Overtraining is a prevalent issue nowadays amongst exercisers. We want to tackle the issue head on and empower you to get the best results possible and avoid unnecessary setbacks. It’s important to find a good balance with your training, and this post will help you to avoid and overtraining.
What Exactly is Overtraining?
Have you ever felt lethargic for an entire week of exercise? Has your energy declined noticeably over the last while?
Simply put, overtraining is when the exercise intensity or load is greater than the recovery rate. The body will start to break down and eventually you will suffer some form of injury or illness.
Over training is especially prevalent in new exercisers, due to an unstructured routine and/or a lack of experience.
The graph illustrates a generic exercise regime. There are three stages to overtraining. We are going to focus on the most important principle: Adaptation.
Exercise causes your body to make different adaptations, depending on the type of stress. For example, if you run for 30 minutes at an easy pace, the cardiovascular system and the muscles of the body will be stressed. Immediately after the exercise bout, the body will start the recovery process. The rate of recovery depends on many factors, including experience, fitness level, age, nutrition, sleep etc etc.
High intensity workouts (Anaerobic) like heavy weightlifting or sprints take longer to recover from. Easy prolonged exercise (aerobic) takes less time to recover from.
The body interprets the stress placed on it as a marker for future exercise. It will enter the recovery process and start to develop muscle strength or increase lean muscle mass, depending on the form of exercise performed. The next time you exercise, the body will be better able to handle the stress.
Top Tip: The more rested you are, the fitter you are. After a hard workout you are at your weakest or LEAST fittest state.
If the body doesn’t have enough recovery time before the next workout, this can cause the overtraining process to commence. The high-stress state after a tough workout is a normal part of training, but if it’s continued over a period of time or the stress is increased too quickly, injury will follow.
Increase the volume (total time spent exercising) or intensity (weights lifted or running reps) but NOT both. Avoid increasing volume and intensity at the same time, this can cause the graph to turn steeply downwards. The general rule of thumb is to increase volume or intensity by 10% each week. We workout based on three weeks of increase, followed by a recovery week, to allow the body to recover. Giving your body time to recover will maintain your gains but allow your body to catch up with the stresses, and get fitter and stronger.
Symptoms of Overtraining
- Decline in exercise performance – unable to match the previous weeks performances
- Loss of appetite – Your body is struggling to recover adequately
- Pain and excessive tightness – above the normal levels
- Increase in fatigue levels – You are wrecked tired, but unable to sleep long enough to recover
- Lack of interest and motivation to exercise – finding it more difficult to achieve your goals and complete workouts
There are other symptoms, but these are the most common ones.
The best solution to overtraining is to rest or decrease your exercise load or intensity. When your energy starts to return to normal levels, you can start to gradually increase the training load again.
We hope you’re having a fit and healthy week! Thanks for reading.
The Health Heads