Five Facts About Overtraining

For some of us, this feels like the winter that will never end (hello to my fellow Canadians and some of my American readers).  But is there a risk that your low energy levels actually have more to do with an overzealous workout routine?  Maybe you’ve been super diligent and consistent with your exercise in 2019…but maybe a little TOO much so?  Too much of a good thing is still too much.

Did you know that over-training can actually be derailing your fat loss efforts? You can actually be working *too* hard and diminishing your results because of it.  You want to be sure that you’re working smarter, and not necessarily harder!

This week’s Instagram video series and Facebook posts are all about over-training – signs and symptoms, why it matters and how to stop doing it so your body can get leaner, fitter and stronger.

Physical signs and symptoms

Fatigue is the first one.  No matter how much sleep you get, do you still feel tired? Are you struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep?  Are your regular sleep rituals not cutting it any more? (If you don’t have sleep rituals established yet, now is a great time to start some!)

Undue soreness: if you’re experiencing more than mild discomfort after workouts, you’re likely overdoing it. Contrary to popular belief, soreness is not a measure of how good a workout is. If you hadn’t been working out in a while, it’s not “normal” – it means the workout is too advanced for your current fitness level. Forget the level you used to be at; forget the level you want to be at. Workouts should always be designed for your current level.

Ladies, if you’re no longer getting your period regularly (and you’re not pregnant), it could be a sign of over-training.

Take stock of these factors and critically consider whether you are doing too much. Remember, life demands are cumulative, and the stress on the body from training adds on to work stress, kid stress, parent stress, etc. It might feel good, but it doesn’t cancel these stressors out in terms of demand on your body!

Mental signs and symptoms

Feeling stressed out, grumpy, irritable or just not “into it” when you get to the gym? These could be signs you’re doing too much.

Or maybe your just feeling down in the dumps or blah.

Your workouts should leave you feeling happy, energized and confident. If you’re dreading your workouts instead of looking forward to them, it could be a sign that you’re doing too much (or you need to mix it up with different kinds of workouts).

Why does it matter?

Let’s say you’ve definitely got some physical and mental signs of over-training going on. No big, deal, right? No pain, no gain, right?

WRONG. Over-training interrupts your body’s normal response to training. Usually, we put stress on our muscles, joints, hearts and lungs during our workouts and then when we rest and recover, our body “super-compensates” (more than makes up for) that stress by repairing, recovering and rebuilding to come back stronger and fitter than before. This is how your performance and health improve over time.

But with over-training, and insufficient rest and recovery, the body doesn’t have a chance to get stronger and fitter and you can actually LOWER your performance and health over time. Don’t believe that it’s always better to work out than to rest. Some workouts are moving you AWAY from your goals. That’s a waste of time and effort!

What to do instead?  Read on…

Rest, recover and fuel

The only way for your body to come back even stronger for the next workout and to get progressively fitter and healthier over time is with adequate rest, recovery and fuel.  This means eating enough high-quality, minimally processed whole foods to give your body the macro- and micronutrients it needs to repair and build new tissue. Not sure what your nutritional needs are? Consider using an online calculator to get a starting point, or go a step further and get a coach!  If you’re new to healthful eating, this article is a good place to start.

Schedule adequate rest between heavy/high intensity workouts. If you’re not feeling fully recovered and ready to go, this might mean 48-72 hours between workouts. Consider also changing the intensity by swapping in some lower-intensity workouts like walking or gentle yoga.

Recover with quality sleep, water, foam rolling, Epsom salts bath, BCAA’s, etc.

Revisit your “why”

What’s the reason why addressing over-training matters to you? What will you do when you have your energy, strength, stamina and health back?

Is it so you can have an impromptu getaway with a loved one? Have the energy to keep up with your kids for a day on the slopes or at the playground? Is it to feel refreshed and fabulous for a night out with the girls?

Maybe it’s all that and more. Remember your “why” and you’ll realize why addressing over-training matters.

Have a fit day!

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