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Exercise comes with numerous benefits, but taken too far, it can lead to overtraining. While every fitness enthusiast is in danger of this, there are some individuals who are at greater risk.
If you’re a beginner who dives headfirst into exercise without allowing your body time to adjust, if you’ve been working out for years but do the same workouts every single time or if you’re an endurance athlete, count yourself among high-risk individuals, says MacKenzie Rowand, CSCS, 9Round Fitness exercise specialist in Simpsonville, South Carolina.
So what are the signs of overtraining? Here are 10 to keep in mind:
- You’re fatigued. Blood lactate can accumulate during intense exercise and result in an increase in hydrogen ions in the body, which causes fatigue, says Kitsa Ouzounidis, personal trainer at Life Time Fitness in New York City.
- You suffer an injury. When your muscles aren’t given sufficient time to recover, injury is more likely to happen, Rowand says.
- You’re having trouble sleeping. Sleep issues have numerous causes, but when you’re overtraining, your hormones get messed up. “Your body will produce fewer recovery hormones and instead produce stress hormones like cortisol, which can make sleep difficult,” Ouzounidis explains.
- You’re not recovering like you used to. It’s not unusual to feel sore after workouts. But if you’re feeling extra soreness or more fatigue than you normally do, that could be a sign of overtraining, Rowand says.
- Your performance decreases. If you’ve plateaued or experienced a decrease in your fitness performance, suspect overtraining.
- You lose your appetite. As odd as this sounds, overtrained individuals can experience an increase in adrenaline and noradrenaline, which Ouzounidis says can make your appetite disappear.
- You’re getting sick more frequently. Excessive exercise can cause stress hormones to be released, which negatively impacts the immune system, Ouzounidis says. As a result, you could be more prone to colds and other illnesses.
- Your motivation vanishes. Do you dread the thought of working out when it used to be something you enjoyed? This is a definite sign you need some time off or at least a change in your workouts. “Working out should be fun and something you do because you care about your health, rather than a punishment,” Rowand says.
- Your workouts are feeling tougher. If workouts that you once breezed through are feeling more difficult, Ouzounidis says it may be time to take a break.
- You’re more irritable and moodier. With the change in stress hormones that overtraining causes, you may find that you’re more likely to snap at others or just be moodier.
If you suspect you are overtrained, Ouzounidis says the solution is simple: Invest in more rest days. Also, sleep more and drink more water.