My Experience with Overtraining for 10 Months (the results may surprise you)

Recently a reader emailed me about his success with frequent workouts:

Oskar, I don’t know how to thank you ! My progress are slow but continuous. Your two exercises (close-grip chin-ups and the diamond push-ups) are doing the job greatly. In my case the way to follow is HIGH FREQUENCY (EVERYDAY, SOMETIMES MORNING AND AFTERNOON). The more I workout, the more my muscles get bigger. As far as I’m concerned, the whole concept of overtraining seems a nonsense.

As you can see, he took my advice and built up to training frequently with a minimalistic approach that emphasizes the weak muscle groups of a skinny-fat sufferer.

He came to the conclusion that overtraining is nonsense. This made me reflect upon my last year of training and I agree with his statement. Most people are undertrained rather than overtrained.

Overtraining Made me Grow More Than Ever

During the whole year of 2013 I didn’t think of overtraining as a negative thing. I stayed at pretty much the same bodyweight throughout the year, but my body changed a lot. I gained a few inches around my shoulders, an inch to my arms and I didn’t get fat in the process.

The only downside is that I tried to avoid growing my back by doing close grip chin ups instead of regular chin ups, but it seems like it grew anyways.

Just take a look at my progress from January 2013 to October 2013 where I overtrained:

overtraining back progress

The usual advice is to avoid training the same exercises everyday, but I went against this advice. I overtrained.

For example, I trained close grip chin ups monday-tuesday-wednesday-thursday and yesterday (friday) I tried to max out. The result was that I performed a personal best of 22 chin ups, which motivated me to write this article. When I trained 3 times a week I was unable to perform well everyday, because my body was used to training only 3 times a week – I was UNDERTRAINED.

Focusing less on protein shakes, and more on training hard and eating a balanced diet would have given me faster results in the past.

The Benefits of Overtraining

Instead of looking at the POTENTIAL downsides of overtraining, take a look at the benefits of pushing yourself as much as possible:

  • You can eat more without getting fat – the food will be used towards building muscle.
  • Your body will adapt to performing well everyday instead of a few times a week.
  • Training will become a habit, just like eating and sleeping. If you want to get good at something, 3 times a week for 45 minutes is not enough.

Nowadays I eat way more than I did back then, BUT I gain less fat and more muscle. Some of you may think: how is that even possible? Aren’t you supposed to gain tons of muscle when you start training because of beginner gains?

The answer is that, yes you CAN gain a lot of strength and muscle, but 3 times a week isn’t going to cut it for most people.

You can start with 3 times a week, but I recommend you to build up to training as often as possible. If you have been skinny-fat your whole life, you need to SIGNAL to your body that it MUST change. This is best done by doing bodyweight training (especially chin ups) and training frequently.

How About the Symptoms of Overtraining?

Some of you may have read about the symptoms of overtraining just like I did when I began training, but let me tell you this: it’s a waste of time to read symptoms. Just take a look at the main symptoms of overtraining and my explanations:

  •     Persistent muscle soreness: this is normal when you train hard.
  •     Persistent fatigue: are you sleeping and eating enough?
  •     Elevated resting heart rate: my heart rate is in range, and I train everyday.
  •     Increased incidence of injuries: if you have joint pain, stop immediately and figure out why it happens.
  •     Irritability, Depression, Mental Breakdown: can be caused by many other things than training a lot.

Conclusion: Don’t Be Afraid of Overtraining

I never experienced the so-called beginner gains, and the main culprit was that I was afraid of overtraining. Every known beginner program focuses on heavy compound lifts performed 3 days a week.

3 days a week sounds good in theory, but thinking about it now, it’s nonsense. Unfortunately I believed this nonsense. It’s easier to make someone perform a program that calls for 3 sessions a week since it’s EASY, but for me this approach never got me acceptable results.

Stop seeing overtraining as a negative thing. Instead, embrace overtraining. The body needs to be pushed to its maximum to grow and get strong.

My best workouts usually end with a high intensity routine looking like this:

  • Close Grip Chin Ups to failure followed by 3-5 negatives
  • Right after Close Grip Chin Ups Negatives I do: Diamond Push Ups to failure followed by Regular Push Ups to failure

Usually I feel like crap after this kind of workout. I have a headache and all I wanna do is sleep. I used to interpret those things as overtraining, but that’s wrong. Those things are normal when you train hard.

My girlfriend recently started training everyday, and she’s seeing results quite fast. Her body is getting firmer, stronger and she’s training most days of the week for over an hour. If a small asian girl can train that much, why wouldn’t a grown man be able to do that?

Don’t concern yourself with overtraining, most people are undertrained.

Be proud but stay hungry,

– Oskar Faarkrog

Join hundreds of skinny-fat guys who used the SKINNY-FAT TRANSFORMATION Bodyweight Program to get into the best shape of their life:

Logan Rando, NY: “After 6 months of doing the beginner body weight routine I found myself 30 pounds lighter, with visible abs and a lean build. Friends who hadn’t seen me in months were astonished and inspired by my transformation. Simply put, the return on investment that Oskar’s plan yielded far exceeded that of any workout I had previously used.”

