Overtraining syndrome has unfortunately become more and more common in today’s fitness front. You probably have seen certain members of your gym working out no matter what day or time you walk in to workout. Workout-aholics exist. And, contrary to popular belief, they are not necessarily healthy. Athletes from every sport can experience the negative side effects of overtraining. When someone constantly works out too hard for his or her body to properly recover and starts to notice a decline in athletic performance, the person is most likely overtraining.
What are the Symptoms of Overtraining?
Overtraining shows itself in more ways than just physical symptoms. To start, athletes who suffer from overtraining syndrome will feel more tired than usual after they finish their normal strenuous workout. Since they do not allow themselves enough recovery time, athletes’ muscles feel more tender and are more prone to tears and injuries. Tendonitis is a common overtraining indicator and another way your body is screaming for a break.
Your immune system will also take a hit. When you workout, you will incur small muscle tears. This breakdown is necessary in order for your body to build back up, stronger and more toned. If you do not allow your body the time to recover, however, it will not have time to build your muscles back up and they will continue to break further and further down. This is how serious injuries happen. You can also get and stay sick this way. Your body is on overload and cannot heal in time. You will feel weaker during your workouts and usually afterwards as well because you are weaker. Your body needs a break in order to heal.
It also needs sleep. But, another common symptom of overtraining is insomnia or trouble sleeping. It has been so overworked and is so overtired that it will have trouble falling into a deep sleep. You have passed the road of normal recovery needs and have now entered into the “wired and tired” stage where your body is on high alert. It wants to stop and heal, but it can't calm down long enough to do so.
How to Avoid Overtraining
You do not have to wait until you notice these symptoms before combating them. If you are prone to pushing your body to its brink, take the following tips seriously. You will notice better results in your workouts and not have to deal with the effects of overtraining.
This is the most important tip to consider. You need to rest. Every night, make sure you are letting yourself sleep at least 7-8 hours. Add an extra half hour on the days that you have worked out. Other than nightly sleep, you should also make sure you are taking adequate days off. If you are working out 7 days a week, STOP. You need to allow yourself at least 1 day off a week. Take more days off depending on how old you are and how hard your workouts are. Your body will not stop burning calories on your day off, but it will take extra time to build your muscles back up and improve your training success for the coming week.
Eat Well and Eat Enough
No matter if you are trying to lose or gain weight, you will most likely need to increase your calorie intake if you are pushing yourself anywhere close to overtraining. Make sure to eat enough protein to help rebuild your muscles and eat it within half an hour of your workout to refuel your body after spending so much energy.
Listen to Your Body
Do you know how to listen to your body? Or do you push yourself no matter what your body says? It is hard in the fitness field to know whether or not you are letting yourself off easy or listening smartly. So many trainers, commercials, posts, and fitness brands will encourage you to push your limits. Of course, pushing your limits will help you exceed them and grow into a better athlete. However, this does not mean you should push through increased tiredness, soreness, or injury. Maybe take your rest day early or even add an extra rest day into the week that your body hits a hiccup. You will most likely notice better results next time you step foot in the gym.