Let's talk about overtraining.
Look, I get it. I love every single session at First Base and I get major FOMO if I miss out on any of them. I too am guilty of this sometimes. I also love to get outdoors to swim, walk and run. If I were to do all the sessions at First Base, and run 3 x per week and walk with a friend socially 2 x per week, that is potentially 11 hours a week. That doesn’t account for some days where I might do a double day (HIIT & strength). This is WAY TOO MUCH.
Luckily, I do not do this. If at all, it’s a random week here & there.
It is recommended to do 2- 4 (5 max) weights focused sessions per week. To be quite frank, any more than this will seriously hinder progress & performance, and can lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. It can also lead to decline in your overall health.
See below the sure signs of over-training:
You’re feeling exhausted and burnt out: Immediate fatigue after a workout is normal (and ideal) but long term exhaustion is NOT good. A balanced level of activity in a day/week should leave you feeling energised and invigorated. Not the opposite.
You’re getting sick regularly: Overtraining can be linked to increased incidences of cold & flu. There are certain negative biological shifts that can occur in overtraining such as immunosuppression (low immunity) & increased chronic inflammation due to raised
cortisol levels lowering the number of white blood cells in our blood (we need lots of these to fight off infection!!!). On top of this, exhausted muscles deplete our levels of glutamine, again, suppressing our immunity. Whoa. Word vomit. Bottom line - overtraining is not healthy.
Difficulty staying or falling asleep: this can be a direct result of doing too much. Both physically and mentally of course. The thought process of ‘if I exert myself more, maybe my body will be so tired I have to fall asleep easily’ could not be further from the truth.
You don’t seem to be progressing/performing well in the gym:
A plateau or decline in your performance is an obvious sign of over-doing it. Overtraining can lead to muscle damage and increase your risk of injuries.
Mood swings: are they through the roof? The increased inflammation and fatigue can contribute to symptoms and feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability & anger. When our exercise regime is balanced and optimised, we should feel energised & mentally healthy.
Low libido & period irregularities:
Not allowing yourself adequate recovery can be a major contributor to low oestrogen, low progesterone & lead to missed or irregular periods and low sex drive (because our body literally doesn’t have the energy to prioritise reproduction).
Poor gut health & digestion: overtraining can impair digestion and alter the gut lining due to blood flow, nutrients and nervous input being diverted to our bigger muscles hogging all the energy.
And lastly, weight gain:
It can be a vicious cycle. The hormonal and inflammatory effects of overtraining can lead to lower thyroid function, increased stress hormones, and create an environment perfect for storing fat. The more stress we have (mentally and physically) the more our bodies respond with unwanted fat storage. Additionally, sometimes when we overtrain we binge on food. We then feel guilty, train more, eat more, gain more, train more, eat more etc etc.
Bottom line... try following a balanced training and eating regime. No more ‘no pain, no gain’, hello ‘no rest, no gain’.