Repeat After Me: There Is No Such Thing as Overtraining

Rob MacDonald

Guest Contributor

Strength Training, MMA, Strength and Conditioning



3. Recovery Practices

I’m going to leave the scientific talk out of this section. Just trust that these practice work because they do. Insert as many of these into your daily routine as you can:



  • Foam Rolling - The roller is essential home massage tool. It will help your muscles to relax and to stay in proper working order. Bound-up tissue doesn’t function properly. Rolling is great for the glutes, quads, calves, low back, and hamstrings. I would recommend using the foam roller for fifteen to twenty minutes every night.


  • Ice Bath - These have been used for years and are regularly used by the best athletes in the world. Place fifty to seventy pounds of ice in the bath tub and get in. Sit for between fifteen to twenty minutes. When you get out, let your body warm up naturally. This should be done after any difficult workout.


  • Recovery Walk - A twenty to thirty minute walk is a great way to get the body moving, flush the muscles, stimulate an appetite, and unplug from the world. It should be relaxing and done at an easy pace. Go to a park, walk around your neighborhood, or go somewhere relaxing. Leave your phone at home. It is also a great way to spend quality time with your spouse, kids, or dog. You could do this every day.


  • Massage - Find a good therapist and see him or her regularly. Regular massage is a way to keep the muscles working properly, treat current injuries, and prevent further injuries from occurring. It is also an excellent way to relax. Finding a good therapist is essential. I would aim to get a massage every one to two weeks.


Repeat After Me: There Is No Such Thing as Overtraining - Fitness, overtraining syndrome, overtraining spectrum, rest and recovery, Sleep, Recovery, mobility, massage, foam roller, rest, rest day


4. Recovery Workouts

You can’t go hard all the time. Some workouts are test drives, but others need to be tune-ups. You can’t test drive your car every single day. On days you feel you can’t go hard, then back off a bit and do a recovery workout. You can do two-a-days by making one of them a recovery workout. Just because you are doing recovery work doesn’t mean you aren’t getting valuable work in. Recovery workouts can address issues such as core stability, shoulder mobility, building an aerobic base, and practicing technique.


"On days you feel you can’t go hard, then back off a bit and do a recovery workout. You can do two-a-days by making one of them a recovery workout."

By doing a recovery workout, you can also ensure you are able to go hard the next day. Protect the intensity of your hard workouts and protect your overall recovery status by taking your foot off the gas every now and then.


Here are three of my favorite recovery workouts:


100x Turkish Get Ups With 15-25lb Dumbbell or Kettlebell

This should take about thirty minutes. Go slow and make sure your form is impeccable. There is no need to rush. Alternate arms in sets of five until you reach 100 reps. You may be tempted to go heavier. Don’t. Remember this is a recovery session.



60-Minute Row, Bike, Run, or Swim at an Easy Pace

Keep the heart rate under 65%. If you can’t run because of the impact, then choose something low impact. This workout is a great way to flush the muscles, create a demand for food, and psychologically recover, as well as a great way to build up volume. If you were to row sixty minutes three times a week at an easy pace (probably 12,500m for men and 10,000 for women), you would accumulate well over one million meters for the year. If you were to do three sixty-minute runs at a ten-minute mile pace, you’d get eighteen extra miles a week.


Recovery Workout

A great way to practice your deadlift form, work on core stability, and improve your pull ups. I know many people who have set personal bests in the deadlift by doing this workout a few times a week. Make sure every rep is perfect. Take your time.


  • 3x20 Deadlift @ 30% 1RM
  • 3x20 Deadlift @ 30% 1RM off of 4” Box



  • 300sec Plank Hold



  • 50x Pull Up (done in sets of 3-5)


recovery, rest, overtraining, foam rolling, sleep

Don't forget to actually enjoy yourself


If You Want to Improve, the Path Is Through Recovery

I have met a lot of people who are serious about training. I have met a lot fewer people who are serious about recovery. There is only so much time you can devote to training and there is an upper limit to the intensity you can give on a day-to-day basis. What often makes the biggest difference in a successful training program is the work outside the gym.


It may not be glamorous or fun, but by paying serious attention to recovery you will be able to stay injury free, work harder in the gym, and make a lot more progress. Often when people plateau it is because they haven’t paid enough attention to recovery.


The training is the easy part. What happens the other 22 hours of the day is where the battle will be won or lost. Remember that when you leave the gym, the real work begins.


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Photo 1 courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.

Photos 2, 3, 5 courtesy of Bobby Maximus.

Photo 4 courtesy of Shutterstock.

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