I have a goal, to make pull-ups my cardio. Kind of how babies struggle to walk but after some years they can do thousands of steps before they even begin to get tired.

In the past days I have tried in this exact order: 100 pull-ups in 16 minutes then again the day after. 100 in 12 minutes then again the day after.

The fifth day I had some craze in my mind and attempted successfully 570 pull-ups in 1 hour and twenty minutes

Today the craze got even weirder and I did 1050 pull-ups and 1 chin up in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

The first 5 days I always felt really pumped up through the entire workout but today I felt really depleted even though I was continuously drinking bottles of apple and orange juice, drank 5 liters in that timeframe.

But I felt my muscles shrinking, they didn't really shrink cause I measured them afterward but they got softer, I could push a finger deep inside my bicep.

Also, I didn't feel tired, could have done more but I had a strange unique feeling. It was between sleepiness and a mild headache.

I felt surely worse from 3 sets of barbell squats, almost passed out from squats, but the feeling was different...no dizziness, no vomit but I wasn't alright.

The thing that worries me the most was that my biceps got smushy and squishy... Now they are back to normal though.

  • There's no easy answer. Overtraining affects each person differently depending on several factors, including years of training.
    – rrirower
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 18:22
  • Overtraining is usually associated with a more chronic issue (?) -- poor sleep, lack of motivation, nagging injuries, loss of motivation, etc. It sounds like your problem was pretty acute. The fact that you kept going after 1050 pullups is quite remarkable and I'm not surprised your body was tired.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


Perhaps the most obvious sign of over-training is a reduction in performance. Whether it be strength, speed, or endurance, we are unlikely to be able to maintain the level of our previous performances. Over-training further presents itself in the form of general fatigue, weakness, elevated heart and/or breathing rates, poor quality sleep, and poor motivation. Of course, it is also associated with soreness and injury, too, but they need not be present.

One possible explanation for your experiencing soft muscles is elevated sarcoplasmic hypertrophy with reduced levels of tetanus and associated muscle tone. That would be consistent with what we might expect from such an acute rise in workload. And many of your other general symptoms are certainly suggestive of over-training.

Your theory and objective are reasonable, but there are fundamental limitations to the rate and degree to which we can adapt. Pull-ups are far more strenuous than walking, even in relative terms. And in any case, the body can not adjust to such precipitous increases in training volume, regardless of the type of pursuit.

A better approach would be to programme gradual or ‘step-wise’ increases over time, with a load-load-unload type pattern. (Whilst unloading is not strictly necessary—there is nothing in our physiology that requires us to take a step backward—it accounts for all the unpredictable variables that influence our recovery and adaptation.) A large volumetric increase can be included once per week, fortnight, or other nominal period to stimulate the system to be able to tolerate the greater workload. This is essentially what runners and cyclists do routinely with their weekly or fortnightly ‘long’ run or ride.

Remember that adaptation does not occur during training, but during recovery.

I hope that helps.

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