Overtraining happens when someone ignores the signs of overreaching and continues to train. Overreaching is a temporary condition when someone’s training is too heavy or intense. The symptoms of overreaching are generally feeling unwell, disrupted sleep, and mood (swings) fluctuations. This can, in general, has little impact on performance in the short term and early stages of overtraining. If the body is allowed to recover properly, the body’s condition will return to normal. On the other hand, if someone does not allow their body to recover completely and continues to train at the hard level, that would lead to overtraining.
You might have heard of the terms progressive overload and deloading before. Overtraining can be the result of optimal training that is taken too long. Progressive overload is when the workout plan gradually increases the routine’s weight, frequency, or number of repetitions. This is part of challenging the body to adapt and allows your musculoskeletal system to get stronger. This is also where deloading is important. You cannot keep adding weight, sets, or reps forever. Eventually, the body will need a break. Deloading is reducting in the training intensity and allows for a short recovery period.
When we train, one of the goals is to put stress on the body. For example, muscles break down during a workout, and when we sleep, they rebuild. This stress causes the damaged tissues to release cytokine signaling proteins. Their role is to increase blood flow to the damaged muscles. cortisol, a stress hormone, is produced by the body to reduce swelling.
These systems work together to allow your body to recover and make gains. However, if you don’t take a break from the intense workouts, these stress responses, usually localized to the damaged tissue, start to spread to the entire body. This is what is called overtraining.
The Symptoms of Overtraining
We touched on this above, but it is essential to know about the symptoms of overtraining. The effects range from mood, ability to sleep, motivation, and general fatigue. When your body feels overtrained, your daily life can suffer. The immune system becomes compromised.
Many people will use the word “overtraining” because they do not see gains. Even though it could be that they don’t monitor their caloric intake, optimize their nutrition, set goals, get enough sleep, or train with any intensity. They will have no symptoms but just say the words overtraining, and poof, you are now someone in the clear for why you are not making gains. But the truth is simple. You have to push yourself and your body to the limits. Consistently for an extended period to initiate the overtraining syndrome.
Overtraining Or Poor Recovery Habits?
As mentioned above, when you train, you break down the muscles and need to recover to keep making results in the gym. However, your body does not know you are trying to make gains, and it thinks it has to repair damage caused by an attack. Therefore, your body will do what it takes to recover quickly while getting stronger and faster to survive if the attack happens again.
If you are limiting the energy your body has to recover with, lack of sleep or nutrition, your body will need to choose what it feels is more important. If your body has to pick, it will decide to recover from the attack on your immune system to fix damages faster. If this is why when programing a workout, we allow time for the body to adapt to the new changes and use proper recovery tactics, or you will not see the results you’d like
You are sabotaging your gains by spending nights out late drinking, not sleeping enough, or falling short on your nutritional needs. This is not “overtraining.” Self-sabotaging is hard to admit, and it is easier to blame overtraining for the lack of results.
Avoiding Overtraining and Recovering
This might sound simple when you first think about it. However, it can be hard to focus on recovering when there are so many other distractions in everyday life. So let’s break down five easy ways to help your recovery.
Sleep is an essential part of recovering. You need 7-8 hours every night, even if you are just living your everyday life without the gym. Some people like to brag about how little sleep they get, “I’ll sleep when I am dead.” The hustle is a natural part of life. However, getting sleep helps the quality of work in all areas of your life, not just in the gym. Sleep functions to heal the body and your body releases most of its growth hormones during sleep. If your goal is to accel at life, you need to sleep enough.
The cooldown can be a boring part of any workout but is essential for your long-term results. Even a long walk on rest days can make a difference. It does not always have to be an ice bath, massage, or foam rolling. Anything that is a light activity to help reduce inflammation and get fluids moving into your damaged muscle tissues can speed up the recovery process.
Stress is part of life, and training causes stress to your body. If you can reduce your stress outside of the gym, this can help your body heal. Find ways to invest your time into your mental health, just like you do your physical health in the gym.
Taking days off can seem like a drag when you love to work out. However, taking time away from training and even active recoveries day can help optimize your recovery. So allow your mind and body to take time off from the training.
Supplements for Recovery
First, remember supplements are a supplement to your nutrition. Focus on what was touched on above before adding in supplements. You may find that you save money or that the supplement won’t work without first adding other recovering tricks.
Suppose you were to look at what is always the first supplement recommendation, protein powders. Whole food sources are preferred, but you may not always have access to them when living a busy life. That is when adding in a quick protein shaker can help you get your nutrition in without stressing,
There are different supplements for every goal. Remember to keep it simple and focus on the basics before running off to get the new thing on the block that promises quick recovery results. Listen to what your body and follow common sense to avoid overtraining.