Its probably one of the most misunderstood concepts when it comes to working out…the entire concept of overtraining! Most of us will just chalk it up to having a bad day at the gym and we’ll get back at it tomorrow. Could it be something else other than just a “bad gym day”? Lets take a closer look!
Overtraining frequently occurs in athletes and fitness professionals who are training for competition or a specific event and train beyond the body’s ability to recover. Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. But without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.
Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in both physical and psychology symptoms of overtraining.
Signs of Overtraining:
Common Warning Signs and Symptoms to watch out for:
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Sudden drop in performance
- Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
- Decrease in training capacity / intensity
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
- Decreased appetite
- Increased incidence of injuries.
- A compulsive need to exercise
A Cure For Overtraining:
One quick and simple way to avoid overtraining…Rest!
Your body needs rest after lifting weights to allow your muscles to recover and grow. When strength training, don’t work the same muscle group two days in a row. Allow at least one day of rest before working the same muscle group again, more if you’re lifting very heavy weight.
For cardio, you may be wondering if it’s okay to do it every day. That will depend on your intensity and the activity you’re doing. It’s not a great idea to do the same workout everyday as that can lead to both overtraining and repetitive stress injuries. You also shouldn’t do intense and difficult workouts, such as high intensity interval training every day of the week, since that will also eventually cause problems.
If you want to exercise every day, go for it. Just make sure you work at a variety of intensities to work different energy systems and avoid overloading any one energy system. For example, if you usually run and bike every day, try light walking or swimming on other days. These ‘recovery’ workouts will help you stay fresh and the cross-training will help you avoid injuries and prevent overtraining your body.
Doing too much too soon can also lead to overtraining and injuries. If you’re a beginning runner, don’t attempt to run too much your first time out. Start with a walking/running program and slowly build up your running time each week. For lifting weights, you want to progress each week, but you don’t want to add so much weight that your body can’t handle it.
- Warm up before your workout. Proper warm-up can help prevent injuries.
- Fuel up after exercise. Your body needs energy to recover and that comes from food. A combination of carbs, protein and fat will give your body the energy it needs.
- Stretch. Tight muscles can often cause other muscles of your body to overcompensate, which can cause injury over time and lead to overtraining.
- Schedule recovery days into your weekly routine. Listen to your body. If you’re 10 minutes into your workout and you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, go back home and rest or do a light yoga workout.
- Get adequate sleep.
Training towards a goal can be very rewarding, and when seeing the results form, it’s hard to believe that one may ever go back to their old habits. The last thing we want is to sabotage this by overtraining. Allow yourself to take a break from time to time and listen to your body. It’s when we rest that we prevent overtraining, the body has time to recover, rebuild, and come back stronger then before!
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