December 22, 2009
Overtraining is defined as constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery.
How do I know if I’m overtraining?
Physical signs of overtraining include-
- Decreased performance
- Loss of coordination
- Prolonged recovery
- Elevated morning heart rate
- Elevated resting blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle soreness/tenderness
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Decreased ability to ward off infection
- Increased incidence of musculoskeletal injuries
- Disturbed sleep patterns
In addition to the physical symptoms mentioned above, overtraining can also have an effect on mood and stress levels. Too much exercise can lead to reduced enthusiasm and desired for training, leaving the exerciser irritable and depressed, especially as the quality of his or her workouts decline.
It is important to recognize the psychological and emotional signs of overtraining, which include-
- Difficulty concentrating
- Emotional sensitivity
- Reduced self-esteem
What causes overtraining?
For some people, overtraining occurs as a result of an upcoming competition. Increased training prior to an event is understandable, but if it’s interfering with your health and well-being you have to question its worth. The solution may be as easy as reducing the rate at which you increase your training intensity. The body needs sufficient time to adjust to your increased demands. Triathletes don’t start out running 10 miles, cycling 100 miles and swimming 1000 meters all at once. They gradually increase their training to allow their bodies to adapt.
For others, the basis for overtraining may have more to do with emotional or psychological reasons than physical ones. Much like eating disorders, exercise addiction is now recognized as a legitimate problem. Exercising beyond the point of exhaustion, while injured, or to the exclusion of other aspects of one’s life are some of the signs of exercise addiction. It’s a difficult problem to recognize, particularly in a culture where discipline and control are lauded.
Individuals who exercise excessively are risking more than poor performance, they’re risking their health. Overuse syndrome, which may lead to more serious injuries, is common and the emotional cost of isolating oneself to exercise can be devastating. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or in a friend, it is essential that you seek professional help.
Click here for tips on how to avoid overtraining.
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »