In the US, there is evidence of severe undertraining by the fact that obesity is all over the place. There are individuals that take things to the opposite extreme though and end up overtraining which can be just as harmful. Here are a few signs that you might be overtraining. Keep in mind, anyone can have moments like any of these but if these symptoms persist for more than a day or so, start to be concerned.
1. Restlessness, mental fog, disrupted sleep – this is most apparent with excessive aerobic training. Your sympathetic nervous system can get into a continually excited state leaving you restless and unable to focus. Your sleep will also be broken because even though you are tired, your body has gotten hardwired into a fight or flight mode.
2. Working hard but getting soft – If you are working out hard consistently but you are getting softer instead of leaner, you may be overtraining. When you are in an overtrained state, testosterone levels drop and cortisol levels rise which increases muscle breakdown, insulin resistance and fat deposition.
3. Elevated resting heart rate – This is one of the few signs that can be objectively measured. If your resting heart rate when you wake up in the morning is elevated, it could indicate an overtrained state. Overtraining puts the body at an elevated metabolic state where the body is constantly trying to play catch up to the excessive demands that are being put on it.
4. Lost the will to train – Don’t confuse this one with level of motivation. Most times at the end of a workout, you should feel physically tired but mentally and spiritually energized. You should get some feeling that anything is possible. If you feel the opposite, that you want absolutely nothing to do with anything physical, then you might be overtraining, especially if it persists for more than a couple of days.
5. Ultra-lethargic and deep fatigue – This is most common with excessive resistance training. Another side effect of that testosterone and cortisol imbalance, your limbs will feel extremely heavy and made of cement. Your get up and go will feel like it left you way behind.
6. Other side effects – Overtraining over time will lead to inflammation throughout the body making joints very achy. This inflammation can also harm your brain leading to neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The problem is the brain doesn’t feel pain so when you damage it, you don’t know it until the damage has begun to affect function.
So be mindful of your training habits. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. Train hard but don’t overdo it. Do it right!