Steve Chavez, Peru: "It is the best workout I’ve had, I’ve never did a single pull up, managing to do pull up reps was a breakthrough for me. It was the best decision I made for my personal health. Without your coaching I wouldn’t been able to improve my physique.”

Harshit Godha, India: “I faced the same problems of low testosterone and skinny fat body type as you did, and after following your advice I made some real progress. I started with 0 wide grip pull ups, and progressed to 15. I am quite surprised with my back and shoulder growth.”

Gordon Martin, USA: "For the first time in 36 years, I am losing fat rather than gaining it! I already look better than most of my friends who are out of shape and overweight. I loved the customized bodyweight workouts. For those of us who travel a lot, there are no more problems with finding a gym."

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Comments

  1. Hi Oskar,

    I did a similar thing a little while back. I was stuck at 18 chins and couldn’t get more no matter what program I tried. I decided to do 150 daily, four days per week, with 75 on another day (Wednesday), and the weekend off. On M,T, Th, and F I’d do 10 sets of 10, with as much rest as I wanted in between sets (usually five to ten minutes or so). Then I would do five sets of five w/pullup grip, and five sets of five close grip chin. Same rest times. I almost never went to failure, though occasionally it could not be avoided. On Wednesdays I did the same number of reps per set, but only half the total sets.

    In the third week I added a one rep to each set. I did the same in the fourth week.

    Over the course of that month I lost ten pounds as I was in a calorie deficit and doing hiit almost daily. My back, though…..looked like a pissed off cobra. I wish I’d measured before and after. People came up to me and asked me what kind of workout I was doing. I lost two inches off my waist that month. I at least tripled that in gains, and perhaps even more as far as my back was concerned. I would be surprised if I didn’t gain at least 6 inches around the back/chest measurement, and even 8 would not surprise me. Someone asked me in all seriousness if I was taking steroids that somehow only target my back.

    I didn’t even gain one rep in maxing out from this program-in spite of dropping 10 pounds while doing it. At the end of the month I was still stuck at 18. I went on to do other programs to get over the 20 hurdle, and my back eventually shrank back down.

    It’s convinced me that

    1- the bodybuilding industry is largely full of shit. I ate 50 grams of protein per day in a calorie deficit, “overtrained”, and grew like mad.

    2- The difference between training for performance and looks is vast. All that new muscle and my back was no stronger. It reminds me of the old boxing cliche “look like Tarzan, fight like Jane”

    Thanks for running a very cool and useful website. I’ve been getting some good info here since discovering it a little while ago.

  2. This users of yours dont even know what overtraining is….OH i was training 3 times a day and than i overtrained…wtf training 5 or 6 times a week is not overtraining…

  3. Great site man. I just have one vital question. In addition to being skinny fat, I also have poland’s syndrome which means I’m missing all the muscle for my left pec. I can’t build muscle there and fat doesn’t show up either. Is there a way I should approach your exercises differently or should I focus on building both sides equally? I’m new to bodyweight training, but my weight tends to build up on the right side of my chest and my right arm more quickly.

    • Hi!
      You must make the best use of what you have got. Hopefully you have already solved your dilemma.

  4. hey, man. I’m doing the russian strength program for my bench. That means 3x a week I do bench from 80 to 100 percent at 2-3 reps for 6 weeks (increasing intensity each week). This is purely neurological, and it’s done very frequently. I was wondering if I could train arms while doing this program. I don’t want it to hurt my bench too much. Thanks.

  5. Hi Oskar! I’m 38 years old, small and skinny fat. I weight about 136 now and I’m 5′ 6 foot (167 cmts). I have workout very inconsistenly throughout my life, meaning not very disciplined but on and off with good times and big lapses. I quit drinking alcohol 6 months ago and more focused on healthy smaller meals to shed this ugly belly. Although im skinny, i got a beer belly 5 years ago and have worked out and tried everything. Only now that i quit drinking and eating less, Im seeing results, also from workout.
    I plan to work out daily because to me it doesnt make sense only 3 times a week. My plan is to do one arm push ups (2 sets of 10 reps), only leg squats (pistols- 2 sets of 10 reps), door pull ups (with my door since i dont have a bar- 2 sets of 10, kettlebel clean (2 sets 10 reps), kettlebell snatch (2 sets 10 reps), kettlebell swings (100), kettlebel squats (25), for abbs sit up crunches (100) and finally jump rope for 20 minutes. I plan to do this same thing every day 7 days a week. I normally do this but 3 times a week and 3 sets of 10 instead of 2.
    Is this ok?

  6. Oskar,
    How do you think this method of training could impact your gains if you’re doing intermittent fasting at the same time and want to try to do two workout sessions on some days? Is training on an empty stomach (in the morning) going to have a negative affect my gains? How would you structure this?

    best regards
    Radek

    P.S. Keep up the good work, your site is great!

  7. Jackson says:

    Hey Oskar, you’re website is really helping me out! Thank you so much for putting this information out there. You’ve inspired me to do the same one day.

    I’m going to start training chin ups and push ups everyday. If I’m a beginner (2 chin up max and 8 push up max) should I be training to failure everyday? Or should I stop before failure?

