Overtraining is a mistake that anybody can make. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced exerciser, a superstar athlete, or an average American: if you have become too enthusiastic in your quest for weight loss, a toned body, and a healthy lifestyle, such that you’re feeling a lot worse instead of a lot better, then chances are you have been overtraining.
There are signs to look out for, although you must understand that overtraining is a result not of a few days’ worth of rigorous workouts, but rather of months and months of not knowing when to stop. It’s also perhaps a result of working with a personal trainer who is unaware of your limits. Or who simply doesn’t care enough to correct the intensities and volumes of your workout. Whatever the cause is, the result is not good: overtraining risks more than your performance; it risks your health.
So how do you know you’re pushing too hard? Here below are the surest signs that you’re overtraining.
Increased effort during normal workouts: You’re failing to lift the weights you’re used to lifting. You can’t run the distance you’re used to running. You’re unable to complete normal workouts, or at least it takes you so much more effort than you’re used to exerting. Your endurance levels are lower. These are signs that you’re overtraining: you’re getting weaker instead of stronger, slower instead of faster. What was once a walk in the park is now a grind.
Stress and agitation: Running on short temper? Having difficulties concentrating? Annoyed by the littlest things? You might be overtraining. Don’t take it out on your personal trainer. It’s the hormones reacting to your overtraining. Your body just needs rest; it needs enough time to recover in order to stabilize your moods and sharpen your focus once again.
Heavy legs: “Heavy legs” is a feeling that comes to define the experience of fatigue. After the workout with your personal trainer, you’re actually supposed to feel the heady rush of endorphins, the refreshing glow that comes from having strengthened your body. If you’re overtraining, however, the post-workout feeling is exactly the opposite: excessive fatigue.
Chronic muscle pain: Sore muscles are supposed to be relieved once you’ve gotten enough rest after workout. But if the pain in your muscles and joints never seem to go away, then you might have been pushing too hard for too long. Or you might have been performing your exercises in bad form or technique, which, if left uncorrected, is also linked to overtraining (and to its related injuries).
Weaker immune system: One of the many great benefits of exercise is an improved immune system. Excessive exercise, however, can do the exact opposite – and make you more prone than ever to frequent respiratory illnesses, infections, coughs, and colds. That’s because overtraining overworks the systems and functions of your body, such that the demands you’re putting on it are actually outweighing what it can give.
Restlessness and insomnia: An overtrained body is typically unable to relax. And sleep. It’s been used to going so fast, pushing too hard, and lifting too much all the time, such that it’s unable to slow down and recover naturally between your workout sessions.
Loss of appetite: No, it’s not a good thing. At all. If your appetite has gone missing, it may be a sign that you have been overtraining, and that there’s been a subsequent increase in the production of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine in your body – both of which, among other things, tend to lead to a decreased appetite.
Elevated heart rate: If your heart rate, at rest and during exercise, is higher than normal, if you wake up in the morning and you feel like your heart is pounding – gasping for dear life – then it’s a sign of overtraining.
One of the keys to knowing whether or not you’re overtraining is to work actively with your personal trainer, who should be able to adjust the exercises in your program according to the proper levels of intensity and volume.