We get it – you love training. Maybe it’s the rush of endorphins, the self-care ‘me time’ of a workout or the emotional boost when you see those tangible results.
But it’s possible to overdo it. ‘Overtraining’ is the point where the balance tips over from having a positive effect on your health to a negative one. When you overtrain, you are exceeding your body’s ability to recover from exercise. Put too much stress on your body, ignore the danger signs and pretty soon you’ll stop reaping the benefits of exercise.
At Centr, we’re all about loving exercise and training smarter. These are five key signs you’re overtraining – and how to avoid it in the first place.
1. Excessive muscle soreness
Having sore muscles after exercise is quite common, and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can last a few days after a hard workout. However, if muscle soreness lasts for a longer period of time, it can be a sign that your body is too over-worked to recover properly.
2. Insomnia or restless sleep
Been having restless nights? Noticed a bad pattern in your sleep journal? It could be down to hormonal and nervous system overload from too much exercise.
Too many big workouts can place stress on your body, activating your sympathetic nervous system and increasing certain hormone levels. With enough recovery, hormone levels will return to their resting state. But if they remain at an elevated level, it can interfere with the production of hormones and proteins that are needed for quality sleep, causing sleep disruptions like insomnia.
3. Weight gain
If you’re trying to lose weight but exercise seems to be having the opposite effect, you might just be exercising too hard. It sounds contradictory, but if you’re working out too much and your body doesn’t have time to recover, it elicits a stress response in the body, releasing hormones that promote weight gain – yes, that’s even true for our beloved cardio.
4. Decrease in exercise performance
Feeling a lack of improved performance in spite of putting a huge effort into workouts and fueling properly beforehand? That’s a tell-tale sign of overtraining. When your body can’t keep up with the exercises, let alone adapt and make improvements, it’s time to back off. Decreased agility, strength and endurance are all signs to look out for.
5. Bad moods
We love that exercise increases happy endorphins for a natural mood boost, but too much training can have the opposite effect. Overtraining stresses the body and when the body is stressed it can affect the balance of stress hormones – in this case, cortisol and epinephrine – causing mood swings, irritability, and poor concentration.
Obviously, all these are the opposite of what you’re going for when you’re trying to improve your health and fitness. Plus, they take all the fun out of training.
Here are a few tips for you to avoid overtraining so you can reap the rewards of exercise, not just the negatives:
Rest days: Make sure you get enough rest between training sessions.
Realistic goals: Set goals that won’t have you training more than you should.
Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Meditation: No matter how busy you get, try to include meditation in your routine.
Listen: Listen to your body. If you feel tired, sore or stressed, have a rest.
We love that you’re loving your exercise – just don’t love it too much, OK?
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