Many people who are seriously involved in workout programs tend to follow the notion that if some is good more is better. Unfortunately this is definitely not the case. Trying to either do too much too soon for the beginner or not giving yourself enough rest and recuperation for the advanced exerciser can lead to a serious condition called overtraining.
Overtraining is a well-known condition in the world of athletics. With athletes training long hours on a daily basis many of them are lacking the nutritional, sleep, and stress reduction support they need to ensure they are recovering. When this builds over time the body simply cannot keep up and you will see their performance levels start to suffer as overtraining symptoms take place.
Overtraining does not only apply to athletes however. An individual who is simply making the dedication to become more fit and hitting the gym 5-6 times a week may run into problems as well. This is compounded if the program they are on is not carefully thought out to allow both light days and full rest days.
Additionally, with any workout program, after 6-8 weeks you should allow a period of about a week of total rest where you are only performing recreational type activity. This will go a long way to reducing your chances of overtraining and giving your body some much needed time for repair.
Many people shy away from these full weeks off because they think they will begin to see a loss of strength when in fact the exact opposite is what often occurs. When you are exercising you are actually breaking down the muscle tissue thus making it weaker. It’s when you allow this muscle rest that you see it grow back stronger. So if you are not taking time off during your weekly workouts then you will just continue to tear it down further with contributes to the overtraining effect. When your body does finally have a chance to rest on your recovery week you will see a great increase in strength since it will have finally healed itself.
It’s very important that you pay attention to how you are feeling during your workouts as this will help you to see whether or not you may be crossing the threshold into overtraining. Some symptoms that you need to back off and give yourself a few easier or rest days are:
- generally feelings of fatigue throughout your workouts and during the day
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- reduced desire to participate in activities formerly enjoyed
- depression (in more serious cases)
- increased frequency of colds or other illnesses
- persistent injuries or muscle soreness
- increased resting heart rate upon wakening
- decreased desire for training
If you notice any one of these symptoms it’s a good idea to look after yourself. If overtraining is left to progress you may place yourself in a position where you need to take weeks if not months off to recovery. It is much easier to take preventative measures rather wind up full-blown overtrained. So long as you follow a properly planned exercise program and ensure your nutritional and stress concerns are taken care of then you should have no problems avoiding overtraining in it’s entirety.