No such thing as Overtraining – Just Under Recovery!

– By Barton Tanner

In the fitness industry there is always a lot of talk about the best training styles and what types of training best help you achieve your results. But as every regular exerciser would have experienced at one time or another, plateaus in your training happen! If I am smashing myself with 100% effort in every session then why am I not just continually seeing the results of training? If you’re a bit hardcore about your training then you’ll be familiar with the concept of pushing yourself relentlessly and the feeling of guilt that comes with a day off. A large part of your results in training are directly linked to your body’s readiness for the session. For example, if you consistently train at very high intensities you could actually be getting less-than-optimal results as a result of the lack of opportunities for adequate recovery.



Recovery and regeneration is often overlooked when it comes to fitness programming, but it’s a critical determinant of how effective your training is, and an influential factor on the results you’ll obtain. As we know, each body is different and will respond differently to training loads. So there is no cold hard rule here and it is important to be engaged with what your body is truly crying out for. Like everything we suggest in your Evo training, it comes down to scheduling! So, how do you know if you’re overtraining or under-recovering, and what is the right intensity for you?




Start by imagining your body is a car. When we eat we are putting fuel in the car, if we are driving all day we need to turn the car off at a point so that the engine doesn’t overheat and in that giving it a chance to cool down and recover. If you think of your engine as your cardiac fitness – remembering that engines vary person to person and come in different sizes. Regardless of make or model, we each have five gears within our gearbox and we need to use all of them every day, depending on what we are trying to achieve on that day (i.e. your goal), and taking into consideration the conditions and the terrain (i.e. the environment). Each gear within your body requires a slightly different fuel source (e.g. glycogen, fatty acids, ATP, PC). Now let’s say you needed to get to a destination that was 200km away; if you shift straight into fifth gear then you may have great speed but would run out of gas/petrol before you reach your destination. However, if you stay in first gear the whole way then you would eventually get there, but it would be a very slow journey. This is exactly how your energy system works – you have to use all five gears. Training in one gear all the time is incomplete – after all, what would happen to your car if you drove at high speeds (i.e. fifth gear) all the time? It would be difficult to turn corners, you’d probably crash regularly, and your tyres would be bald – in anatomical speak, you’d be experiencing overuse injuries!

In a lot of our sessions you will hear trainers talking about intensities as ‘Training Gears’. Much like our above car analogy, for total efficiency it is important to understand what gear you want to be working in at different times. During sessions you will play with gearing systems, but also understanding that some of your weekly training sessions should be in a lower gear to become an active recovery. The gear’s energy system chart will help you define the best gear for you to train in depending on your goal.It also takes into account your wellbeing and overall readiness for exercise. Applying this tool will ensure you get the results you want, without the risk of over-training or under-recovering.


Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale
Gear How you are feeling during exercise
5 Help, ready to die now, can we please stop?
4 Phew, this is getting really hard – how much longer?
3 Yep feeling it now – starting to get short of breath
2 OK, starting to feel it now, but it’s still pretty easy
1 Barely feeling it – I could do this all day!

Like everything in life, we are looking to diversify. So through your session, you want to know exactly what intensity you’re looking to work at and in your weekly training schedule you want to have certain sessions that spend more time in a certain gear.

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