    I was thinking of starting at a set number of push ups and chin ups per day and increasing that number every week. Would this be a good idea?

  8. Michael says:

    You should not feel persistent fatigue and soreness when you exercise everyday. That is your body telling you to back off. You should feel better after a workout not worse. Trust me take it easy and train everyday. You will improve even faster!

    • Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Personal Trainer says:

      I usually do back off a bit after periods of intense exercise, and I vary my training a lot, so some weeks I do high volume, other weeks high intensity. Been training this way for years now and making better gains than ever.

  9. I think I agree with Oskar. High frequency training is better for skinny fat, since us skinnyfats are not strong enough to do either high volume or high intensity (either of which is required for low frequency training). So for skinnyfats who are mostly weak with low muscle and high bodyfat, we simply lack the capacity to do high intensity or high volume, so if we are to keep the volume and intensity low then logically frequency should be kept high.

  10. Hey oscar,

    I think that there are more factors that determine muscle gain & fatloss. In my experience training 6 days a week can give as great results as training 3 days per week. There are factors like body type, other type of physical activity, dieting, sleep & hormones that determine your progress in the gym rather than how many times per week you train.

    I know guys who have built great bodies by training 6 times per week and others who have also bulit strong bodies by training 3-4 times.I think it’s more a matter of HOW do you train and WHAT you eat rather than how many times you go to the gym.

    What do you think?

    best regards,
    Damian

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Damian,

      Whenever I train just 3 days a week, I start losing size and definition.

      In contrast, when I train more I can eat almost anything and I still stay lean and full looking all the time.

      • Oskar, I can do diamond pushups almost every day and NOT feel taxed or tired. But negative pullups are another story. I read your ebook and you recommended them – but do u recommend super slow negatives (like taking 15 seconds to descend) or just 5 second negatives?

      • Hmm i think it depends on the individual oskar.

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Everything depends on the individual, but skinny-fat guys generally respond better to high frequency training. See this email written by one of my readers, John, who used to be skinny-fat and now is a ripped 210 pounds:

          Just read a load of the articles on your site and have to say that I think you have it absolutely right for that type of body structure and also what a pleasure it is read someone writing it so clearly. I’m 6″5 and before I trained was over 100kg with no visible muscle. That was 25 years ago before I started training, since then I spent about 20 years trying every programme and diet out there with varying degrees of success. About 3 or 4 years back by trial and error I worked out that doing between 100 and 300 chin-ups and dips 3 times a week combined with 3 short 20 rep progress squat/Heavy Deadlift/Row/Press/Bench and 2 or 3 tabata conditioning sessions is by far the best way for me to progress. I have to say what a delight it was to read your article on overtraining. There are loads of articles out there on the dangers of overtraining for ecto/hardgainers which give bad advice to most people in this category. I think that many SF/ecto/hardgainers genetically have a high capacity to tolerate and recover from high rep bodyweight training (chins, dips push-ups), which they should use to their advantage to stay lean and build muscle. And as you point out numbers are king, they tell that you you’re progressing and let you know when it’s time to back off. Absolutely no need to reply, I have never before written a comment to an article etc ( and I’ve probably read most books and articles) but because training is my passion in life and I get annoyed by all the bad advice out there I felt compelled to say keep up the good work. Everyone’s different but if all SF people take your advice most will get their best results. I wish these articles were around 20 years back.

          John’s findings are similar to my own and I’ve consulted with hundreds of skinny-fat guys, and most of them do better with high frequency training. The exception is the older guys who need more time to recover or who have very demanding work schedules.

  11. Hi Oskar, You said regular pullups can be done every day, but what about negative only pullups – is it okay to do them every day, or should negative only pullups be done only a few times a week? Please advise.

  12. I have another Question: What would you say is better for growth? Max of a Exercise or keep it in the 5to12 Rep range but focus on good form and slowly controlled movement?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      8-12 reps is best for growth since this is known as the hypertrophy range. Also, doing the movements with control enables you to work the muscles better.

  13. Hey Oskar, very impressive transformation, wish I could say the same for myself. Would I be over training if I did weights for the same body part every day? For example if I had a weight lifting routine where I did one exercise for chest, back, legs shoulders, biceps, triceps (total of 6 exercises) would it be safe to do that every day?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Thank you James. It depends largely on how hard you push it, your training experience, genetics and how you support recovery through eating and sleeping. It’s similar to asking: Will I get stressed if I work 12 hours a day 6 days a week? It’s very individual and depends on a lot of factors.

      • Alright, thanks Oksar. I’m just confused on what to do haha it frustrates me. I’ve been weight training for close to 4 years and have gotten stronger, but didn’t build much visible muscle. I just don’t know if I should completely start over, do calisthenics, and cut the fat, or if I should continue weight lifting and adjust my diet.

  14. Thanks but unfortunately i dont go to gym.but i have got a solution.yesterday i tried wide grip chinups for first time. And it works.i felt the burn in lower lats

  15. hey oskar when i do chinups i feel them in upper lats.not lower.how to train to feel in lower lats near your waist

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      I never really focused on lower/upper lats since I’m not even sure you can isolate them, however I found that when I do the “low row” machine at the gym, I feel it in the lower part of my lats.

