You may have heard the term ‘overtraining’ and are wondering how you can avoid this in your own training programme. Overtraining happens when the body is not given enough time, or the correct nutrients, to rest, repair and recover due to constant training and exertion over weeks and months of continuous resistance or endurance training.
Firstly it’s important to recognise the signs of overtraining. You need to learn to listen to your body and understand that taking a step back is sometimes more of a step forward to reaching your goals.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is entirely normal up to 72 hours after training, but if your muscles are still sore beyond that it could mean that they have still not fully recovered from training. If you were to hit the same muscle group again too soon, it could negatively impact your growth.
Insomnia and late nights can affect your recovery greatly. Chances are that if you’re not getting enough sleep, your body will not be getting enough time to repair itself. Muscles are torn in the gym, but they are repaired while you sleep when growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland in deep relaxation sleep.
Feeling under the weather often, and picking up a lot of colds and viruses, can indicate your immune system is struggling to cope with the demands laid upon it. Training intensively will only exacerbate the issue and prolong your symptoms. The same is true of persistent injuries, which can be due to too much wear and tear on joints and tendons, which are slower to repair than muscles. As you get stronger, make sure you are taking care of yourself, by stretching properly and taking good quality vitamins and supplements.
Most people who train 4-6 hours a week are unlikely to be overtraining at any point, but it is still important to make sure you are resting and eating well to improve your recovery. Rest days should be incorporated into any plan, to allow the body to catch up and reset. If you have reached a plateau in your training or have even become weaker, taking a few days off or reducing your workload should be enough to kick start your systems again.