More doesn’t mean better results. It’s important to balance work and rest in order to lose weight and repair precious muscle tissue for optimal results physically and mentally. When you’re in danger of overtraining, you are in danger of several factors that affect your health. Here are 8 important signs and symptoms of overtraining you should be looking out for.
SIGN 1: Illness/Sickness
Illness is a normal part of life, but what if you’re becoming ill more often or have symptoms of illness returning on a more frequent or daily basis? When we overtrain, our bodies are under an increased level of stress. With higher levels of bodily stress comes weakness in the immune system.
SIGN 2: Fatigue/Tiredness
One of the greatest benefits of living a healthy lifestyle is that it helps to increase and balance your energy levels so you have more stamina and mental clarity/focus throughout the day, but when you begin feeling chronically fatigued, that’s definitely a red flag for overtraining.
SIGN 3: Aches/Pains/Injury
As you’re probably aware, aches and pains come with the territory of working out. It’s called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and it starts to make itself known about 24-48 hours after a workout. This type of ache and pain in the muscle is normal and it’s a good thing. It means change and growth and shape of the muscle fibers. However, if you’re feeling a massive pain in your knee with every step of your run or incessant popping and crackling of a joint during an exercise, then it’s time to pull back on the reigns, modify your training, or have it checked out. Another concern with overtraining is that you could be slowly shifting into improper form during your workouts, which could also be causing skeletal problems and alignment issues that lead to imbalances, pain, discomfort, and injury.
SIGN 4: Loss of Motivation
Although it can sometimes be tough to initially start a fitness and health routine and there are definitely days you’ll encounter where you “just don’t feel like it,” this lifestyle should, in general, be motivating and enjoyable once you get the habits down and find the workouts you really look forward to. So if, all of a sudden, you’re struggling on a daily basis to workout when it’s normally not such a struggle to get up and get moving, then take a look at how much you’ve been training lately.
SIGN 5: Extreme Change in Appetite
In relationship to overtraining you can notice either a loss or increase in appetite. If you’re experiencing a loss in appetite it is due to physical exhaustion as well as an increase in the release of appetite-suppressing hormones. If you’re experiencing an increase in appetite it is due to your body searching for extra calories for recovery and replenishment of your glyogen stores.
SIGN 6: Plateau/Lack of Progress
You’ve probably heard the phrase related to weight loss that says it’s all about “calories in versus calories out.” So since 3500 calories = 1 pound, then MORE calories out during your workouts daily means more weight lost in a week, right? WRONG! There really is more to losing weight than calories in versus calories out. There’s a fine line you don’t want to cross. Your body needs calories for energy. In fact, the word calorie literally means energy. If you overtrain, you’re sending your body a signal and it progressively doesn’t have the resources to properly take care of itself. Its first priority is survival mode, so your goals of weight loss or muscle gain (or insert goal) get put on the back burner as far as your body’s priorities are concerned.
SIGN 7: Changes in Sleep
In addition to feeling chronically fatigued, you can actually suffer from the opposite, as well. You can feel over-excited, restless, and have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep at night. This happens especially if you’re overtraining at really high intensity levels (cardio or weightlifting like HIIT or Power Lifting). What happens is your Sympathetic Nervous System (responsible for “fight or flight”) gets excitable and your heart rate has a hard time coming down. This is also known as Sympathetic Overtraining. The ability of your body to enter into quality sleep and recovery mode is critical for health and physical progress.
SIGN 8: Difficulty Completing Workouts
As a general rule, you should be lifting to failure on your exercises in order to build and grow your muscles, add strength, get lean, rev your metabolism, etc., but when you try to progressively move through your workout routine from week to week and notice you’re not able to lift as much or perform as many reps as you did the previous week, then that could mean you’re working out too much.
In general, all of these signs and symptoms stem from high stress levels in the body. What happens when you overtrain is that your body deals with an increased level of stress. When your body is stressed the CNS (Central Nervous System) kicks in and the brain sends help to the receptors of the body where it is needed. Additionally, during stress high levels of cortisol are released from the adrenal glands. This can then lead to adrenal fatigue. Your body is such a dynamic, smart, and interconnected system that responds appropriately based on the signals we repeatedly send it. So if you’re noticing any of the signs above, it may be time to look at your current workout routine and make some adjustments. More time in the gym absolutely does not equal better results. You need to strike a livable and realistic balance between life and workouts that allows for optimal results AND the ability to be a rockstar in all the other areas of your life.
Yours in Health,