            Thank you so much for the detailed plan advice!!! As soon as finish with a few more weeks of rest (boo), I’ll jump back in with this new plan, tighten up my diet, and see how it goes. I’m going to have to experiment w/the program though to figure out how to get two full days of rest in and still do cardio and hit all the muscles as well…. Anyway, really appreciate the advice. 🙂

          • YW! Sounds good.

  • David

    Hey Mike,

    In february I started cutting from 205 pounds all the way down to 165 pounds right now. I finished cutting in September. Could I be overtrained since I spend 6 months in a deficit with 5 times a week in the gym without a break. Since June I started getting symtomps, from I guess, overtraining:
    – poor sleep, pain in my knee, low libido, mood swings, tired all the time, no motivation to work out.
    I still got these symtomps! Could this be overtraining/underrecovering?
    I’m planning to take 3 days complete rest and start a deload week wherein I train very light.


  • P Mort

    “What has always worked for me is a week off weights, with nothing more than a few sessions of light cardio.”
    What are you considering light cardio here? Easy biking, treadmill walk, slow-steady rowing, etc.?

  • Annie

    Hi, I am wondering if you could possibly help me as I am in desperate need of advice. Back in April 2012 I decided I needed to make a change as I weighed 211 lbs (I am female, 5’7, currently 32 years old). I started working out 5 days a week (at home, not a gym), reduced my wine intake, ate healthier-real food, etc. I managed to lose 66 lbs and it took me about a year and a half to achieve that. My workouts always consisted of a lot of variety (cardio, strength training, Pilates, yoga, dancing, interval sprints on treadmill, etc) as I get bored easily. After I reached 145 lbs by the beginning of 2014 my weight loss came to a halt. I have been trying for almost 3 years now to lose more weight and not only have I not lost more weight, but I have gained 15 lbs back so I am currently at 160 lbs. I changed my workout routine and started lifting heavier, incorporating more HIIT workouts, started getting up at 3:30 am to work out before work, trying to increase the amount of exercise hours I got per week, started intermittent fasting, and none of it has worked. Along with that, before I lost the initial weight I struggled a lot with depression, fatigue and anxiety. When I lost the weight, all of that disappeared and I felt fantastic. Now, all of those symptoms have returned and I feel just like I did when I weighed 211 lbs. In addition, my heart rate has been completely insane for the last month. I normally have a resting heart rate of about 65-68 but lately, out of nowhere, my heart rate will increase up to 92 just when I am sitting at my desk at work! I am just completely exhausted all of the time despite the usual 7-7 ½ hours of sleep I get every night. I just took the last week off because my knee started to hurt (I have NO idea what I did to it) and I still feel exhausted. Since it has been nearly 5 years of exercise/dieting trying to lose weight, do you think I need to crank down the exercise intensity? It seems that when I started working out more intensely and doing HIIT all the time, that made everything worse-and I gained weight. I am just wondering if my hormones are all out of whack or I have stressed out my adrenals too much. I just have no idea. I just know that when I lost the 66 lbs, it was NEVER this hard. I actually really enjoyed the process and felt great. But now, I am just so frustrated, exhausted, and feel like crap (and I am ALWAYS freezing cold). I feel like my life is revolving around trying to lose this weight and I am getting nowhere. My calorie intake varies depending on what workout I did that day or if it is a rest day but on average, I would say I eat about 1500-1600 calories per day. Mostly real, clean food. I don’t eat out much (I cook at home a lot and always bring my own lunch to work), don’t drink pop, and I try to get a lot of protein in my diet. I do have an occasional weekend that involves eating pizza but not every weekend and just that one “cheat” meal (not the whole day). I do drink wine on weekends but I have already decided that I am going to cut that out completely for at least a month to see if that helps at all. I would really appreciate any advice you could give me! Thanks!

    • Awesome work on the weight loss, Annie. Deload and reverse diet before cutting again:



    • Pea Oat

      Watching the numbers on the scales can be discouraging. Note that with exercise you get more muscle mass. Muscle tissue is denser and heavier than fat tissue. Seeing weight increase may make you feel discouraged and depressed and even stop the exercise but the truth is: now more than ever you should keep working. I wouldn’t look at the weight fluctuations but focus on how you feel and how much more you can do. Is it fun? Lbs are not a good unit to measure your progress.

