Rest and recovery are vital to athletic training. It’s understandable to think that working out more is better, but in this case “more” can sabotage your workouts and your overall performance and progress.
You know the feeling, you’re running slower than usual and even short runs are a struggle mentally and physically. Or, your muscles are unusually tight and they’re not loosening up after a warm-up. Motivating yourself to go to the gym is a struggle. Your workouts just feel off. I’ve been there and done that. Sadly it took more than one injury, but I learned my lesson. Now I take precautions to avoid overtraining. I know my body and I, finally, listen to what it’s trying to tell me.
When it’s time to back off or totally take time off from training I do and without hesitation.
Overtraining is excessive frequency, volume or intensity of training, resulting in a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity.
The most common causes of over-training are a lack of recovery time and an increased intensity of training and both can quickly lead to being sidelined from training and injuries.
What do the statistics say about fitness injuries?
A study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has found that the number of injuries from weight training has increased. Results of the study show more than 970,000 weight training-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments between 1990 and 2007, increasing nearly 50 percent during the 18-year study period.
Sports Medicine Australia reports, Statistics from the Australian Sports Commission’s 2006 survey showed up to 70% of recreational and competitive runners sustain overuse injuries during any 12-month period.
WHAT IS YOUR BODY TELLING YOU?
1. You’re feeling run down and getting sick and injured a lot.
Chronically elevated levels of cortisol not only stall your fat loss, but also lower your immunity, making you more susceptible to illness. And, if you are never giving your body a chance to fully recover, you are setting yourself up for potential injury.
2. You’re sore all the time.
Being sore after your workout is normal, and it’s possible your delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) won’t peak for another 48 hours. However, being constantly sore is a clear sign that you need to back off and give your muscles an opportunity to fully recover.
3. You have you stopped seeing progress and results.
When you’re consistently stressing your body you are constantly triggering your body’s “fight or flight” response and elevates cortisol levels which, according to orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey J. Rocco, can lead to fat storage.
4. You feel fatigued and sluggish for the rest of the day after your workout.
You are able complete your workout, but then you are spent for the remainder of the day. A sweat session can be productive, but if it drains you of your energy even after you’ve eaten, it’s time to find out why and how training has become counterproductive.
5. You’re having, what feels like, uncontrollable cravings for comfort foods.
Efficient training should go hand-in-hand with a healthy refueling to optimize results. If you have an uncontrollable craving for caffeine and sweet or salty carbohydrates, it is possible your body is craving these to compensate for exhaustion. According to human performance expert, Dr. Phil Maffetone, overtraining often leads to “abnormal hunger or cravings for sweets.”
6. You’re not completing your normal training routine.
You’re showing up, but are giving up a little too soon or just going through the motions. It’s a struggle even to get through it, and all you can think about is being done.
7. You’re experiencing behavioral changes like insomnia, depression, irritability or mood swings.
When you’re overtraining, your body’s systems go into overload. Hormones like cortisol and serotonin get out of sync which affects everything you do. Physical and emotional changes in behavior are an indication you probably need to take a step back from your training schedule.
8. You’re putting fitness before everything else in your life.
Training is important, but if you are consistently choosing your workouts over social engagements or even much-needed sleep, it might be time to reassess your goals and priorities.
Listen to your body. Our built-in protective mechanisms are there for a reason and will tell us what our body needs.
RELATED CONTENT: 5 Easy Tips for Smart and Sustainable Fitness
If you’re overtraining, plan a rest period. Maybe a day or two of no workouts at all or a few days of easy workouts will be all that you need. You may need several weeks. Gradually return to your regular fitness routine working toward your regular workouts once flexibility, strength and endurance have returned.
TIPS TO AVOID OVERTRAINING
- Take time to progress into your goals. By avoiding extremes you will workout stronger, run farther, make more progress and significantly reduce the risk of injury.
- Adding balance to your training decreases burnout and you’ll find yourself feeling more motivated and enjoying your training.
- Know your limits and avoid prolonged exertion.
I am a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor providing information for educational purposes only. This web site is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice and supervision of your personal physician. Consult with your physician if you have any concerns regarding your health.
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Have you experienced overtraining? Did you answer yes to any of these questions? Do you regularly include rest in your training plan?
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