Overtraining: excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training that results in extreme fatigue, illness, or injury and most times linked to lack of sufficient rest, recovery, and nutrient intake. For the athlete, “overtraining” is an easy word to understand. Others do better with calling it “under-recovering.” Both can be summed up by doing too much, too fast, too soon, or just overloading your body is fully ready for more.
On the short-term scale, we call it “overreaching” and you’re better in a few days, and the main boundary push was planned out by your training program anyways. THIS IS OKAY, this is SAFE.
During these times where gyms are closed, and exercised is place on a solo emphasis and you are your own personal trainer, it can be hard to know when to stop. If “overreaching” However, continues beyond a comfortable timeframe, we can classify it as overtraining. This can happen with both aerobic and anaerobic (resistance training) exercise.
These 6 SIGNS are ways your body tells you it’s had too much:
- Heart rate changes: This is one of the first sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) responses noted and can be easily tracked with wearables these days. Elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure are both signs your body is on overdrive. Your heart rate is high without exercise, and takes longer to come down afterwards.
- Exhaustion: You’re not producing as much power or force with exercise. With decreased motor coordination, performance seems to be declining. Emotional and sleep disturbances leave you feeling tired, you’re restless at night, and caffeine just doesn’t help the days.
- Altered Immune function: You’re getting sick more often or feel under the weather more frequently than usual. Some research has found changes in immune cell levels can leave you more susceptible to illness. Increased cortisol levels or chronically lowered cortisol levels can also impact your ability to fight off a small cold.
- Mood Changes: You feel moody, less motivated Your usual moods are more extreme or new ones are introduced. 🙁 Lower motivation, lower energy, just ho-hum about things.
- Injury: I see this one the most. Muscles just aren’t prepared for the volume being thrown at them, tendons start to act up and strains can happen. Soreness and pain doesn’t go away after a warm up or after a few days. That “one small tweak” just seems to be getting worse.
- Appetite: It’s all linked — but changes in hormone levels can change your appetite, too. Loss of or changes in appetite compared to normal. Changes in gastric hormones and cortisol levels have been linked to overtraining.
Now, overtraining may have to happen for a few months before these actually manifest and sometimes show up in less time. However, it’s worth noting how your body lets you know it needs a break. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.