Am I Training Too Hard? 5 Common Signs of Overtraining
Everyone knows being active and getting enough exercise is good for you. Countless studies have shown it to be true. But is there such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to exercise and training? Unfortunately, yes – and the signs of overtraining is something that you need to be on the lookout for!
In this article, we’ll tell you what overtraining is and 5 common symptoms you might experience if you are overtraining. And since there’s a fine line between training properly and overdoing your exercise, we’ll also tell you how to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard during your workouts. Let’s get right to it!
What is overtraining?
The term overtraining is quite literal; it refers to excessive amounts of working out. You could be training too hard, or too long or too often, preventing your body the time it needs to rest and recover. Rest and recovery is crucial to your body’s growth, improving strength and stamina.
But why do so many people end up pushing themselves too hard in the gym? It’s mainly because of the old thought that ‘more is better’, that the harder you train, the faster you’ll get results. While this is true, it’s only true up to a certain point. So what are some common signs and symptoms of overtraining?
5 Signs of Overtraining
1 – Decreased performance
A key sign of overtraining is decreased performance. Decreased performance can come in a variety of forms from decreased strength, endurance, stamina, flexibility, speed and reaction time. It can also come in the form of plateaus, where you’re no longer getting consistent results. It could be your strength isn’t increasing or your marathon times aren’t improving.
If you find yourself unable to do 5 pushups when you can normally do 15, it might be a sign that you’re working and training too hard.
2 – Chronic, nagging pains and aches
If you’re an active person, the occasional post workout pain and aches is quite normal. A common example of this is if it’s been a while since you last exercised and you’re currently feeling the crippling effect of DOMS.
However, if you’re always feeling muscle soreness and your body is always feeling a little sluggish or heavy (we’re talking weeks or months), it could be a sign that you’re overdoing it. If your pain doesn’t subside in two weeks, you should consider taking some time for complete rest and recovery..
3 – Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
If exercise and training naturally increases your heart rate, overtraining can push it past what is considered a normal resting heart rate. This is what makes falling asleep that much harder if your body is overtrained. It’s contrary to the thought that more exercise will help me sleep faster.
Your body will feel too restless and upbeat for you to easily fall asleep, leading to endless tossing and turning in bed. This only works to compound another significant symptom of overtraining: excessive fatigue.
4 – Excessive fatigue
Fatigue is normal in the world of fitness and exercise, but per the common theme of this article, too much is a bad thing. Regular exercise with a lack of recovery periods causes your fatigue to accumulate. Not only does this affect your performance in the gym or on the track, but it can also interfere with your daily life such as work or school. It’s why you need rest periods to fully recover and eliminate excessive fatigue.
5 – Mood swings
An unexpected sign of overtraining is excessive or frequent mood swings. When you exercise you trigger a hormone in your body called cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) to spike. The cortisol spike is beneficial as you exercise, giving you adrenaline and energy to complete a tough workout. The spike then drops after training.
However, if you’re always training, your cortisols never level out, which increases stress and negatively affects your mental health. This causes moods such as anxiety, depression or irritability.
How to prevent overtraining
So what are some ways to make sure you’re not always overdoing it?
Listen to your body
The symptoms we’ve listed above are all different ways of your body telling you that it’s currently overworked! It’s very important to listen to your body and notice when these symptoms pop up. Instead of pushing through the pain, listen to your body, take a step back and give yourself time to rest.
Rest and recovery
Speaking of rest, giving your body the time it needs to rest and recover will benefit your body in the long run. It’ll help rehabilitate current injuries, prevent new ones from happening and in the end, make you stronger, faster and more durable. Don’t be too worried about ‘losing gains’ either, studies have shown that you can take about three weeks off without losing muscle strength – plenty of rest for your body to recover from overtraining.
SMART fitness goals
Don’t blindly follow set workout routines or training programs. Make sure your routines are specific to you, your lifestyle and your body. To add on, make sure your goals are attainable, with small increases over time. All of this will help you workout within your means and prevent you from pushing yourself too hard. Consider working with a personal trainer or doing your own experimentation to do this.
Train smarter, not harder
Now is the time to ask yourself – am I overtraining? There’s a stark difference between working hard in the gym and working too hard. Hopefully the signs of overtraining we’ve listed will help you answer that question! Want more articles to improve your active, healthy lifestyle? Visit the OSIM Wellness Hub for more wellbeing-improving blogs now.