Overtraining is not just a problem that professional athletes have to deal with. Amateur athletes, recreational athletes, and fitness enthusiasts are pushing their own limits. With an intense training schedule on top of the stressors of everyday life, overtraining can easily become a problem for anyone.
What is Overtraining?
Simply put, overtraining occurs when you train too hard and don’t allow your body to adequately recover in between training sessions. Typically, overtraining happens when you increase intensity, frequency, or length of workouts too quickly. One of the main warning signs of overtraining is a decline in performance while increasing efforts.
Often times, when people see that their performance is suffering, their first thought is to train harder. They think they aren’t progressing because they aren’t doing enough. In reality, they should be doing less. It’s a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break since most of us are programmed to think more is better. However, recovery and rest are crucial elements to the training cycle. Without the right balance of training and recovery, performance and drive suffer.
According to Sports Med Today, common risk factors include: early sport specialization, significant increase in training over a short period of time, training for an important event, and excessive pressure to succeed.
Soreness and fatigue are bound to be a part of your training or workout routine. However, overtraining takes it a step further. There are a few additional indicators that can help reveal whether overtraining is affecting you. Beyond feeling physical symptoms, mental symptoms are another signal that you’re dealing with a problem. Some common signs of overtraining include:
- Decreased performance & strength
- Muscle tenderness
- Poor sleep
- Muscle tightness
- Decreased appetite
- Prone to overuse injuries
- Lowered immunity
How to Prevent Overtraining
With both body and mind being affected, it’s important to address each component for effective prevention of overtraining.
1. Muscle Recovery
One of the biggest causes of overtraining is a lack of sufficient recovery. By focusing on recovery in between training sessions, you can help keep your body healthy. During exercise, your muscles break down. However, during the recovery phase, muscles rebuild and grow stronger. When there’s too much break down and not enough regrowth over time, the body gets to the point where it can’t handle any more stress. This is when overtraining sets in.
Each stage of the body’s recovery process is facilitated by muscle movement. Partaking in low stress activities such as a light jog or cycle will activate muscles, bringing in fresh blood, pumping out waste, producing/releasing myokines, and optimally remodeling the repaired tissue. Marc Pro is a recovery tool that makes active recovery easy. Unlike traditional active recovery, Marc Pro won’t put any additional stress on muscles, so you can get the best recovery possible. By improving your recovery, you can keep up with your training demands, while keeping your body healthy and avoiding overtraining.
2. Mental Break
The pressure to keep up with training, whether that’s from a coach, parent, or yourself, can put a lot of stress on your plate. Depression, anxiousness, lack of enthusiasm for working out, and emotional instability are common symptoms of overtraining. Doing activities to lower stress, such as a massage or yoga, can help with the mental factor. Taking a break from training every now and then is a good way to avoid burnout.
Sleep gives your body and mind the chance to recharge and reload. Plus, during deep sleep the supply of blood and oxygen to muscles increases and growth hormones are released. These are two important factors for optimal muscle recovery. A lack of sleep causes a significant decline in growth hormone levels that can drastically affect your body’s ability to repair. By getting better or more sleep, you can help ensure your body recovers and performs at its best.
Proper nutrition can help your body’s systems run more efficiently, including the muscle recovery process. After exercise, it’s important to replenish muscle fuel stores with carbs and take in some protein for muscle repair. By fueling with the right foods, you can ensure the necessary supplies are available to replenish damaged tissue. This will assist other recovery tactics, like sleep and active recovery, in their effectiveness as well.
With the right approach, overtraining can be avoided while continuing to make progress. Knowing the right balance between training and recovery will not only help you become better at your sport or activity, it will also help you prevent injuries and stay healthy.