How overtraining does more harm than good to your physique and health

Overtraining is a force to be reckoned with. Do you feel drained and exhausted (mentally and physically) like your energy’s been zapped away? You would think the more you work out, the better, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. This does more harm than good. 

When you train too hard with little-to-no rest days, your body sends you many signals letting you know you’re overdoing it.

In this blog post, we’ll be talking about what causes overtraining, the seven signals your body sends you to slow it down — and what you can do about it right away. Read on.

Is there such a thing as overtraining?

Yes! Contrary to what some fitness enthusiasts believe, working out every day with little-to-no rest in between can lead to overtraining. Muscle strain and soreness are more likely if you work out too much.

Be careful you don’t overtrain because instead of seeing improvements and faster results…

In reality…

  • You’ll be slowing down your progress
  • You become more sensitive to recurring injuries
  • You can create hormonal imbalances 

If you continue overtraining for too long…

  • You can gain more body fat
  • Lose muscle mass

What causes overtraining?

Long story short, overtraining isn’t only caused by working out too much. It’s a combination of overloading too much physical, psychological, and environmental stress on your body.

Here are the seven signs you’re overtraining…

1. Your muscles are achy and sore for too long

You can barely walk without limping, and it hurts to scratch your back because you’re sore to the bone. Sure, it’s normal for your muscles to ache and feel sore for two to three days. But when you’re feeling sore for more than five consecutive days, that’s a sign you’ve pushed your breaking point, and you must rest. 

According to professional personal trainer Jessica Matthewsyou must have at least one day off so your body can recover, which helps you grow stronger than before.

2. You’re wrestling with restless and sleepless nights

It’s a battle with your body to fall asleep, and you toss and turn all night. Daily exercise naturally helps you get a good night’s rest, but working out too much does the opposite. 

Excessive exercise ignites a stress response in your body, increasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. This can creep and crawl its way into your sleep schedule, and the quality of your sleep withers and frails, meaning you can’t sleep in peace or get quality rest, according to Matthews.

3. You have waves of mood swings

Daily exercise is vital for the mind and body. However, excessive exercise eats away at your sanity silently until you can’t ignore it. Overworking your body sneaks its way to your emotional health. 

How? Out of the blue, you suddenly start feeling under the weather and lose your motivation. 

Some common impacts on your mental health include: 

  • Stress
  • Agitation
  • Sadness
  • Confusion
  • Loss of motivation

And the list goes on for other not-so-friendly mood changes. 

4. You’re more sensitive to injury

Your heavy body, achy knees, and burning back pain are painting a clear picture. According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, performing the same workouts day in and day out can cause overuse injuries. It would be best if you gave yourself time to rest appropriately. 

Otherwise, it’s easier for you to strain your muscles and joints. Constant repetition of the same workouts without exercising other muscles makes you vulnerable to overuse injuries.

It’s great to push yourself constantly and set higher goals, but don’t push yourself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. 

5. Your resting heart rate races

Imagine you’re in a restful state, like sitting down or lying in bed, and suddenly, you feel your heart start rapidly pounding as if you’ve just finished running. This can be linked back to you over-exercising. 

Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist, says that your resting heart rate can change when your body’s working overtime to meet your training needs.

6. Your appetite has grown weak 

You’re not hungry like before and likely to get full from a lower food intake. According to The American Council on Exercise, losing your appetite is a significant symptom of working out too much

Naturally, exercise makes you feel less hungry because it drops your ghrelin levels (a hormone that stimulates your appetite and boosts levels of peptide YY, the hormone responsible for controlling your appetite.)

7. Your active performance is low and declining

You don’t want to be painfully sore for weeks, unable to compete, do you? Naturally, after continuous heavy and intense workouts, you’ll feel weaker, tired, and ache for about 24-72 hours. 

It’s perfectly normal. However, suppose you consistently try to complete intense workouts for faster progress. This instead causes you to lose strength and endurance, causing your performance to dwindle and weaken. 

Here are three things you can do about it right now

Now that you know what to expect, here are three things you can do immediately after reading.

Step 1: Stop exercising and rest

Easier said than done if you’re dealing with overtraining. However, setting aside a couple of days and even one to two weeks aside will allow your mind and body to properly heal. 

You’ll achieve remarkable results by slowing it down and resting rather than working harder. There’s no need to feel lazy or guilty about not exercising! Let your muscles and joints recover so you can come back stronger than before. 

Step 2: Plan recovery days 

If it’s on your calendar, you must follow through with it, right? On average, we recommend taking a rest day every three to five days in between your workouts to allow your body to recover. 

However, if you’re overtrained, we recommend having three days minimum of rest. Depending on how you’re feeling, you should rest for as long as you need. This could range from five to twenty days. Mark your calendars and rest!

Step 3: Relieve tension and stress

There are countless ways to manage muscular tension and mental stress. 

These things include: 

  • Yoga
  • Hot baths
  • Massages
  • Meditation
  • Aromatherapy
  • Soothing music

Remember, muscle strain and soreness are more likely if you overtrain. Make time to include relaxing elements during your day, even if it is just 10-20 minutes of a pleasant walk, gentle and thoughtful breathing, or light stretching in the morning.

Do you want to get in touch with us?

If you’d like personal 1:1 care or want to learn more, please contact us at (410) 946-1672, or click here. We’ll get you in touch with one of our dedicated professionals. At True Sports Physical Therapy, your health is always front of mind! It’s our mission to help you get off the sidelines and back on your feet in the fastest and safest way possible.