Over training happens when your muscles and body have no capacity or spare capacity to recovery from your training. When you train your muscles become damaged and it’s the repairing process of these muscles that make you stronger and allow you to progress. During over-training your body doesn’t have the resources to repair, this is when your progress starts to decline.
The following is a guide to the symptoms and signs of over-training to look out for, but before I start I should make it clear that overtraining is rare. If you are experiencing any of the following signs of overtraining, but workout less than 5 hours per week, the chances are you under-recovered rather than over trained. If this sounds like you check out my piece on improving your post workout recovery first, to determine whether you could be doing more to help your muscles recover.
If you feel as though you could potentially be training too much, you’re not giving muscle groups an effective amount of time to heal, or you are doing as much as you can to recover, read on.
The Signs of Overtraining
Your Performance is declining
We all have really good days and days when we don’t perform as well, it’s only natural. However if you start to notice that you’re having increasingly more days of poor performance and your lifts and numbers are noticeably lower than what you can usually achieve this could well be a symptom of overtraining. Keep track of all of your workouts and if you’re performing 10-15% lower on anywhere close to half of your training sessions, this is a clear sign that something is wrong.
You’re Getting Sick More Often
If your body has become over trained your immune system is more than likely taking a hit. Your immune system takes a battering during training usually, but if you’re at the point where your body doesn’t have the resources to recover at the speed it should, the impact on your immune system will reduce your body’s ability to fight infections and illnesses. Signs of this are an increase in colds, mouth ulcers, chest infections and even spots.
You’re Feeling Fatigued and Excessively Tired
Sleep is the main mechanism for your body’s recovery. If you’re regularly getting 7-8 hours of good quality sleep a night and you’re still feeling knackered and fatigued, then it’s likely that your body is unable to keep up with the recovery needed as a result of your training. You physically can’t get enough sleep in order to recover.
You’re Experiencing Poor Sleep Quality
If you feel on edge at night and struggle to actually get to sleep this is a sign that your body is overly stressed and refuses to turn off. Once you actually fall asleep this inability to switch off can wreak havoc with your sleep patterns, impacting your deep sleep cycles and causing you to wake up more often. This is a sign that you are over trained and will result in a poor quality of sleep which as the primary mechanism for recovery is going to impact you even more.
To monitor how restless or peaceful your night’s sleep is, get an app like Sleep Cycle which will chart your periods of deep sleep and restlessness.
You’re Experiencing an Elevated Resting Heart Rate
An elevated resting heart rate is a sign that your body is working more than usual to recover from the strain you have put it under and that it is struggling to keep up with the level of demand. You will need to know what your standard resting heart rate is prior to a period of over-training in order to use this as a signal, so get into a pattern of routinely checking your heart rate as soon as you get up so that you have a benchmark to compare against. If you’re experiencing a heart rate that is 5 beats above your standard rate for more than 3 days in a row this is a sign that maybe you need to take more rest time.
Try this Instant Heart Rate Monitor App from Azumio for a cheap but effective way to check and keep track of your resting heart rate.
You’re Experiencing More Injuries
If you are overtraining the chances are you’re not giving your body enough time to heal between training sessions, which will eventually result in you working out in a weakened state. When working out in a weakened state you increase the likelihood of adopting bad form and drastically increase the chances of becoming injured or aggravating old injuries.
You’re Experiencing Sore Joints
We all get muscle soreness following effective workouts and training sessions, but when the soreness moves from your muscles to your joints it’s time to start paying more attention. If your joints are sore while you are exercising, this could well be a sign that you are over-training. Joint pain is usually a symptom of swelling and inflammation within the joints, typically areas of soreness to watch out for are the hips and knees.
As I mentioned at the start of this post in more cases than not you will likely be under-recovered rather than over-trained, but if you are working out a lot and over-training is worrying you, start paying more attention to each of these signs. Get yourself a sleep cycle app and a heart rate monitor and start tracking everything.