We’re sure you’ve heard the old saying “go big or go home,” but bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. You may believe that spending hours lifting will make you look ripped like Rambo, but if you’re not paying attention to the signs your body is showing you, then you could be doing more harm than good. What are the signs of overtraining? First off, you’ll see a change in your resting heart rate (try getting a heart rate monitor). You should speak to a doctor if your resting heart rate is too high or low – and put the weights down.
It’s pretty common to see weightlifters strolling around with a gallon of water, but having an insatiable thirst is a major sign that you’re pushing yourself a little too far. You may be putting your body into a catabolic state, meaning your body is consuming your muscle for protein. Personal trainer and nutrition expert Jay Cardiello, C.S.C.S says, “Being in a catabolic state naturally causes dehydration.” How do you fix that? More rest and water. But there are other signs that are more mental.
You should feel good while you’re lifting or working out, but sometimes that’s not true. It’s easy to become obsessed with becoming the best and the strongest, and it’s extremely easy to fall into the “more is better” trap. There are two dangerous side effects of that mentality: lowered self-esteem and overtraining. Your nervous system can get out of whack and overtraining affects an athlete’s level of happiness to train, depression, insomnia, and irritability. And you can’t ignore the physical signs.
It’s normal to hear little pops and creaks while working out. But if you feel pain at the top of your shoulder that’s accompanied by a clicking noise, it could be a sign of inflammation or degenerative changes, such as arthritis, in your AC joint, the joint in your shoulder where the collarbone and scapula meet. Make sure you talk to your doctor and do exercises that could correct any imbalances of your muscles. Now that we’re talking about muscles…
Many people think that being extremely sore after a work out is how it’s supposed to be, which is definitely not true. If you’re sore for long periods of time, it’s your body’s way of saying that you’re pushing yourself too hard and you need to chill out. If 72-hours have passed and you’re still sore, it’s time to take a break. Extended soreness is a sure sign that your muscles aren’t properly recovering, which isn’t good for your efforts to build muscle. A little soreness is good. Extended pain is not. It can actually lead to this…
You may have never played tennis, but you could suffer from “tennis elbow,” also known as lateral epicondylitis, which is a sharp pain in your elbow while doing bicep curls. It can turn into an extremely painful chronic condition. It will make it difficult to hold, grip, and use even the smallest household objects. Forget about the barbell. The answer? Ice, ice, and more ice. Doing exercises to fix muscular imbalance of the upper shoulder and arm help, too! Of course, rest helps, as well. Ah, resting…
People think that the more you work out, the better you’ll sleep, but that’s not right. Your body is stressing itself out trying to keep up, which results in an overload of the nervous system and/or the hormonal system. It sounds like a contradiction, but the more energy you exert, the harder your body needs to work and it doesn’t allow itself time to repair. Think about it: your body grows while its resting, not while training. So giving it a rest is absolutely essential for growth!
Back pain is pretty serious, especially if the pain is radiating down into your legs, or if you have a pins-and-needles feeling or numbness. It could be a sign of structural damage to the vertebrae in your spine. It could also mean you irritated or pinched a nerve. Regardless, you should go to the doctor immediately. This commonly happens when you use too much weight during deadlifts or squats. To correct this all you have to do is focus on correct form and gradually build your weight up.
Exercise is definitely good for your mental health…most of the time. But overtraining could have the complete opposite effect. Personal trainer and strength coach Lee Boyce says, “People who overtrain tend to view exercise as something it’s not—namely, a challenge, a conquest, or a space-filler.” Body-image issues could present itself, as well, which could lead to mental stress. Boyce says to avoid overtraining “it’s important to know the real motives behind training.” Make sure you’re doing it for health and not vanity.
When you do deadlifts or squats you’re putting a lot of stress on your knees, so you have to be extremely cautious when you feel any kind of pain. Orthopedics and sports medicine doctor at Mercy Medical Center in Maryland, John-Paul Rue, M.D., says “Pain along the inside or outside of the knee along the joint line, particularly with bending/twisting types of activities, may be a sign of meniscus injury, particularly if this is associated with the feeling of a popping, cracking or catching sensation.” Stop doing the movements and seek immediate medical attention.
People tend to get a bit cranky when they’ve missed a workout, but an obsession with working out can lead to changes in your personality that you normally wouldn’t associate with overtraining. People can be super irritable, even when they’re training, never satisfied with their progress, and impatient with their loved ones. Even though there are definitely other factors that could cause this, if you notice that you are getting more and more irritable, upset, or obsessive, than maybe it’s time for a break.
Have you ever felt a deep groin pain associated with a “locking” or clicking feeling? Then you already know that this is serious. Chief of physical therapy at All Sports Physical Therapy in New York City, Paul Mostoff, D.P.T., says “This type of pain shouldn’t be ignored, as it could indicate a tear in the labrum, which is a piece of cartilage that serves as a joint lubricator and shock absorber.” Rest the area and avoid deep squats or lunges. When it’s time to return to working out, focus on stability and balance exercises that you can perform on unstable surfaces, or wobble boards, that will help all of your muscles work together.
Are you getting more colds or feeling run down? Do you feel like maybe you have the flu? Feeling sick isn’t a part of living a healthy lifestyle, and even though sometimes it’s hard to avoid, it’s your body’s way of saying that you’re overtraining. Overtraining means that your body is constantly in a catabolic state, which will lower your immune system and cause you to be more susceptible to sickness. In order to repair your body and recover, you need plenty of rest and natural foods.
It’s essential to pay attention while you’re working out because distractions can cause major mistakes in the gym. But if you’re overtraining, your brain can become really foggy, making it extremely hard to focus. And if you’re easily distracted you might end up bringing normal life stressors from your life into the gym with you to vent to your friends. You finish a set, start talking about your troubles at work, and all of a sudden, you’ve lost 15 minutes. It’s important to stay focused and get your workout done, so you can go home and rest.
In order to have a good workout, you’ve got to be motivated. So what do you do when you’re working out too hard and you don’t feel so hot? You lose the motivation you need. We understand that it’s common to want to occasionally skip out on a workout, but if you’re a dedicated person and all of a sudden you just don’t feel like doing it, you’re most likely overexerting yourself. Remove yourself from the situation, look for your motivation, and then take some time off. Think about it, absence makes the heart grow fonder.