The Science Behind: Overtraining


We love working out for a wide variety of reasons, and some of us love it more than others. Getting stronger, looking better, feeling better and the many benefits associated with a long and healthy life are some of the reasons we choose to work out. When it comes to health, we want what is best and to ensure that we reap the benefits of our hard work. However, some of us might take this passion for health benefits and getting stronger, to a whole new level where it is no longer healthy for your mind and body.

What is Overtraining?

Overtraining is when you are pushing beyond your body’s capacity to recover. Exercise, after all, is physical stress to the body that we are capable of adapting to eventually. The more our body becomes adapted to this form of stress, the stronger and healthier we become. However, the cause for our body getting stronger is due to a healthy diet, enough rest and a good lifestyle that supplements your physical activity.

When you overtrain, you are not allowing your body to recover from the previous stress. This leads to a plateau in strength and weight loss goals. Overtraining is dangerous as it poses more negative than positive aspects of exercise, and this might lead to a negative connotation with exercise altogether. Here are some signs of overtraining you need to watch out for.

Signs of Overtraining

  • Constant muscle pain
  • Constant fatigue
  • Mentally stressed
  • Delayed recovery
  • Inability to finish workouts

Overtraining leads to physical and mental stress. When you constantly feel fatigued, you are no longer able to focus on studying or working, or even socializing. It does more harm than good, and it is a real thing. The endorphin and dopamine rush after any workout can be addictive and people will train harder and engage in more strenuous workouts to reach this feeling of satisfaction. So how do you avoid overtraining?

Tips to avoid Overtraining

There are several ways you can avoid overtraining. Here are a few ways:

Listen to your body

Sometimes, it is perfect to just listen to yourself. Though that does not apply to harmful behaviours such as procrastination, it certainly is important when it comes to your body trying to send a message. If you are feeling sore or unable to push for the last few repetitions due to being tired, relax. Your body will only work best as long as you respect it’s needs.

Rest days

As much as we all love working out, let’s face it. Rest days are needed, especially for growth and recovery. We do love to improve on our health and personal records, be it setting a new distance or pace record, or lifting your highest weight. However, it is important to give your body rest, so it learns to recover and adapt better to these stresses. Besides, you can always have a nice protein snack to help you fuel that recovery faster and feel full.

Go lighter

It is difficult to stay motivated when facing a plateau. It might be a weight loss plateau or unable to progress with enough overload. Rest here plays an important role, but for the time being, go lighter on the exercise. Chances are, you are not seeing progress because you are overdoing it. So return back to the point where you are capable of maintaining weight or lift lighter and eventually progress. Sometimes a step back can help you in a lot of ways.

How long to rest?

You may be surprised, but Olympic athletes and sometimes bodybuilders take a week or more off. This period involves zero interaction with the sport they dedicate their life to. So if someone who’s living depends on their sport can afford to take such time for themselves, so can you. Taking a week off, or even two weeks can do wonders for your mental and physical health. During this period, you can focus your attention elsewhere. But when you do return to exercising, you will be a lot more motivated, which should be handled carefully.

You may be wondering why something as beneficial as motivation should be handled carefully. When you do return to exercising, it is very easy to start back on the routine you previously left on. It is vital to know that your past self and your current self will be very different, and you may have to start lower. Motivation when uncontrolled, will lead to burnout and an incomplete workout, similar factors that put you into a plateau in the first place. Thus it is important to remain mindful.

Overtraining is a real thing, but it does not mean the end of your fitness journey. Rest is a magical function of our body that can do wonders and help you bounce back on track.

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