What you don’t know about over-training might hurt you. Literally.

Ever heard of over-training? Here’s what you need to know.

 Over-training syndrome can be defined as excessive high intensity training and diminished rest periods resulting in constant tiredness, decreased performance, hormone & brain changes, frequent illness & mood alterations, otherwise known as burnout – quite similar to adrenal insufficiency or fatigue. It is generally talked about with regards to elite athletes, however daily exercisers can experience it too.

 

When not enough rest is allowed, the benefits of training are reduced or completely diminished.

This results in a subsequent
decrease in performance / ability to exercise. Theoretically,  if at this point a person were to rest for 1-2 weeks, any feelings of fatigue and other symptoms would disappear allowing a full return to activity as long as rest was scheduled. If a person were to continue at this pace however, over-training syndrome is very likely to occur.

Often, there are psychological reasons that people push themselves beyond their limits.

Some that I have come across quite frequently are:

  • a weight loss goal with little time for recovery and rest;
  • an aesthetic goal neglecting recovery and rest;
  • the mindset that rest is not an important aspect of training;
  • extreme caloric restriction with over exercising.

What are the Symptoms of over-training?

  1. fatigue (usually the first warning sign);
  2. increased heart rate and blood pressure first thing in the morning;
  3. decreased maximal heart rate;
  4. frequent illness;
  5. persistent muscles soreness;
  6. weight loss;
  7. decreased motivation;
  8. loss of appetite;
  9. degraded sleep patterns;
  10. irritability;
  11. depression.

 

To prevent over-training, its important to educate yourself on periodization (<–click the word if you want to know more), and building adequate rest, nutrition and hydration into your workout schedule. If you have the resources, work with a qualified personal trainer or fitness consultant (hey, I do that – check it out here ) to ensure your program is balanced and progressive.

If you have already stepped into over-training syndrome, follow these steps to bounce back:

  • Keep a daily symptom diary tracking information about stress levels, fatigue, sleep quality, training details, perceived exertion during training and muscle soreness.
  •  A short-term period of complete rest with sleep emphasised over the first 48 hours. (In less severe cases this may eliminate symptoms .)
  • Relaxation enhancement (meditation, stress reduction).
  •  Supportive recovery diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, protein and adequate complex carbohydrate intake.
  • Increased water and electrolyte intake.
  • Psychological support depending on the reason for the over-training.
  • Education on program progression / rest component.

 

So now that you know how important rest and recovery are, take those rest days without guilt! πŸ™‚

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Enjoy this day!

-LB

 

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