2. The more and the longer you workout, the better:
I know that if you work more and harder in your career, you will grow your business and earn promotions, if you spend more time with your friends and family you will build stronger relationships and if you practice longer and more intense on your golf swing well you will probably shave strokes off your game.
But this doesn’t work with exercise and weight lifting. If you over train your body it is rather counterproductive. Most people are aware of this concept, but they are not aware about how fast overtraining can happen.
When I am at the gym, I see people overtraining all the time. The guys who pump up their muscles for about 2 hours, the girls that go to every Zumba and body attack class in one evening. They wonder why their muscles don’t grow bigger or stronger or why they don’t lost the weight they want.
They may be thinking that the longer they workout and the more classes they take the faster they will reach their goals. But that’s not how it works.
Overtraining is the result of an imbalanced Work/Recovery relation. When you put too much stress on your body and don’t give it the needed rest-time then various undesirable things can happen.
Some of the common side effects are:
- Chronic fatigue
But they are not always that extreme or obvious. Some of them aren’t that heavy :
- You simply can’t finish a proper workout:
When your body is over trained, you can’t lift the weights you usually lift, because you don’t have enough energy. You will feel progressively weaker, slower and more lethargic.
- You are getting fatter despite training hard:
Your hormones get thrown out of whack. Testosterone levels plunge and cortisol levels rise, which causes catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue) and increases insulin resistance and fat deposition. The result: you train harder and harder but get fatter instead of more fit.
- You are training hard everyday of the week:
Unless you have Wolverine’s gift of regeneration I recommend to take at least 2 days off weights per week and schedule at least 1 day of absolutely no exercising at all.
What I like to do is lifting weights from Monday to Friday and doing some cardio on Saturday, which leaves Sunday as a complete rest day.
You can play with this as much as you want so long as you take two days off weights and have one day of complete rest.
- You are restless at night and have trouble sleeping:
If you do a lot of aerobic exercise and are over trained, your sympathetic nervous system can remain excited at all times, which leaves you restless at night and causes a disturbed and broken sleep.
- You have pains in your joints, bones or limbs:
That’s one of the first things I notice when I approach the point of being over trained. My back starts to ache, then my knees and then my hip. Actually it takes 8 to 10 weeks of intense training before repetitive stress happens and that’s the moment where I take a whole week off to let my body recover.
- You get sick more often than usual:
If you take care of you immune system, don’t eat too much sugar and give your body the vitamins it needs, but still get little coughs, sniffles sinus pressure or headaches, you may be overtraining. Take a rest week and let your immune system recover.
- You feel drained and crappy after what normally would be a good workout:
Normally I feel so good after working out, but when I get closer to the point of overtraining I feel more and more miserable after every workout. Working out should increase your mood. If you are feeling bad instead, well you may be overtraining and you should take some rest.
If you only experience one of the symptoms I listed, it won’t be an indicator of over training. But if you notice several of these symptoms, then chances are pretty high that you need to take a rest week and give your body the recovery it needs.
Getting a proper amount of sleep could help (7 to 8 hours per night) as well as a proper diet which provides your body with everything it needs to repair itself.
Listen to your body to avoid the incredibly frustrating and discouraging trap of overtraining.
Sincerely, your Lifting Fairy