Overtraining Can Be Very Dangerous To You
The goal of the progressive exercise is to stress the body’s muscles enough to make them stronger. However, as with most things in life, excessive exercise can be just as harmful if your body is not given adequate time to recover.
Every day, thousands of people put themselves in harm’s way by doing something healthy: exercising. They hit the track, gym, court or pool with such determination they hurt themselves, burn-out, or simply stop making progress. I know all that because I have been there.
Excessive exercise also known as overtraining can lead to injuries and may cause a syndrome of physical, mental, psychological symptoms and even death in extreme cases. Overtraining is just as big a risk for seasoned athletes as it is for people new to exercise.
1. What is overtraining?
Overtraining is when a person exercises at an intensity, quantity, and duration that is more than his body can recover from. It is more than just one extra tough workout. Overtraining happens when there is a pattern of repeated, excess exercise without proper rest intervals. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to make this mistake. It can happen to the average fitness buff, too.
2. How do you know if you are overtraining?
Some people like to refer to this situation as overtraining, but it can just easily be called under-recovering. If you are wondering if you are currently overtraining/under-recovering, obvious signs are an abrupt injury like a sprain or damaged knee. Less obvious physical symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- Chronic muscle and/or joint pain
- Frequent musculoskeletal injuries
- Frequent colds and infections
- General tiredness or easily fatigued
- Experiencing occasional muscle and eyelid twitches
- Elevated resting heart rate and/or higher blood pressure
- Excess weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Poor sleep or insomnia
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Loss of motivation or interest in working out.
- Instead of getting easier, your workouts seem to be getting tougher.
- Most important of all, you are making NO progress and getting NO result for an extended period of time.
If these signs of overtraining hit a little too close to home, I’d suggest taking an entire week off from all forms of exercise and spend that time fixing everything you are doing wrong.
3. Guidelines to avoid overtraining and allow for optimal recovery
- The Rule of 10: Only increase distance, intensity, weight, speed, length of any exercise activity by no more than ten percent every two weeks.
- Schedule rest days: Five days of exercise per week is substantial but depends on the intensity of your workouts. If you are exercising more than that, make sure some days are easy days and be sure to take at least one or two days off per week from everything.
- Crosstrain: Playing the same sports, using the same machines, or never changing the same old routine can overtrain some muscles and leave others at risk for injuries. Strengthen all muscles by varying your routine, and cross training with different sports. For example, if you are a runner, spend some time on a bike or swimming. If you are a weightlifter, fit in some yoga, pilates or cardio.
- Don’t train too long: One hour max is sufficient if you have a proper workout split and if you use an optimal amount of volume in your workout routine.
Are you running your body ragged? These tips and advice should help expose and correct your mistakes. Don’t place unreasonable demands on your body to the point of overtraining. Why? Because it is not just your muscles that need to rest and recover, it’s your entire body as a whole from your joints to your tendons, to your central nervous system. And this is a point most people miss completely or just ignore altogether.