When it comes to exercise, the first thing you need is a solid game plan.
Having a preconceived idea of what you’re going to be doing in the gym is tantamount to results and success.
The next thing you should aim for is to push yourself.
You need to exert enough mechanical, cardiovascular and metabolic stress on your body in order to create a need for adaptation, therefore stimulating its occurrence.
Training hard is one thing, but you also need to train smart.
That’s because your body does indeed have limits.
We’d like to believe that results and adaptation are constantly proportional to training volume, frequency, and intensity.
But while training too little can obviously lead to poor progress, so can training too much.
Overtraining is real, and may actually creep up on you without you even realizing.
You might be training at a level of intensity, volume or frequency that seems average in comparison to the standard. But we are individual beings with individual needs. What might seem like the average for others, might be too much for you?
Perhaps you’re at a unique disadvantage, or there is an unaddressed underlying health issue affecting your exercise ability.
Whatever it is, overtraining is an issue that can lead to serious negative health issues. Some of these include:
- Compromised immunity and increased rate of infections
- Hormonal imbalance
- Overuse injuries
In order to avoid these and to generally steer clear of overtraining, there are a few signs and symptoms you should watch out for so you can address them and modify your approach to exercise accordingly.
5 signs and symptoms of Overtraining
Decrease In Level Of Performance
If you notice a steady and constant decline in your performance capabilities, this could be a sign that you are overtraining.
If you are undertraining and you see your strength, power and endurance tanking, this makes sense and is known technically as the disuse principle of “use it or lose it” to use regular folk.
However, if you are a dedicated gym rat, perhaps this decline in performance is because you’re a little too dedicated.
When you train, part of the equation is recovery. If you’re not giving yourself enough time to recover, you won’t be able to rebuild and adapt.
It’s like driving a car and never getting it serviced or refueled.
When you notice a decline in performance that becomes more or less permanent, take a break, recalibrate and work your way back up.
Decrease In Muscle Mass
Another symptom of overtraining is a decrease in muscle mass or atrophy.
Just as with performance, this can also be due to undertraining and the disuse principle, but if training is happening regularly, then it could mean there’s just too much of it going on.
In order to grow or at least maintain size, your muscles need time to recover and rebuild from all the mechanical stress and microtrauma.
Overtraining essentially means you are using damaged tissue to perform the same activity that damaged it in the first place.
Imagine a boxer trying to punch with a broken fist? An obvious no-no.
Well, that’s the same principle at play with overtraining and how it causes your muscles to get smaller instead of bigger.
Unexpected Weight Gain
Aside from excess mechanical stress, overtraining exerts excess metabolic stress on the body.
This can cause your metabolism to go out of whack and even grind to a slow down.
When your metabolism slows down, you naturally gain weight.
This is another case of the symptoms of overtraining mimicking the effects of undertraining.
Unceremonious accumulation of body fat is also the result of the hormonal imbalances you might face as a result of chronic metabolic stress.
In men, overtraining has been linked to estrogen dominance which has the opposite effect of testosterone on muscle mass and fat loss.
This hormonal shit could also be a contributor to decreased muscle mass.
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Significant Increase In Recovery Time
When you notice it takes days or maybe even a week to fully recover from training, you need to stop and deload.
Overtraining is mainly a state of poor recovery, so if you are noticing this, you already know that the best course of action is to take a break.
This is compounded by the metabolic stress and decline in your immune system.
Chronic Fatigue and Loss Of Mental Motivation
Chronic fatigue and lack of motivation are signs of overtraining.
This is again simply because you aren’t giving yourself enough time to recover and regain your faculties.
Your metabolism is in decline, meaning your energy levels are going to tank, leading to chronic fatigue.
But how does body fatigue correlate with mental fatigue?
Well, your brain is one of the most resource-demanding organs in your body. If you aren’t producing enough energy metabolically, your brain will significantly suffer, leading to mental fog and a lack of motivation.
Overtraining is real, despite the notion that extreme amounts of constant, hard work are what is required in the gym, the reality is there is a sweet spot between too much and too little.