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In the enthusiasm of starting a new program or preparing for your big event, overtraining is

quite common. You want to train longer and harder so that you can improve, break your own

personal records, and be your best. Except without adequate rest and recovery, your tough

training regimen can backfire and can actually decrease your performance. Top conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery can result in both physical and psychological symptoms. “Over-training Syndrome” is simply training beyond the body's ability to recover. The easiest way to detect if you are overtraining and need to back off a bit, is to notice if you have any or many of the following symptoms.


TIRED AND LACK ENERGY – This is when you feel drained, exhausted and have that

washed-out feeling. Your legs are zapped and you feel that you are dragging throughout

the day. In extreme cases you may feel like you have chronic fatigue syndrome.

SORENESS AND PAIN – Your muscles are sore and tender, even to the touch. You feel

general aches and pains way more often and can even experience pain in the joints.

INCREASED INJURIES – When your joints, tendons, and muscles are overworked they

don’t have the necessary recovery time. When you over-train your chances of injury

drastically increase.

DECREASED PERFORMANCE – You notice a drop in your performance. You are not able

to train at the same levels of endurance or intensity that you were previously able to. It

also seems to take longer to recover from your training sessions.

REDUCED STRENGTH – Although your training has not drastically changed, you notice a

decrease in your muscle strength for no apparent reason. You may even experience

some reduction in your coordination.

CHANGES IN HEART RATE – This is probably the number one indicator of over-training.

However, to notice this, you need to keep track of your heart rate at consistent times

throughout the day. When you first get up in the morning is the best time to take your

RHR (Resting Heart Rate). In normal training, even with adding some intensity, you will

have the same RHR or even a slightly lower RHR as you continue to train. When you are

overtraining, your RHR will increase in the mornings. If you are taking your heart rate

during intervals, when you are overtraining, you will notice an increase in your heart

rate doing intervals at the same pace you were previously doing. It will also take longer

to lower your heart rate after your workouts.

LOSS OF APPETITE – Under normal conditions when you increase your training, you

increase your appetite. However, overtraining tends to suppress your appetite and you

do not crave the nutrition and supplementation that your body needs.

INSOMNIA – Ironically, overtraining often leads to insomnia. It’s a vicious cycle. When

you need sleep the most, you can’t get it! It is during our sleep cycles that we produce

the hormones that facilitate muscle building and recovery. When we can’t sleep our

bodies produces fewer recovery hormones and instead produces stress hormones like

cortisol. Cortisol causes more inflammation and pain in the muscles, joints, and body in


DECREASED IMMUNE SYSTEM – This can mean an escalation in having sore throats,

colds, and other flu-like illnesses. If you have any allergies, they are more prone to flare

up when you over-train. Minor cuts and bruises heal much slower during this time. You

are also more prone to bacterial infections.


APATHY – You start to feel very apathetic towards your training and even life in general.

You don’t care as much, you don’t try as hard as you used to, and you feel more prone

to give up when you are overtraining.

ALTERATION OF MOODS – You will feel quite an increase in negative feelings and a

decrease in the positive ones. Irritability, anger, moodiness, and depression can often

appear after only a few days of intensive overtraining.

DIFFICULTY IN CONCENTRATING – Overtraining causes a lack of mental clarity and

focus. You may find that you can’t concentrate or focus as well in your workouts or in

your daily tasks of life.


1. REST AND RECOVER – Take your training down a notch. Decrease the duration and / or

intensity until you feel back to normal. It is always good to take one day off from

training each week and to have a built in cycle of a recovery week in your training


2. MASSAGE – Vigorous exercise causes tiny tears in muscle fibers, leading to

inflammation. On its own, the body does work to repair the injured cells and massage

helps. Massage improves blood flow, takes the tightness out of our muscles while

reducing the inflammation that occurs during a hard workout.

Massage can be in the form of having a sports massage, foam rolling, or by using a

motorized type of massager. Massage stimulates our mitochondria, which convert

glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. Massage can suppress

inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery. (As if you needed an excuse for a


3. HYDRATION – Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during to recover from

overtraining. This is essential when you are increasing your endurance – especially

when your activity runs past 70 minutes. For longer training durations, be sure you are

drinking fluids with electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

4. QUALITY NUTRITION – Eat something with both proteins and carbs 30-60 minutes after

your workout. This will help your body to repair, recover, and prevent catabolism.

Catabolism is when your body breaks down your precious muscle and uses it for fuel

rather than using stored carbs and fat for fuel. The longer you train the more important

this is. If you are training for longer than 70 minutes you will want to take in some form

of carbohydrate during your workout.

5. REDUCE YOUR STRESS – Stress contributes to overtraining syndrome. When you are

undergoing a stressful season in your life, your body feels it. Try to reduce the amount

of stress in your life. It could be by reducing your commitment load, finding ways of

relaxation such as meditation, or reducing your exposure to stressful environments. If

you are unable to reduce your stress in life at this time, take a temporary reduction in

your training.

6. CROSS-TRAINING – Change up your training by biking instead of running, swimming

instead of biking, or by doing TRX instead of heavy weights. This can be so refreshing to

your body! Cross-training enables you to incorporate other muscles and can give you a

mental boost by getting you out of a training rut. Doing low levels of exercise (active

recovery) and using cross-training can increase your recovery and your immunity.

Take notice if you have any of the symptoms of overtraining listed above. If you do, incorporate some of the recovery strategies in your training. Be strategic and listen to your body so that you can continue to train, improve, and have fun!


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