First Things First

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As we move along in our training and vigorously apply the six basic keys, we need to be aware of the various bodybuilding snags and pitfalls. At any and every level of training our deadliest and most subtle enemy is overtraining. Muscular gains come slowly at best and only from a lot of hard work. We therefore conclude that the harder we work, the greater our growth. This faulty "more is better" logic will surely lead us to a discouraging deadend. In our eagerness to build muscle , we exceed our training limitations and tear down more muscle tissue that the body is able to repair.

The symptoms of overtraining are chronic fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, proneness to injury and illness and the inability to achieve a pump. You may think you have the flu as muscles ache, bodyweight and strength drop and you have a nagging loss of interest in your training.

If any of these symptoms of overtraining heap up on you, back off your training immediately and take time out to re-evaluate yourself and your workouts. Recovery from overtraining is often brought about by decreasing your training levels, either the number of workouts, number of exercises or number of sets.

This may be a good time to be creative. Try something new or alter your training to reactivate your interest. Check out your diet. Make sure you're getting plenty of muscle building protein and carbohydrate before and after your workouts. The body feeds off its own tissue as an energy source if not adequately supplied by food intake. It's vital to keep your attitude up and seek encouragement from partners and friends. This healthy sharing and introspection furthers your learning experience and overall awareness.

You may wisely choose to take a layoff entirely, giving the body a chance to recuperate and your mind the needed time away from the gym. You'll come back after a few days mentally and physically refreshed and with renewed enthusiasm.


Closely tied to overtraining is the puzzle of sticking points of plateaus. Gains come fast at first. The sport is new, hopes are high and there's victory in achieving your goals. Increase in muscle size, strength and tone are evident. However, as growth begins to normalize, progress slows down to what seems like a screeching halt. Here time groans by and the less serious lifters are taken to the mat.

Be assured that providing you're vigorously applying the basics, improvement is always taking place. It's here where the qualities of discipline, perseverance, determination and patience are developed and are called upon. And here is where real growth takes place in your soul and in your physical self.

Chances are you've become anxious, too close to yourself and far too critical. Changes in muscle density and skin tone are very subtle and often appear only after you become weary of examining yourself. Have faith and press on. Don't submit to a child's disappointment and don't give up the front line trenches.

Bodybuilding curiously parallels all of life itself. Each one of us faces these periods of struggle and stagnation and it's from them that we learn and grow.

And now where may I drop you?

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