Simply, yes it is possible to over train. I am sure that many of you have found yourself placing unreasonable demands on your body to the point of over training. I know I have. When you just want to get fitter, stronger or leaner faster then you work harder than your body can handle in order to reach your goals faster than possible, and if you keep doing this, eventually you will break.
If you feel like training is becoming a borderline addiction even at the expense of possibly doing harm, it’s probably time to reassess your goals. I have recently had to do this after battling with a number of reoccurring injuries and niggles. It is really important you listen to your body and know the signs of over training so that you do not suffer with injuries, and possibly do irreversible damage to your body. At the end of the day, you need to remember that training is supposed to be fun, improve your health and well being and it is not supposed to put you at risk of harm.
Here are 5 signs that you should look out for to check that you are not over training:
- Altered Resting Heart RateIf your resting HR is altered, and usually increased, it can be a sign that your body has increased its metabolic rate to meet the imposed demand of the training that you have put on it. If this is prolonged i.e. lasts for a few days, then it suggests that your body is under stress, and possibly that you are over training. In order to keep on top of this, I would suggest that if you monitor your morning heart rate daily by measuring before you stand up to get out of bed and begin your day you will be able to monitor your HR and if it is increased, then take a rest.
- Muscle SorenessYes, DOMS is normal, but if you have have muscle soreness for more than two days following a workout, and especially if you are still sore past the 72-hour mark, then you need to be sure to schedule a break and rest. This type of extended soreness is a sign your muscles aren’t recovering and negatively impacts on your muscle-building efforts. If you are weight training, you should be able to get in a gym – in and out – in 45 to 75 minutes max. Do not keep lifting if your muscles are hurting- they are trying to tell you something, so pay attention to your muscles and don’t overstay your welcome in the gym.
- InsomniaThis is something that I have struggled with, and often overlooked. I never thought it might be related to over training, and I sometimes even increased my training in an attempt to help me sleep. But this was wrong! If your training time is increasing, while at the same time you’re having difficulty sleeping then you need to think that you might be over training. Exercise induced insomnia is most likely a result of a combination of nervous system and or hormonal system overload. You need sleep because it is then that physical restoration occurs- remember that your body grows while resting, not training. If you think you are over training, and suffering from insomnia as a result, then I would suggest that you should eat a lot of clean food and take a week off of training all together.
- DepressionWhen I think of training, and working out, I don’t usually associate it with depression. But, if you are over training- like I have done so often, then it is a very possible outcome. People who over train often view exercise as something that it’s not – namely, a challenge, a conquest, or a space-filler. For me, I have viewed training as all three of these things. Some people who over train also may suffer from “body image issues” and the belief that “the more they train, the better they’ll look.” This is very rarely the case, as your body will not be able to recover, and it will not grow stronger or become faster. To avoid over training, you need to know your real motives behind training. You should try and set realistic short and long-term goals, create a plan, and stick to it. Sometimes finding someone who you can talk to about your training can help you to stop over training.
- Injury IncreaseIf you, like me have found yourself getting injured more often, and in particular, if you are re-aggravating old injuries then it is likely that you may be over training. This is because, when you over train, your body does not have have enough time to recuperate between workouts. This means that at some point you begin training in a weakened state, and if you, like me, do this too often then you will likely increase your chance of injuries. In order to prevent yourself from over training, you should introduce forced rest periods into your routine. This is something that I have had to do as I was really struggling with injuries. I would also suggest that you try and change up your training intensities, and try enjoy active recuperation sports that are low intensity and completely different from weights and cardio like table tennis, or going for a walk, or playing pool.