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Six Signs You're Overtraining (And What To Do About It)

March 14, 20244 min read

We all know the basics of weight loss… eat less and move more, right? Well, technically yes, but that’s often misinterpreted (mainly by women) to mean “eat minimally” and “exert yourself constantly.”

Too much exercise without consistent proper fueling or adequate recovery can lead to overtraining syndrome (OTS). Yes, more is not always more when it comes to exercise.

Think of it like a balance scale- on one side you have your exercise frequency and intensity, and on the other, you have your rest and recovery time and quality. When you’re chronically tipping the scale to favor the exercise side, you’re exceeding your ability to recover and therefore putting yourself at risk for OTS.

If you love to work out but don’t also prioritize rest, you may often find yourself experiencing several of the consequences that come with overtraining. Here are some tell-tale signs:

1)     Decreased performance

Workouts may seem more difficult and heart rate may be higher than normal or take longer to come back down after exertion. Strength, endurance, and overall performance are stalled or decreased.

What you can do: Take time off. This is hard for those of us who enjoy working out, but convince yourself that it’s part of the process and that you’ll feel better and stronger afterward! Plan a deload week. Schedule some active recovery or complete rest days. Give your body some time to catch up. Periodize your training more effectively.

2)     Poor sleep and excessive fatigue

You’re simply always tired and never feel rested. An overproduction of stress hormones from overtraining can lead to poor sleep quality, which wreaks havoc on our bodies.

What you can do: Along with taking time off or scaling back, prioritize sleep. Put away the devices at least an hour before bed, set the mood, and go to sleep when you get in bed. Plan for 8-10 hours of sleep. Your body uses this crucial time to repair from today and prepare for tomorrow.

3)     Excessive soreness

Every workout leaves you feeling beat up and worn down. Some soreness is normal and can be expected, especially when trying newer more challenging things, but you shouldn’t be regularly sore for days. Your workouts should compliment your life, not take away from it.

What you can do: Along with taking time off or scaling back and prioritizing sleep, make time for proper warm-ups and cool downs that compliment and help recover from the workout. Work in mobility drills before workouts or at a different time. Promote good movement to enhance your workouts and ultimately feel better! Also consider supplementing with something like glutamine, creatine, L-carnitine, or magnesium. Getting a massage or soaking in Epsom salt may help as well.

4)     Lingering injuries and illnesses

Have an injury that just seems to keep coming back? Can’t kick the sniffles? These recurring ailments could be a sign that your body can’t keep up.

What you can do: Aside from scaling back and minding your rest, get proper nutrition. Eat enough to adequately fuel your body for its needs, and supplement if and when necessary. Consider a good multivitamin, fish oil, EAAs/BCAAs, protein powder, collagen, or whatever else if your diet proves to indeed be lacking. Relevant stretches and mobility drills to help rehab and prevent injuries is also a given.

 

5)     Decreased libido and mood disturbances

Overtraining can really make a mess of hormonal health. When you train, a temporary decrease in sex hormones and increase in cortisol can be expected, but what’s unhealthy is when this become a chronic situation, leading to hormonal imbalances. These hormonal changes can subsequently lead to mood disturbances such as anxiety, depression, agitation, poor cognition, decreased focus, and lack of appetite.

What you can do: Along with the rest of the list, manage your stress. Our bodies were created with the capability to deal with acute stress, not chronic stress. Chronic stress starts to wear us down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Avoid triggers. Cut ties with toxic people. Limit negative input. Talk to someone and consult a professional if needed.

 

6)     Progress plateaus

You seem to have hit a wall with progress. Your fat’s not going anywhere, maybe you’ve even gained some back. You’re not gaining muscle and/or having a hard time maintaining it. You made progress for a few months and now… nothing.

What you can do: Examine the other five and make adjustments accordingly. Give your body what it needs and it will do what it was created to do. You have to send it the right signals. But when all you’re telling it to do is “work, work, work,” it can and will shut down progress for the sake of survival. You’re body is an amazing creation, but it’s not a machine. Respect that and it will respond accordingly!

 

Keep shining!

Your trainer and coach,

Kandis

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Kandis Joubert

Kandis Joubert is a NASM-certified personal trainer and nutrition coach, specializing in corrective exercise and fitness nutrition.

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