The same determination that makes you serious about your fitness goals can wind up working against you by overtraining. Excessive exercise tends to interfere with your physical and mental fitness. It also undermines the previous gains you made while exercising.
Learn how to spot the signs of overtraining and correct them before it’s too late.
Spotting the Signs of Overtraining
1. Ask yourself if you look forward to working out. One common sign of overtraining is when you stop feeling enthusiastic about exercising. Maybe you’re reluctant to go to the yoga class you used to look forward to or take the morning run you always loved.
2. Monitor your progress and performance. Overdoing it can cause you to lose the gains you made in previous workout sessions. You may notice that you’re losing muscle mass or feel like your balance is off while you’re exercising.
3. Document the frequency of your illnesses. Chronic overtraining weakens your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to common colds and other infections. It can also cause you to heal less quickly if you get bruises or other injuries.
4. Check your mood. Your emotions can also come into play. Pay attention to whether you’re feeling tired, irritable, or tense.
Steps to Prevent Overtraining
1. Team up with a buddy. Socializing while working out is one of the most effective and enjoyable solutions. Having a friend along will help you lighten up and resist the extremes.
2. Focus on interval training. More and more studies are confirming the value of interval training. Interval training is when you alternate between higher and lower levels of intensity. This strategy will also help you stay within your true capacity.
3. Experiment with cross training. Scheduling weight training on one day and horseback riding on the next is another smart approach. You’ll be using your muscles in different ways and reducing the risk of overtaxing any specific area of your body.
4. Shorten your sessions. Sometimes you may have to cut back on the time you spend at the gym. If your performance is starting to decline, try 20 – 30 minute visits rather than a full hour.
5. Eat a nutritious diet. If you have a very active lifestyle, your body may require more calories. Fill your plate with nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and complex carbohydrates.
6. Get good quality sleep. You may also require more sleep if you work out strenuously. Try adding one additional hour a night to see if it leaves you feeling more refreshed.
Steps to Recover From Overtraining
1. Talk with your doctor. Your doctor can determine the effects of overtraining on your health. Follow your physician’s recommendations to help make a full recovery.
2. Make time for complete rest. In some cases, you may temporarily cease any vigorous activity. The time off is well spent if it enables your body and mind to make the necessary repairs.
3. Transition back through active rest. Rather than resuming your old activities at full strength, a transition period may be helpful. During this active rest, you can engage in gentler activities like tai chi or long walks.
4. Evaluate other areas of your life. Spending long hours in the gym may sometimes be avoidant behavior. Are you unhappy with some other aspect of your life? Overtraining may be a sign other areas of your life may require some positive changes.
Being physically active contributes to a healthy body and mind. Practice moderation to avoid overtraining so exercising will continue to enhance your health.