Don’t Let Overtraining Derail Your Progress
When you start working out, whether you’re preparing for a triathlon or pumping iron in order to bulk up for a competition, you may find that early successes give you the motivation you need to push harder, exceed your boundaries, and reach your fitness goals. And anything that helps you to stay on track when all you want to do is veg out on the couch with a bowl of pasta is a good thing.
Of course, there’s always the chance that you’ll get a little over-zealous with your training and end up doing more harm than good. So if you’ve been putting a lot more into your exercise routine than normal and you’re starting to wonder if you’re overtraining, here are a few signs that could help you to determine if you should forge ahead or take a breather.
- Pain. Your body will let you know when you’re over-stressing it, and it will most likely do so by sending pain signals to your brain. The trick for any fitness buff is to know the difference between mild symptoms like discomfort and muscle aches and more serious symptoms like physical pain. And when your adrenaline is pumping you might not be able to tell. It may only be later on, when the damage has already been done, that you realize your mistake. So it’s important to listen carefully to the signals your body is sending. Otherwise you could wind up setting yourself back significantly with an unnecessary injury.
- Fatigue. It should come as no surprise that overworking your body will result not only in achy muscles, but in overall fatigue. But beyond a regular sort of tiredness, you could start to feel sluggish and unresponsive, both physically and mentally, leading to a state of chronic fatigue. Even with the right diet such symptoms may present themselves if you continue to engage in overtraining. And since this state of affairs can definitely put the kibosh on further training, you’ll want to nip it in the bud.
- Insomnia. You might think that pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion would make you sleep better, but your intense or prolonged activity can actually trigger the sympathetic nervous system (which controls the fight-or-flight response), leaving you feeling restless, hyper, and unable to concentrate. Unfortunately, it can also keep you up at night, contributing to ongoing fatigue and making it harder for your body to recover.
- Injury. The most obvious negative impact of overtraining is injury. When you push yourself too hard for too long, your body is going to suffer, and this could mean sprains, strains, tears, and possibly even broken bones. In short, you could handicap yourself temporarily or even permanently, completely disrupting your progress towards fitness goals. By cutting back a little you may be more likely to go the distance.
- Extreme and rapid weight change. Many athletes change their diet in order to reach their fitness goals more quickly, whether they are cutting or bulking. You may include a daily vitamin or protein supplement or try out a natural appetite suppressant. And of course, you’ll devote yourself to a targeted exercise routine. But if you undergo rapid weight loss or gain in the process there’s a good chance you’re overdoing it and you could wind up with serious health problems as a result.