Most fitness coaches will warn you about overtraining, or pushing your body past the point of healthy recovery.
Studies suggest that overtraining is real, but easily avoidable if you’re as dedicated to your recovery as you are your training.
Are you working hard or are you driving yourself into the ground?
Let’s take a look at the five warning signs you’re overtraining, and what you can do about it.
1: You're Feeling More Tired Than Usual
It’s normal to feel tired following a tough workout, but if you’re dragging ass for days, then you may have pushed too hard without giving your body a chance to properly recover.
Think about your sleep schedule over the last few weeks.
Have you been more concerned with binge watching Netflix, averaging a few hours a night?
Extreme fatigue that lasts for days accompanied by an absence of motivation to get back into the gym is the first and most common sign of overtraining.
2: You're Getting Sick A Lot
Exercise has been shown to stimulate the immune system, helping you to fight off illness.
However, if you’re taxing your central nervous system past the point of its ability to bounce back, then you’ll decrease your body’s defenses.
The result is getting sick more often, usually in the form of a common cold or stomach bug.
3: Your Workout Performance Sucks
Consider the last week or two of your training, and more specifically, think about your workout performance.
Were you crushing it and setting new personal bests?
Or did you find yourself slacking and opting for poor performance just to get back home?
Not every workout will be perfect, but not being able to give it your all on a consistent basis and gradually using lighter weight or performing less overall volume could be a sign of overtraining.
4: Mood Swings
Normally, exercise will increase levels of serotonin or the feel-good chemical in the brain.
Many people talk about the runner’s high, and beginners to fitness experience increased confidence and a better overall mood.
With that said, studies show that overtraining has been linked to feelings of anxiety, tension, depression, and mood swings.
The combination of a lack of rest, muscle fatigue, and inadequate recovery can prompt negative emotional states.
What’s more, if you’re stressing about your decreased performance due to overtraining, you could be fueling the fire by increasing the release of cortisol, a catabolic hormone.
5: Muscle Soreness That Lasts For Days
No pain, no gain: If you’re like most, that feeling of soreness upon waking the day after a tough workout means a job well done in the weight room.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the body’s way of letting you know it’s in active recovery mode following a workout.
The problem is that when you have an extreme level of soreness that lasts for days.
One tell-tale sign of overtraining is soreness that doesn’t seem to go away while making your basic movements of sitting, standing, and walking very difficult.
If your soreness has lasted longer than five days in the same muscle group, this could be a sign of overtraining.
How To Combat Overtraining
The idea of whether overtraining exists is a topic that has been dividing the fitness industry for the last decade.
Sure, it might take your ego down a notch, but it’s important to look at overtraining seriously, taking preventative measures so you don’t lose gains or put yourself at risk for injury.
If you have one or several of the signs of overtraining mentioned above, consider taking a week or two off from your weightlifting routine.
During that time, focus on your diet, ensuring you are eating enough of the right nutrients.
Most importantly, get on a sleep schedule that allows for no less than seven hours per night.
Once you’re feeling like your old self, gradually introduce yourself back into your weightlifting routine.
Don’t overdo it as soon as you return. Consider using a periodization-based program that progresses from endurance training to power training, using light weight and more repetitions to heavier weight and fewer repetitions.