  16. Hey Oskar. I’ve been weight training for close to 4 years now and have gotten significantly stronger, but not much bigger other than fat. My question is should I start over, get lean, and just do bodyweight exercises until I lose the fat? Or should I continue to do weight lifting and just adjust my diet. And should the training frequency remain high if I do weights? Thanks

  17. its been about a week non stop, ive been sore other ocasions but i would rest 1 or 2 days till it passed, this time im not taking single day rest since i want to “train” my CNS and yes everyday they feel more natural to trigger, im almost sure its the minor pec and teres since lately ive been done them only overhand which i find much easier to lead with the humerus and avoid elbow pain from underhand grip, though the soreness doesnt seem to fade one bit everyday i wake up like i was hit with a bat under my armpits, its good to hear you mention “just a few weeks” in plural, seems that indeed overtraining is quite a missunterstood and rather unknown thing

  18. Hello! i know it has been mentioned alot, however i wondered if its normal at least in my case, im doing pull ups (slightly wider than shoulder-width) everyday GtG style, several times a day sets of 2 as i want to increase my numbers, 5 ugly ones is my max, however i experience sorness every single day, all these days, non stop soreness mostly in my upper lats and my chest both rly close to my armpit, everyday i find the first set really painful (for the sore parts) to do, but then the others the rest of the day are quite painless in comparassion but its still there, i wonder if this type of sorness isnt reaching the so called overtraining, i really hope not i cant spend a day without doing a single set

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      How long time have you been sore? If it’s just a few weeks, just keep exercising, but make sure to stretch your muscles after and ice them too. After a while the soreness will reduce.

  19. Training like this is not optimal for gaining mass or even getting healthier, not unless you’re a total beginner or a drug enhanced bodybuilder. An advanced natural bodybuilder will lose muscle mass if he trains the same bodypart multiple times a week. Most people who are overtrained will not admit they are overtrained, because they fear they will “lose” muscle mass if they workout less. Your body sends satellite cells to the damaged muscle tissue, and it will get stronger AND bigger will you give it the time and proper nutrion it needs for repair. You can ask your doctor and they will tell you the same thing, overtraining is not ideal for anyone. /Ben

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      “An advanced natural bodybuilder will lose muscle mass if he trains the same bodypart multiple times a week.”

      I have gained muscle mass in the past 2 years, and I’ve trained pretty much my whole upper body at least twice a week to failure.

      • Hi, in the article you emphasized “train as often as possible”, I’d say that may be fine if you are just starting out, but for an advanced bodybuilder it would just lead to stagnation. I’m not sure what your age is, but it seem like you went through a growth spurt in the “after-before” picture. Any way, what may work for you may not work for somebody else, I’m just throwing my two cents in. Cheers. /Ben

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          I partly agree with you Ben.

          Today, I can’t train my bodyparts as often since I’m more advanced, but the ones I want to grow I still hit several times a week.

          I started my transformation at age 17, I stopped growing in height around age 15 and I always had to fight really hard for all the muscle gains I got. I don’t believe they are a result of puberty.

          As always, the “right” answer is probably somewhere in the middle, but keep in mind that this article was written with the perspective of doing bodyweight training which can be trained everyday is one desires to do so.

          • Bodyweight exercise is probably the number one best thing you can do, for beginning and advanced bodybuilders alike. The thing I criticize you for is your idea that “overtraining is good for you”. Also, if there even is a slight chance that growth spurt may have been involved, I suggest you should at least add a small foot note, just to eliminate any potential bias you do not want to be liable for. You have the opportunity to affect your readers, for better or worse. Give them unbiased advise, that is my recommendation.

            • Oskar Faarkrog says:

              Actual overtraining is not good for you, but the truth is that 99% of people won’t reach a state of overtraining as long as they eat well, sleep well and don’t do something insane like training the same muscle group everyday to failure.

              My goal with this article was to inform people that the more you put into training, the more you get out of it. I get better results when I do more.

              I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been asked by beginners if they would overtrain if they train 4-5 days a week instead of 3. I believe such beginners would get a good boost in their training by reading this article.

              With unbiased advice, you mean scientifically proven advice?

              • May I ask what exactly is your definition of “actual” overtraining? We know for a fact that after you have worked out, your body needs adequate time to repair the damaged muscles. If you do another workout before your body has fully repaired the muscles, you are overtraining. Advanced *natural* bodybuilders have to workout intensely to maximize their progress and they can’t overlook the phenomenon of overtraining. In any case, working out 4-5 days a week a beginner sounds reasonable, given that the workout plan consists of just two exercises.

                Like I pointed out earlier, you should have stated your age in your progress/success story, because for most adults like myself, gaining *lean body mass* is a very slow process.

                • Oskar Faarkrog says:

                  Hi Ben,

                  I have naturally low testosterone levels so I believe there’s no reason to state my age, since most dedicated people my age gain muscle much faster than me.

