Is overtraining preventing you from reaching your goals?

We all know that exercise is good for you. Benefits include weight loss, stress relief, increased strength, and lower blood pressure. So if some exercise is good, then more must be better, right? Exercise is actually not exponentially beneficial. It is possible to overtrain and not only stall your progress, but cause injury, as well.

Overtraining occurs when your training volume or intensity is excessive for too long. This affects your body differently, based on the type of exercise that you’re doing. When workout volume becomes excessive, hormone levels may be affected, specifically testosterone and cortisol. When the intensity of the workouts are excessive, exercise-induced concentrations of catecholamines are elevated. These hormones are produced in a reaction to stress. Catecholamines elevate heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

So what does that all mean to you? How will you know if your hormone levels are out of sync? Without proper testing, you won’t know for sure. But if you aren’t quite ready for official tests, here’s a list of some basic symptoms you can watch out for:

  • Progress has stalled or weight loss plateaus
  • Decreased performance (this could be in any facet: strength, power, cardiovascular, or muscular endurance)
  • Decreased tolerance of your regular training routine
  • Increased respiratory and heart rate during submaximal exercise
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleeping and eating disorders
  • Menstrual disruptions
  • Muscle soreness or damage
  • Achy or painful joints
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity to stress
  • Decreased self-esteem, self-efficacy, or ability to concentrate
  • Increased occurrence of sickness
  • Decreased healing rate

If this is sounding familiar, then there are several steps to take that can decrease the effects of overtraining. (Although I should mention that you may not have all of these symptoms at once and having some of these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean you’re overtraining.) That being said, smart training from the start never hurt anyone!

  • First, give your body a break. Add at least one or more recovery days into each training week.
  • Find a training program that gradually increases your training in a sustainable way.
  • Switch up your routine: the same workouts day-in and day-out can not only be boring, but could also overwork some muscle groups, while you neglect others.
  • Be sure to follow a program where your volume of training and the intensity of your work is inversely related. So as your workload increases, the amount of time you spend doing the exercise should decrease, or vice-versa.
  • Avoid high-intensity and high-volume training for extended periods of time. Alternating can help your body avoid wear and tear.
  • Account for all cumulative training stresses: weight training, cardiovascular training, sport-specific training, etc. It’s easy to overdo it if these workouts are broken up throughout the day, but they can add up.

The final take-away? Be sure to listen to your body. If your performance decreases, or you have hit a plateau, that’s your body letting you know that it’s time to switch things up.


iFit Trainer

Emily Wiley

WARNING: This post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFit assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.