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Signs that you’re overtraining

With summer on the horizon, many of us are investing extra hours at the gym as we put in the work to get our bodies in shape, but with motivation at an all-time high, is it possible to put in too much work?


Well, overtraining does exist, but it’s very uncommon. Even a committed workout enthusiast putting in 10 hours at the gym every week is likely not at risk.


However, if you’re in the habit of training twice-daily and plunging enormous hours into your routine, you might start noticing your body – and your mood – taking a hit.


Here are four things to look out for.


  1. An inability to sleep


One of life’s ironies is that if you exhaust your body to a damaging degree, you’ll actually struggle to get sleep. If you notice you can’t get any shut eye, consider giving yourself a few days’ rest, and evaluate from them there. Also monitor your heart rate. The body’s resting heart rate increases by 10-15 beats a minute in athletes that are exhausting themselves day in, day out.


  1. Slow gains


To build muscle and to cut fat, your body needs to rest. Athletes that spend every waking moment exercising begin to notice that their results taper off. Again, this is an irony, as you’d expect that more work = more results. Not so. When torn muscles are repeatedly torn, they’re no longer growing, but receiving damage instead. (6-10 hours a week in the gym is perfectly fine. When you’re clocking in over 20, you’re starting to enter overtraining territory.)


  1. Changes in mood


Athletes who overtrain report being moody, low in self esteem and lacking in motivation. Very often they develop body dysmorphia and see themselves as “too small” or lacking in “muscular definition”, keeping the cycle of punishing exercise going.


  1. Getting ill and getting injured


Reaggravating old injuries is a sure sign you’re overtraining, as is getting ill often. When you’re training constantly, your body is always at work (often described as being in a “catabolic” state). That results in a lowered immune system and a greater chance of falling sick.


In the end, overtraining is actually incredibly rare. Christian Thibaudeau, a Canadian bodybuilder and strength training coach, has spent a lifetime observing athletes and has only seen “two or three cases” of real overtraining (these involved Olympic athletes putting in 20-25 hours a week). In the end, if you’re feeling sore and feeling stiff, you likely need a break and nothing more. Ultimately, rest is an important part of getting the best workout in.


author: Zone Fitness