Fatigue Fighters: Jim Stoppani teaches you how to battle over-training.

Fatigue Fighters: Jim Stoppani teaches you how to battle over-training.

Overtraining is the result of working out too hard for too long. From a physiological perspective, the condition results in depressed levels of testosterone, growth hormone (GH) and thyroid hormones, and even an increase in cortisol – all of which is bad news if you’re trying to build more muscle. These unfortunate hormonal alterations can lead to losses in muscle mass and strength, as well as diminished energy levels. Your immune system is also affected, leaving you more susceptible to illness and prone to inflammation. In the most serious cases, these effects can weigh on the central nervous system and lead to bouts of depression.

Of course, no one actually sets out to overtrain. Yet you don’t want to undertrain, either, as that would hinder your progress. So what’s a bodybuilder to do? The key is to keep training hard, yet provide your body with plenty of rest, recovery time and adequate nutrients. Nutrition is a critical element when you train with intensity that walks the line of overtraining, but research shows that a few critical dietary supplements can make all the difference between overtraining and progress. Don’t go without these five.

Overtraining is the result of working out too hard for too long. From a physiological perspective, the condition results in depressed levels of testosterone, growth hormone (GH) and thyroid hormones, and even an increase in cortisol – all of which is bad news if you’re trying to build more muscle. These unfortunate hormonal alterations can lead to losses in muscle mass and strength, as well as diminished energy levels. Your immune system is also affected, leaving you more susceptible to illness and prone to inflammation. In the most serious cases, these effects can weigh on the central nervous system and lead to bouts of depression.

Of course, no one actually sets out to overtrain. Yet you don’t want to undertrain, either, as that would hinder your progress. So what’s a bodybuilder to do? The key is to keep training hard, yet provide your body with plenty of rest, recovery time and adequate nutrients. Nutrition is a critical element when you train with intensity that walks the line of overtraining, but research shows that a few critical dietary supplements can make all the difference between overtraining and progress. Don’t go without these five.

Supplements

Glutamine

This amino acid boasts a wealth of benefits too numerous to list here. Not only does it help ensure muscle growth, but it’s also a powerful foil against overtraining. One way it does this is by aiding recovery following very intense workouts. A study presented by researchers from Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that subjects who took glutamine experienced no drop in power six days after a session in which they trained to exhaustion, compared to subjects who took a placebo. The former group was able to train longer to exhaustion as well. Drops in power and strength are typical signs of overtraining, as is fatigue. The fact that glutamine helped subjects maintain power after exhaustive exercise and allowed them to train longer before reaching fatigue implies it has great potential to battle the effects of overtraining.

Another way glutamine helps stave off fatigue is by powering up the immune system, which is known to take a hit when athletes are overtrained. Supplemental glutamine keeps the immune system running at full capacity and prevents it from stealing glutamine from muscle fibers. Consider taking 5-10 grams of glutamine with breakfast, immediately before and after workouts, and before bed.

Phosphatidylserine

This specialized lipid, naturally found in membranes and nervous tissue, can considerably reduce cortisol levels – particularly after exercise – when taken in supplemental form. Two studies from the First Medical School, University of Naples (Italy), reported that phosphatidylserine (PS) supplementation significantly blunted cortisol after intense workouts without negatively affecting GH levels. Take 800 mg of PS derived from soy immediately after workouts to diminish cortisol and keep you from falling into the overtraining zone.

Amino Acids

In two studies conducted at the University of Connecticut (Storrs), physical signs of overtraining were averted in athletes who followed a lifting program designed to produce symptoms of overtraining when they took about 12 grams of an amino acid mixture rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and lysine. Placebo groups exhibited lower testosterone levels and drops in muscle strength and power, while the groups receiving the amino acid mixture avoided these symptoms.

To enjoy the same safety net from overtraining, be sure to take 20 grams of whey protein immediately before workouts and 40 grams of whey postworkout. In addition, take 5-10 grams of BCAAs and 1 gram of L-lysine immediately before and after training.

Go Hard or Go Home Stack

Guard against the effects of overtraining with these five supplements.

  • 1. Glutamine 5-10 g with breakfast, immediately before and after workouts, and before bed
  • 2. Phosphatidylserine 800 mg immediately after workouts
  • 3. Whey Protein 20 g immediately before workouts 40 g immediately after workouts
  • 4. BCAAs 5-10 g immediately before and after workouts
  • 5. L-lysine 1 g immediately before and after workouts

Author: Jim Stoppani, PhD
COPYRIGHT 2010 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning

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