Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns. To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.
Bodybuilders also train small muscles with a similar volume, frequency and intensity of their larger muscles. Strength athletes laugh at this. “Curls are a waste of time” is a common phrase you will hear hurled at a bodybuilder. This is SILLY. Although big compound movements should be most people’s resistance training priority, smaller muscle group focus work has some benefits for every athlete. Bicep tears are quite common among strength athletes, especially strong men and powerlifters. This happens because these competitors will lift tremendous weights with their backs, but their biceps are the weak link. Many of these injuries could be prevented with some good old-fashioned bodybuilder type isolation work. If you are only as strong as your weak link, doesn’t it make sense to make those weak links strong ones?
A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids — the muscle-building blocks of protein — and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises – I did it while traveling the world – and gymnasts train mostly with bodyweight movements. However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements. If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.
It has been argued that purposely overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and does not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can recuperate and grow during the prolonged rest period. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.