                  Overtraining happens mainly as a result of underrecovery and doing too much too fast. The key to train hard and often is to start with something conservative like my bodyweight routine, then gradually add more days/sets/exercises/high intensity techniques. This is one thing I didn’t do in my first few years of training because I was so scared of overtraining. The truth is that you can train hard 4-6 times a week for over an hour as long as you lead a stress free life, eat a diet that is suited for your body and sleep as much as possible. Just look at athletes: they train several hours a day. Yes, some of them have good genetics and take steroids, but not all. I don’t believe in the whole notion of doing less to get better results in training. After a certain point, to keep growing you have to push yourself past the typical 3 day a week lifting routine. Your body grows when you force it to adapt by doing more work, while fueling it with the nutrients it needs for the growth to happen.

                  • Yeah, I know that the body adapts to stress very well, that’s why it’s so important that you constantly mix up your routine, there are many different techniques you can use, e.g. forced reps, heavy vs light weight, drop sets. I reached the upper limit of what was possible for me in terms of gaining mass at around age 30, I consider myself to have good genetics, it still took me around 8 years to get there. My priorities may be different than yours, I just don’t think that young unexperienced and possibly unhealthy people out there should go from one extreme to the other. Even in my prime years, I never lifted weights for more than 2 hours in a day. Alright Oskar, I hope you do well for yourself.

                    Ben

  20. sandeep popli says:

    Hi bro..iam doing overtraining from last 2 yrs…biceps,,chest, shoulders daily..all fat is gone..only left is pure vuscular muscle mass…overtraining rocks..

  21. Hi Oskar, overtraining in your opinion is a good strategy only for bulk or also in the initial cutting phase? Is muscle loss a real risk when you overtrain in calorie deficit?
    How many times a week do you suggest to train with chin-up and diamond push ups?

    Thanks

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Start with 4 times a week, then build up slowly, and listen to your body. For me, training 4-6 times a week is ideal.

      I believe it’s a good strategy for both. You don’t want to limit yourself during your cuts. Train as hard as you can, but know when to stop.

  22. Hello oskar,what is overtraining for you?train 6 days for week?Im train 6 days for week and I do chin ups and one arm push ups every day repeatedly in the day and I do handstand on the wall sometimes too or muscle ups

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      If I told you that doing 10 sets of 5 chin ups everyday is overtraining for me, what would you use that knowledge for? Nothing. It’s useless, since everyone has different recovery capabilities, and they change throughout your training career as a result of adaptions to training. Also, diet plays a role on how much you can train. When I cut, I can’t train as much and as hard as when I bulk.

  23. Ok oskar.I do my normal routine everyday ok?and I do diamond push ups,chin ups frequently in my house,in the morning after wake up and before I go to the bed.should I do one set until failure or 3 or 4 sets of diamond push ups and 3 or 4 sets of chin ups?

  24. I train every day oskar

  25. Im doing strong routine in the gym and after I do diamond push ups 3 sets 25-20-20 reps after I do close chin ups 3 sets 10-5-5 reps.The next week will do supersets diamond push ups-close chin ups.I do frecuently diamond push ups in the morning,evening,in the night.I do diamond pushs until failure one set.Can I do 2,3 or 4 sets for better results?I want add chin ups too.Im in bulk now Can I do this in cut?I will do my routine with you pdf how create illusion of wide shoulders with deadlift and close chin ups.3 weeks of bulk and 2 weeks of cut.In 2 month will be bigger and strong yes or yes.first I did calisthenics for months.I can do muscle up with swing,elbow russian dips,and negative chin ups with one arm.thanks bro your back its incredible almost like bruce lee.

  26. Hi Oskar,

    I’ve been reading articles on your site, and I’ve found them really interesting and helpful. You see, I’m fairly new to workout. Now, as we both know, there’s much that’s been said about overtraining. So you say you can actually overtrain? It’s individualized? I’ll think I’ll try that myself. However, the one issue I have is muscle soreness.

    So you did chin ups 5 days straight? No doubt there was persistent muscle soreness (yeah, as they say). How much did they hinder your exercise, and how did you deal with them? Did you modify/vary your workout to make it easier on your sore muscles? Did you lower/change the reps and sets?

    And another thing – so you did chips up 5 days straight until you could do as much as possible? How did you train with chin ups? I mean, in the beginning, you couldn’t do any. Did you do negative pull ups? Were they assisted?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hi JRC,

      You can overtrain, but most people never reach that point. They use it as an excuse to not train hard enough. As long as you start low and build up gradually, you will be fine.

      I did chin ups almost everyday. I got sore in the beginning, but my body eventually got used to it. Nowadays, I rarely ever get sore from my workouts. I can go to the gym and crush a muscle group for 2 hours and I won’t get sore from it, since my body is used to a lot of training stress.

      I did vary my workouts. Sometimes I trained harder, sometimes I did a light recovery workout. It all depended on how much energy I had that day and how I felt. Since I was doing chin ups so often, I knew that I didn’t have to hit it hard everyday to get results.

      In the beginning I didn’t do chin ups consistently. I did them maybe 1-2 times a week. I started with negative unasssisted chin ups to get my first real rep. You can read about all this in my free ebook. This “overtraining” experiment was several years into my training when I could already do over 10 good chin ups.

