By now most people who watch exercise videos on YouTube have seen CT Fletcher. His no nonsense, take-no-prisoners, tell-it-as-it-is approach has garnered him a large viewing audience. Now it turns out that he’s a veteran, which I should have seen before because all the signs were there… Regardless, his recent installments have created some controversy as it pertains to “over-training,” so I’d like to add my two cents.
CT Fletcher is correct: Over-training is a myth.
Okay, I’m a throwback. In my era there were gentlemen like Tom Platz — known for having the greatest legs of all time in bodybuilding. Also known for squatting for three or for hours in a session. By many standards, back in the day even, they would say that Tom Platz was over-training. But this results — friends, mother fuckers and mother fuckees — are undeniable. Greatest pair of legs in bodybuilding history doing what many of you refer to as over-training.
Over-training is individualized. What may be over-training for one man is nothing but a regular workout for another. Over-training can not be generalized. Over-training is individualized to you. What you may call over-training might be my warmup. Understand?
I’m a veteran, United States Army. Proud veteran of the United States Army. I go to veterans hospitals on a monthly basis. I talk to many veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and almost down to the last man each one will tell me that the best shape they were in for their entire life was during basic training. In basic training you are forced to push your body past previously expected limitations. What you thought you could not do your drill instructor or drill sergeant made you do. He gave you no choice, and therefore, your body adapted to the regimen — the strenuous regimen dictated to you by that drill instructor — because he gave you no fucking choice. He dared you, he made you push, and some of you are scared to put that type of dictation upon yourself. You can’t do it. You’ll say that it’s over-training because you are afraid to push yourself that far. You will be amazed — amazed — at what the human body can do. …
I don’t advocate you do what I do. 100, 200, 300 rep sessions. … All I ask is that you give it a try before you say, “CT is full of shit and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” All I have is six world titles. All I can tell you what I’ve done, what I’ve put into action in real-life situations. Not what I think about. Not what I theorize about. Not what I talk shit about. It’s what I have done.
What have these so-called experts in these fields done? … What have you put into application? In most case, not a God-damn thing. Flapping gums don’t mean shit. What have you done, mother fucker, besides talk shit? …
Flex your biceps. What have you done? … Over-training my ass.
What is over-training? That’s the problem. If you ask 10 different people that question you’re probably going to get ten different answers. That’s because, like Mr. Fletcher said, the vast majority of people will never reach the point where they “over-train.” There are so many different factors that determine how a person’s body will respond to an exercise program that terms like “over-training” become relative.
How much sleep do you get a night? Are you eating enough calories to feed your muscles? Are you psychologically strong or weak? There’s a reason why people turn to personal trainers: each person is unique. To prove it, I’ll use CT’s “basic training” example.
CT says almost all the veterans he spoke to mentioned that Basic Training was the physical fitness pinnacle of their lives. As someone who went through Infantryman Basic Training in Fort Benning, Georgia, I can say that I don’t know if that’s the case for me.
Going into Basic Training, I was a cross country runner. I was running over 50 miles per week before I went into the Army, so my mileage actually dropped significantly when I enlisted. I went from running roughly a 10:05 two-mile to probably a 11:30 two-mile. However, with push-ups and sit-ups and three square meals I day, I put on about 25 lbs. and my upper body strength increased dramatically. Was I in “better” shape or “worse” shape? I don’t know. I was in better “Army” shape, but I was in worse “cross country” shape.
I was 18 years old then and I’m 34 years old now. I might be able to run a 12:00 two-mile before puking all over the place, but I can dead lift much more weight than I could as a kid. My upper body strength puts my younger self to shame. Am I in good shape? Again, it all depends on my individual goals. Right now my only real goal is to be able to max the Army Physical Fitness test if someone told me I had to take it on a moment’s notice. It’s not to look like CT Fletcher. Given that, I’d say I’m where I need to be.
Here’s perhaps the most important lesson from CT’s speech:
What you thought you could not do your drill instructor or drill sergeant made you do. He gave you no choice, and therefore, your body adapted to the regimen — the strenuous regimen dictated to you by that drill instructor — because he gave you no fucking choice.
The mind plays much more of a role in achieving your physical fitness goals than, in many ways, the genetics you were born with. When you can put yourself in the psychological space where failure is not an option, you’re exactly where you need to be. When you’re honest with yourself you can then gauge whether or not the pain you feel is because you’re pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone or you’re pushing yourself in ways that will result in bodily harm. When you listen to your body you’ll know when you’re not getting enough rest and need to ease off, and when you can go full throttle. As CT says: What might be “over-training” to you might be another man’s warm-up.
Embrace pain. Make it your friend. Laugh at it more than you cry at it and it will reward you. In the mean time, take a moment to watch CT’s latest video. There are many words of wisdom in his little clips, even if they’re littered with expletives.