So you’re in the beginning stages of your new found fitness journey or you’re training for some physically demanding event such as a marathon, CrossFit competition, or a Triathlon and you’re falling in love with the process. You’re wanting to workout and train more and more, so much that you may ignore the fact that you’re sore, maybe a little fatigued, and just feeling beat up! Sometimes this could just be normal wear and tear on the body but other times, this could mean that you are experiencing this little thing by the name of Overtraining Syndrome and this is a whole other beast entirely!
Overtraining syndrome is the result of constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery and rehabilitation. Meaning that your training volume far exceeds your recovery volume. This can be VERY detrimental to folks who are training for a specific event or folks who are chasing goals in and out of the gym. Over time, this cycle of starting the next training session before allowing recovery causes breakdown of the very parts of the body that you work so hard to build up.
Just as your body needs proper training methods, your body also needs proper nutrition and planned rest in order to rebuild parts of the body that have been under stress in training. This includes your muscles, bones, heart, and lungs. Your body is a very intelligent machine, it can and will adapt to the stress demands that you place on it. Meaning that if your workout slightly exceeds what your body can handle in that point in time, it will adapt in a positive manner (progressive overload is a great example of this). However, if your workout drastically exceeds what your body can handle at that point in time, it can be very detrimental to your success by leading to injury and increasing the demand of recovery time. I don’t have to tell you that this is not a smart training tactic at all!
So let’s talk about common signs that might hint that you have overtrained your body and how we can avoid this in the future:
- Elevate Resting Heart Rate – In a rested state, your heart rate should range anywhere from 60 – 100 beats per minute (bpm). Usually, the fitter you are, the lower this number will be. If overtraining has occurred, this number will be 10-15 bpm faster than normal. This can also mean that your body is working harder to fight off early stages of illness (we will learn about this later).
- Prolonged Muscle Soreness – We’ve all been sore before and muscle soreness is very common in our field. However, if your soreness from a particular workout or event is still present 72 hours later, this is a sign that you might be overtrained.
- Sleep Quality and Insomnia – If you are going to bed absolutely exhausted but are having trouble falling asleep this can be linked to hormonal and nervous systems working in overload to fix the damage inflicted on your body. This can cause you to experience severe fatigue and overall grogginess throughout the day and leading into another training session.
- Regularly Feeling Sick or Under The Weather – Your body has this genius system built in to protect you from viruses and illnesses, this is called your immune system. If your body is overtrained, you may not be able to produce enough energy to properly fuel your immune system.
- Emotional Changes and Mood Swings – Due to the stress put on your body during training, your hormone levels can be impacted. It’s not unusual to find you suffer some emotional changes including a lack of concentration or focus on tasks, low self-esteem, poor motivation or even depression.
- Injuries – If you feel that you’re constantly finding small nagging injuries, this could be that your body is sending you a sign that it needs a rest.
- Poor Performance – One of the easiest ways to spot overtraining is to track your workouts, which is something that we do on a regular basis here. If you have three to four sessions in a row where you feel slower, you can’t increase the weight you’re lifting for a few weeks, or if you’re failing to complete sets, then these could mean you’re overdoing it.
- Loss of Weight But Retaining Body Fat Mass – Simply put, your body is so exhausted that it does not have the ability to grow or repair muscle and instead your muscular system will deplete itself. Sounds a little counterproductive, huh?.
These are just a few of the caution signs that your body will throw out to let you know that it needs a break. Now that we are aware of what the signs and risks are. Let’s talk about how we can avoid running into any of the above or putting ourselves at risk and how we can maximise our training and see great results:
- Plan Regular Rest Days – Build rest days and deload weeks into your training schedule. You don’t have to worry about that here at 926 because, well, your coaches plan that ahead of time for you!
- Document and Journal Workouts – Keep a record of how you feel after each workout, both physically and emotionally. If you repeat workouts how does this compare to your first attempt?
- Sleep – I can’t stress this ENOUGH, getting quality sleep is the KEY to proper recovery and training output. Physical recovery happens between 10pm-2am so getting some early nights in will aid your recovery enormously. Trust me, I was not a believer in this until my performance started slipping. Then it was too late!
- Proper Nutrition – There are many benefits to having a healthy diet including proper recovery. If you’re participating in hefty functional fitness workouts, proper nutrition is a MUST in your recovery processes. You can’t eat processed foods and burgers and expect to feel great. Throw some greens and healthy proteins in your diet for optimal results and reconstruction of your body! Make sure you plan your meals to ensure you’re refueling effectively and getting the correct amount of nutrients in your diet.
To bring all of this to a conclusion, working out and training should always be geared towards making you happier and putting your health first. If working out brings about negative effects such as moodiness, sleep disturbances, injuries, decrease in performance, and other symptoms, you should really sit back and ask yourself, “What is the point of this?”
Working out and training should be a celebration of your abilities and capabilities, let’s make sure that we listen to our bodies and allow them to perform when we want them to. Now go take a rest day!!