Overtraining occurs when the volume and intensity of a workout program exceeds the body’s ability to recover. Improvement will only occur during the rest period following hard training. This adaptation is a response to an increased loading of the cardiovascular and muscular systems and is accomplished by improving efficiency of the heart, increasing capillaries in the muscles, and increased glycogen storage capacity. During recovery periods your body systems improve their working capacity to compensate for the stress that has been applied. The result is that your body has adapted in response to a stimulus and you can now perform at a higher level.
Identifying Overtraining has Occurred
Commonly associated with overtraining is fatigue. This may limit your workout capacity and decrease your ability to perform. A person may then lose their motivation and desire to achieve their results. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, irritability, and irregular sleep patterns may occur are common symptoms as well. Here is a short list of other indications that you may be overtraining.
• Persistent pain in muscles & joints
• Lack of energy during the day
• Drop in ability to run ‘normal’ distance or times
• Elevated resting heart rate
• Constantly thirsty, dehydrated
• General aches and pains
• Decreased immune system function making you susceptible to colds, flu’s, infections.
• Elevated Cortisol, or stress hormone, levels for an extended period
• Calorie deficiency
• Not enough rest. Micro trauma in the muscles are not healing as fast as they are tearing down
Schedule a recovery week-Allow your body to adapt to the stresses you place on it during intense workouts. Schedule 1 week every 12 and cut your volume in half or just do light activity that week.
Decrease your volume– If you feel some of these symptoms in the middle of a training cycle, consider lowering your intensity for a few days.
Sleep– Getting a sufficient amount of sleep (at least 7 hours a night) will help you to recover faster as optimum hormone levels release during sleep.
Cross train– Do something different. Change your routine so you are not doing the same thing every week. Use different exercises in your resistance program, or for cardio, ride a bike instead of running.
Eat– Make sure you are taking in a sufficient amount of calories. Excessive workouts will burn a lot of calories. Make sure to have your 5 meals a day. A small pre-workout meal of carbohydrates and protein can fuel your training, while a post-workout meal can enhance recovery and promote muscle growth.
You cannot work through or ignore overtraining. If you don’t allow your body to recover you will not get results. A point to remember is that working out tears you down, while rest and recovery allow you to adapt and make you better. Plan your recovery and schedule in time to rest. Be proactive and you can avoid the pitfalls of overtraining.