Fitness magazines have brainwashed us all. We are led to believe that in order to achieve a decent physique or improve performance, we need to dedicate all of our waking hours to training.
indeed, there are many people that just don't work out hard enough, or dedicate the necessary energies to improving their health. But it isn't rocket science either.
You might not achieve a body like an IFBB pro, but you can get in pretty good shape without training like one. And you certainly don't need to be in the gym seven days a week to make progress.
In fact, if you're training that much, you might be overdoing it.
And the sad thing is that most people who are overtraining never recognize that they are doing so. For them, it is just a routine, something that they usually do. But there are ways that you can identify if this is you- or at least with some external eyes.
You Constantly Feel Burnt Out
Being burned out is a sensation that has become too mainstream these days. Sadly, it is truly becoming more common as well. But how do you know you're burning the candle at both ends?
For starters, you now resent working out. Whereas in the beginning exercise brought a newfound joy to your life, it is now just a burden that you carry around.
The simple fact of having to go to the gym makes you tired. You would rather stay in bed than face another session of cardio, weightlifting, or whatever else you do to break a sweat.
Interestingly, burnout seems to originate at the level of the central nervous system (CNS). You might not even be physically tired, but the impulse to work out has been extinguished.
It's important to understand that this is different than just being lazy or unmotivated. You might not feel like going to the gym, but you go anyway because you know it's good for you. This is more like a genuine aversion to the activity.
Powerlifting programs without a scheduled deload week are a great example of this. The lifter is in the gym, killing it day after day, but they are not giving their body enough time to recover. This type of overtraining starts in the brain, and trickles down to the muscle-nerve junctions where you are simply unable to generate the force necessary to contract the muscle sufficiently.
This can happen with any type of exercise, mind you- not just weightlifting. Just try to run two marathons back to back and see this in action.
You Feel Tired All Day
Overtraining can also result in physical fatigue. You are just plain tired all the time, no matter how much sleep you get. It's not that you can't fall asleep, but rather that you wake up feeling exhausted. This is called non-restful sleep, and it is one of the first signs that you might be doing too much.
Of course, it could also be a sign of other issues like sleep apnea or an underactive thyroid. But if you are getting enough sleep and still feel exhausted during the day, it might be time to scale back on your training.
This physical fatigue can easily worsen to a psychological point, you feel depressed, or unmotivated all day long. In this case, you will require more than just "backing off" the exercise for a while, but also the help of a psychologist which might help you understand the feelings more thoroughly.
You Are Getting Sick More Often
If you find yourself getting sick more often, it is a surefire sign that you are overtraining. When you are constantly putting your body under stress, whether it is physical or psychological, your immune system suffers as a result.
It becomes weaker and weaker until it is unable to fight off even the most minor of illnesses. So, if you are constantly getting sick, or just seem to be coming down with something all the time, take a step back and re-evaluate your training regimen.
Injuries Become More Frequent
Injuries can manifest in small, non-significant ways, such as a tweaked muscle here or there. But if you find yourself constantly injured, it is a sign that you might be overtraining.
Your body is simply unable to keep up with the demands that you are putting on it, and as a result, something has to give. More often than not, that something is an injury.
If you are constantly getting injured, it is time to take a break and reassess your training. You might need to back off the intensity or frequency, or both. Don't wait for a critical injury that would sideline you for months before making a change.
You Are Not Seeing Results
Oftentimes, people will train harder and harder, thinking that more is better. But if you are not seeing results, it is a sign that you might be already going over your limit.
Your body can only handle so much stress, and if you are constantly putting it under duress without giving it time to recover, you will reach a point where your body says "enough is enough."
When this happens, you will stop seeing results, regardless of how hard you train. So, if you are not seeing results, despite putting in the work, it might be a sign that you are overtraining.
Your Performance Starts to Suffer
If you are overtraining, sooner or later it will start to show in your performance.
