Overtraining – The signs and how it can effect performance

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Overtraining is a really common problem in exercise, where people can train to the point where they actually get weaker.



The dictionary says “overtraining occurs when the volume and intensity of the exercise exceeds an individual’s recovery capacity”. That is when you stop making progress and you start to lose strength and fitness.



When we are training at a high level we feel great, feel productive throughout the day and sleep well. We physically feel and look better and even people compliment you. All of these positive things happen when you are at the peak of your training.



It’s at that point that we get addictive to the results and have increased hunger and desire to keep improving and to do more and more, but there is a tipping point. That is when we can do too much, train too hard and the negative effects of overtraining occur.



So what are the signs and symptoms to look for?

  • You start to feel tired and fatigued.
  • Your muscles are sore at the start of the session.
  • Weak immune system leading to illness.
  • Become irritable and depressed.
  • Loss of motivation within the session.
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite.



So what can we do about it?#


  1. Rest.

By that I mean take at least a days rest. In fact between 24-36 hours rest is called the magical process when we get stronger. Improvement happens in the recovery phase, so getting enough rest between sessions is as important as the sessions themselves.

If you’ve been training consistently for a long time then even a whole weeks rest can help. You are not going to lose your fitness in just a week and it should give you a new vigour when you come back to your training.



  1. Mix up your training.

If you’ve been focusing on just lifting weights, then mix it up by adding in a conditioning or high-intensity cardio session. Not only is it good challenge the body differently, but also for your motivation as you will enjoy doing something different.



  1. Aid recovery.

Foam roller, massages, ice baths, hot baths, stretching and a light jog the next day are things you can do that will aid your recovering and allow for longevity with your training.



  1. Eat properly.

How are you fuel your body after training is really important to prepare you for your next session, help your muscles recover and keep your body functioning at an efficient level. Make sure you get protein, carbs and healthy fats from your meals and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in helping the body function, so make sure you are eating lots of vegetables and fruit.



So to summarise we should all train towards a goal and have a plan to achieve that goal, but make sure you are having adequate rest and allow yourself time to recover from sessions. Use some of the tips mentioned above, as it will help with the recovery process and keep you on track with your training. Most importantly listen to your body. If you feel you need rest, then have it. No one gets fit through just one session and you certainly won’t become unfit through missing a couple of sessions or taking a few days off.



Train hard, eat right and enjoy the journey.





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