Working out is great for your body and your mind, so if you can do it more often, you should — shouldn’t you? As it turns out, there’s such a thing as too much when it comes to training, and when you hit that point, you’re really doing a lot more harm than good. It’s called Overtraining Syndrome, and while it’s uncommon in average exercisers, it can be a big problem for athletes. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to step down your game:
Moodiness. Sure, everybody has a bad day or two, but no one is in a persistent bad mood without something bigger being wrong. If you’re not prone to depression or anxiety, life is generally stable and you’re suddenly feeling like your moods are out of control, you may be exercising too much. Take a break for a few days and examine your exercise goals — maybe you could stand to be in the gym one less day a week or for shorter periods of time.
Fatigue. Whether you’re suddenly shortening workouts because you simply don’t have the stamina it takes to complete them anymore or you’re sleeping poorly and just feel tired all day, fatigue could be a sign of overtraining. You’re working yourself too hard and not allowing your body to recover, leading to a decreased ability to perform. Rest up and pace your workouts and you’ll soon be back to your old self.
Increased Injuries. Your workout pushes your muscles to capacity or beyond, so if you’re working out the same muscle groups every day it’s going to catch up to you. You may notice that you’re suddenly getting more injuries than usual or, more likely, reaggravating old injuries. Your workout routine should include a variety of activities so you can rotate muscle groups and allow them to heal. Building in rest days is also valuable to preventing overtraining.
Lack of Motivation. If you find yourself making excuses so you can skip the gym or forcing yourself to get on the treadmill, it’s likely that you’re overtraining. Your body and mind need time to rebuild between workouts, if you suddenly have no urge to exercise it could that your body is trying to tell you something. Give yourself a week off, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and proper nutrition. You’ll find your motivation in no time.
Plateauing. You’re pushing yourself as hard as you can, but you’re just not seeing the results you’re after — or worse, you’ve gained a few pounds. When you’re working yourself into overtraining, your body responds by increasing cortisol levels and can even start to burn muscle. Slow down — way down — and give yourself time to rest. Your muscles are likely damaged and need time to heal. When you start back at the gym, take it slow.
If you’re finding that the gym atmosphere is pushing you to overtrain, consider purchasing your own fitness equipment, including a cardio machine like the Sole Treadmill or one of the many ellipticals we’ve reviewed at www.fitness-equipment-source.com. You’ll be surprised at the results when you leave the pressure behind and workout at your own pace in your home gym.