Health and Fitness

10 Signs of Overtraining

One weekend I decided to do a calf workout on some stairs in my house. There were at least 15 stairs so I did one calf-raise on the first stair, two on the second, three on the third, and so on until I reached the top. Upon reaching the top, with rather tired calves I might add, I proceeded to do 15 squats on the top step, then 14 on the next, etc. My mistake was repeating this process. It took over a week to recover from the calf soreness and the first couple days I could only shuffle my feet to walk because it hurt so bad!

Don’t make the same mistake I made, know your limits and when you feel a strong sense of burning or soreness in your muscles back off a little or stop. Read on to learn about the 10 signs of over training and 10 ways to prevent overtraining.

When our bodies get to this point the key is to rest, and though this is obvious to many, I know of countless people who will train through the pain. Anyone heard the saying “no pain, no gain”. Sometimes exercise will be painful, tiring, and can drain you, but when we exercise it should never result in the symptoms of overtraining listed below.

Prevent overtraining with rest and a balanced workout approach

When we overtrain we are limiting ourselves, in the best case scenarios we are having to take ourselves out of training for a few days to rest and recover, in the worst case scenario we are doing long-term damage to our bodies. There are two states of overtraining, functional and nonfunctional, fortunately, they both will respond when you give your body rest.

I remember having many of the symptoms below as the result of spending far too many hours playing basketball without strength training or proper stretching. The pounding and repetitive motions that come with basketball led to months of soreness and limited my ability to do exercise the way I like to. I had a severe case of overtraining, forcing me to sit out of exercise and sport for over 2 months. After several weeks of rest and many rehabilitation style workouts, I was able to begin a modified regimen of working out.

“If any of you are parents to a pre-schooler you know that Daniel Tiger has the answer, ‘rest is best’ so don’t over do it.”

Balanced Workouts

An effective workout is a balanced workout, with intensity on one side and time for rest and recovery on the other. Basic rules for weight lifting will include at least two days of rest between moderate to high-intensity workouts and with increasing intensity, this rest interval can rise to 4 days. Keep in mind, rest means resting the muscle group you are working, not quitting your workout routine for 3-4 days.

One more point on overtraining, sometimes overtraining is the result of an event you are working up to and haven’t done adequate preparation for, i.e. too short of training time. In severe cases, an addiction to the endorphins released during exercise will cause overtraining and injury. If you are someone who is struggling with either of these, the solution remains the same, get some rest and look for these common signs of overtraining.

10 Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining

  • Consistently sore and stiff muscles and joints
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Increased susceptibility to infections, colds, headaches
  • Chronic injuries
  • Sleep issues
  • Increased irritability
  • Depression
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Absence of menstruation

10 Simple ways to Prevent Overtraining:

  • Drink water and a lot of it 65 to 80 ounces plus 16 ounces for every pound of body weight lost.
  • Increase your training intensity, i.e. heart rate during the given exercise by only 10% or less.
  • Train with a logical approach of periods (days and weeks) of high intensity followed by low intensity and rest.
  • Rest during your workouts and after your workouts properly.
  • Complete your workout sessions feeling pushed and tired, but not wiped out.
  • Fuel yourself with the right foods, nutritionally dense and healthy.
  • Mix it up, don’t always follow the same routines.
  • Find a way to get high-quality sleep.
  • Find a workout partner to keep you accountable to your training.
  • Find a personal trainer to monitor your progress and push your limits appropriately.

Final Thoughts

For those of us who find ourselves over-motivated to workout and push ourselves beyond the healthy point of stress on our bodies, paying close attention to the common symptoms above is key. Additionally, implementing the prevention methods mentioned will be key in our long-term pursuit of an active life and high level of fitness.

Share with us on Facebook or Twitter your experiences with overtraining, you heard my story, tell us yours.

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