Overtraining: Your Guide to Understanding and Recovering
The world of bodybuilding is a pretty cutthroat place. For many, bodybuilding isn’t a sport; it’s a lifestyle, a constant that involves a whirlwind of gyms, gear, supplements, commitment, and more. It goes without saying that the more effort you put in to attaining your goals, the closer you are to reaching the pinnacle of your work. Sometimes, we either see too much progress or not enough, and the results - whether positive or negative - can convince us to hit the gym harder next time with perhaps more reps or extra work. When you constantly put too much of your body too often into such high intensity training regimens, you’re liable to overtrain and reap all of its not so great repercussions.
How do we avoid overtraining? The answer isn’t terribly complex, but we first need to discuss some of the warning signs of overtraining. If you don’t know what these are, you could mistakenly identify them in yourself or another as a small bout of fatigue or, even, a lack of effort. We’ll list them out here for you:
- Have you noticed your performance drop? If so, that could be a warning sign of overtraining.
- We talk about plateaus and how some supps can get us over certain obstacles. Be careful here, however, as a plateau in your performance can be another sign of overtraining. Since plateauing can also be caused from other natural factors, be sure to identify other symptoms of overtraining before you begin to seek a remedy.
- Are you feeling heavy often? This doesn’t mean that you feel full, per se, but it’s a literal feeling of being overburdened. Sluggishness could theoretically accompany the heavy feeling. Additionally, being over or unusually tired goes hand-in-hand with feeling heavy.
- Suffering from chronic muscle soreness (if you have sore muscles continually for long periods of time) is another red flag. This one makes obvious sense, as if you overtrain, your muscles will have no time nor energy to rebuild and repair.
- Here’s an important one: Is your resting heart rate higher than normal? A quick Google search will inform you that the average resting heart rate for healthy adults ranges from 60-100 bpm (beats per minute). Obviously, everyone is different, so you’ll need to monitor your heartbeat daily and weekly to track its progress. You could start today, so you’re aware of what your average heart rate is.
- Even more worrisome is whether your training heart rate is higher than normal. As you measure your resting heart rate, you should also keep track of your training rate. If you’re consistently higher than what your body typically pounds out, then you check another box in figuring out if you’re overtraining.
- Are you set to a routine and typically love going to the gym? Have you ever felt like you just really didn’t want to go, or have you suffered from long, uninspired bouts of wanting to skip your gym sessions? This could be signs that your body is pleading for time to rest and repair.
- Do you find yourself having difficulties concentrating? A lack or decrease of and in concentration is difficult to deal with and a sign of overtraining.
- Along with the aforementioned tiredness, you might begin to develop issues sleeping (either having too much or too little sleep).
- Should you find yourself not hungry or indifferent to food, this could be another scary warning sign of overtraining. Think of all the negatives that come out of this one. Not good.
- Lastly, you might suffer from unwanted weight loss. Regardless of if you’re bulking up or cutting weight - the loss of weight unintentionally, particularly from overtraining, is not a good thing.
As you can see, overtraining can be a really bad thing. Your goal is to avoid it altogether, and we have some tips on how to do so. By following these steps, you will significantly reduce the risk of overtraining.
- Make sure you give yourself enough time for recovery between your bouts in the gym (really, for all exercising).
- Vary your activities. You don’t do five days of arms in a row, for example. Switch up the parts of your body you’re working on.
- Keep your mind and body healthy by working out regularly.
Should you succumb to overtraining (double check our symptoms and match them to your own), the cure isn’t too difficult a task. In order to successfully treat your overtraining symptoms, you should follow a few rules. Take at least a week off from your workout regimen. Keep away from alcohol, sugars, and losing sleep. Partaking in all three of these vices can rocket your levels of cortisol to pretty unhealthy heights. In doing so, you may actually worsen your overtraining symptoms. Additionally, you should lay off any supplements that don’t assist your body in recovering, as they too can prevent your full recovery. It’s also recommended to ease off caffeine and other stimulants, as well. Repeat this process until your body feels like it has totally recovered.
When you’re working out - at least, when you’re starting a new routine - you always run the risk of overtraining. If you start seeing the warning signs and begin checking off the symptom boxes we listed above, rest yourself immediately. While overtraining has an easy solution (and a straightforward means of reducing the risk of overtraining), the negative effects of its symptoms on your body can cause harm and, at the least, a significant amount of inconvenience.