Yes, there is such a thing as overtraining. And, it means exactly what you think it does: someone out there – maybe you – is training too hard. Training too often.
So, why do most people think overtraining is a myth?
Simply because in most endeavours in life, the harder you work, the more rewards you’re likely to receive in return. Not exactly the same when it comes to exercise. Because when it comes to working out, there’s a point where exerting more effort becomes counter-productive and you begin to regress.
So how do you know if you’re overtraining? What are the signs? And if you are, how can you stop the regression and get back to normal?
All good questions.
Here are some common signs that you’re overtraining and what you can do about it.
Your muscles are sore, all the time.
Sounds obvious, but most people mistake it for common soreness the day after a workout. However, when you overtrain, your muscles are still sore 3 days later. This is usually a sign to schedule a break and take the next day off.
You’re always getting sick.
When you overtrain, your body is in a 'continual catabolic state, which lowers immunity and increases chances of becoming ill,' says trainer and nutrition expert Jay Cardiello. So what’s his advice? Get plenty of rest, and adjust your diet, nutritional and supplement intake, possibly implementing vitamins A and E, as well as glutamine.
You can’t sleep.
Imagine training hard and being so exhausted that you can’t……sleep. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Overtraining can result in a nervous system or hormonal system overload. If this is happening to you, watch your diet closely and take a week off training altogether.
Your injuries are becoming more frequent.
Those old injuries coming back to haunt you? New ones appearing each week? You’re quite possibly training too hard and as such your body isn’t getting enough time to recuperate, and by the time your next workout starts you’re still in a ‘weakened state’. The solution: more rest periods in your weekly training schedule and changing the intensity of your training too.
You’re not making the progress you thought you would.
Has your body stopped changing? It might be a sign you’re overtraining. 'When you’re overtraining, your body is going in the opposite direction of growth, because your muscles are torn and all you’re doing is re-tearing them again,' says transformation trainer Micah LaCerte. Don’t forget that your muscles need to repair, and the only thing that can assist that is rest.
When we talk about people who overtrain, we’re usually talking about those who train hard every day of the week. You simply cannot train intensely every day and still adequately recover.
So, what’s the solution to an overtrained body?
Firstly, rest. Train hard by all means, but try and take two days off weights per week, and take a one day a week to fully rest. Listen to your body and decide what’s best for you.
Secondly, get some sleep. Try to get 7 to 8 hours per night as the optimal amount.
And thirdly, diet. Make sure you’re eating nutritious meals that support the training you do so your body has everything it needs to repair itself.
It really is that simple. And, you’ll know when you’ve recovered simply by how you feel. After a decent rest, you should feel rested and ready to train again. Sensibly that is.