Episode #182: What Does It Feel Like When You’re Overtrained?

Affiliate Disclosure


In this Feb 8, 2012 free audio podcast: What Does It Feel Like When You're Overtrained? Also: abnormally low heart rate during exercise, the benefits of holding a position (isometrics), transitioning to “barefoot” running, is calorie “banking” effective for bulking up, the best exercises for maintaining bone density, can you make up for lack of sleep with exercise, treating pre-event illness, exercise equipment for kids, how wheat effects your brain, and nutritional advice for cancer patients.

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Audio Question from Stewart:
Wondering why he can't get his heart rate to go high and if that is a problem.

Audio Question from Pete:
Wondering about dips and what the purpose of holding a position is.

Dan asks:
You recently mentioned that you tried and enjoyed Vibram's KSO Trek. I have been a fan of the Fivefinger lineup for a few years now and have done two off-road Tri's in my Treksports, as well as a trail 1/2 marathon in my KSO Trek's. I was wondering where you would draw the line in regards to usage and distance. Would you not recommend VFF's (Vibram FiveFinger's) or other minimalistic “foot-gloves” full time? Do you think mixing up VFF's with your typical “sneaker” is a good idea for training? I have learned that form is very important, but anytime I put a normal sneaker on now I feel like I am running on marshmallows and I am setting myself up for injury.

~ Here are the KSO Trek's I'm using right now.

Brandon asks:
What are your thoughts on calorie banking/cycling for a bulking regime? Is “banking” something to do in the future on rest days? What would happen if I took a few days (like 1 weekend) to “bank” calories without exercise? Will a metabolism slow down quickly enough to turn those calories into fat without the stimulation from weights/HIIT on a daily basis? (Meaning I should keep extra calories to exercise days). Would you recommend calorie cycling for bulking like you recommend for weight loss plateaus?

Kathy asks:
I'm a 42-year old female, and I enjoy endurance training. I started cycling a few years ago, and then got into triathlons. I did a few Olympic length races, and even managed to win my age group! But I decided to skip triathlon training this year, as I'd like more time for other personal goals. I'm focusing on cycling, but I like running and swimming, and some variety in the routine is fun. If I'm going to eliminate one, which should it be? My main fitness goal is to improve my cycling: the faster I ride, the more fun I have! And I'll be training for a Gran Fondo in the summer. My secondary goal is to lose a few pounds. Not only will this help my watts/kg (right now at about 3.3), but, as I've gotten older, it's more of a struggle just to maintain the same weight and not creep up. I lift weights once a week religiously, due to previous knee and shoulder injuries, and sometimes mix in some plyometrics. Swimming is very relaxing, and I like balancing the cycling with the upper body workout, but, as an older female, is running more important? I'm not sure if lifting once a week is enough to maintain bone density.

Bret wrote:
I was having a discussion with a group of my early morning (5am) workout buddies. If you have the choice, is it better to get a full night’s sleep or to get in the workout? Lack of sleep causes a myriad of issues, fatigue, cortisol release, etc… does a workout trump the negative effects of no sleep/lack of sleep?

~ In my response to Bret, I mention my previous podcast on polyphasic sleeping.

Josue wrote:
I have been training for the last 17 weeks for a cycling event on January 27, I have put a lot of time, effort and money into it. I have been really sick for the last 2 days with sinus, flu, cough, and everything in between, the good thing is no diarrhea or vomiting. What recommendations can you give me and do you feel that everything is down the drain? By the way, is a 3 day event, 375 miles and is the first time I do something like this, I am by no means a professional!!! I'm a bit desperate and everyone has a different answer, I figure you would have the correct answer.

~ In my response to Josue, I mention Oil of Oregano  and Enerprime.