    • Aaron Pascoe

      Have you had your thyroid checked? Your symptoms could be low hyperthyroidism.

  • Beth

    I’m training 5 days a week resistance and 30 minutes 3 days at night. I take 2 days off no exercise. I am 125 , 5’4 trying to figure out my macros i bought your book but I’m still confused. I’m trying to continue to loose fat and hold onto my muscle. Do I eat the same macros on my off days? What should my macros be? My name is 1349. Thanks.

  • rebecca

    Im a 23 year old female 5’7 55kg. I work out 5 days p.w with saturday & sunday as rest days.

    Monday – 45mins of netball, 1hour in the gym & 20 minutes continuious swimming

    Tuesday – cardio = 4 / 5 mile run

    Wednesday – 1hour in the gym & 20 minutes continuious swim

    Thursday – cardio = 4/5/6 mile run

    Friday – 1hour gym & 20 minutes continuious swim

    I work monday – friday FT and live around 1 mile from work which i walk everyday to & from.

    My diets pretty healthy. I dont eat processed food or much junk. Will snack on peanut butter & crackers, rice cakes or fruit.

    My breakfasts are good. Cereal with cut up fruit. Lunch is either a tub of salad or vegetables, dinner will be 3 egg omelettee or fried egg with a salad or vegetables & usually some meat. I then go work out come home and have another bowl of cereal.

    A recent trip to my GP found im low in iron.
    I take part in triathlons and run half marathons – although not many but I train as if i have one every other week.

    For the past few months ive been feeling a bit weak with no energy. waking up vatious times at night. Having a constant worry about weight and god forbid – missing a workout. I plan everything around my workouts.

    On friday evening id made my way to the gym and physically felt that i couldnt do my workout. I had a fast heartbeat and a bit light headed. My periods have also stopped which is my biggest concern. This cant be good for me.

    As a result, im taking a recovery week. Still walking to work and doing the plank. But its only tuesday and im already struggling with the recovery.

    I feel like i need advice before i completely run myself into the ground.

  • amos

    I’m now in week 4 of BLS, before I started your program, I was also training and squatting 2-3 times a week. I was progressing nicely the first 2 weeks, my squats increased from 70kg x 5 to 80kg x 4. The 3rd week, I got 80kg x 5 but failed on 6th rep. The rest of my sets suffered and was only able to do 2/3 reps the following sets. Now, in the 4th week, 80kg abnormally heavy and was only able to get 4 reps, 4 reps and 3 reps. To be honest, I was sleeping at 1 a.m. every night ever since last week but manage to get 6-7 hours of sleep each night, compared to the first two weeks where I got 8-9 hours a week. My deadlifts, overhead press are still going strong, my bench press suffers slightly but my squats suffered the most. I feel so frustrated! I also noticed lean body mass decreasing the past 2 weeks while my weight still remaining the same (bf% increased!). What should I do!!!

  • sumo?

    Hey Mike I have been lifting for about 5 months and i notice for the past 2 months suddenly my libido plummeted like a rock. Im 16 btw. Use to have a ridiculous sex drive but 3 months after weightlifting i notice i never seem to have the drive anymore and its especially problematic considering im in my teen years where sex drive peaks in your lifetime. Could i be overtraining? I do not experience any other symptoms other than diminishing sex drive. I am in a caloric surplus for a while too so it cant be because of calorie restriction. Ironically the first 2 month of lifting i was in a deficit and things were all good. Sex drive went down hill coincidentally in the middle of the bulk. I also deloaded for about 5 days a couple weeks ago but didnt think it help much.

  • Pea Oat

    My signals of “you’ve done too much” are quite strange. I don’t really feel that much decrease in my strength but I feel on edge, wobbly and my ears are ringing. These unpleasant sensations have led to some anxiety issues as I didn’t quite connect the symptoms with over-training because I always thought I was indestructible. The anxiety used to exhaust me even more and made getting back to work that much harder. I managed to curb the anxiety with some practice so now I’m down to wobbliness which goes away after some rest. It’s really easy to go overboard when being on the move is so much fun for you.

    The good news is: it’s easy to recover if you know what the body needs.

