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The Signs of Overtraining and How to Prevent It

woman sweating while working out

Bodybuilders, weightlifters, and athletes live to pump iron to increase muscle mass and definition and build their strength. The increased flow of good feeling chemicals and the characteristic muscle burn often causes many bodybuilders to go overboard with their training, exercising longer and more intensely than is usually necessary. While a little muscle soreness is normal after any workout, excessive workouts can lead to overtraining. Aside from the pain and general harm to your health, overtraining can keep you out of the gym, putting an immediate stop to your fitness program. Read on to learn some common signs of overtraining and tips for how you can prevent overtraining during your workouts.

Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining

Discerning between regular fatigue and overtraining can seem difficult for many beginner athletes. Some common overtraining signs you should keep an eye out for include:

  • Excessive muscle soreness – You will normally have sore muscles for a day or two after your workout. However, if your muscles are sore beyond the three-day mark, you may be dealing with overtraining. The extended soreness suggests that your muscles are not recovering properly.
  • Elevated resting heart rate – Changes in your heart rate often come as a means of your body trying to adjust its metabolic rate to meet the increased demand of your training.
  • Increased thirst – No matter how much you drink, you still remain thirsty. This may be because your body is in a catabolic state, meaning that your body is breaking down the protein in your muscles for fuel. Catabolism naturally causes dehydration.
  • Compromised immune system – Overtraining may cause you to become sicker more frequently than normal as an extended state of catabolism has been shown to weaken immune systems.
  • Loss of appetite – If you are training properly, you should have a considerable appetite after your workouts, but hormonal changes from overtraining can affect your hunger and satiety, leading to appetite suppression. While that might seem beneficial, a suppressed appetite on top of a catabolic state will lead to unhealthy weight loss and reduced muscle mass.
  • Depression – Overtraining can cause changes in your hormones, which may contribute to depression. This can also be accompanied by body image issues and unrealistic expectations for each workout.
  • Insomnia – Despite tiring yourself out at the gym, you may have trouble sleeping if you overtrain as a result of hormonal changes and an overexcited nervous system.
  • Changes in personality – While it’s not always a sign of overtraining, you may find yourself becoming more aggressive or more irritable from added stress on your nervous system.
  • Increased chance of injuries – Overtraining often means you are not getting enough time to rest, resulting in more workouts in a weakened state. Doing this too often increases your risk of injuries, which will only keep you out of the gym for longer.

On top of the physical and psychological symptoms, overtraining can land a big blow on your motivation and self-esteem.

Overtraining Prevention

Thankfully, it’s possible to prevent overtraining as long as you keep these tips in mind:

  • Take Rest Days – For many bodybuilders, feeling the pump of a successful workout can be addicting. This often means working out every day with the misconception that you will gain bigger muscles at a faster rate. However, every workout causes microscopic tears in your muscles and stress on your bones and joints. In order for you to build more muscle, those microtears need to heal. Otherwise, you’re only doing more harm. While daily workouts are possible, they require strict guidelines and weight control programs. The easier solution is to take frequent breaks or…
  • Reduce your volume – Reduce the amount of reps or sets or take down the general intensity of your workouts as a whole. For the average person, gym sessions should be between 45 and 75 minutes.
  • Focus on different muscle groups – Aside from undertraining the rest of your body, focusing on the same muscle groups during every workout increases your chances of overtraining and eventual injury. Focus on different muscle groups during different workout days.
  • Eat a balanced diet – Not getting the right nutrition can contribute to overtraining. Remember that you get out of your workouts what you put into your body. If you don’t eat the right vitamins and nutrients, your muscles will have a harder time healing and your body won’t recover properly. There are a wide variety of nutrients you should be putting into your body, but make sure to focus primarily on getting the right amount of macronutrients, which comprise proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Carbs and fats offer easy sources of fuel, while proteins help to build up and heal muscles.
  • Get plenty of sleep – Your muscles, joints, nervous system, and mind undergo large amounts of stress during a workout. Thankfully, sleep actively repairs damage in all of those categories. When you sleep, your body releases various chemicals that repair muscle cells while increasing muscle mass and bone strength. Sleep also clears out waste in the brain and files away information for memory and learning, rejuvenating both mind and body for the day to come. Try to get 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night along with occasional naps throughout the day to help your body recover from exercise.
  • Reevaluate your personal goals – Creating unrealistic goals or otherwise putting too much pressure on yourself can lead down the dark path of overtraining. Think about what you want for your end goal and create reasonable fitness and diet plans to reach that goal. If you find yourself unmotivated or overexerting yours, pause and take a week off to rest and reevaluate your goals.

Many people also turn to supplements to aid in their recovery and stave off overtraining. While supplements are not for everyone, try mTOR Pro™ from MYOKEM™ if you think you could benefit from it. mTOR Pro™ offers a unique formula that is designed to increase performance and hydration and provide dynamic, time-released recovery with 10.5 grams of essential amino acids in every serving. If you don’t think supplements are right for you, just remember to take things slower and consider that rest is just as important as work when it comes to improving your health and building the body that you want.

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