Signs of Overtraining
Signs of Overtraining are usually there but we tend to ignore them because the hardest part of being an athlete is NOT training. However, it is very important that you know the signs of overtraining before you are forced down from getting sick, injured, or both. Too much overall stress on your body, and/or too much anaerobic exercise can put your whole training schedule behind and then you will have to “catch-up” to get back to where you were weeks ago.
Diagnosing the Signs of Overtraining
This article is not meant to be used as a self-diagnosis of signs of overtraining; only a doctor can diagnose overtraining. However, understanding the signs of overtraining can help you determine the effectiveness of your workout and whether you are getting enough rest. Even when the and signs of overtraining are present, overtraining at best can be hard to properly diagnose. What you might be experiencing could be from exercising too hard, or it could be from the more serious symptoms that may indicate some underlying health issue that are giving you the similar signs of overtraining.
Overtraining is not easily diagnosed because it is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition. Overtraining occurs when your body’s ability to recovery cannot keep up with the volume and intensity of your training and exercise regimen. One of the first signs and symptoms of overtraining is that you will start loosing muscle mass and/or start to get weaker. You will notice that your progress has diminished or even lessened. You will begin to lose strength and fitness; which will also affect your emotional condition.
The Signs of Overtraining
There are many signs of overtraining that you can use that are good indicators of overtraining. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Morning Resting Heart Rate
An easy test for the signs of overtraining is to start taking you resting heart rate first thing in the morning when you wake up. I mean the first thing you do before you start stretching and getting out of bed. Basically rollover and take your pulse. Continue doing this for a few weeks to determine your baseline resting heart rate. Once this you have determined your baseline resting heart rate you are ready to go. If your morning resting heart rate is greater than 10% of normal, this may be an indication that you may be getting sick and that you are overreaching in your training. This can be your first signs of overtraining.
Overall Body Fatigue
If you are having a hard time falling asleep at night, this is one of the common signs of overtraining. If you are overtraining your nervous system is working overtime and during the night you might experience limb twitching or jumping while falling asleep. In advanced cases of overtraining the fatigue can lead to insomnia. A few restless nights of sleep in-a-row is usually my first signs of overtraining. Sleep plays a large role in my training program and it is as important to me as having good nutrition and a proper exercise program.
Having this overall body fatigue may also find yourself having a hard time motivating to complete (or even start) your workouts. This lack of desire to exercise is one of the signs of overtraining, your just plane “burned-out” from too much training.
Some of the signs of overtraining that affect your physical wellbeing are:
- Reduction of muscle definition and a decrease in strength.
- Swings in weight (mostly seen as weight gain).
- Decrease in appetite accompanied by weight loss.
- Muscles that are chronically sore (not the same as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: DOMS).
- Your eyes become overly sensitive to light which can also be accompanied by lid spasms, bloodshot and/or achy eyes.
- Decreased immune system with a possibility of having a persistent sore throat.
- In women, a menstrual cycle that is off, and PMS symptoms that are worse than normal.
- A frequency in more minor injuries.
- Reoccurring injuries that take longer than usual to heal.
- More frequent colds and upper respiratory infections.
Some of the signs of overtraining that affect your mental wellbeing are:
- A loss of appetite.
- A general overall lack of motivation and enthusiasm (not just specific to training and exercising).
- General overall sense of boredom.
- State of depression and irritability, and developing a negative & cynical outlook.
- Lack of self-esteem.
What Can I Do Now That Understand the Signs of Overtraining?
If you think that have some of these caracteristics do not ignore the signs of overtraining! There actions that you can take to help allow your body to recover:
- As hard as it might be, take a break from training.
- If you just can’t take a break from training, reduce the volume and/or intensity.
- Change your training program to give different muscle groups a rest while working out other muscle groups.
- My favorite: get more sleep.
- Incorporate massage or self massage into your routine.
- Follow the 10% Rule for training.
- If you feel that you are on the verge of getting injured, do not ignore it and get it check out by your doctor.
- Follow good nutrition and do not skip meals.
- If you are going to be training for a specific event, start training early enough before the event to prevent cramming all your training into a short period of time. A sure recipe for overtraining and injury.
- Make sure your macronutrient ratios are correct for your activity levels.
- Stay on the safe side and try to maintain a calorie balance of “calories in = calories out”.
- If you are having issues with vitamin deficiencies, see your doctor to find out what nutritional supplements you may need.