Overtraining

Friday, August 18th, 2017

Overtraining can be defined as constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for the body’s systems and muscles to adequately recover.

When working on our health and fitness it is easy to fall into the trap of chronic exercise day after day. However, this can lead to overtraining and a plethora of symptoms that can negatively impact our progress.

Signs and symptoms of overtraining:

Increased resting heart rate.

An elevated resting heart rate could be down to an increased metabolic rate, which could be the body’s way of coping with the demands of your training.

A drop in performance.

Overtraining can lead to a dip in your enthusiasm, a more serious consequence of consistently performing below your best can be low self-esteem.

Stress.

Cortisol levels (the stress hormone) increase in response to physiological and mental stresses. Scientists have reported that cortisol levels can lower immune function and increase blood pressure, cholesterol and the likelihood of heart disease. In relation to exercise, elevated cortisol levels can be exacerbated by too much exercise and lead to a catabolic state in which muscle is broken down and fat is stored. In extreme cases, cortisol has also been shown to increase the chances of depression and lower life expectancy.

Tired, run down, sick.

Constantly feeling tired before training or an increase in the frequency you feel sick or unwell could be a sign that your body has not had enough time to recover between workouts and needs rest.

Recovering from overtraining

Thankfully, if you find you are prone to any of these ‘symptoms’, overtraining is a relatively easy problem to fix.

Rest days.

Take at least one day a week off. This doesn’t mean go on a sugar or beer binge. Schedule rest days each week to give yourself enough time in between workouts.

Sleep.

Sleep is a major factor when letting your body recover from physical activity as it is at this time when the body produces HGH (Human Growth Hormone) which helps with cell reproduction. Growth hormone is involved in the turnover of muscle tissue, which is particularly important for those of us who are looking to add lean muscle mass, as well as the remodelling of bone and collagen tissues.

Generally, our growth hormone release is at its highest during the first part of the night, which is why getting to bed at a reasonable for a good night’s rest is important. When we cut our sleep short, we blunt the effect of growth hormone, which limits our natural recovery and muscle growth ability.

Diet.

Drinking alcohol and a lack of good quality sleep will push your cortisol levels through the roof and could speed up your overtraining symptoms. Eat adequate amounts of food, being sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables, fibre, quality protein, and whole grain sources of carbohydrates.