  27. Reminds me of gymnasts. They train so much. And you can see the results. I never believed this over training crap but was to afraid to do it. Now I am convinced, after this article, that it has been this fear which has been holding me back.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Overtraining is real, although most people never get to the point where they overtrain. They use it as an excuse to not train hard enough. Your body can take much more than you think as long as you start low, and build up to it gradually.

  28. Hey Oskar, I understand the logic behind overtraining, especially for us skinny fat guys. But some people say training the chest for more than twice a week will hinder muscle growth. But with diamonds we are supposed to train the chest 5 or 6 times a week….does that mean overtraining is useful only for skinny fat types and not for regular folks?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Mat,

      Instead of thinking about so much about it, I suggest you try training diamond push ups 5-6 times a week for 1 month, and track progress. Then the next month, train chest once a week, and track progress. By doing that you will know what works best for YOU.

  29. I am doing pushups and dips 6 days a week for 30 to 40 minutes. I feel totally tired after workout but the next day I feel fine, no soreness or fatigue. So I continue day after day with just one day rest. Am I on the right track?

  30. hey oskar! ive been hearing a lot about overtraining and i would love to try it.

    currently this is my workout split i try to train intense and frequent
    mon- chest, tri, abs,
    tue-back, bi, side delts
    wed- Off
    thu- chest, triceps traps
    fri- legs with light back
    sat- shoulders traps , arms
    sun- Off

    as you can see from that routine. i am trying to bring up my chest, arms and traps i have been doing this for a month now, and i used to already do triceps 3 times a week a month before, but that was when i was in a calorie deficit. i started bulking just a month ago and i have gained 3.3 lbs in a month. i have seen maybe half a cm of gains in arms or so. what i want to know is, am i doing planned overtraining correctly? does the muscle gain actually come after you’ve overtrained for a while then you take a break and start training normally again? or should i do my arms intensely every day this week then take a week off and then get back to this routine?

    thankyou very much!

  31. Bonnita says:

    I’ve experimented with different schedules, and find 5 days a week (Monday to Friday) is the easiest to stay consistent with due to it becoming an every day habit like going to work, with the weekend being your days off.

    A tip I learned from another site (I forget where) was to have a “placeholder habit” so that if you really don’t feel like training you do something else for the allotted workout time, such as go for a walk, do some light cardio, or flexibility work etc – so your mind and body learns that this is your “work on body and self” time, rather than “let’s skip our workout and watch cat videos” :D.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Those are some great tips for people that have a hard time sticking to their routine. I have come to love training, so I often forget how hard it is in the beginning to stay consistent.

  32. daniel says:

    Hello oskar I train every day.I have a lot of stiffness after training.Can I train with stiffness?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      What exactly do you mean by stiffness? If you feel like you must, take a day or two off. Sometimes I train 3-4 times a week, other times I train 6. Listen to your body.

  33. Are ya familliar with the Tabatha protocol?

  34. Is doing 100 pushups everyday overtraining?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Overtraining is individual, so what may be overtraining for you, may not be overtraining for me.

      The point of this article was to show that a lot of people limit their own training because they are told that if they do something, they’re gonna overtrain and then “bad things” will happen.

      With that said, I believe that everyone can do 100 push ups a day, and benefit from it without overtraining. It takes way more than that to overtrain.

      • Just to clarify, if I am on a cut and doing 100 pushups a day, it’s still possible to retain muscle mass on a cut?

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          What routine did you do before your cut? Push ups target your chest, triceps and front shoulders, you should add chin ups and squats (or another leg exercise) to your routine.

          • The starve myself on 600 cals a day and lay around all day routine(I know, I’m really messed up in the head.) I don’t want to hijack this place with my mental problems so I’ll just leave it at that.

  35. Damn, this is so true! i stumbled upon this site while researching overtraining and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. i too have been “over training” my triceps for about 2 weeks, especially the longhead of my triceps. and guess what, instead of it getting smaller or getting weaker, it grew!

    i still dont know much about overtraining but i did it by accident
    can you help me out? for the past two weeks after my normal workouts i did one or two tricep exercises just to failure without stopping and i achieved a good pump i had been eating the same calories, also, everything else was the same and my weight is also the same right now but i have grown 1cm on my arms from doing that.
    i would like to know how you overtrained your back?
    i have done this by accident so i dont know much but currently i am doing triceps 3 to 4 times a week. 3 times properly and the 4th time just one exercise to failure after a workout :D

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      That’s good progress for 2 weeks!

      I trained close grip chin ups 4-6 times a week. They are supposed to target your biceps more, compared to other chin ups variations, but my back still grew because I did them very often and with high intensity.

      In my free eBook I have written several pages on a back specialization routine, so check that out if you haven’t already.

  36. Broscience, broscience everywhere. 45 mins 3x a week is not enough? How do you figure? The body releases cortisol after an hour of training, as has been confirmed by, you know, science etc, so it would be counterproductive to spend a long time in a gym.

    Overtraining is clearly a very real phenomenon. The body needs time to rest, are you arguing that this is not the case? Doesnt make any sense.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Mike,

      You’re right, it’s broscience. I don’t read any science journals, so I won’t try to counter your scientific argument.

      3 times a week never worked for me, but I assume it works for you, so continue doing that. In the end it’s all about finding what works for you.

