Are you overtraining?
It’s normal for athletes to push themselves in their training in order to reach their fitness goals. In fact, to a certain degree, it’s necessary. However, it’s possible for athletes to push themselves too far and to overtrain.
Continuous, repetitive strenuous training, without adequate recovery time, can lead to overtraining. Let’s take a look at what exactly overtraining is, how to aid recovery, and how to prevent overtraining in the first place.
What is overtraining?
Overtraining occurs when an athlete fails to listen to the warning signs of their body, and continues to train without allowing adequate time for recovery. They may believe their poor performance is a sign of weakness, and train even harder to try to improve – only leading to further fatigue.
Signs of overtraining
It’s normal (and expected) to experience some fatigue and soreness between training sessions. However, there are some signs of overtraining you should watch out for:
- Overall fatigue that doesn’t improve
- Difficulty making it through workout sessions that were once manageable
- Decline in performance
- Delays in recovery after training
- Poor quality of sleep
- Mental changes such as depression, anger, moodiness or tension
- Lack of general motivation
- Not feeling joy from things that previously brought joy
- Irregular or missed menstrual periods
- Increased occurrence of illness
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
If you identify any of the above symptoms and think you may be overtraining, make changes to your training regime and assist in your recovery sooner rather than later. Ignoring the warning sides can lead to further overtraining, and a much longer path to recovery.
If you’re experiencing the fatigue of overtraining, speak to your coach or trainer if applicable. Recovery time can range from several weeks to many months, depending on the severity of your situation. There are a few things you can do that will be vital in your recovery from overtraining.
Rest is crucial on your path to recovery from overtraining. You will need to cut back or completely stop training to allow your body to recover. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, and encouraging your body to rest.
Ensure your diet is full of protein, vitamins, minerals and all the calories you need to aid in your recovery. Adequate nutrition is vital in fueling your body and allowing your body to perform as you need it to.
Working with a physiotherapist can help your body recover physically from the strain of overtraining. Your physio will offer exercises that will aid in stretching and strengthening your muscles, as well as improving range of motion. It is really important to get timely physiotherapy treatment for muscle sprains and strains.
Gradual return to training
Don’t rush back into your full training regime as soon as you start to feel better. To avoid another burnout, return to your training slowly. Your physio or doctor will be able to offer advice for easing back into working out, and you should make sure you listen to your body. Try returning at 50 percent of your previous training capacity, and slowly build it up about 10 percent a week. Make sure you focus on sleep, recovery and nutrition as you get back into training, and keep up with your physio.
Prevention is key. Follow these tips to avoid overtraining in the first place.
Listen to your body
This is so important for everyone, but especially athletes. If you’re in tune with your body, you’ll be able to identify when you’re pushing yourself too hard. Make sure you don’t only listen, but make changes to your training regime based on what your body needs – i.e. easing up if your body needs a break.
Focus on nutrition
The importance of this one cannot be overstated. Make sure you’re getting in adequate calories for the training you’re undertaking. Your calorie intake needs to cover what your body requires for training as well as muscle repair and recovery. Work with a nutritionist to get a better understanding of the nutritional needs of your body to support your workout regime.
Dehydration can contribute to muscle fatigue. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, and listen to your body for signs that you’re dehydrated. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages which can increase dehydration.
For many athletes, working out is a technique for stress management. When our lives become very stressful, it can be a catalyst for overtraining. Try other techniques for stress management such as yoga, meditation or therapy. This way, you won’t rely solely on physical training to ease stress – meaning you’re less likely to over-do it in the gym or in your training sessions.
Overtraining can occur when athletes push their bodies too hard for too long, without adequate recovery time. The best thing you can do is avoid overtraining in the first place, by prioritising your nutrition, sleep, and stress management. If you’re experiencing ongoing fatigue or soreness in your body, you may be overtraining. Cut back on your training, allow yourself to rest, and work with a physio in Como Perth to assist in your physical recovery.