Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Dangers and Solutions to Overtraining

Training places a physical stress on your body. It responds to this stress by becoming stronger. This process is called homeostasis. Your body needs time to recover from exercise. It recovers when you are not exercising. Most of this recovery happens while you sleep. When you exercise at a higher rate than what your body can recover from, over training can occur over a period of time.

The longer the period of time that you put more stimuli onto your body than what it can respond to, the more serious this condition can become. It will also increase the time that it will take for your body to recover from over training.

The dangers of overtraining

Below is a list of dangers that over training can cause on your body.

You've hit a plateau

Hitting a plateau is the usually first symptom to arise when over training. A plateau is what we call the state where you are not increasing your physical performance or getting closer to your body transformation goals. When you are exercising regularly but not making any progress, we call that a plateau. Plateaus are more common than over training. You can hit a plateau without over training, but you can't over train without hitting a plateau. If over training is the cause, over training worsens physical ability and ends up decreasing physical performance. It is important to note that you can hit a plateau even if you are not over training. If you think that you've hit a plateau, click here to learn ways that you can blast past it.

Decreased physical performance

If you continue to over train once you have hit a plateau, physical progression will reverse into regression. The amount of physical activity that you can do will get less and less. Your body's transformation goals will reverse. Fat deposits may increase and muscle size will decrease. This happens because your body will start to break down from all of the physical stress placed on it. It no longer has enough time or energy to recover and starts to eat itself in order to survive. The loss of muscle from over training is referred to as catabolism.

Decreased overall energy

You will have less energy throughout the rest of your day. One of exercise's benefits is that it gives you more energy. This happens because your body adapts to the exercise by producing more energy in order to cope with that stress. When the body does not have enough time to recover, the benefits of exercise are often reversed from overtraining. For example, too much exercise will deplete your energy levels. Your body will squander to allocate as much energy as it can to recover from exercise before your next session. Since it needs more energy to recover than what it can produce, its energy levels are constantly depleted.

Your body will break itself down

Exercise makes small damages in your muscles. It also challenges your cardio vascular system. These challenges are supposed to make them stronger, but challenging it too much will weaken these systems and cause your body to break down. Since your body cannot repair muscle in time, it will break it down in order to survive. Your body will break down whatever elements it does not find absolutely necessary in order to cope with the physical pressure from over training.

 Appetite and cravings

Since your body is desperate for energy and resources, it will either crave more calories or crave close to nothing. This often goes in the opposite direction of a person's goals. People who are trying to lose weight often end up craving high calorie foods and can't seem to satisfy these cravings because their bodies are reverting back to what they know in order to try and restore balance. Conversely, people who struggle to put on weight (or who want to build muscle) will lose their appetites. Again, this is because their bodies are reverting back to what they know in order to restore balance. Their bodies are more concerned with short term recuperation instead of long term recovery.

Constant thirst

You physically associate drinking with refreshment. A constant, unquenchable thirst is a classic sign of over training. Your body needs more water to metabolize the tissues that it is breaking down and get rid of excess waste products. Since it is breaking it down and can't regulate itself properly (because it does not have the energy and resources to do so), it struggles to self-regulate and craves water for extra assistance.

More cases of injury

Athletes who overtrain are more prone to injury (even with less physical effort). This is because of the fact that the body is not fully recovered, does not have the resources to protect it and is breaking it down; making it weaker. Overuse is one of the biggest causes of joint injury. A classic example is the shoulder joint, which is generally susceptible to injury. One of the leading causes of shoulder pain and injury among weight lifters is overuse. This is because of the fact that so many weight training exercises involve and stimulate the shoulder joint. If programs are not balanced (training different parts of the shoulder equally - see above link), or use the shoulder joint too much, injury is more likely to occur. This is one of the main points in the argument against whether you should have separate shoulder days (click to see reasons why you should). Injury is not limited to the shoulder joint. Increased injuries could affect other joints and muscles as well.

Lowered immune system

Since your body is breaking itself down and prioritizing recuperation over long-term function, immune function will be sharply affected. Getting sick more often is another extremely common sign of over training. This is another benefit of exercise that gets reversed with too much stimulus. Some people experience flu-like symptoms after every exercise session because of overtraining. If you exercise regularly and are getting sicker, more often; the chances are very high hat you are either over trained (or need to look at your daily nutrition).

Emotional/mental/motivational instability

Since exercise releases endorphins, you should be looking forward to your training session and feel great afterwards. This is especially true for people who have gotten used to the physical demands of exercise. If you have a negative outlook towards your exercise routine, it might be because your body needs more time to recover. Overtraining can cause exercise-induced depression. Lack of motivation is another sign that you need some good rest. People who are heavily overtrained often develop a sense of anger, resentment and hatred towards their exercise regimes. They don't see the point of it anymore and it feels like their physical goals are sapping the life out of their souls. Over training also impacts your emotional and mental health outside of exercise. Overtraining will make you more moody and less sociable. It will limit your mental ability, since your body is breaking itself down and lives in a constant state of desperation. The things that you used to enjoy won't make you happy anymore.

