Training too often or too intensely is referred to as overtraining. Overtraining prevents proper recovery, leading to injuries and little progress towards fitness goals
Contrary to popular belief, the body does not get stronger during the workout but instead during the recovery period. When exercising, tiny tears form in the muscles that are repaired during rest, glycogen stores are restored, and normal body functions return. All of these processes allow to body to perform at its peak. When overtraining, these functions do not take place, causing the body to become fatigued and prevent adequate repair.
Overtraining can occur from the following:
- Inadequate recovery between training sessions
- Too much high-intensity training, typically for too long
- Sudden drastic increases in distance, length, or intensity of exercise routine
- Daily intense weightlifting
- High volumes of endurance training
- No breaks
- Inadequate nutrition
- Insufficient sleep
- High amounts of stress and anxiety
The symptoms of overtraining are different to the usual aches and pains of working out but can be hard to notice. If you experience any of the following, you may have been overtraining.
- Excessive fatigue outside of the gym
- Loss of motivation, energy, drive, and enthusiasm to exercise
- Increased stress, anxiety, irritability and feelings of depression
- Insomnia, sleep problems, or nightmares
- Poor concentration, hyperactivity and an inability to relax
- Large fluctuations in weight
- Loss of appetite
- Constant excessively sore and/or weak muscles
If you have been overtraining or are beginning to burn out, it’s important that you make changes to your exercise regime.
If you are injured, stop exercising immediately. Give yourself a few days a rest and wait until the injury subsides, you’ll be able to hit the gym even harder with more focus once you’ve properly recovered.
Consider taking things a little easier, reduce your sets, reps, the length of time, or intensity. Easing off for a week or two can give your body chance to repair itself without you having to sacrifice your routine.
When it comes to overtraining, the best way to tackle it is to prevent it all together. Schedule at least one rest a day a week, dedicate the time to stretching or walking to remain active without pushing your body to its limits. Know your body and listen if it’s struggling, your fitness will thank you for it.