Fitness Overtraining: Are You Training Too Hard?
By Dr Kristie
Some people are reluctant to begin an exercise program, but when they finally make the commitment they give it 110% of their effort. While such motivation is laudable, exercising too vigorously or frequently can lead to a common problem in the fitness world – overtraining. Overtraining has become increasingly common as the emphasis has shifted away from low intensity workouts towards high intensity, interval style training. So, how do you know if you’re training too hard?
Some people are of the belief that if some exercise is good, more must be better. The truth is that most fitness gains, at least in terms of developing strength and lean body mass, come during periods of rest. When you do a resistance workout, you stress the working muscles, causing small micro-tears to form in the muscle fibers which need to be repaired. During this time, the muscle develops strength and definition as its rebuilt and mended. If you exercise the muscle too quickly after it’s stressed, not only will gains in strength be reduced, but the risk of injury will be higher. Thus training too hard and too often can slow down the rate of strength development while increasing the risk of injury.
Training too hard can also have more serious effects on the body. Studies have shown that moderate exercise strengthens the immune system, while overtraining suppresses, increasing the risk of developing colds and other infections. Overtraining by doing excessive cardiovascular exercise can lead to loss of muscle tone as muscle is broken down to provide additional fuel for the body. Excessive cardiovascular exercise in females has also been associated with menstrual irregularities and fertility problems. In both men and women it can be associated with loss of sexual desire. Obviously, training too hard can be as much of a problem as not exercising at all.
What are some signs that you may be training too hard? Overtraining can cause sleep problems, particularly insomnia. If you’re having difficulty falling asleep or waking up frequently throughout the night, your exercise routine may be too blame. Another sign of overtraining is awakening with a high pulse rate or experiencing a more rapid pulse rate during the day than normal. Other signs are lack of energy and motivation, excessive fatigue, nausea, and frequent colds or other illnesses.
Of course training too hard can lead to muscle soreness. While it’s not abnormal to have soreness a day or two after a change in routine, the soreness associated with overtraining may be continuous. Itoccurs because the muscles aren’t given enough time to rest between workouts. Sore muscles due to overtraining can make it difficult to use proper exercise form which can lead to injury.
The bottom line? Exercise is good, but overtraining isn’t. Watch for signs and symptoms that you may be training too hard and give your body some much needed rest. As with anything in life, moderation is key.