Exercising has many benefits from boosting mood to reduced risk of disease. However, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and over training can be an issue that affects professional athletes but also amateur gym goers and runners.
Training stresses the body and breaks down muscle. It’s in recovery that we grow stronger as our body repairs and rebuilds our muscles. If you constantly train before your body has had the chance to rebuild, you will never get to a point of gaining strength.
It can be difficult to recognise if you are overtraining unless you have an injury or something serious happens. I know for myself in the past, I have had periods of time where I am over training, and didn’t always recognise the signs.
Here are 6 signs that you might not relate to over training.
1. You have hit A Plateau
If it feels like you have been training harder than normal, but you have stopped seeing results (or never saw results) despite how hard you work, this is a sign that you may be overtraining and not recovering efficiently. Overtraining can lead to an increase in recovery times and decrease in performance meaning that your training sessions don’t provide the benefits that they should.
2. Irritable and Poor Sleep
If you find that you constantly feel stressed, overwhelmed, moody, depressed or anxious, this could be a symptom of overtraining. Sufficient rest and refuelling are important for our endocrine system and the production of our ‘rest & digest’ hormones. High levels of cortisol, our stress hormone can make it harder for us to switch off and relax and therefore negatively impact our sleep. This is in turn can lead to low mood and irritability.
3. Digestive Issues
The body will always prioritize movement over other bodily functions. If you have low energy availability and still training hard, your body will be forced to shut down other ‘non-essential’ functions such as sex hormone production and digestion. It is very common for athletes, and people who train hard to experience ‘IBS like symptoms’ such as bloating, gas and constipation.
4. Recurrent Illnesses
Training puts the body under a lot of stress, and without adequate rest the immune system becomes weakened, meaning your body is not able to fight of viruses and other infections as well.
5. Menstrual Irregularities
Extreme weight loss & change in hormonal levels can cause women’s menstrual cycles to become irregular or stop all together. A missing a period is common, especially amongst athletes, but it is NOT normal. Lack of energy availability in women means that the body does not have the energy to support itself, let alone think about reproducing. Low levels of oestrogen can also reduce the ability to build lean muscle, whilst increasing risk of injury, so missing periods should never be ignored.
6. Increased risk of Injury
Most of us will have experience an ache, pain or niggle at some point during our training regime, but recurring issues can be a sign of something more serious. Long term fatigue caused from lack of recovery, means that small injuries don’t have the chance to heal and leave someone with a greater risk of acute injuries. Women who may be over training and under fuelling may also be at increased risk of osteoporosis due to decreased bone density.
I know first-hand how difficult it can be to take time off training, whether it is part of your job, or it helps your mental health, reducing something you love is never easy.
But above all it is important to remember that taking time off and letting your body rest is when we see the best results. On rest days I would recommend getting outside, nature is so good for us, and releases the same endorphins as exercise. I love going out for a nice walk or doing some gentle yoga.
If you suspect that you may be overtraining please get in touch, or book in for a free 15 minute chat.x