Over-Training Effect

(A primer on Training Effects may be helpful if you ended up here first)

In the following diagram, you can see a graphical representation of the training effect:

Vertical Axis: “Exercise Dose (Intensity or Duration)”

Horizontal Axis: progress of time

Red Line: maximum physiological capacity for exercise demand

Green Line: minimum threshold to create training effect

Blue Line: Alternating exercise and rest over time

UnderTrainOverTrainLight

A few things to note in the above diagram:

  • initially, the blue “dosage” line does not reach the green “training threshold”
    • there is no training effect (constant red line)
  • eventually, the blue line increases substantially enough to barely exceed the red line, resulting in a gradual drop of the red line
    • i.e. the capacity to accommodate certain exercise levels drops gradually

UnderTrainOverTrainHeavyAs per the first diagram, the exercise dosage in the above diagram does not create a training effect.

  • eventually, the blue line increases substantially enough to greatly exceed the red line, resulting in an accelerated drop of the red line
    • i.e. the capacity to accommodate certain exercise levels drops quickly

The capacity to accommodate exercise drops so precipitously (see bottom diagram) that what was once a level of exercise that did not create a training effect (orange line), now exceeds maximum exercise capacity.

In this state, you can picture someone with a stress fracture that can’t even walk, let alone exercise. Their entire safety buffer has been depleted, and they are unhappy and sore and a long way from getting back to previous conditioning. This same scenario would play out with the first example if the gradual overtraining persisted over a long enough time period.

(See extreme deconditioning)

TrainOverTrainComparison

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