Overtraining, in its simplest definition, is training too hard for too long which causes negative reactions in the human body. Some of the symptoms of overtraining include an extended plateau of performance (or even a drop in performance), elevated resting and exercising heart rate, continuous muscle soreness (that doesn’t dissipate), loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, feeling tired and lethargic, and even depression and lack of general motivation. So let's delve in and determine if you could possibly be someone who is overtraining!
First thing to look at is your workout routine. How many days per week do you exercise? How long are your workouts? What types of exercises are you performing?
If you are working out two times per day and 6-7 days per week, there is a very good chance you are overtraining. There is simply no real reason to have to train that much (unless you are an athlete or training for something very particular that requires such training methods). But can you overtrain if working out just once per day? That answer depends on the length and intensity of your workouts. If you workout for 2 hours straight at a very high intensity, then do it again every day, you could very well be overtraining. For most people exercising roughly 45 minutes to an hour a day, 4 to 5 days per week is the sweet spot which will prevent overtraining regardless of how intense your workouts are.
Next we have to consider your daily routine.
Do you work a very active job in construction where you are lifting heavy object and doing manual labor 8 hours a day THEN going to the gym every day after that? Or do you sit at a desk behind a computer for 8 hours? In this example, it is much much easier for the construction worker to be overtraining than it is the office worker. What about outside of work? Do you like to run/bike/walk many miles each day THEN go workout with a high intensity, or are you mostly inactive throughout your day besides your exercise sessions? Fact is, if you are not super active throughout the day then it is not likely that you are overtraining, regardless of how intense your workouts are.
Next let's look at your sleep and rest patterns.
One of the most important aspects of recovery is your sleep, and almost nobody gets the required 7-8 hours per night to recover completely. If you are feeling any of the symptoms of overtraining, sleep is the first place I would look to try and make changes… I can guarantee it will help!
Rest days from the gym are also an important thing to consider. You should be taking an entire day off from exercises every 3-4 days, and quite possibly more often if you are new to exercise or find that you are really sore and not entirely recovering before your next workout. If you workout again while still very sore you have not allowed proper recovery (and muscle growth) to occur, and this can hinder your overall results. Taking these rest days can also be good for your mindset, and you will find that you feel better and stronger when you workouts the next day!
Next let's look at your nutrition.
By now you know how large of a role nutrition plays in your overall performance. We include nutritional aspects in every challenge at Fitness Fusion because we realize its importance. If you are feeling any of the symptoms of overtraining, it may just be that your nutrition is not where it should be. Maybe you’re eating too few calories to properly fuel your body and workouts. Maybe you’re not getting the right nutrients to regulate bodily functions. Maybe you binge on candy chips and ice cream at night then wonder why you can’t sleep! Right up there with proper sleep and rest, your nutrition HAS to be on point to keep you performing at your peak each and every day.
So, am I overtraining or not?
Most likely, no. True overtraining is quite hard to achieve, and the human body is very efficient at trying to make sure it does not happen. IF you think you may be overtraining, I would ask you first to look further into your workouts/routine, your sleep and rest, and your nutrition.
That's really it! So keep up with the workouts, and try to be more diligent in the other areas that matter just as much, if not more so, than the workouts itself!
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