Overtraining syndrome happens when the body is pushed past its ability to recover. Many people believe that pushing past their limits will give them better, faster results, but the opposite is true. Overtraining will stop your progress, or it could even cause you to lose your gains.
There are many ways to listen to your body to know if you’re pushing too hard and need a break.
#1 Increased Resting Heart Rate
If your resting heart rate (RHR) becomes elevated more than 5 beats per minute (BPM) over your normal rate for a few days in a row it could be due to overtraining.
Your resting heart rate (RHR) should be taken in the morning after you wake up and before you get out of bed. Having a fitness tracker makes it easy for you, but if you don’t have one, you can take your RHR the original way–by measuring your pulse.
While you’re laying in bed, find your pulse and count the beats for 30 seconds. Multiply that number by 2 to get your BMP. Your BPM is your RHR.
Do this daily so that you can keep track of any fluctuations.
#2 Impaired Physical Performance
If your reaction time is slow, your running time has increased, your strength has decreased, or your heart rate rises above normal when exercising, it could be due to overtraining. If you’re not able to do the same intensity of exercise that you were doing last week, it’s time to give your body a break.
#3 Reduced Enthusiasm/Desire for Training
Let’s say you’ve been working out regularly for the last 3 months. It’s made a positive impact on your life. You’re stronger. You’re happier. You feel better. You’re reaching your fitness goals and you’ve even become somewhat addicted to your training. If you start to lose your desire to continue your workouts, it could be your body telling you it needs a break. Give yourself a few days to rejuvenate. When you get back to it, consider trying something new or different!
#4 Increased Incidence of Injuries and Illnesses
Pushing the body beyond its limit is a sure-fire way to get muscle strains, joint strains, or even broken bones. If you get hurt during training, take a long enough break from training to allow your body to fully heal.
#5 Altered Appetite
Normally, exercise gives you more of an appetite, not less. When you work out regularly, your body responds appropriately to the increased activity, by ensuring it has enough fuel to do so. If you’ve been routinely exercising, and you notice that your appetite has decreased, it could be a sign that your body needs a rest.
#6 Disturbed Sleep Patterns
When you’re working out routinely, it’s typical to expect to sleep well at night. However, when your body is pushed too hard, you’ll find yourself unable to fall asleep, or stay asleep. Consider taking some time off to let your body recover.
Feeling tired after exercising is normal. But if you’ve been fueling your body efficiently yet feel exceptionally exhausted before, during, and after your workouts, and/or throughout the day, the excessive fatigue could be a sign of overtraining.
Regular exercise is known to release happy hormones (including endorphins and dopamine) into the body. Overtraining, however, affects your stress hormones (including cortisol), which can lead to mood changes such as irritability, agitation, or difficulty concentrating.
Overtraining can be prevented by including rest days in your workout regimen, taking longer rest periods between sets, reducing workout intensity levels, fueling your body with proper nutrition (including taking in enough calories), and listening to your body.