As many of you know, I’m the first person to support the HUSTLE. After all, if you don’t work for your goals, especially in fitness, you likely going to get very far.
However … this mindset can obviously be taken too far. It’s common for us as humans to invest fully in the idea that “more is better,” especially when something is working!
“Our extremely low-carb diet is helping us shed fat like no tomorrow: let’s keep going and going!”
“Our HIIT workouts are getting results. Let’s add even more HIIT sessions per week!”
Unfortunately, this can rapidly lead to physical and mental issues, which we may ignore at first in an attempt to maintain the results we were getting when we first started.
And where does this typically leave us?
With symptoms of over-training … and eventually, burnout.
Below are a list of symptoms of over-training, and what you can do to return your body to vitality.
Symptoms Of Over-Training
1. Reduced Performance and Increased Fatigue
At the end of the day, if you’re over-training, your performance is going to either drop, or performing at the level you were will feel much harder. When our bodies are lacking rest and adequate recovery time, much more beyond our muscles begins to become “worn out.” Our muscle fibers don’t have time to repair themselves adequately, our hormonal systems become taxed, our adrenals become over-stimulated with stress hormones that occur naturally during workouts.
All of this can lead to your body reducing it’s efficiency in order to compel you to rest. You will likely feel tired not just leading up to your workouts, but during, as the systems that once provided you with energy become too taxed to do so.
Ironically, even though your body needs rest from over-training, you may find that you aren’t able to fall asleep. This phenomenon occurs due to your body over-producing stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in response to excess stress from training.
3. Irritation and Moodiness
The same hormones that can keep you awake at night (cortisol, adrenaline, and epinephrine) can also lead to increased irritability and mood swings. Stress hormones are meant to overtake other hormonal regulators in order to support your “fight or flight” stress response. When this state is chronic, it can lead to irregular hormone output and less circulation of hormones that keep your mood elevated and stable.
4. Chronic Soreness or Injuries
This one is a more obvious indicator that you’re likely over-training. If you’re finding that your soreness just won’t quit, or you’re having nagging injuries (like a pulled muscle) that refuse to heal … it’s time to cut back and take some much-needed rest days.
5. Depression and Lack of Appetite
Over-training and the excess stress hormones that come with it, combined with lack of proper sleep or rest, can also affect your mental state. You might begin to feel depressed or unmotivated, as well as begin to lose your appetite. Stress hormones stimulate the “fight or flight” response, which halts digestion, while resting stimulates the “rest and digest” response, which encourages the digestion of food.
Recovering From Over-Training
The obvious solution?
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to become bed-ridden for a week … it simply means you need to slow down. Take a few days to a week off of training, eat a little more than normal (clean, whole foods of course), supplement with additional magnesium to help relax your nervous system, and breathe.
Being well-rested is our foundation. Without it, we won’t have the energetic capacity to perform at our best. I like to take the stance: hard work = hard rest.
Save 10% here on Onnit’s New Mood using my code: HANNAH. New Mood contains a blend of potent herbs to combat stress and relax your nervous system.
Also make sure your training is supported by rest days, adequate calories and nutrition, sunlight and fresh air (even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day), adequate sleep, and slow movement (walking/yoga/etc …)
When you do begin training after recovering from over-training, up the intensity slowly, and avoid the temptation to spring into training even more, simply due to feeling recovered.