Many people make it their goal to exercise more throughout the year. Whatever their reasons may be, many people often struggle to feel motivated to workout. However, certain individuals have the exact opposite problem. They do not lack motivation and are committed to working out. However, while staying active is always a benefit, for both your physical and mental health, it does take a toll on your body. Too often, people do too much while working out and don’t realize they are overtraining.
Your body can only take so much damage and stress. Yes, working out and staying fit ensures that your body is in the best place to fight off diseases and other harmful conditions, but you must make sure you are giving your body the rest it needs to recover. If you don’t, you put yourself at risk of suffering a major injury, sidelining yourself for weeks to months, and keeping yourself from working out. But how do you know if you’re overtraining?
Fitness Nation understands the importance of staying active and healthy. We also understand the importance of rest and recovery. Whether you’re lifting weights in the gym or working out from home like many are during the current global pandemic, you must listen to your body and recognize the signs that you’re overtraining.
What is Overtraining?
Virtually anyone who stays active has been guilty of overtraining at least once in their life. Whether you compete in organized sports or are following a strict training program, you should always be giving your body the appropriate time to recover and replenish itself. If not, you may overwork yourself. To put it simply, overtraining occurs when an individual performs more training than their body can effectively recover from.
A lot of athletes fear that if they take a day off, they will lose all progress they have gained. They then increase the intensity and frequency of their training and workouts. However, this often has an adverse effect, eventually leading to the results they were avoiding.
Typically, the most common causes of overtraining are increasing the frequency, intensity, and duration of your training sessions without also increasing the amount of recovery time. Additionally, under-fueling can also attribute to overtraining.
When you overtrain, your overall performance will decrease. People often think that the more they workout, the more results they will see. While this is true to an extent, there is a tipping point that many people pass. Not only will your performance decrease, but you also increase your risk of injury.
Overtraining is counterproductive and dangerous, so you must listen to your body and stay alert to any changes.
Overtraining can set back your overall athletic performance and any progress you have made. That’s why you must listen to your body and react accordingly. Overtraining does not just happen within an instant. It occurs over a period of time when you are putting yourself through intense and extensive training. To prevent your body from suffering from the effects of overtraining, you need to stay aware of these signs:
While many people often train harder than normal to avoid losing their results, overtraining often leads to a lack of improved performance. Your agility, speed, endurance, and strength will decrease, and you won’t be able to perform at the level you are used to. Despite an increase in training intensity and volume, your performance decreases.
Prolonged Muscle Soreness
When you work out, it’s natural to experience some form of muscle soreness. After all, this is a telltale sign that your workouts are effective. Experiencing some muscle soreness a day or two after a training session is perfectly normal, and it goes away on its own quickly. However, if this soreness doesn’t disappear after three or more days, something is wrong. Your muscles need time to recover. Ignoring this pain and continuing to exercise won’t help you reach your goals and may cause injury.
Lack of Energy
If you notice that typically easy exercises are now difficult and require more effort and energy, you may be overworking yourself. You may feel fatigued during the day doing normal activities. A good workout program should leave you feeling energized and healthy, so when you feel sluggish and fatigued, you are probably overtraining.
Your mind and body are intrinsically tied together. Working out has numerous benefits for your mental health, but when your body and muscles are overworked, it can lead to changes in mood and irritability. Stressed or strained muscles cause your body to release stress chemicals, such as cortisol. Naturally, when your body is in a stressed state, you become more irritable and moodier.
Change in Sleep Patterns
Sleep is crucial to the overall performance of training. Your body can replenish and heal itself during slumber. However, once you start overtraining, your sleep may begin to change. When it’s time to go to bed, your body may still be in a state of overstimulation due to high-intensity workouts. Adversely, you may oversleep more, meaning your body is struggling for more recovery time. Either of these situations or a combination of both indicates that you are overtraining.
Arguably the most obvious sign of overtraining is the existence of nagging injuries. These are injuries that just don’t go away or never heal. Overused muscles and joints often lead to frequent bouts with pain. If your pain does not go away within two weeks, this is a substantial injury. An increase in intensity, duration, and frequency of workouts does not let your body heal itself and thus its injuries. These minor injuries begin to buildup and worsen. Frequent sicknesses also fall into this category.
Staying active is vital to keeping your body healthy. However, part of that process involves giving your body time to rest. Regardless of your fitness level, recovery is crucial. To avoid overtraining and to allow your body the chance to recover properly, follow these helpful tips:
- Take at least one full rest day a week
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Replenish your fluids, including fluids with potassium and electrolytes
- Always ease into more intense workouts
Fitness Nation understands how valuable staying active and fit is to many people, but we also understand the importance of recovery. Overtraining puts you in a position to lose all the progress you gained and in danger of injury. Give your body some rest and know what your body needs.