  37. I’m really glad I found this site.

    I’m sensing that with your daily workouts you don’t obsess about reps? i.e. one day you might go hard and do 10 sets of chins, the last two to failure or whatever

    The next day you might do them band assisted and double the reps. Another day you’ll just do them regular but stay away from failure because you’re not feeling as strong.

    Am I right it’s not best to push yourself to failure every day and that you can’t expect to constantly be increasing reps but as long as you’re ‘practicing’ regularly by getting lots of volume and frequently pushing hard with intensity on some days (when you’re fresh), that’s the right way to go about it?

    Conventionally, we’re told to log our workouts and always monitor and track our progress in terms of increased reps or weight, like it’s a totally linear thing and we won’t make progress otherwise. But I see many ripped dudes that do bodyweight, who seem to just workout however they are feeling that day.. it’s quite random

    Obviously here you’re recommending only a few basic exercises but can the rep and set scheme we employ be random?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Glad you like it!

      You’re right, I didn’t obsess much about reps and sets. I pushed myself on days where I felt fresh, and backed off when I had a bad day.

      Am I right it’s not best to push yourself to failure every day and that you can’t expect to constantly be increasing reps but as long as you’re ‘practicing’ regularly by getting lots of volume and frequently pushing hard with intensity on some days (when you’re fresh), that’s the right way to go about it?

      Yes, that’s correct. Also, keep in mind that you can also progress by increasing the amount of days you do an exercise. For instance, if you squat 200 lbs once a week, and you start doing it 7 times a week instead, your body will have to adapt to the new stress. Increasing weight and reps is not the only way to gain muscle.

      Obviously here you’re recommending only a few basic exercises but can the rep and set scheme we employ be random?

      Yes, but there still needs to be some kind of progression. In the beginning, just adding days will be enough, but after you get used to training more often, you should also add reps to the exercises, and perhaps lower your rest times. For instance, when I started training 6-7 times a week instead of 3, I was doing the same amount of reps in the beginning. After my body adapted to frequent training I would add reps. Once I could do about 20 reps on chins with good form and 30 reps on diamonds, I would lower rest times.

  38. Hi Oskar, you inspire me incredibly, just for starters. Just a question how did you get so many people to read your website? i started a website in october and it only has 200 views all time

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hi Deven,

      Thanks for the nice words!

      When I made the website I uploaded a video to youtube about my transformation. That got me a bit of traffic. Then I started commenting in topics on bodybuilding.com to help skinny-fat people. That got me a small amount of traffic aswell. While doing this, I was writing one article a week and doing keyword research. I used keywords that were “semi-competitive” – about 110k searches per month. After a month my traffic from google search started increasing, and since then it has been increasing steadily.

      The past 2-3 months I haven’t done keyword research or SEO, I just focus on writing the best possible content and helping people out.

      • Okay, Thank you very much! currently on my website i am doing a skinnyfat transformation
        Do you think eating one incredibly large meal a day, and doing a mild-to high intensity full body workout everyday is okay? thanks for the input!

        • also, could you recommend a good keyword tool? Thank you very much

          • Oskar Faarkrog says:

            I just used the tool in google adwords, but as far as I know, it doesn’t work that well for SEO anymore, so I don’t use it anymore. I just pick a keyword I think makes an interesting headline, and use that for the title. I think you may find this article useful if you want to put a lot of effort into SEO: http://www.viperchill.com/superhuman-research/

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          I’ve never tried eating just one meal a day, so it’s difficult for me to say. The problem with eating just one meal a day, is that you would have to eat A LOT in that one meal. Right now I eat 2 meals a day, and I feel like I eat a lot in those 2 meals, so I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to get all that food down in one meal.

          If you’re cutting, I would start with 4 days a week, then add days if you feel you have the energy for it. Don’t go to failure every workout if you’re cutting, but definitely push yourself on the final set of the exercises if you feel fresh. Learn to listen to your body. You don’t have to train 7 days a week every single week. Some weeks you may be doing 4 days, and other weeks where you feel fresh, train more. That’s what I do, and it works better than following a strict routine.

          • Thanks for the reply! i’ll check that website out right now, and YES that one meal a day is quite alot of food, usually i consume a dozen eggs and some peanut butter. Thanks for the advice, I’ll keep you updated on my progress!

  39. heyy oskar! great articles and website i too am a skinnyfat and have been reading your articles
    but this article got me very interested as i try to overtrain or overreach myself

    i started off at about 65kg at maybe 25% bodyfat at 5’8 so i was horribly skinnyfat and decided to lose the weight so after doing a begginner strength training programme and doing cardio and in a caloric deficit. i have leaned out i would say i am about 11-13% bodyfat at about 60kg right now and for the past 2 months i have been bulking up well clean bulking i have a surplus of about 350 calories i am gaining consistent weight of 0.5-0.8 lbs a week however i am not getting biger i have gained 4 pounds so far but i have not seen a lot of size difference and also i am overtraining i am doing my arms 3-4 times a week chest twice and back twice however i havent gone bigger but i am still gaining weight so can you help me please :) thanks a lot keep doing the good work and helping people!

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Jay,

      Thank you!

