By: Flint Wallace
I have discovered over the years that many of the athletes I have coached and trained have actually been overtraining. For a long time, I believed that these individuals were simply very hard workers. They really wanted it. They had great work ethic, etc. But in hindsight, I realize that they were probably inhibiting their process instead of enhancing it. The Medical Dictionary describes overtraining as “a general term for any practice of, or training for, a particular sport which is in excess of that necessary to effectively participate in the sport.” Individuals who overtrain (or are overtrained) may cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness.
I have come to understand that if an athlete has a well-designed workout regimen, then there is very little need for any additional athletic activity. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in tough workouts, tough enough that athletes will sometimes have to “push through”, but an athlete who pushes himself to the point of exhaustion every single day does so to his own detriment. Instead, the athlete must work in cycles throughout the week.
The athlete who takes an extra 45 minutes to an hour in the weight room at night after he already had a weight workout that morning… the athlete that does an extra round of circuit training after practice every day… the athlete that spends an extra 30 minutes on arm recovery after he has already gone through a thorough recovery protocol… these additional activities may well be hurting him more than helping. I am not suggesting that an athlete should not do extra work on his own, especially if some part of your team’s practice routine does not provide what you need to be fully prepared or recovered. Extra work just because “more is better” can be harmful. The belief that if two aspirin are good for a headache then 10 must be five times better is, of course, ridiculous. We all know that ten aspirin taken all at once can be harmful. The same thing can be said for doing too much extra working out. It often leads to diminished performance, constant aches or soreness, or, even worse, injuries.
In order to ensure that you are not overtraining, have a hyper-personalized workout regimen. This starts with the appropriate assessments and audits, such as a functional movement and strength assessments, velocity assessment, pain audit, command audit, and a recovery audit. Then your daily regimen should include mobility and stability protocols that address your specific constraints. You will need a thorough warm-up routine. I suggest you have at least three different warm up routines. This will keep you from becoming complacent with the routine. It will also allow you to activate muscles in different ways, which, in time, can help with better overall movement. Next is pre-throwing arm care/activation. As with the warm-up, have a few different pre-throwing arm care routines that will apply different stimuli to the muscles as you are preparing the arm each day. Then design your throwing to meet your desired needs for that particular day, such as connection, command, pitch development, velocity enhancement or maintenance. Remember to cycle through light, medium, and heavy intensity days. Have your conditioning and strength routines address any issues or constraints found in your assessments as well as to add or maintain appropriate balance and strength. Then have a quality recovery protocol for that day’s regimen. This should include post-throwing arm care recovery protocols as well as recovery for the rest of the body, i.e….legs, hips, t-spine.
So, if you have a well-designed workout regimen, there is no reason to do any more. Instead focus your time on other aspects that will help you recover and progress, like your nutrition, hydration, and sleep. Design a weekly regimen that will address your particular needs according to your schedule, assessments, and audits. Then stick to that plan. You can make adjustments to your plan from week to week to fit different needs that arise. But, do what you need to do each day, make it thorough, but not excessive, and do it with your best effort and to your best ability. Remember, overtraining can be just as detrimental to your progress or performance as undertraining. More is not always better, sometimes more is just more, and too much of a good thing can be bad. Work hard, but work smart as well.
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