While it's great to train regularly, training too hard too often can wreak havoc on our bodies. Sam Wood decodes the signs that mean you should ease up and give those muscles a break.
When it comes to training, I’m a big believer in quality over quantity. I believe we achieve the best results when we continually focus on the intensity of a workout rather than volume. This means training smarter, not harder.
Overtraining is when we push our body to extremes and neglect to let it recover properly. While it's most common with elite athletes when I do see instances of overtraining often it’s in clients who have gone from zero to hero too quickly without giving their bodies the adequate time to adapt (I’ve also been guilty of it myself from time to time).
Preventing it is all about knowing how much is too much and being aware of the signs that you could be going overboard. So, with that in mind, here are five things to look out for if you’re burning out and the signs that your body is asking for some much-needed R&R.
1. You’ll have extended muscle soreness
Sure, it’s normal to feel like you can barely lift your arms the day after smashing a solid workout. But when the pain still sticks around past the 72-hour mark after your workout, this is a tell-tale sign that you aren’t letting your muscles properly recover and this can seriously impact any muscle building efforts.
2. You increase your risk of injury
When you’re overtraining, you’re basically working out in a weakened state and this makes the body all the more susceptible to injury. If you find you are getting injured more frequently or old injuries are resurfacing, chances are you’re pushing your body too hard and a low-intensity option or rest day could be just what you need.
3. You'll continually feel tired and sluggish
It’s no surprise that when your body is overworked and exhausted - you feel sluggish and like you’re functioning in slow motion, and there’s a bit of science behind why. Overtraining can send your body into a catabolic state which in turn lowers your immunity. So when you’re starting to feel overworked or are frequently falling ill, this is a classic sign from your body telling you to just slow down.
4. You’ll lack motivation
Wondering why that once driving force of motivation has totally vanished? It’s definitely not uncommon to want to give your workout a miss here and there, but if you generally enjoy exercise and have noticed a sudden total lack of interest and motivation, then it could be time to give your body a break.
5. You’ll halt your progress
Last but definitely not least, overtraining can slow down your progress and can mean you go one step forward, two steps back. When you overwork your body, you are continually tearing your muscles without giving them adequate time to repair. You will only continue to progress when you give your muscles the opportunity to rest and recover before you force your body to exercise once again.
So if any of these ring a bell and you can feel yourself rapidly heading towards a burn out, then I want you think about this – less can be more! It’s OK to have a day off and sometimes rest, sleep and good nutrition can give you better results than trying to squeeze in another workout.