There’s a fine line between not training hard enough to achieve the results you want and training so hard that you find yourself experiencing diminishing returns for all the hard work you are putting in.
How can I tell if I am overtraining?
- You are not having enough rest days – To adapt to the stimulus you have applied during a training session, your body systems need to rest and recover. If you do not have rest days, your body cannot repair adequately for improved performance.
- You are not eating enough or the right types of foods – Your body needs plenty of fuel to repair your nervous, muscular, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It would help if you also had the right types of foods with plenty of nutrition. You need foods rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Eating chocolate and pizza might taste good but will not contribute to adequate repair and recovery. Eat from the five food groups, from unprocessed sources, and you will be bounding with energy.
- You are getting extra sore and experiencing injuries – Overtraining your body can lead to excessive soreness and even injuries. Muscles take time to adapt and handle the volume of training you are exposing them to. Be patient; progression takes time.
- Fatigue and sickness – If you are feeling lethargic and especially if you are not sleeping well and waking up tired, you are likely overtraining. Colds and flu will affect you more if you are overdoing it. Exercise doesn’t always give you energy; it can, if over-exercising, zap you of energy.
- Depression and lack of motivation – Exercise should also be enjoyable and release “feel-good” endorphins. If you are feeling down and lacking motivation when you used to love training, consider changing your exercise routine.
How to avoid overtraining?
Frequency – build up your training frequency slowly and have 1-3 rest days between sessions depending on how hard they were – more intensity requires more rest.
Intensity – mix up the intensity of your sessions, some hard, some moderate and some for enjoyment (Active recovery). Don’t go hard every day.
Time – train early in the day so that the stimulation doesn’t affect your sleep and you can fuel effectively before and after your session.
Type – Mix up the types of training you are doing. Our bodies love the variety, and you will minimise the risk of overuse injuries. Make exercise enjoyable and don’t overdo it or your efforts to be counterproductive to your health and wellness.