Is overtraining hampering your results and negatively affecting your health and happiness?

All too often we see people start to take their training regime to an extreme level: prioritising their gym time over their social lives and beating themselves up for missing workouts. What they don’t realise is that all that extra time in the gym may be doing more harm than good: sometimes less is more!

Below are a number of signs your body is feeling the effect of being overtrained:

– You keep getting injured or are plagued with persistent muscular or joint pain;

– Your training results have stagnated, or are regressing;

– You suffer from frequent mood swings, become easily agitated or feel depressed;

– You often have trouble with concentration;

– Your sleep is disrupted;

– Your sex drive has dropped;

– Your monthly cycle is irregular, or has stopped altogether;

– You are prone to illnesses, particularly upper-respiratory infections;

– You feel chronically fatigued.

These symptoms of overtraining are mostly brought about from an over-stressing of the adrenal glands, leading to a disruption in the body’s hormone levels. Overtrained individuals are often found to have lowered resting testosterone and growth-hormone levels, which impairs anabolic growth and hampers fat-loss. Additionally, a reduction in strength and performance in the overtrained is linked to a loss of satellite cells and a fatiguing of the central nervous system.

That being said, overtraining can be a powerful tool to bust through plateaus in your training, it is simply not sustainable long term. The most effective overtraining protocols last a maximum of six weeks, any longer than this would result in the build up of the aforementioned side effects. This overtraining period would be followed by a tapered down program where the body reaps the benefits of the recovery time and experiences super-compensation, such as plateau-breaking muscle gain. During any overtraining period it is advisable to supplement with additional branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) and L-glutamine.

At The Fitting Rooms we always recommend at least one rest-day a week, although many of our trainers actually take off at least two. And take note: a rest-day is a rest-day, not an “I’ll just do a little bit of cardio”-day! A typically recommended exercise routine for someone serious about their training would be five sessions a week, no more than an hour in duration, including all cardio and mobility work. Any more than this and you may find your health and personal life negatively affected.

Never lose sight of the fact that we train to enrich our lives and feel good about ourselves, but this should be a positive pursuit, not an unhealthy obsession. Ensure you find a balance of your time in and out of the gym and stay happy!