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Are you Overtraining?

No matter how you are training, whether it be playing a sport, weight lifting, running, creating your own workouts - rest and recovery is essential. Rest is a key part of any exercise program! Without adequate rest which the body needs between training sessions, you are placing yourself at a high risk of overtraining, fatigue, and possible increase of injury/injury recurrence.

What are the signs you could be overtraining? 

Extreme muscle soreness 
Constantly feeling intense muscle soreness during or after the session, you find hard to recover or it is stopping you from performing other normal daily tasks. You may find you have an increased soreness from one session to the next.

Inability to finish your training sessions 
Being unable to complete your sessions and finding yourself too fatigued or physically unable to carry on. You may also be finding it hard to get to the intensity you would usually train at, you may want to check your heart rate to track this.

Fatigue or Insomnia 
Finding yourself constantly tired, lethargic, or unable to perform to your fullest. You may also find you are struggling to sleep or your general quality of sleep is affected. This could impact the quality of your training which may place you at a higher risk of injury. This could be from overtraining or non-efficient fuel from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats causing the body to gain energy from its own energy stores.

Increased illness
You are getting more colds or headaches etc. than normal. This could be a sign you are placing your body under an unbeneficial amount of stress. You may also find you are experiencing more injuries, chronic injuries, therefore, finding it harder to recover from these.

Changes in resting HR 
Noticing an increase in your resting heart rate by 8-10bpm could be a sign that you're overtraining and fatigued. It's best to check in the morning when you wake up and track that to see if there are any alterations.

The decrease in overall performance 
Noticing a change in your performance overall in your training sessions. You may be noticing strength and endurance changing, times, or personal bests decreasing.

Irritability or low mood
Exercise is shown to be a natural anti-depressant and mood lifter. If you are overtraining, however, can affect the body's stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine. This could cause mood swings and irritability which could lead to lack of sleep etc. and vice versa.

Loss of appetite
Naturally the more we train the higher are appetite goes in order to fuel and replenish our body and muscles. The opposite can happen when we are overtraining and due to the physiological exhaustion we experience appetite suppression.

Metabolic changes
You may be experiencing nutrient deficiencies or medical problems involving the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine, nervous, or reproductive system. A lot of women may lose their regular period cycles or period altogether.

Reduced sex drive 
Due to exhaustion your hormones and libido may be altered decreasing your sexual drive for men and women. This leads to an uninterest in sexual activity and could relate to other factors such as mood changes or exhaustion.

Swollen lymph nodes 
You may find an increase in the swelling of your lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, groin if you are overtraining.

I'm not saying if you have one or two of these symptoms it 100% means you are overtraining. You may be able to point out you have more than one and it connects directly to the fact you are overtraining or notice there has been an intense change in your current training program.

What are the causes of overtraining? 

Not allowing adequate recovery between training sessions or overtraining certain muscles.

All of your sessions are too intense 
If all of your sessions are high intensity 1 to 2-hour workouts every day. Then you are more than likely going to experience overtraining and the symptoms above. Having a healthy balance is key.

Poor nutrition 
If you are not fuelling your body enough or with the right types of food you could be placing your body under more stress as your body isn't getting enough fuel in order to function correctly.

If you are bored, especially at the moment, training and exercise may be the only thing for you to do. Not having enough rest days or balancing the type of workouts you're doing i.e the intensity could be placing you at risk for overtraining.

Increasing load/intensity too quickly 
If you have increased the intensity or amount of your workouts suddenly and too quickly without a gradual overload your body is being placed under too much stress too quickly.

What can you do to prevent overtraining? 

You need to rest, that's inevitable. You've more than likely have fallen into overtraining by not have the rest your body needs. You may need some time off of training altogether to give you body full recovery or you may need to reduce the intensity of your current training sessions.

Have appropriate rest days and a balanced training program!  
Following the above, you don't want to fall back into the state of overtraining you need to ensure your training program is appropriate. Whether you've been given it by a coach or yourself, make sure there is adequate and sufficient rest as well as your sessions.

Make sure each muscle group has adequate rest!
Especially if you are weight training, make sure that you don't train your legs 3 days in a row. That muscle is only going to fatigue and not going to perform as efficiently. Ensure your split is set out so each muscle gets a good 1 to 2 days rest.

Make sure you are eating enough to fuel your training. Having the right balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats is going to give you the energy to perform at your best.

Making sure you are getting a good balance within your training, rest and nutrition can have that big overall impact on how you perform, think and train!


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