When you go to the gym, you’ll obviously want the best cardiovascular and strength gains possible. You should note that there are a few factors which can result in sub-optimal results. These include poor form whilst carrying out exercises, inadequate nutrition to fuel your workouts and incorrect exercise selection. However, one of the true killers of optimal results in the gym is overtraining, as the more you exercise when your body is in this state, the worse your results will get. Overtraining syndrome occurs as a result of not allowing your body sufficient time to recover between workouts. This shouldn’t be confused with tiredness that you will naturally feel after a hard workout.
How Do You Know If You Are Overtraining?
In the early stages of overtraining syndrome an individual will experience flu like symptoms. They will typically feel rundown and find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. In more advanced cases when the early symptoms of overtraining are constantly ignored, long term hormonal, muscular and neurological symptoms may occur.
It is important to try and find a good balance between training hard and resting. You will gradually find out what your body’s capabilities are over time. Learning to notice the signs of overtraining syndrome is paramount in your quest to achieve optimal results from your workouts and will teach you to rest longer before you are ready to train hard again.
Let’s look at the five main signs to look out for:
1. Poor Performance
This is perhaps the easiest sign to recognise. If you are serious about your progress in the gym, you’ll be tracking and documenting your workouts on a regular basis. There are two good reasons to do this: Number one you’ll be able to see if you are making performance and strength gains and secondly if you want to regain a certain physique, you can study your workouts that led to your gains.
If you notice sub-optimal performance during three or four workouts in a row you could be overtraining and it might be time for a rest week.
2. Elevated Resting Heart Rate
For health and fitness purposes, it is useful to know what your resting heart rate is upon waking.
Generally speaking, a healthy resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute, however as you get fitter, it is possible that your resting heart rate may go down into the 40s.
In terms of overtraining, it is common for one’s resting heart rate upon waking to be 10-15 beats per minute higher than usual. However it could also indicate the early stages of fighting off an illness, so if you do experience this consider taking an antioxidant supplement as well as some hard earned rest.
3. Muscle Soreness
It is very common to experience muscular soreness for up to two days after exercise, especially when strength training is involved. However, if this soreness goes on for 3 – 4 days or beyond, this may indicate overtraining syndrome. In addition to this, sufferers of overtraining syndrome often complain of muscular pain in muscles that they have not been directly training.
4. Emotional Changes
There are also psychological symptoms to look out for when overtraining is involved. Due to the excess strain on your system and hormones, you may feel symptoms such as lower self-esteem or a lack of motivation. If left untreated for too long, you may even experience depression.
Believe it or not, tiring yourself out at the gym too frequently can make it harder to get to sleep.
If you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep and this coincides with an increase in the intensity or frequency of your workouts it is likely that you are over training. In order to recover, it is advised that you take a week off to allow your body to recuperate. The supplement ZMA can also help you get a better nights sleep.