Believe it or not, one of the biggest challenges that people face after starting a successful workout routine is overtraining. Not only is exercise highly addictive, many of us have an unnatural fear of giving up the significant gains we’ve made if we don’t continue to push ourselves harder at the gym. While this mentality can prove to be an asset when first getting into shape, it can also later lead to problems that are the result of actually working out too much. It is important to let your body rest and heal if you want to continue to make progress, as overdoing it can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and even injury. Here are six telltale signs that you may be training too hard and too often.
If your body is sore all of the time it may be because you are overtraining. Some soreness is to be expected after a tough workout of course, but those aches and pains should pass within a few hours, or at most a day or two. If you find that your body is sore all of the time it is probably because you are not giving it enough time to recover. This can lead to muscle fatigue that can eventually end up slowing you down, and might even prevent you from reaching your fitness goals.
Restless nights and an inability to sleep can often be the result of overtraining. A tough workout will stimulate the nervous system, and can lead to increased hormone production, both of which can have an impact on your ability to get a good night sleep. Your body may tell you that it is ready to rest, but that doesn’t mean you’ll actually get the deep sleep you need to recover and build muscle. This makes it difficult to continually maintain the energy levels necessary to get you through a workout too.
Do you have nagging injuries that just never seem to go away? Have you had muscle pulls, foot pain, or a sore back that just don’t seem to want to heal? These injuries are often the result of working out too much, and the fact that they aren’t getting any better is probably because you aren’t giving your body the proper time it needs to recover. Worse yet, overtraining can lead to new injuries too, as your tired muscles struggle to keep up with the demands that you continually place on them.
Getting Sick More Often
Overtraining can put a strain on your immune system, which can in turn result in you getting sick more often. A weakened immune system doesn’t have the strength to fight off common ailments, such as the flu or even the common cold. This can also lead to persistent coughs, congestion, or even headaches, which might not be bad enough to leave you bedridden, but can lower your performance in just about every aspect of your life.
Lack of Energy or Motivation
If you find yourself running out of steam throughout the day, or lacking in motivation to go the gym at all, it could be because your body is telling you that it needs more time to recover. Overtraining can lead to a malaise that makes it very difficult to muster up any enthusiasm to exercise, potentially creating a plateau that could stall out your progress towards attaining your fitness goals.
You’re No Longer Seeing Positive Results
Many people end up overtraining because they feel that if they take too many days off they will put on weight or lose muscle mass. It turns out that overtraining can cause those things to happen too as the body struggles to maintain a healthy balance within itself. Working out too much can actually reduce the production of testosterone in both men and women, while also increasing the amount of cortisol that is created as well. This can actually result in the retention of fat and an increased resistance to insulin. In other words, you may end up struggling just to maintain your level of physical fitness, but you are also just as likely to lose muscle and gain fat too.
So what is the solution to combating overtraining? It may seem counter-intuitive, but by simply taking a day or two off each week, and scheduling a lighter workout day, you can avoid most of the problems listed above. Also, don’t be afraid to skip an extra day or two here and there just to give your body a break from the routine. In the long run, those missed days won’t have any measurable impact on your level of fitness, but they could do wonders for keeping you refreshed and motivated.