10 Signs of Overtraining
They say that there is ‘no gain without pain’ and whilst it is indeed true that, in order to build muscle, burn fat, increase your strength, and just generally take your body to the next level, you need to train hard and bust your butt in the gym, if you are training too hard, you may be doing more harm than good. There are some individuals out there that can develop unhealthy relationships with their bodies and with the gym, as they seemingly do not know when to say enough is enough. In order to really make some serious gains and to really step up your bodybuilding game, obviously you need to push yourself, but could you perhaps be pushing yourself too much? Overtraining is a very real problem that affects even the greatest athletes and bodybuilders, and if you are pushing yourself extra hard in the gym, you could potentially have to deal with the signs of overtraining. To help you recognise the warnings early, here’s a look at 10 signs of overtraining.
Constant thirst –
Do you find yourself constantly thirsty, no matter how much liquid you drink? Some people, when this happens to them, think that it is caused due to them sweating so much whilst they trained, when in reality, it could potentially be one of the primary warning signs of overtraining. This is a clear cut sign of muscle catabolism, where the body eats away at muscle for fuel, and it is the last thing you want. Reda Elmardi says, when we enter a catabolic state, we quickly become dehydrated – hence the constant thirst. If you feel thirsty all of the time, give yourself a short break from training.
Constant muscle soreness –
Delaid Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, for short, is perfectly natural after a gruelling workout, and it is very beneficial as it shows just how hard you have worked the muscles. When most of us get DOMS, we ache the following day, and then we feel fine (unless we trained legs, then we suffer for 2 – 4 days). If, however, you are constantly suffering with aching and sore muscles that just don’t seem to be getting any better, this is potentially another one of the signs of overtraining, as it means that you are working your body that hard that it does not have the time, nor the ability, to repair itself following a workout.
General aches and pains –
It isn’t just our muscles that constantly ache when we are overtraining, as many people suffer with aches and pains all over their bodies as well. If you find yourself struggling with general aches and pains all over your body, this is another indication of overtraining, as your body will be so caught up in trying to repair your muscles following your workouts, that it will be working that hard that other aspects of your health will suffer.
You are lacking motivation –
Ironically, by training so hard and by doing something that you love, you could potentially fall out of love with your training and you may find yourself lacking the motivation to train if you are overtraining. This means that, although you will force yourself to the gym, when you get there, you will simply be going through the motions and you won’t have any passion or enjoyment in whatever it is that you’re doing. When you lack motivation, this is a sign that your body needs a break from whatever it is that you are subjecting it to, day in and day out.
You stop making progress –
In the early stages, when you used to hit the gym and train, you probably noticed and felt improvements on a near daily basis, yet as time went by, and the harder you trained, you could have noticed these results becoming less and less impressive. If you are no longer building muscle, burning fat, getting stronger, and looking better, again, this is a sign that your body is not able to help you repair and recover, so you simply won’t make any progress, or worse still, you may even look and feel worse than you did before, as you could potentially enter a catabolic state where you lose muscle instead of fat. When you overtrain, less hormones such as HGH or testosterone, are produced, both of which are anabolic and therefore assist with muscle growth. The less of these hormones you produce, the less muscle you will build.
You easily lose focus –
When your training is going well and when you are ‘in the zone’ as they say, nothing else will matter to you, but what you are doing in the gym, as your focus will be 100%. If you are overtraining however, your mind can wander, you can lose focus, and you will struggle with the mental side of training, especially in regards to establishing a strong mind-muscle connection. This is caused due to the fact that the sympathetic nervous system steps up a gear when you are overtraining, so you will become easily distracted and you will therefore find it much tougher to focus.
You constantly feel lethargic –
When your body is performing at its peak, throughout the day you will be energized, you will be focused, you will be motivated, and you will be looking forward to hitting the gym and pounding some iron. However, if you are overtraining, as your body is having to work so hard, and is not getting time to recover, you will constantly feel tired and lethargic, and would much rather spend your free time on the sofa, rather than in the gym. This is again down to hormones as it is the result of a reduction in testosterone, and an increase in cortisol, which is a stress hormone that makes you feel sluggish and lethargic.
You are irritable –
If you find yourself feeling irritable and experiencing mood swings, this is another one of the signs of overtraining as you are producing so much more cortisol than usual. This stress hormone is responsible for mood swings, it can cause stress, anxiety, and depression, plus it can lead to insomnia. As you know, if you are tired and haven’t been sleeping well, you will have no energy and will be in a very bad mood, which can not only affect your training, but it can also affect your personal life as well.
You find yourself getting ill more often –
If you find yourself getting spots and getting ill more often than usual, the fact that you are spending so much time exercising could very well be the cause of your issues. You see, exercise is still a stressor that has a negative effect on the human body. Too much exercise therefore can really take its toll on your immune system, causing it to slow down and to become less effective. The immune system acts as a natural defence against illness and disease, so if your immune system doesn’t work as well as it should, well, you are far more likely to get sick more often.
You lose your appetite –
If you find yourself struggling to find the appetite to eat the foods required to make you grow, this is another of the signs of overtraining to be varied of. You see, this causes a spike in hormones such as norepinephrine and epinephrine, both of which have been found to inhibit a person’s appetite. On top of that, feeling exhausted, tired, and irritable can all also suppress your appetite, and as you now know, all of which are caused when you are spending too much time in the gym, and not enough time recovering.