      You lost a huge amount of fat while gaining muscle, and after that you have gained 4 lbs of muscle. To me it sounds like you are making very good progress.

      It can be difficult to see a 4 lb muscle gain, but if you stick to training hard and gaining muscle without gaining too much bodyfat, you will look like a completely different person. Just give it time.

      If you have any more questions feel free to ask

      – Oskar

  40. Hi Oskar,
    it is ok training 5 days straight like Monday to Friday then taking the weekend off or do you think you should alternate it and have a rest day mid week? and is 4 sets of chin ups and 4 sets of diamond pushups enough for each workout?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hey Matty,

      It’s definitely enough if you push yourself. This is basically what I did this year.

      Whether you train monday-tuesday-thursday-friday-sunday or monday-tuesday-wednesday-thursday-friday isn’t going to make a significant difference. Just listen to your body, and do a light training if that’s what you need to. The important aspect is to train regularly no matter what, since that will build a long term habit that produces results.

  41. Oskar

    so how doesone train?

    i am classic skimmyfat..

    i am strong but have pear shaped body from doin stronglifts.

    can you give an exampletemplete and diet?

  42. If this is true, it would definitly explain why ALL guys in prison are strong as phuck. They “overtrain” all day long.

  43. what people miss in trainig, first being consistent, and second is having a goal. Consistently working toward a goal or multiple goals is a key to success.
    Consistency as in frequent enough and a goal as in 20 chinups.
    Muscle is a byproduct of success, but if you muscles are still small (genetics), yet effective and strong, because of long term training, a new level of self confidence arises, because you know you can do something you worked for.
    No need for outsourced rep/set count. Design your own on you current ability.
    Rest untill you just feel rested. Everything above 5 minutes is too much.
    If you want to be lean, fast intermittently. If you want hard muscles, workout regularly. If you want really big muscles and are a skinny fat, it aint going to happen unless consistent for 5-10 years.
    Don’t crave for big, muscular look.
    Do crave after results, because reaching a goal is what gets you on the path of building an acceptable, athletic physique, all natural, no need for 6-10 meals/day, shakes, artifitial vitamins and minerals swalowing, only to mislead you from consistent training.

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      You got it right Denis, especially about the big muscular look. I’ve been training for over 3.5 years and in clothes I look quite normal everywhere besides my back which looks wide in t shirts.

  44. How many sets of the diamond pushups and chins do you do a day?
    Do you do warmup sets?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hello Ron,
      Recently I haven’t done diamond push ups since I’m focusing on more advanced exercises, but when I did them I would do 2-4 sets of diamond push ups stopping 1 rep before failure on all sets except the last where I would go to failure then dropset it to normal push ups. With close grip chin ups it was the same, since I supersetted those exercises, although I would dropset with negative close grip chin ups. I did this 1-2 times a day. My warmup consisted of about 10-12 close grip chin ups and 20 regular push ups combined with some dynamic stretching.

      • Thanks Oskar,

        I find your info to be a great help!

        I’m skinny fat and 61 years old. I’m up to 15 chins and about 12 pullups.

        Shoulders hurt on pushing exescises so i’m doing sets of 8 diamond pushups.

        I always have to position my elbows just right to avoid pain.

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          Ron, those are some VERY impressive numbers for your age. I’ll put this as a featured comment on the website to inspire other skinny-fat guys.

          My goal is to be strong and fit like you when I’m older.

          Do you mind sharing how you got to 15 chin ups?

          Best,
          Oskar

      • I started with basic pushups and pull ups about 6 years ago. I was doing some light barbell and dumb bell workouts at home before that. I took my time and did many variations over the last six years. I was playing baseball twice a week the whole time so I have a divesified exercise regimen. I mostly only could do neutral grip pullups at the beginning because my elbow was hurting. I started at about 3 or 4 pullups and worked up slowly doing different workouts and sets and reps schemes mostly with supersets on different bodyparts 2 or 3 times a week with baseball twice a week. I’ve been as high as 14 pullups for one set and then workout easier for a while. Today I did 16 chins in one set and my wife video’d the set. I guess the one thing that really helped was that I do some exercise 5 or 6 days a week and have been consistant over these past years. I have hurt different joints a number of times and still i always would work around the distressed joint.

        • Oskar Faarkrog says:

          I really like your story. Consistency and frequency are key to making training a habit that will produce good results in the long term. Even though you had joint pain, you kept working around it because training was a HABIT for you. That should be the goal of every beginner – make training a lifelong habit.

  45. Hi Oskar,
    what about rest between sets?
    1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes? More?

    • Oskar Faarkrog says:

      Hello Marco,
      This depends on the exercise, program, goal and fitness level. However, in general terms if you’re a beginner the focus should be on building strength and this requires longer rest times (3-5 minutes).

      Once you have a solid strength base you can experiment with lower rest times. For example, today I did a high rep workout with 8 other guys. One part of the workout consisted of 150 push ups and 75 pull ups and the goal was to complete all those reps as fast as possible. We all did them in 15-22 minutes, so we didn’t rest much at all (maybe 1-2 minutes at the end).

      Other days when I train difficult exercises like pistol squats and muscle ups I take 3-5 minutes of rest between sets since I need to be fresh to do those.

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