The dangers of overtraining
Whilst regular exercise is encouraged for all its many health benefits, it is important to be aware that training too hard or for too long can have a negative impact on your body. This is what is known as overtraining. So how do we know if we are overtraining and what are the dangers associated with it?
Below are some of the most common signs to look out for. They can also be related to many other things, so need to be considered holistically in order to recognize whether they are in fact a possible result of overtraining.
- Regular injuries. It is essential to get enough rest between training sessions as this allows your body to recover properly and can enhance performance and muscle growth. If you are struggling with frequent injuries, it could be a sign that you are not giving your body enough rest.
- Low immune system. If you are generally feeling run down and finding you are getting sick more often this could be pointing to the fact that your body may benefit from more rest periods.
- Muscle pain. Although a certain amount of muscle soreness and stiffness after training is to be expected, this should usually only last 1-2 days.
- Struggling to focus and sleep and experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue.
What can we do to help prevent overtraining?
- Cross-training is a great way of ensuring we do different types of exercise that benefit us in different ways and avoid putting too much strain on any one part of the body. Balance your training by doing a combination of cardiovascular workouts, lifting weights and exercises like yoga and pilates.
- Keeping a training diary can be very useful. Note how you feel after a workout and how long it takes to recover.
- Schedule regular rest days.
- Alternate training between different muscle groups when lifting weights. For example, focus on your upper body on one day followed by a rest day and then a lower body workout followed by another rest day.
- Ensure you are resting adequately within your workouts. For example, when lifting weights, leave some rest time between each set.
- Make sure you are eating enough calories and the right type of food to complement your training regime. Focus on having a balanced nutritious meal 2-3 hours before a workout and refuelling around 45 minutes after.
- Adequate sleep is essential – 8 hours is the ideal amount for an active adult.
- Make relaxation part of your training plan – meditation, yoga, and massages are some great ways to help you unwind.
Pushing your body to the point where it is not able to recover well enough between exercise sessions can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Ensuring you get enough rest can go a long way towards enhancing muscle gains, improving your overall performance and ultimately helping you reach your fitness goals.
Listen to your body.