You might not be able to lift as much weight or run as fast. In fact, you might not be able to do anything that you could do before. This is because your body is simply too fatigued to perform at its best.
So, if you find yourself struggling to perform at the level that you used to, put the brakes on your training and take a step back. Otherwise, you might find yourself injured or sick, and unable to train at all.
Your Personal Life Takes A Backseat
This is usually one of the signs that your workouts are becoming of an obsessive nature, normally as a smaller part of body dysmorphic syndrome. People with symptoms of this disorder find themselves avoiding scenarios that involve going out and eating (as this might affect their diet), or prioritizing workout time above all else (including important life events).
Another sign is committing long distances on days typically reserved for family time, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas day, just to ensure you get your workout in. In some extreme cases, men avoid being intimate with their partners as the temporary reduction in testosterone levels is bad for their training.
Can You Fix Overtraining?
Yes, you absolutely can. In fact, as soon as there is a hint that this may be occurring, it is important for you to take corrective measures before a serious injury manifests.
Here are some proven steps you can take:
You might be surprised to hear that undereating is a major contributor to overtraining.
When you are not eating enough, your body does not have the fuel it needs to recover from your workouts. As a result, you will find yourself getting sick more often, and taking longer to recover from workouts.
Plus, what you eat is just as important as how much. There is no way you get the same level of nutrition munching down a large burger and fries, as you would with steamed veggies, brown rice, and steak/chicken.
This is why if you are honest and know for a fact that your nutritional state is subpar, start by creating a solid nutritional base. Then, add a nutrient-rich superfood powder like Field Of Greens and see what it's like to really feel your best!
We understand that gaining weight isn't highly desired, especially when it happens in the form of fat, but if you are not eating enough, you are actually putting your body into a catabolic state, where it will start to break down muscle for energy.
increase calories consumed daily by 500 or so and see how your body responds. If you start putting on too much fat, then simply lower it back a notch to hit the sweet spot.
This goes hand in hand with eating more. When you are not getting enough sleep, your body does not have the time it needs to recover from your workouts.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But, if you are training hard, you might need even more than that.
Always remember- sleep is a master reset switch for the human body. When you don't get enough, everything starts to suffer, including your workouts.
Just can't seem to get sufficient rest? That's what natural sleep aides are for. We do not recommend opting for prescription meds unless the safer remedies don't work for you. We highly recommend DREAMZZZ.
Foam Roll and Stretch
This is something that a lot of people neglect, but it is important for keeping your muscles healthy and injury-free.
When you foam roll, you are essentially giving yourself a deep tissue massage. This helps to break up any knots or adhesions in your muscles that might be causing pain or limiting your range of motion. Not to mention that it stimulates blood flow, and can improve oxygen and nutrient delivery, while simultaneously helping to remove waste products like lactic acid.
Stretching is also important for keeping your muscles healthy. When you stretch, you are lengthening your muscles and improving your range of motion. This can help to prevent injuries, and also make you more flexible and less prone to soreness.
Both foam rolling and stretching should be done on a regular basis, especially if you are training hard.
Take a Break
This is probably the last thing you want to hear, but if you are overtraining, the single best thing you can do is take a break. Not reducing the amount of work you do, but stopping completely for a short period.
However, you can still get away with a little cardio such as walking or cycling, but nothing too taxing.
Taking a one-week deload, which in some instances- especially if you follow a strict program, can include working at about 50% capacity is preferred, but since many athletes wait too long for this, taking the entire week off may be the best approach you can take.
Catch up on sleep- eat some food for crying out loud! Also, take a break from supplements containing stimulants, as these train your nervous system and adrenals to work overtime.
We get it- people feel that the hardest worker will always win. Yes, you shouldn't be a slouch; but overdoing it never truly allows you to enjoy the spoils of war. It is recommended to work out in 12-week intervals, followed by a 1-week deload.
Always be sure to get adequate nutrition and sleep, and while you're hitting those workouts hard, supplement with Foundation and bust through those PRs!