If you’ve hit a plateau in your fitness journey, you may be overtraining.
I know it may be counterintuitive, since exercise and working out are very good for your health, but there is such a thing as working out too much.
As anyone who has ever spent a significant time at the gym can tell you, exercise can be addictive. When you start to see the changes in your body as a result of a certain regimen, your instinct might be to just do more!
This can be problematic, because your body doesn’t actually change or grow while you are exercising. Increases in actual muscle strength and fitness levels occur during the rests between your workouts, when your muscles are healing and recovering. This is because muscle growth occurs from first breaking down the muscle during your workout, then letting it heal bigger, better, and stronger.
If you get too obsessed with working out and don’t give your body enough time to recover, you will actually see a decline in your fitness level, and you won’t get the results you are looking for.
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Unfortunately, realizing you are overtraining is difficult, especially in the midst of a big event like a marathon, or fitness show. So here are a few ways you can tell if you are overtraining, and a few tips on how to avoid it.
You stop seeing results. If you hit a plateau, and your endurance and stamina aren’t improving no matter how much you work out, you are probably working out too much.
Your hormones are all over the place. If you find yourself acting uncharacteristically moody or depressed, your hormones may be out of whack because of overtraining. Trouble sleeping is another symptom of this.
Your immunity is compromised. If you find yourself getting sick every five minutes, your immune system may be compromised as a result of not taking enough rest days.
You are losing muscle mass. There are tests to tell whether you are losing fat, or muscle in your workouts. If you suspect you are losing muscle mass, it is probably a result of overtraining.
Here are a few rules to prevent overtraining:
Take at least one day off from working out, every week.
Never schedule more than two hard workout days in a row.
After 4-6 weeks of exercise, take a week to slow your roll, and lift only half of what you would normally lift. This may also seem counter intuitive, but its about the big picture here.
Stretch, roll, or ice your muscles during your recovery periods, and make sure to eat plenty of protein to help rebuild what you lose.