  • Dave

    I have had two weeks of the gym my body is so in bits sore all over my insides hurt shoulders are hands is this normal

  • Lilla

    overtraining topic is a bit confusing for me. My strenght doesnt decrease, even if I lift heavy almost every day, sometimes I start my mornings with a 40-50 minute hill run and close it with a one hour long lifting at night and I only eat carbs before and after lifting. However, in the last few weeks I havent seen any changes in my weight only 1 lb up and downs, and I often feel pain in my back, shoulders, and now my abdominals, and unusual extreme muscle soreness and pain after leg day (worse than the “I can barely sit down” feeling), but im definitely getting stronger. Should I worry if my lifts are getting heavier, but i have few of these sympthoms, lift 6 times a week and do intervall/circuit/cardio training 4 times a week, plus 20-30 hill walk every day? (girl, cutting – 25% bf, 40% lean mass).

    • Sounds like you’re able to push it pretty far, but if you’re starting to feel aches and pains, it looks like you need to take a breather.

  • Ryan Brain

    Hi Mike, having a hell of a week and could use your advice if you don’t mind? Been in a 10% surplus for 2.5 months, gaining strength and weight steadily at 0.5lb a week. After 7 weeks of 5 day training (Mon-Wed, Fri, Sat) I started seeing the signs of overtraining, so I took a week off. By the end of the week my sleeping patterns were back to normal, so I got back to training the following week and instantly my sleep sucks again, my weight and waistline this week have SHOT up (1.6lb and 2cm on my waist!). Why am I retaining so much water? I’m drinking enough, so I’m not dehydrated. Is it possible I actually needed to take off 2 weeks instead of just 1? Am I training too frequently for my little body to cope with (5’4, 125lb)? Very confused about how to proceed, especially as I was making such great progress. Thanks!

  • Taylor Kuzik

    Might have to try this because I feel my strength isn’t going up, meaning I can lift a 15lbs. dumbbell no problem but I am trying to get stronger with each lift and ower my BF% enough to see my abs. My diet is generally good, avoid processed foods and rarely have junk. Do you think taking a deload week can help with overtraining as well?

  • Ethan

    I really want to try Greg Plitt’s MFT28 program, but training hard twice daily seems like a really quick way to overtrain. Any comments/suggestions?

  • Ethan

    How much do you eat during the deload week?

  • K

    Thank you for thus article. I have noticed that I get super fatigued and don’t seem to get enough sleep when I workout 2 days in a row. Weight lifting and a little cardio. It seems that I should be ok. Why is this so?

  • Celeste

    Oftentimes when I train consistently with less than two rest days every 3 weeks, I become irritable and fatigued even with 6-9 hours of sleep. I also become stiff and ache in my tendons/muscles. I lose motivation and can barely even finish a workout. Sometimes it’s hard to realize that more isn’t always a good thing, especially when training. Our bodies take on a countless amount of stress when we exert them too hard & too often. Time to take some days off. FUCK!

  • Han-Lin Yong

    I’ve ran all out in at least two sessions in one week between 5 and 10 years ago until my sprinting actually looked like jogging in the next session. It was probably the threshold zone. Around a week later, I didn’t remember sleeping for two days, and I became forgetful. Is it possible that it was liked with overtraining?

    I agree that it’s not always easy to spot overtraining especially if we don’t know what to look for. My leg muscles didn’t feel too sore. Adrenaline can mask fatigue since it decreases sleepiness and may decrease perceived exertion for a given output temporarily. Other factors such as caffeine can cause insomnia.

    I learned that endurance training increases parasympathetic activity. That can be something to experiment with. It’s quite common for cyclists to do recovery rides. We need better education in terms of exercise recommendations. It should be more specific and complete just like balanced nutrition. For example, we shouldn’t do zone 3 one hour a day. When in doubt, heart rate monitors should be used. Another way to objectively measure overtraining is HRV.

    • It’s possible it was overtraining, but there are many factors, including nutrition, stress, caffeine as you mentioned, etc.

      Cardio isn’t required to prevent overtraining, but I do recommend incorporating some cardio each week to help maintain conditioning. Check this out:


      I’m glad you’ve found a way to adjust your training without overboard and experiencing negative side effects 🙂

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