Overtraining is when a person breaks their body’s capability to recover from tough exercises. It is a situation where a person feels a decline in their performance and feels that they are not making any progress along with losing strength and fitness.
This happens because most of us are doing a high-intensity and high-volume type of workout, not only for a week or so but for multiple weeks. There are many down-side to overtraining, but the most common one is that you have to give your body a rest for a minimum of a week (with proper nutrition and rest), this means no training at all just to regain your lost strength and repair any damage that is struggling to recover from continuous tension.
This are the usual reasons of overtraining:
- Sudden increase in the weight and intensity of the workout.
- Constant high intensity training for a long period of time.
- No rest and breaks in your training schedule
- Insufficient Sleep
- Taking stress
- Poor diet
And this are the usual signs of overtraining:
- Constant and persistent fatigue.
- Feeling Depressed and irritating
- Difficult to concentrate
- Loss of Appetite
- Lost motivation and energy
- Depletion of sex drive
There could be two types of overtraining:
1. Monotonous workout-
Monotonous workout refers to the same workout that you are doing every day for many weeks, without either changing the duration or the intensity.
In monotonous workout, you hit the plateau way early. And as a result, you are experiencing a sudden fall of motivation and drop in your energy level. You feel like doing any other work than the workout. Monotonicity brings a lot of boredom in your workout session.
To get rid of the workout boredom, you can try out any of the following solutions:
- Bring Variance in your workout routine.
- Find workout companions, it helps in lessens the boredom.
- Add break-time in your routine.
2. Chronic Overwork-
Where you are training with high intensity and not giving enough recovering time for the muscles. Chronic overwork results to sore muscles and loss in motivation too.
Though, you cannot blame yourself for being motivated and dedicated for your goal. But you should know when you are going off the top. You should listen to your body, is it feeling tired or energetic.
If you are feeling energetic, then its hunky dory. But if your body feels being tired with soreness in the muscle for a relatively a long period of time, then it’s a possible sign of Chronic Overwork.
How to avoid chronic overwork:
- Less Weight- Rather than having progressive weight lifting, for one week you should consider training with relatively less weight, about 40% to 50% less.
- Add more break time to give your muscles more recovery time.
This is how overtraining could work against you:
1 Soring Muscles & Muscle Loss-
A smart training sure could lead to muscle gain. By smart training means- your diet is right, you are giving enough rest to the muscles and bringing regular variations to your workout.
But if you are lifting extra weight and you are not giving adequate time to recover your muscles, and you are feeling this for aprolonged period of time, then this could lead tosoreness in your muscles and loss in muscle strength.
To overcome this, if possible, you should take rest of few weeks. Or you should add a week in you training schedule, where you will lift relatively less weight as compared to your regular workout sessions. The key is giving your muscles more time to recover and help in regaining the strength.
2. Frequent Illness-
Overtraining causes muscle loss, fatigue and trouble sleeping. This often leads to weak immune system and disables our body’s capacity to fight the viruses and more prone to illness.
To strengthen the immune system, read our blog on Immune system- ‘5 Effective Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System’.
For a better immune system, it is important that your diet is right . Try cooking at home, this way you will have fresh food, rather than having frozen foods. And take enough time to sleep.
3. Persistent Fatigue-
Fatigue is different from being tired. Tiredness will go away after some adequate rest, but fatigue continues even after sufficient rest.
This happens when after the workouts your body doesn’t get sufficient rest and doesn’t fully recovers. Over the time this accumulates and causes fatigue.
Overtraining causes difficulty in sleeping and over a certain period of time leads to Insomnia. This happens due to over-production of cortisol hormone (causes stress). This cortisol doesn’t let our body relax and deprives our body from sleep.
5. Psychological Effects-
Overtraining is responsible for hormonal imbalance. It causes over-production of cortisol. Cortisol are stress hormones. You may feel little irritated and the lack of motivation may persist.
Now this excess amount of cortisol can cause mood swings and lack of concentration. And this often leads to constant stress and depression.
Often, when a person starts gym, he/she is feeling really motivated. The goal could be, losing that belly fat, or want to have a lean body or it could be gaining those bulky muscles. You are putting every bit of effort and dripping the sweat to achieve your goal. And suppose, after 6 to 7 months you do achieve your goals, but now you are in the habit of those intense and long-hour training. At this point you should have pushed the break-peddle, should have learned how to stop. Instead you are still putting the same amount of effort, because it seems logical the more the effort, the better the gain.
This usually happens, to all the serious trainers (here I am not talking about the folks who stops going to the gym after one or two weeks) who doesn’t know when to stop and should have taken it easy.
Now slowly-slowly you are feeling less motivated, drained of energy and fatigue in the muscles. Not for a day or so, but for weeks and months. Now in this situation (or somewhat similar to this situation) you are overtraining. In this situation, the only best option is to step-down for a couple of months from the gym.