You take your workouts seriously – whether it is at the gym, hitting the streets/trails running, Zumba classes, Crossfit, etc. but have you ever found yourself placing unreasonable demands on your body to the point of overtraining? If your commitment to workout time is in the neighborhood of about 5 – 7 hours per week, chances are you’re not at risk of overtraining. However, if it’s greater than 7 hours per week and training is becoming a borderline addiction (even at the expense of possibly doing harm) it’s probably time to reassess your goals. If you’re in this position, hopefully you have the knowledge and experience of a personal trainer or coach who can quickly adjust your training and get you back on track. Regardless, it’s crucial that you listen to your body and know the signs of overtraining. Some of the most common signs that you may be over training are:
- Do you frequently have an unquenchable thirst? Does it feel that no matter how much you drink, you still crave more? If this happens to be coinciding with a period of increased physical activity, there’s an excellent chance that you’re overtraining.
- It’s very normal to have muscle soreness for a day or two following a workout or run, however, if you’re still sore past the 72-hour mark, be sure to schedule a break and rest. This type of extended soreness is a sign your muscles aren’t recovering and negatively impacts on your muscle-building and performance efforts.
- Are you having difficulty sleeping? Your body grows and heals while resting, not training. For example, during rest, the body tends to recover and remain in an anabolic state (rebuilding state). When the body does not properly rest for long periods of time, as in prolonged vigorous exercise, muscle tissue will continue to break down. Without sleep and a good rest, the natural process of tissue growth and repair will not take place which can cause muscles to stay sore, weak and cause possible injuries. Studies show that the hours between 10 pm to 2 am are the most crucial for sleep because this is the part of your sleeping pattern where the most physical restoration occurs.
- Halted progress – has your body seized in performance or in spite of your best efforts you are not seeing results? If so, you may be overtraining. When you’re overtraining your body is kind of going in the opposite direction of growth because your muscles are torn and all you’re doing is re-tearing them again. Remember muscles need a chance to repair and that’s only possible when your body is given the proper time to rest and recover before being forced into more exercise.
- Getting injured more often? In particular, are you re-aggravating old injuries? If so, you may be overtraining. When you over train, your body doesn’t get enough time to recuperate between workouts meaning that at some point you begin training in a weakened state. If you do this too often you increase your chance of injuries. To prevent yourself from overtraining, force rest periods into your routine. Just like you write down on your schedule workout days, write down (and force) rest days as well.
- It’s not unusual to occasionally want to skip a workout or run but, if you generally live, breathe, and sleep an active lifestyle and then suddenly become disinterested, constantly dreading it or having to drag yourself out of the house, you’re probably overexerting yourself. Instead of working out and possibly risking injury by going through the motions and improperly performing an exercise, give yourself some time off to refresh.
- Feeling ill is not part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, sometimes it’s your body’s way of telling you that your immune system is suffering from overtraining. The process of overtraining means your body is in a continual catabolic state (the breaking down state) which lowers immunity and increases chances of becoming ill. If you find yourself being constantly sick, you may be overtraining and need a rest.
Finally, if you can relate to any of these signs of overtraining, do yourself a favor and adjust your schedule immediately – eat a lot of clean food, take a week (or even two) off of training and give your body a chance to rest and restore. Your overall health and performance will benefit from it in the long run.
Bodyrich Fitness Company
Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutritionist
678-417-0880 ext. 8301 / email@example.com