Some people develop a sense of hatred towards exercise, but others can actually get addicted to it. Exercise addiction refers to the possible, negative relationship that we can have with exercise if we do more than what we should. Since over training has a negative impact on our emotional states, this reinforces the habit for some as they over exercise for the endorphin release or to feel better about themselves. In this way, exercise addiction is similar to eating disorders.

Central nervous system damage

The central nervous system is the collection of nerves that your body uses to move and control movement through muscles. Exercise stimulates this system and therefore makes it better. For example, exercise helps you to have a better mind-to-muscle connection. This connection refers to the amount of control that you have over your physical movement. Once again, this benefit is reversed with over training. Too much exercise damages your body's nerves. This can lead to constant shakiness, muscle twitches, restless leg syndrome and more. Think of the central nervous system as the body's electrical circuit for communication between the brain and the rest of the body. A burnt out central nervous system (from too much exercise) is similar to a burnt out electrical system.

Sleep problems

As mentioned above, most recovery happens when you sleep. Overtraining refers to a state where your body has more to recover from, but less time to do so. This negatively affects sleep in two possible ways:

Overtraining makes some people sleep too much

Since your body is desperate to recover, your need for sleep increases. People in this category will fall asleep very quickly but can't seem to get enough sleep. They feel like they can sleep forever and will still not be fully rested. They are tired throughout the day and constantly need to sleep more. This is because their bodies have very little energy and still need to recover more.

Overtraining stops some people from sleeping properly

These people need sleep, but their systems are so burnt out that your struggle to fall asleep - and stay asleep when they do. Since their bodies are frantically trying to recover and can't regulate themselves properly anymore, they lose the ability to distinguish between the times of rest and activity. Think of the way that mental stress can keep you up at night.

Hormones imbalances

Since the body struggles to regulate itself, muscle building and performance hormones like testosterone and growth hormones start to decline in number. Sleep and rest hormones like melatonin aren't regulated either, making some people too tired and others too active. Stress hormones like cortisol are increased as a response to physical stress. The exercise that increases muscle building hormones ends up halting their production because of too much stimulus.

Adrenal fatigue

Adrenal fatigue can arise from overtraining. This will make you feel fatigued all the time. Hormones and neurotransmitters get less in number and potency when someone has adrenal fatigue. Food cravings are another sign of adrenal fatigue. This will stop someone's ability to handle physical and mental stress. As the name suggests, adrenal fatigue happens as a result of the continuous strain on internal adrenaline use and production. Medical professionals, who rely on adrenaline to carry them through long working hours, for example, are very susceptible to adrenal fatigue.

The fix: How to get over an overtrained state

The answer might seem obvious, but there are a variety of ways that you need to look at in order to overcome and reverse the effects of overt training.


Did you see that one coming? If you are over trained, rest and give your body a chance to recover. Depending on how over trained you are, you might need to rest for a longer period of time. In extreme cases, patients who suffer from chronic overtraining syndrome need to rest for up to 6 months. Depending on the severity of your symptoms (as described above), rest for as long as your body needs to. I believe in listening to your body. Rest until you feel better, and don't be scared to overdo it. The fear of resting for too long might be what caused you to over train in the first place.

If the symptoms are relatively new (you've only been experiencing them for a month or so), I would suggest taking a week off and seeing how you feel after that. If you have been feeling these effects for longer, a good month of rest might be what you need. If you feel like you have all the energy in the world after the third day, it doesn't mean that your body has fully recovered. Your body is probably still in survival mode and is accustomed to using the little energy that it has for physical exertion. Give yourself time and allow your body to slowly realize that it has the opportunity to focus on recovery. Since it hasn't been doing much recovery in the last while, it almost needs to re-learn how to recover. Here are a few tips for getting the most recovery out of your rest periods.

To avoid the risk of overtraining, take at least one full day of rest every week and have a full week of rest every 2-3 months. This rest week is great to recover from accumulated stresses that the body does not have the opportunity to recover from in-between exercise sessions.


Your body does most of its recovery during sleep. For this reason, make sure that you have ample amounts of sleep to give your body the time that it needs to recover. Sleep is also important for the regulation of hormones that improve physical performance. Establish a good sleeping ritual that will calm you down before bed time. This can include dimming the lights, reading a book and avoiding the light from screens for an hour before you hit the sack.


Give your body what it needs to recover and rebuild. Incorrect nutrition can exasperate the effects of over training. Proper nutrition, on the other hand, can minimize its effects. Your body can only recover when it has the resources that it needs to do so.


Glutamine is an amino acid that is naturally found in your body. It is needed for recovery from injury, exercise, illness and disease. By supplementing with glutamine, you can increase the amount of recovery that your body can do within a certain period of time. This makes glutamine a perfect supplement for people who need to recover. I personally use glutamine when I am sick (to get better faster) or when my current training programs is putting a lot of stress on my body.

Over training will lead to the reversal of the benefits of exercise. It will decrease your performance, body transformation progress and reverse the health benefits of exercise. Your body gets better/faster/bigger when you rest. STAY STRONG!

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