Robert asks:
We have a daughter who was 2 months premature. During her hospital stay she got meningitis and was close to death. She is now 7 years old and may have a slight case of cerebral palsy, but has not been diagnosed by her doctor. We had noticed she was very stiff on her left side. Her doctor recommended a physical activity to help her development. She has been in gymnastics for about two years, and we see a very noticeable difference. Her routine is basically a lot of stretching, running, body weight exercises etc. How can we design a system or workout for children to do ourselves what the local gym does. Why should we pay someone when we can have her run, stretch, do pushups, sit ups, pull-ups etc., right here at home and include our other children and ourselves.

Eric asks:
I really enjoyed your interview with Dr. Davis regarding the consumption of wheat. Prior to listening to the episode we eliminated wheat from my son's diet after dealing with some behavioural issues and have seen a definite improvement. The improvement was so great we have begun to eliminate it from the rest of our diets as well and the info presented by Dr. Davis further solidified that decision. I was wondering if after your interview if you have any intentions of reducing or eliminating wheat from your diet? If so, it would be interesting to see what improvements you notice as you are so in tune with your health.

Ferdinand asks:
Just had a friend tell me that he was diagnosed with liposarcoma cancer. This particular cancer is quite rare and thus the best treatment from the medical point of view is really unknown. I pointed him to a few podcast episodes that cover cancer treatment via nutrition, but I wanted to see if you could run down a few specific things that you would tell someone if they asked you for advice on combating cancer through nutrition and exercise.

~ In my response to Ferdinand, I mention The Burzynski Movie.

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22 thoughts on “Episode #182: What Does It Feel Like When You’re Overtrained?

  1. Kathy says:

    Hi, Ben,

    Thanks so much for getting to my question on bone density (and sorry for the wordy background info!). I had a couple of follow-up questions. Do you think plyometrics are as good as running or weight training for maintaining bone density? And roughly what do you think is the minimum number of times per week one would need to do a weight-bearing workout if mixed in with other activities?

    1. Kathy, yes plyometrics are fantastic – sometimes better because you're not leaching as much bone from sweating heavily or exercising for long periods of time. I would be doing at least 2 full body weight bearing workouts per week.

  2. Andrea Hill says:

    Just a thought about the guy who couldn’t get his heart rate up- he never mentioned what his max heart rate has ever been, so is it not possible it’s simply lower than others? My max is up around 193 but I train with some folks who max out in the 170s. It seems to me a workout like this should have everyone training to a percentage of max, not a specific number, no?

  3. Scott G says:

    Hey Ben, my previous post was something you talked about on the get fit guy podcast, my bad.

  4. Scott G says:

    Hey Ben, you talked about cyclists going on a diet of 85% fat and their body adapted to burning fat instead of carbs over time. Any thoughts that the low fat/no fat diet many american's have adopted is having an effect in obesity? Maybe our body's cannot burn fat effectively so it stores it?

    1. I'm recording a supplementary "fats" audio to go along with the food pyramid soon, so stay tuned, but basically the problem with low-fat diet is the simultaneous increase in starch/sugar consumption.

      1. Yoona says:

        Sounds like you are doing great Mark. Yes a raw food diet for one or two meals per day is something I would agree with and am bacilasly doing that myself. My cooked meal in the even is vegan as well though. I like a green smoothie for breakfast and either another smoothie or a salad for lunch. Yum! Keep up the good work and thanks for dropping by

  5. Grant says:

    I thought this was a great article on overtraining and overreaching.


  6. Osa says:

    Thanks Ben for your podcast. I am not a triathlete or really into endurance sports, but I did run cross country in high school and grew up playing soccer. I have learnt so much from your podast. For example I did not know about the Burzyniski movie and probably would not have watched it until I listened to this podcast. Also I discovered the benefits of Charcoal through your podcast when you said you brushed your teeth with Charcoal tooth powder. Since you mentioned that on your podcast I have been a huge fan of Charcoal and realized it is a health and beauty product especially in Asia. I now have Charcoal toothbrushes, soaps/body washes, and even real charcoal toothpaste from Asia. I did research on Charcaol and realized that it absorbs more toxins than any substance in the world.

