Overtraining Prevention! Are You Overdoing The Exercise Thing?
Look I get it! It’s fun to be in the gym! Working out, pushing some weights, punching a bag, running, cycling, moving and training like a beast! But are you perhaps over doing it? As a trainer and a fitness enthusiast who more or less so works out 6x days a week (and has done so for the past 10 years) its difficult for me to say this, but indeed there is a limit to exercise! Many of you may be over doing the exercise thing (and may not even know it!)
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Are You Overtraining?
How, do you know if you are overtraining or over exercising? In simple terms, if you find that you’ve been stagnant in your progress and find yourself with more and more workout related injuries, and sick then you are probably over doing it! One for sure way to tell is to get blood work done. If your cortisol levels are too high it can be because you are training too much at a high intensity.
Other signs include:
- Constant joint pain
- Constant soreness
- Poor quality of sleep
- Getting sick often (like easily catching a cold)
- Feeling fatigued or exhausted
- Poor performance in the gym even after a good night’s rest
- Stagnant in your goals
- Overall muscle weakness
If one or more of the above rings true, then it’s time to step up your recovery game and increase some much-needed R&R (recovery and relaxation!)
What Is Recovery?
Recovery includes anything and everything that allows your body to repair from the stresses of life (including fitness). Sleep, stretching, myofascial release, and meditation are all excellent methods for recovery. Often times several of these recovery techniques and tools are necessary to have an effective recovery, alongside nutritional supplements.
It is often forgotten about or looked over. Sadly, social media has popularized statements like “no pain no gain” which can be the furthest from the truth. In fact, no pain is typically a GOOD thing as it indicated that your muscle and tendons have adequately managed the workout and adapted to the work demanded of them (aka they are getting stronger!).
Why Do You Need It?
Without adequate recovery, you can sabotage your goals and are more likely to put on bad weight (fat), be lethargic, have joint pain and hormonal distress. Proper recovery allows your body, and specifically your muscles and CNS system to recover from workouts and the stress imposed from workouts.
When we workout, we use our muscles, tendon, joints, and CNS, which in turn cause temporary inflammation. You know that soreness that you get a day or two after workouts? Yup, that’s inflammation. Strength training in itself is muscle tearing apart (this is how muscle grows and strengthens!). Recovery is the process of muscles repairing and growing so it can withstand more stress.
So as you can see, without proper recovery, your muscles cannot grow… your metabolism will continue to be stagnant and worst of all, your hormones will be out of whack causing extra weight gain.
Overtraining Prevention: How To Step Up Your Recovery Game
If you think you are overtraining, then it’s time to S L O W it down! One of the best and easiest ways is to schedule more off days. For example, if you are currently training 6 or 7 (yikes!) days a week, add another rest day and train instead for 4 or 5 days a week.
Remember the average person benefits greatly with just three to four days of strength training so do not over do it or ensure you have scheduled at least two rest days.You can also opt to swap out some of you heavy strength training days with a day of yoga, meditation or fun cardio (think dance class!); which are less strenuous on your CNS and your muscles, tendons, and joints. Strength training does cause a lot of strain on the skeletomuscular and nervous system. In fact, muscle grows because of the demands and the stress we put on it; which is the exact reason you should give it adequate recovery.
Some other good ideas for recovery include increasing sleep, seeking out deep tissue massages (or massage therapy in general) and adding in 20 minutes of foam rolling or myofascial release after each workout.
Last but definitely not the least eating good, nutritious food is critical to recovery. Ensure you are eating enough protein, carbs, good fat and vitamins to support your efforts in the gym. You can also (with consultation with your doctor or a registered nutritionist) add in omega 3s, fish oils, vitamins b, d, L- glutamine, and magnesium to your diet to help with faster recovery. These supplements are specifically known for helping with recovery and with reducing inflammation; so they may be worth adding to your diet.
Whatever your end goal is (get strong, build muscle, step on stage… summer bod) you need to compliment your work in the gym with adequate recovery outside the gym. Otherwise, you will not only halt your own success but may cause devastating damage to your joints, tendons and overall health.