Overtraining is somewhat of a debatable topic in the world of fitness. There seem to be two very popular, but at the same time contradictory opinions concerning this phenomenon. One of those opinions is that overtraining is a myth made up by people who are too lazy to force themselves to make any real progress in the gym. The second opinion, of course, is that overtraining is absolutely real, and that it can lead to some pretty serious problems if it is not addressed.
I personally belong to the latter group, and today I want to talk about a few things that might hint that you’re indeed overtraining. If you experience any of these, it might be time to cut down on the gym a bit.
1. A Lack of Energy
Our bodies require energy for everything we do, including eating, sleeping and even breathing. Our organism uses anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 calories per day (depending on your bodyweight) without us even lifting a finger. That energy needs time and resources in order to be replenished, and if you’re hitting the gym for three hours every day of the week, you might not be giving your body the time it needs to recover. This results in feeling groggy and sluggish all the time, even though you’re trying to live as healthy a lifestyle as you possibly can.
2. Constant Thirst
Thirst is a normal, healthy way of your body informing you that you are dehydrated and that it needs additional water in order for everything to function properly. If you’re feeling parched all the time, however, it might be due to the fact that you’re exercising too much and keeping your body in catabolic mode all the time. You shouldn’t have to drink more than eight cups of water per day, as water is also an ingredient in pretty much all types of food as well.
3. Frequent Soreness
If you’ve been training for a while, you probably already know that muscle soreness is something that pretty much comes with the territory. Your muscles are sore after a workout because they’ve been damaged at a microscopic level and need time to heal themselves. If this soreness persists for more than three days, and your limbs are feeling heavy and weak, it’s a good sign that you’re probably overdoing it.
4. Troubled Sleep
If you work out a lot, you need to sleep a lot – that’s just the way it goes. Sleep is when growth hormones reach their peak level in your body and kickstart that muscle recovery so you can go back to the gym as soon as possible. However, believe it or not, working out too much can actually lead to a decrease in the quality of your sleep.
5. A Compromised Immune System
Has nose runniness and coughing up phlegm become second nature to you? If so, you’re probably spending too much time in the gym, and spending too much of your overall energy on your workouts – leaving very little for your immune system to make do and protect you from pathogen. If you have a bug that you just can’t shake, for Heaven’s sake take a short break from your workouts until it passes. You won’t destroy all your gains if you take a short 4-day break, so make sure you do it before your health deteriorates further.
If you’ve recently sprained a knee or an ankle or pulled a muscle, and this is your first time experiencing such a problem, the issue might be that you’re pushing yourself too far. Exhausting your body with excessive workouts can lead you to subconsciously develop improper form, especially when lifting heavy loads, and this is exactly when accidents most often happen. If you experience joint pain a lot in general, do not mistake this for normal muscle soreness. Joints cannot be strengthened in the same way that muscles can because they’re a different type of tissue, so if your knees or ankles hurt, it’s time to put the barbell down and go see a doctor.
7. Reaching a Plateau
Alright, so you’ve been going to the gym for a while, you’ve been seeing a lot of progress, you’re in there every day and yet, you still can’t get past a certain point and it’s probably really frustrating. Why aren’t you getting any more results if you’re working as hard as you can? The answer: you’re working as hard as you can. Sometimes your body needs a bit of a breather before you can progress further, and if you just keep attempting the same exercises without changing something, you probably aren’t going to accomplish much.
8. Lack of Focus
Finally, if you’re exercising too much you might find that you have trouble doing basic, every-day things that require even a little cognitive ability. Things like forgetting your keys, having trouble adding up two large numbers in your head. It’s not Alzheimer’s, don’t worry, but it might just be mental fatigue from exercising too much. You see, when we work out it’s not just our musculature that is getting strained – it’s also our nervous system, and conditioning our nervous system to force our muscles to lift more and more is a very important part of getting stronger. However, just like your muscles your nervous system needs time to rest so it can take care of both your workouts and all of that other mundane stuff – such as remembering your keys and doing math.
Alright, so that about covers everything I wanted to talk about today. Hope you found my advice interesting and useful, and I wish you the best of luck in your further fitness endeavors. Take it easy!