  7. chuck says:


    Thanks for answering my question in so much depth my man. Although, I voice didn’t come clear on the phone, but it’s “chuck” not “Stewart”… Funny though, as that’s my brothers name.

    Have fun and safe travels over the next week Ben. Thanks to you too, Brock

    1. I think you said "Feerick" and it sounded like "Stewart". ;)

  8. Scott says:

    In the study involving BCAA's, did the participants take them for every day of the trial? Looks like 300mg/kg was the dose used. How many grams of BCAA's are in Recoverease tabs? Considering that they underwent a glycogen depleting workout on the 2nd day, then performed the exhaustion test on the 3rd day, would BCAA supplementation make that much of a difference for an individual training hard in the AM fasted? Glycogen liver stores would be depleted from sleeping overnight, but muscle glycogen would be intact and should allow for an individual to exercise hard for 60-90 minutes. I often train fasted in the AM and eat/refuel right afterwords. I haven't noticed a loss of performance or encountered an inability to increase my performance VS fed training. Intriguing and an excellent addition to a great podcast. Thanks!

    1. Great questions Scott. You are correct that very few of us ever exercise in a 100% glycogen depleted state, which is close to what the subjects in this study were in. However, we may still derive some of the benefits that they saw, even without being fully depleted. Recoverease is 2800mg of combination of BCAA's and enzymes. For me, compared to training in a fasted state sans amino acids, I feel "sharper" with the aminos.

      1. Scott says:

        Thanks for the prompt response, Ben! I may give Recoverease a try pre-workout. I am trying to drop a little bit of weight and utilizing it may help me to mobilize my stored fat more effectively AND possibly perform better. Who wouldn't want that?

  9. Osa says:

    I heard you giving out nutritional tips for people who have cancer, and you recommended the movie Burzynski, which is an instant play on Netflix. Should have put that in your shownotes for nextflix users or for people who do not want to buy the movie. Anyway I was wondering have you heard about the Gerson Therapy for cancer? It was created by a German doctor named Max Gerson in 1928. There are 3 movies on Netflix about it, which are instant plays called The Gerson Mircale, Dying to have Known, and The Beautiful Truth. I am curious to find out what you think about Gerson Therapy and whether you would recommend it as an alternative cancer treatment.

    1. Hi Osa…I have not seen the movies, but I will make it a point to watch them. My primary concern about the Gerson therapy is A) the high amount of sugar in the diet, which may actually increase tumor activity in some cases and B) lack of scientific studies that were not directly funded and overseen by colleagues of Gerson, which may lead to biased result. I would like to thank you for bringing this up, however, and I will look into it.

      1. kem says:

        My concern about the Gerson programme is that there is no clinical evidence of effectiveness. I recently heard/read about interviews with surviving patients that said they had got nothing from the clinic (in Mexico) but a big bill.

  10. kem says:

    After listening to Dr Davis more than a dozen different poccast interviews, I got the book and I'm convinced that giving up wheat a year or so back (unsymptomatically) was a good thing. I hope I live long enough to see this paradigm (sorry) to become recognised as the way to go.

  11. Ferdinand says:

    Ben, Thanks for the response to my cancer question. I know there is so much information out on the Internet and I appreciate the information you provided. I'll forward the podcast on to my friend. Best regards to you and Brock.

    1. brockarm says:

      Thanks Ferdinand. Best of luck to your friend. He's lucky to have a buddy like you looking out for him.

  12. hksparky says:

    Does this episode debunk the concept of Carb cycling? (ie. gradually decreasing PM carbs)

    1. I think you're thinking of Carb Tapering. It only debunks that tapering concept in isocaloric states (i.e. if you're eating more carbs at dinner are you eating fewer at breakfast?) – most people don't do that…so it will only work for folks with intense self control..

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