Training Beyond Exhaustion can Prevent Learning

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 05 March 2019


Don’t Over-train

Training beyond exhaustion can prevent learning,
eLife, March 5, 2019.


"...we set out to disentangle the effects of fatigue on performance of a task from its effects on the ability to learn and get better at it."

Hurts for Days
"...muscle fatigue caused by overexertion when practicing a skill can affect the task in hand and impair learning afterwards."

Pinch Test
“The researchers asked 120 people to learn a pinch-force task over two days.”

"...they found that those people who had reached the point of exhaustion performed less well using both their fatigued and unfatigued hands.

I’m Tired
"This suggested that fatigue impairs motor skill learning mechanisms in the brain."

“...fatigue may affect the formation of memories that help people to retain new skills they have learned.”

Overtraining Bad
“We have shown that learning in a fatigued state results in detrimental effects on a person’s ability to acquire a new skill.”


Bottom Line
Sounds like these researchers spent a lot of time and money to figure out how a runner feels after they overtrain and get, “wobbly legs,” after training too hard. Or the, “feelings” of, “rubber-arms,” that a weightlifter gets after over-lifting, but these researchers did it with their subjects fingers.

How thoughtful of them...!

What We All Know
Besides being, “rubbery,” and unable to perform, over work requires extended recovery time, and retards further training progress. It hurts so bad...

This research offers a counterpoint to the, “interval,” school of training, which states that extreme exercise output brings the most efficient improvement.

It seems we have found one line of potentially diminishing returns for extreme exercisers.

On the Other Hand...
Training to levels, "beyond pain," is sometimes necessary. This is not  a function of will, but of long, long, training. Everything most training researchers investigate is done with, and on, untrained individuals, who have had neither physical or psychological prepearation to bring out their inherent assets, which have been retarded in centers of mass urban populations.

I'd say that performing these exact same tests on individuals who've undergone, and are the products of, extensive well-designed training programs will show amazing resilience at all points up to, and across, the points of physical and mental breakdown.

Very few rookies can cross that finish line, physically or psychologically, from today's starting point.

I'm saying that properly prepped individuals will learn up to, and across their particular levels of physical and mental breakdown, or not, dependent on how you prep the individuals. Nature trains us to think, learn, and grow under great stress. Society generates stresses that retard all three.

Therefore, I'd say that this research describes the reality of a stage of training, more accurately, reflecting the status that our society requires from, and maintains within its members, and certainly does not measure the inherent or potential of our individual capacities, of our bodies and minds.


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exercsise, overtraining, exhaustion, bad, for, body, brain


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