Some of us can get slightly addicted to training, especially when we see results. While we may think that slowing down will reverse those gains, overtraining is actually more than just a myth! Overtraining can occur and can cause us to burnout and consequently cause loss of muscle mass due to stress. Stress can negatively affect the body and the effects of overtraining can have repercussions that are damaging to you. Let’s take a look at exactly what overtraining is and how you can avoid it.
Overtraining is when you reach a point where the stress your body endures affects the way in which you recover and adapt. Even when we are not feeling at our prime, we tend to push ourselves to get it done, while our performance, strength and motivation all suffer. While doing this once in a while won’t be classed as overtraining, doing this for months on end will get you to a point of overtraining.
While constantly overtraining will have harmful affects on your body and stress levels, occasional overtraining will have some positive impact on your body. Sometimes overtraining allows us to test our limits and see how far we can truly push them. In doing this, you are able to determine at exactly what point you feel a negative effect on your body and you can make smart decision when it comes to the rest of your workout. Luckily, there are quite a few signs you can look out for that will indicate you are overtraining. To err on the safe side, let’s visit these signs so you can be sure your training is not only effective, but safe as well.
You Feel Achy and Have Pains You Did Not Have Before
If you feel many more aches and pains compared to what you normally feel, it is a good indicator that you need to get some rest. It’s important to note that for anyone who is new to exercise or has started a new training sprint may notice unusual aches and pains. This is very normal is usually due to a shock to the system. However, if these pains persist, then you will need to rest.
You Are Getting Sick Frequently
If you notice that you are getting sick more frequently or find that you are struggling to shake off a cold, it is a sign that you are overtraining. You can weaken your immune system when overtraining; this is because your system will have to sacrifice one thing to help another, so, your body will seek to heal and recover muscles and joints, and the immune system will suffer instead.
You Are Not Sleeping Properly
As exercise can increase hormone levels that induce a fight or flight response, when you are overtraining, these levels can be too high in the body which can affect how well you sleep. There are a range of other factors that can contribute to being unable to sleep, such as drinking coffee in the evening, stress, and even over exhaustion, so make sure you do analyze what causes this prior to assuming it’s overtraining. It could be an easy diet or lifestyle fix.
You Notice You are Having Digestive Problems and Loss of Appetite
While the above can also be linked to many other things, if you are noticing this in conjunction with the aforementioned symptoms of overtraining, it is safe to assume you are definitely overtraining. This occurs when your body is under too much stress which it can’t handle properly, therefore your body responds by putting less attention on the digestive system and can cause you to lose your appetite.
Decreased Performance in Your Workouts
If you notice that your once perfect performance has been steadily decreasing, you can assume you have been overtraining. If you notice a weakened grip strength, a decrease in endurance levels and overall power, you need to take a break. It’s important to note that we all do have occasional days like this, but repeated days of fatigue and weakness are indication of a problem at hand (remember your nutrition plays a huge role in this!) As we’ve noted in a few of the above symptoms of overtraining, there are other driving factors behind why you sometimes feel the way you do and why your body reacts in a certain way, so always be sure that you are mindful of what else can cause this. Abnormal amount of stress, not enough calories and dehydration can all seem like overtraining, but are just other issues that need to be addressed.
So, how can you avoid overtraining? Be sure you allow adequate periods of rest and recovery and ensure your body is properly fueled by eating sufficient calories from wholesome food sources. Always make sure you drink enough water, whether you are training or not! You should also include workouts that do not bring yourself to failure with each set as that can be very stressing on the body. You should always listen to your body and do what feels best, so if you are not feeling so great one day, reduce your load, listen to your body and follow its signs.