Exercise can have numerous benefits from improving your mood to boosting your confidence, it’s a great tool for releasing those negative emotions and helping de-stress. However, be warned, overdoing it the gym can actually undo all of those positives and result in the opposite of the desired effects. So, it’s important to be aware of the main symptoms of overtraining. Here are four key signs you need to watch out for:
One of the most common side effects of overtraining is irritability and low mood. This is due to the effect overtraining has on your hormones, especially the stress hormone cortisol which can influence your mood. A study performed by the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology recorded the mood of 58 swimmers before, during and after a competitive swimming season. The researchers found that overtraining caused mood disturbances, but most importantly, these mood problems disappeared when the swimmers reduced their training.
Chronic Muscle Soreness
It’s normal to feel some soreness 24-48 hours after a training session, but this should subside 1-3 days later. If the soreness persists beyond 3 days then this might be a sign you need to rein in your workouts, because there is a high chance you might be overdoing it. Don’t panic if you do experience some extended soreness every once in a while, just make sure to give yourself some extra rest days to recover before hitting the gym again. But if you constantly feel soreness that won’t go away, take a week or two off and start again afterward with a less intensive routine.
Elevated Resting Heart Rate
Monitoring your resting heart rate can be a good indicator of whether you are suffering from overtraining. When you wake up in the morning before you get out of bed, count your pulse for 60 seconds — this is your resting heart rate. Keep a note of your resting heart rate each day so you can compare the changes. As you exercise, your resting heart rate should decrease slowly and gradually over time. Bear in mind there will be some daily variation, depending on factors such as how well you slept, caffeine consumption and certain medication you might be taking. But the general trend should be downward. Overtraining will cause an increase in your resting heart rate that will last for a long period of time, seven beats per minute higher than usual is a strong sign that you might be overtraining.
Excessive Fatigue and Poor Sleep
Sleep is crucial to exercise recovery as well as to your general physical and mental health, but unfortunately, when you overexert yourself your sleep tends to suffer. A study reported by Rachel Sturtz in the Huffington Post revealed that while over trained cyclists did spend more time in bed, they actually spent less time sleeping! So, although you might feel tired after overtraining you may have trouble drifting off, this is mainly due to high levels of cortisone produced by excessive exercise. If you have trouble sleeping, take a few rest days and see if it improves.
Identifying the Patterns
Experiencing the occasional sign of overtraining is normal, so don’t worry everyone has the occasional night of poor sleep and experiences a variety of different moods. However, if your symptoms persist this is when you need to take action and allow yourself more rest days to help alleviate the symptoms of overtraining. If this doesn’t help, you should consider contacting your doctor for advice.
The Supreme Nutrition Team