Are you overtrained? Not getting the results you want even though training ONLY 6 days a week for 2 hours per session?
Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or specific events but also non athletes who train beyond the body’s ability to recover experience these symptoms.
Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve but this occurs even for regular people as well who just don’t know when enough is enough and how to exercise correctly. Its easy to fall into a negative spiral if you’re not happy about how you look and feel and drastically want to make a change.
Without adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance and propel fat storing because of high levels of cortisol as a result of mental and physical stress.
Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may result in both physical and psychology symptoms of overtraining syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Sudden drop in performance
- Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
- Decrease in training capacity / intensity
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
- Increased fat percentage and weight
- Decreased appetite
- Increased incidence of injuries.
- A compulsive need to exercise
There are a few ways you can measure some signs of overtraining. One is by documenting your heart rates over time. Track your aerobic heart rate at a specific exercise intensities and speed throughout your training and write it down. If your pace starts to slow, your resting heart rate increases and you experience other symptoms, you may heading into overtraining syndrome.
You can also track your resting heart rate each morning. Take your measurements the first thing in the morning, before you go out of bed, for one week to find your range. You can download apps to your smartphone and keep the phone close to you (for this reason only, otherwise its advisable to keep the phone far away from you), first thing you do when you wake up, start measuring. Any marked increase from the norm indicates that you aren’t fully recovered.
Another way to test your recovery is to use something called the orthostatic heart rate test, developed by Heikki Rusko while working with cross country skiers. To obtain this measurement:
- Lay down and rest comfortably for 10 minutes the same time each day (morning is best).
- At the end of 10 minutes, record your heart rate in beats per minute.
- Then stand up
- After 15 seconds, take a second heart rate in beats per minute.
- After 90 seconds, take a third heart rate in beats per minute.
- After 120 seconds, take a fourth heart rate in beats per minute.
Well rested athletes will show a consistent heart rate between measurements, but Rusko found a marked increase (10 beats/minutes or more) in the 120 second-post-standing measurement of athletes on the verge of overtraining. Such a change may indicate that you have not recovered from a previous workout, are fatigued, or otherwise stressed and it may be helpful to reduce training or rest another day before performing another workout.
A training log that includes a note about how your feel each day can help you notice downward trends and decreased enthusiasm. It’s important to listen to your body signals and rest when you feel tired.
You can also ask those around you if they think you are exercising too much.
While there are many ways to test for overtraining, the most accurate and sensitive measurements are psychological signs and symptoms and changes in your mental state. Decreased positive feelings for exercise and and sports and increased negative feelings, such as depression, anger, fatigue, and irritability often appear after a few days of intensive overtraining. Studies have found increased ratings of perceived exertion during exercise after only three days of overload.
Treating Overtraining Syndrome
If you suspect you are overtraining, start with the following:
Rest and Recover. Reduce or stop exercise and allow yourself a few days of rest. No swiping through training photos or videos on Instagram or YouTube. Allow yourself to take a complete break from it, you won’t miss anything.
Drink plenty of fluids and alter your diet if necessary.
Get a massage. This may help relax you mentally and physically.
Go for longer walks. Try to disconnect from the normal routine and get out in the fresh air. Stay out for a few hours just walking, you’ll be amazed how refreshing it is to be passively active in this way, its also a great way to clear your mind. While this is a form of exercise, its not at all in the same stressful category as throwing around weights and high intensity training.
Research on overtraining syndrome shows getting adequate rest is the primary treatment plan. New evidence indicating that low levels of exercise, or active recovery, during the rest period speeds recovery, and Moderate exercise increases immunity.
Total recovery from overtraining can take several weeks and should include proper nutrition and stress reduction.
Try meditation while outside, close your eyes in a calm environment, put all your focus inward and get a proper feel for every cell thats moving around inside of you.