Over-training (OT) is going beyond the natural physical limitations of one’s body by training too much or too intensely. It can develop when the physical and emotional stresses placed upon an individual are greater than the coping and repair resources. Too much exercise can be stressful on all of the body systems. OT can result in serious damage to the body, including physical and mental collapse and is common among people who are eager to see quick results in a short time. But sometimes, even seasoned fitness enthusiasts can fall into a pattern in which they find themselves suffering from the classic signs of OT. These symptoms can creep up and go unnoticed for days. OT affects us on all levels; psychological symptoms include fatigue, reduced concentration, apathy, insomnia, irritability, depression and lack of desire to train. Physiological symptoms include increased injuries, chronic muscle soreness, weight loss, supressed immune system, appetite loss and delayed recovery from training.

If you find you are suffering from any of these symptoms, luckily OT is relatively easy to cure; just ensure you are getting adequate rest, proper program design, good nutrition and enough sleep. Over-training symptoms can last for weeks or months, especially if there are many other stresses in your life. In general, if performance and mood improve, you are back on track and on the road to recovery. No activity is worse than some, while too much may be worse than none at all. The best situation lies somewhere in the “just enough” section. More is not always better, because OT can hinder gains and thwart all the hard work we put in at the gym. Thankfully, OT is one of the only negative results of entering into an exercise program. We all want to exercise to feel better, not worse, and OT can make us dread lacing up our sneakers and preparing our post workout shakes. It can make us lose our intrinsic motivation for improved fitness.

There are basically two forms of the OT syndrome. The sympathetic form is more common in sprint type sports and the parasympathetic form is more common in endurance sports, but decreased overall performance and increased perceived fatigue are similar in both form of the syndrome. The sympathetic form of overtraining is generally the more common form that most of us dedicated gym-goers have experienced at some point or another.

We all love that rush of endorphins we feel after a great workout. You know that feeling, the immediate stress reliever and that warm cozy feeling that fills your body and mind in the hours after a gym session. It`s the best feeling! But, what if you begin to lack this pleasant experience post workout? What if instead of feeling energetic and enriched after a workout, you feel drained, uncomfortable and immediately sore? Post-workout DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is completely normal, but feeling like death (mentally and physically) is not. Exercise generally elevates mood; if it’s having a negative effect on your mood, it’s probably too much. So, if you find yourself falling into this trap, take a break from the gym (up to a week off), and don’t worry about losing any gains because taking a much needed rest will only make your feel stronger when you are recovered and fit as a fiddle. Remember this important equation: Training = Work + Rest. You don’t improve while training, only once you have recovered from the session and your body has rebuilt itself slightly better. Many times, people only worry about the work side of things and never about the recovery aspect, but during recovery are where our desired gains are made. You will actually feel stronger when you get back at it. Remember that exercise is just one part of a healthy lifestyle; enjoy other activities that fulfill your life. It’s a good policy to pace yourself and learn how to say ‘no’ when necessary in order to preserve your health because your health and well-being are the most important things we have in life 🙂

Written by Angel Simmons for KostaKromidas.co