Working out is great for health and wellbeing; however, there is such a thing as too much of a good habit. While hitting the gym regularly is beneficial, it's important to know the signs of overtraining and how it can be negatively affecting your body, mind, and bones over time, as explained by experts at ACE (American Council On Exercise). There is a tendency to work out too much or too hard, and when this happens, the wonderful benefits can backfire.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding exercise that uplifts them, provides great stress-relief, and is easy to stick with long-term. I always advice varying exercise routines, such as alternating between running, kickboxing, yoga, and elliptical training throughout the week, with bouts of strength training and body work tied in, in order to beat boredom and to keep the body in shock. Such variety can lead to greater results. So, if I notice any of these symptoms in my clients, I always make a note to bring it up and ask how their routine is going in order to see if there's a need to slow down. Here are 11 ways to know that you're overtraining and need to give the body some rest and love.
1. You Stop Seeing Progress
In interview with Bustle, Courtney Paul, "celebrity trainer at RIPPED Fitness in NYC and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York," says that "usually the more work you put into something the more rewards you obtain, but with the body the same rules do not apply. Constantly training will show some results in the beginning, but without adequate rest — a plateau in performance will start unless one takes the time needed to allow the body recover." If you hit a rut, slow down.
2. You Work Out Daily
Taking a day off each week could be really beneficial, advises Paul. "The average body requires about 36 hours of rest before it should be trained again. The average person should take one day off and completely relax because health and wellness is more than just about the body,' Paul says. "A day away from any forms of physical training is good for the mind and resetting the mental drive," Paul adds.
3. You Are Chronically Sore
Paul says that feeling chronically sore and stiff in your muscles is a sign of overtraining. It can also be exacerbated by lack of massage and stretching post-workout, Paul advises. To prevent such strain, Paul says, "professional massages and acupuncture can also help the body repair itself, but for those who cannot get this treatment weekly, stretching, foam-rolling, and soaking in a hot tub can be done daily."
4. You Experience Change In Mood
Paul says that "irritability, depression, and lack in motivation" are three indicators that you could be overtraining and pushing yourself too far. Endorphins from exercise boost mood and happiness, Paul explains, but if too much exercise is involved, it can lead to stress and poor mood instead. Take note of your reactions to people and situations and see how you feel on a daily basis in order to consider if you might need a break.
5. You Have An Elevated Resting Heart Rate
Paul explains that an elevated resting heart rate could be a sign that you're overtraining, and this can be worrisome to health and wellbeing over time, unless a change occurs that can help lower it back to a neutral state. When you work out too much, your heart rate is persistently higher, and it's something that can easily be checked with a few counts.
6. You Have Less Flexibility
"Flexibility is just as important as strength," says Reebok trainer PJ Stahl over email with Bustle. "Start working on your flexibility every day you workout. Imagine if your body cannot do a specific range of motion for a movement. If you try to force your body through that range of motion, your body is going to compensate and deviate. This stress can cause injury," Stahl warns. If you're unable to move properly, your muscles might need rest and recovery.
7. You Lack Focus At Work
The effects can extend past the gym and into the workplace, advises personal trainer and owner of South Loop Strength & Conditioning, Todd Nief, over email with Bustle. When he experienced overtraining, Nief looks back and says, "I also noticed that I was having a hard time focusing and getting anything done while working." If you notice mental fog and inability to concentrate, it might mean your body is working too hard and needs down time.
8. You're Losing Muscle
According to Obi Obadike, TV Host, Celebrity Fitness and Nutrition Expert & Trainer as a guest blogger on Bodybuilding, you lose muscle when you are training too much and not giving the body adequate rest. Obadike explained that the body builds muscle when it has time to heal, and if you notice yourself losing muscle and becoming looser or less toned, it might be due to excess cardio and training sessions.
9. You Wake Up Feeling Tired With Enough Hours
Over email with Bustle, Susie Lemmer, running coach and personal trainer, explains that if you feel tired each morning, even with adequate sleep of between 7-9 hours nightly, then it might be a sign that your body is tired for excess training and is fighting chronic fatigue. If you're getting enough sleep and still feel tired, try slowing down.
10. Your Hormones Are Imbalanced
Over interview with Active, Dave Scott, fitness and nutrition consultant and Active expert, explained how your hormones will become imbalanced when you are experiencing symptoms of overtraining in your workout regimen. He explained how blood work can highlight these measures, so testing with your physician is a great way to check. He also said amino acid levels will be low, which will lead to muscle fatigue and lack of repair.
11. You Get Sick More Often
As a contributor to Built Lean, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Stephen Bergeron, CSCS, said that your immune system weakens when you're overtraining, causing you to feel sick more often. If you notice you're feeling under the weather more frequently, it might be due to excess stress from working out too much at the gym.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your body, it could be a result of a rigorous exercise session that might be messing with your hormones, mood, muscles, energy levels, sleep, and immune system. Complications can lead to health problems over time, so if you notice such experiences, dial back your workouts, and give your body some adequate rest.
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