In the fitness industry, we put a lot of emphasis on the concept of “more.” We spend time teaching clients about how to fit more workouts into their routine and how to increase the intensity of their workouts. For someone who has not regularly worked out for years, this approach of coaching “more” is often needed. We want to motivate people to get off their butts and prioritize their health, along with helping them recognize that movement is a big part of respecting the body they have.
On the other hand, there are many of you out there who take this to the extreme. You have no problem hitting the gym 6 or 7 days a week and you don’t just work out, you sweat buckets in high intensity classes or play with heavy barbells day in and day out. After all, leg day isn’t properly accomplished unless you can’t walk up the stairs the next day. And this perfectly describes rest day for you….
It’s good to be passionate about your health, but you also need to listen to your body. In some phases of training, this much exercise may feel “right.” Maybe you are making sure to get 8 hours of sleep a night, take supportive supplements and eat a mostly whole food diet that allows you to feel recovered and refreshed from all your training. But there may also eventually be a point where you simply can’t push that hard anymore. That’s when you begin to say “hello” to multiple signs of overtraining. Cheers to you for recognizing that something is off, because many choose to push through the pain, which often ends in injury or adrenal fatigue. So let’s chat about top signs that you may be overtraining…
- You notice your weight and strength going in the opposite direction of what you are hoping to achieve. Many think that extremes will help them reach their goals, but that is often not the case. I can promise you that the scale won’t move much, nor will the amount of weight on your barbell or weight stack, if you are aggressively overtraining.
- You constantly feel exhausted. Even when you get enough sleep, something doesn’t quite feel right. Your caffeine intake may begin to increase to counteract this constant, heavy feeling that you just can’t shake.
- You don’t feel like you. This often connects closely to the point made above about exhaustion, because exhaustion impacts mood. No, I’m not giving you something to blame your sassiness on ???? But make note if you are consistently “off” from how you normally feel.
- Your mindset is beginning to shift to a dangerous place of identifying solely with your abilities in the gym, rather than all the other beautiful characteristics that make you who you are.
These are by no means the only signs of overtraining, but they are a few of the top ones I have noticed in clients and myself. If you feel like you are pushing into the realm of taking things too far with your fitness, it may be time to scale back a bit. Many people feel a sense of fear in scaling back; fear that they won’t achieve their goals, their desired weight, their desired strength, etc. But guess what… if you aren’t achieving them while overtraining anyway, then what gives? You have nothing to lose by pulling back a bit and seeing how your body responds!
Here are my top tips for working your way out of overtraining…
- Decrease the number of workouts you do per week. Take one or two full days for active rest (walking, foam rolling, stretching).
- If you are gravely sore from a lifting session/workout allow yourself to shift your workout plan for the week and take rest.
- If you feel the itch to work out when you know your body needs rest, meditate on the feelings enveloping you. What is compelling you to feel the need for a heavy sweat session? Take a contemplative walk to move your body and allow your mind to process the emotions tied up in your current desire for the gym.
- Rest up. Allow yourself a consistent 7-8 hours per night of good quality sleep.
- Nourish your body with veggies, fruits, meats and nuts. Cut back on the processed junk – it won’t do your body’s recovery process any good.
- Supplement to support your body’s anti-inflammatory process. My top picks are fish oil and turmeric.
Remember that it’s never too late to get back to feeling good again. You will be surprised how supporting your physical being, rather than running on empty, allows you to achieve the things you want in life. Finding balance and bliss is simpler than many of us make it out to be, so let it be a welcomed surprise that scaling back a bit could be exactly what allows you to see success.