It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out with exercise or have been exercising for years. Overtraining can cause many problems that can ultimately set you back with your healthy lifestyle journey.
Much of the time our intentions are good, thinking that, “if I work harder than I’ll get the results more quickly,” but that isn’t completely the case.
The main reason I want to address this topic is due to the trend of “workout challenges”.
Workout challenges have become a prevalent way to have fun, bond and hold each other accountable to exercising. In addition to challenges, any more it’s easy to get online and access a workout or program that you think will get you the results quickly. If you don’t know how or there isn’t clear guidance on how to use the workout(s), you can really put yourself at risk.
Additional concern occurs when someone puts their own program together without the knowledge of exercise science and shares them across social platforms.
What may be good for one, may not be the case for the other.
These programs and challenges tend to be extremely intense workouts, and lack gradual introduction and muscle build. Even more so with the “x” number of day challenges, you are stressing the same muscles every day with the same exercise. This leaves minimal to no rest, along with completing an excessive number of repetitions. In cases such as this, I get so concerned about not only burnout, but over stressing the muscles, leading to a delay in results, as well as an increased risk for injury.
Essentially when you exercise, you are making small tears in your muscles, to rebuild and repair, leading to a stronger muscle. If you don’t give your muscles time to do this rebuilding, you set yourself up for the results of overtraining.
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The benefits of avoiding overtraining include sustained energy, motivation, and increased gains due to the time you allow for proper recovery. Ultimately, achieving your fitness goals!
It’s most ideal to avoid overtraining when possible.
It’s also ideal to be able to acknowledge when you are possibly overtraining and what to do when you feel you may be overtraining.
How to avoid overtraining
- Take rest days or active rest days. Active rest days still give you your exercise “fix”, but are typically a less regimented and structured workout. Active rest days could include going on a nature walk, playing a pick-up game such as basketball or soccer, or even a soft slow yoga session.
- Rotate your workouts. This can also act as a rest day. You will notice many of the programs I put together rotate upper and lower body workouts. The day that you are working your upper body, your lower body is resting and vice versa. This rotation allows for you to continue to exercise, while avoiding to overtrain any particular muscle.
- Fuel your muscles. Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet with nutrient dense foods. Your workouts will be so much better and your muscles will thank you!
Signs of overtraining
- You notice fatigue both in and out of the gym.
- Lack of motivation. You aren’t excited about getting a good workout in and you feel as though you are just going through the motions to get the workout in.
- Soreness. This is beyond the common delayed onset muscle soreness that you get a couple days after exercising, and is more of a pain that does not go away and rather sticks around
- Easily become sick. Overtraining can cause your immune system to become more vulnerable. This is due to the work that your body is trying to do to recover from the extreme exercise.
- Injury or reoccurring injury.
Recovery from overtraining
- Give yourself one or two days of complete rest. This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy, but it’s much needed and necessary if you get to this point.
- Back off of your intense workouts. Decrease reps, weight, distance, speed, incline, etc.
- Fuel your body. Provide your body with more nutrient dense calories to give it the nutrients it needs to repair and rebuild and also give you the energy to exercise.
(for those of you who are looking for that section I described above, the below is what you are looking for ;))
Be mindful of the workouts and challenges you are participating in.
How often, are you exercising the same muscle in the exact same way? How intense is the training? Does the workout match your fitness level and does it progress in an appropriate way for you?
I’m not saying to not participate in the fun workout challenge where you do 20 sit-ups or more every day. I am saying that you need to know your level of fitness and work within your means, progress gradually and let your body recuperate through rest days so that the muscles can heal.
Most importantly keep in mind what is best for YOU!
Also be aware of who and were the workout is coming from. Make sure you are getting the workout from a reputable source. I hold a certification from the American Council on Exercise AND have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology. Only holding a certification, doesn’t necessarily mean you have extensive knowledge in a field, it minimally means you learned the information to pass the exam and get the certificate.
It’s always important to find out more about who you are getting your information from. (in all things in life)
Lastly, consult your doctor. This is particularly important if you have any additional health issues. They may advise you to look into specific types of exercise that are best for you.
I really want you to stay safe and healthy through exercise so that you can achieve your goals. If you have more questions about this, comment below or email me and I’d love to help you.
While I provide you with monthly challenges and workouts, and am looking at how I can change this up for you in 2021, I want you to realize that I’m providing these workouts to you with an educated background. These also come with with a recommended guidance on how to use them, typically encouraging you to only use them 2, to max 3 times a week. I’m also encouraging you to be mindful of the intensity you do them in. And I'm always here to help you find your perfect balance. Don't forget to check out the video that demonstrates each of these moves!