There are SO many benefits of exercise, but how much is too much? It’s possible to train so much that you start harming your body rather than benefiting it, but how do you know where the line is? What are the signs of overtraining and how do you avoid it?
There’s a difference between soreness and true overtraining. You can expect a lot of soreness when you’re training hard – especially at the beginning. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – it’s completely normal and a good indicator that you’re pushing yourself.
True overtraining, on the other hand, is when you train your body past its ability to repair itself. This can present itself in a number of ways. The main symptoms include:
· Muscle aches/soreness
· Noticeable drop in performance
· More moody than usual
· Increased resting heart rate
· Loss of enthusiasm for training
If you experience unusual symptoms, it would be a good idea to see a doctor - this article is no substitute for medical advice - but it is possible that the cause is from overtraining. In the case of overtraining, you should look to reduce your training load and to increase your rest periods.
There are a number of ways to avoid overtraining, or to help adjust if you suspect you have been overtraining:
· Get a personal trainer
A good trainer or coach will be able to work with you to plan an appropriate workout routine to help you reach your goals without you overtraining. They will also be able to answer your questions or concerns about your training should they come up. Working together with a professional is a good way to safely reach your goals without burning out, and with a good level of support.
· Make sure you are taking rest days
When you get into the groove of a workout routine, it can be tempting to want to workout every day. You feel so good when you do it, and you want more! I completely get it! I personally tend to feel restless and anxious when I don’t work out – but it’s important to give your body time to rest. I try to take at least one rest day per week, but make it an active rest day and make sure I do something like go for a walk. Resting is just as important as working out in order to reach your goals, so make sure you make it a priority!
· Listen to your body
Your body is very clever – you should listen to it! If you’re feeling excessively sore, sluggish or fatigued don’t just assume you need to work through it. Take some time to evaluate your routine and make changes if necessary (and also see a medical professional if you think you need to!).
· Monitor your heart rate
A symptom of overtraining is an increase in your resting heart rate. In general, when you’re exercising your resting heart rate should decrease. If it goes the other way, it could be a sign that you’re overdoing it. Although they aren’t always completely accurate, something like a FitBit can be a helpful guide to understand and monitor your heart rate.
· Eat enough
You need to make sure that your nutrition is supporting your goals. In general, you need to be in calorie surplus if you want to build muscle and in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Make sure you are eating the right kinds of foods to support your training and, if you are looking to lose weight, don’t put yourself in more than a 500 calorie deficit per day.
· Get enough sleep
Last, but by no means least, get enough sleep! Sleep is so underrated, and so so so important! It is when you’re sleeping that your body repairs and heals itself – which is a vital part of the training process. Make sure you aren’t sacrificing your sleep when trying to reach your goals!