SYMPTOMS AND DANGERS OF OVERTRAINING
In 2012 I began training for my first figure competition. The desire to compete came to me totally random, as most things do for me. I had been working out for a short while, under a year, and decided “why the heck not”! I admired the women’s muscles bodies, their discipline, and wanted to be just like them.
So I dove in. I had a personal trainer, a competition coach, and I was SET. Somewhere along the way I began adding to my prescribed workout and cardio plan, and of course not telling my coaches. I became obsessed, because more is always better, RIGHT?!?!?! I got to the point where I was lifting 2x per day, hour cardio 2-3x per day, and ab work for 1/2hr a day. After the competition I was sick for a week, I literally crashed and burned.
We hear all the time “push through the pain”, “you can sleep when you’re dead”, “suck it up and train”.... Recipe for disaster.
There are a few ways to recognize if you’re over training…
Muscle soreness is normal, and often we don’t feel like we’ve trained hard enough if we don’t have some soreness and tightness. However, if you’re severely sore after 72 hours this is not normal. Your muscles need to go through the cycles of being broken down while training and then repairing for growth.
For women, chronic overtraining can actually be detrimental to your bone health. Resistance training has been proven to improve bone density and fight osteoporosis. Overtraining, however, can decrease estrogen levels and reduce density. In adolescent years over training can negatively affect bone density for the remainder of the young woman’s life. Missed menses is a sign of over training for women.
Some other signs are an increase of up to 5 beats per minute of your resting heart rate, hitting plateaus in your training, mood swings, excessive thirst, and lack of perspiration.
A very common symptom is exhaustion, accompanied with insomnia. With chronic overtraining your body is in a constant catabolic state, which means that your body is cannibalizing muscle. This state can negatively impact your immune system. Your cortisol levels will rise, and your hormone levels are affected. Injury is more likely to occur in this state.
Luckily the ways to avoid over training are pretty simple! Rest. Rest, rest, rest. Be sure to get enough quality sleep each night. Make sure you take a full day or two of rest each week. If you don’t want to be totally inactive choose a lower intensity activity ~ restorative yoga, a nice walk with a friend, an easy hike or bike ride…. And as always, make sure you’re getting enough fuel in your body in the form of GOOD food.