Most of us are guilty of not exercising enough, but a few of us can actually be overdoing it. How do you know when this is happening? How can you tell if you are overtraining?
Overtraining occurs from repeatedly not getting enough of a recovery between workouts or from continuing to work at a level that your body is not yet ready for. Overtraining can be a mixture of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. You may have experienced some of the following symptoms yourself or you may have a client who exhibits some.
One of the biggest indications of overtraining is a loss of morale. Now, this does not extend to those who hate exercise, do not work out, or avoid exercise at all costs. This is client who is doing great, but then all of a sudden can’t make it through a workout or has lost interest or motivation to exercise. As a coach, you can start thinking that perhaps a client is overtraining when you see a leveling off or a decrease in performance. There may be a loss of muscle strength, coordination, and maximal working capacity. If you are doing your normal routine and notice that you are getting weaker, slower, and that your stamina is deteriorating, you’re probably training too much.
Some physiological symptoms that may occur include an elevated resting heart rate and elevated blood pressure. Overtraining can suppress normal immune function and cause an increased susceptibility to infection. Your client may become more susceptible to illness, colds, or muscle or joint tenderness that doesn’t get better after exercise as it normally would. An increase in the number of minor injuries, such as muscle strains, may also occur.
As a result of overtraining, you may experience some emotional or behavioral changes that can include insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression, irritability, a loss of appetite, headaches, weight loss, or nausea.
So what do you do when you think you have fallen victim to overtraining? In most cases, a drastic and lengthy reduction in training must occur before you will begin to regain fitness.
How do you prevent it from happening? The distance between exercise bouts is the recovery time. The body needs time to recover and replenish energy stores and for adaptive processes to take place. The greater the intensity or the length of your workout session the greater the time needed to recover. The type of exercise (resistive, aerobic, or flexibility) being performed should also be factored in determining the length of the recovery period. The third factor requiring attention is the individual’s fitness level, diet, and sleep habits. Overtraining may be avoided by using a cyclical training-type program, alternating hard, easy, and moderate periods of training.
A super motivated client combined with an overly aggressive trainer can easily result in overtraining. Help your client to respect his or her body and know when to reduce the level of training.
Guest Blog written by Jennifer Bayliss, MSEd, ATC, CSCS, Manager of Fitness for Everyday Health Calorie Counter, available at my-calorie-counter.com