Commitment to your workout routine is great. So is passion. So is a little bit of obsession. However, if you're working out too much, too regularly, you could be doing your mind and body more harm than good. The result? You can undo all your hard-won gains. Think you might be overtraining? Read on to find out.
You should feel absolutely exhausted at the end of any solid sweat sesh, but you should also feel energized. Your legs may feel like lead, but your mind should be buoyed. If you feel like you're dragging your butt around all day, not just mentally, but physically, you could be getting too much of a good thing.
Your body needs to rest. Seven to eight hours a night of sleep, and the odd day of recovery. We can't emphasize it enough. There is no 'on' without the 'off'. If you don't give your body the time to rest and repair, you're not going to be able to perform at peak that next session. Translation: your gains will suffer.
If the idea of having to workout again is enough to make you want to scream, you could be overtraining. Mental apathy (or outright disdain) toward a routine you usually like is a sign that you might be overdoing it. Your workout routine is like a family member you love, but don't want to spend every hour of every day with: you need a break if you want to reap the rewards of your relationship with exercise.
Keep in mind, if you're bored of your routine but not working out most days, you may not be overtraining on the whole, but just with that particular form of exercise. Switch up your activity. If you're always doing HIIT, throw in some strength training, yoga, running or swimming. You can still train with the same frequency, just not doing the same activity.
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Your neck. Your knees. Your back, shoulders and hips. If you always seem to have some sort of soreness or injury (that's not caused by incorrectly doing an exercise), then overtraining can be at the root. Go back to reason #2 and remember to take those rest days. Serious injuries can take you out of the game for a lot longer than one day.
Working just as hard and often but not seeing results? You've probably hit a fitness plateau. Characterized when your body is bored of doing the same activity for the same length of time the same way over and over, plateaus mean that you stop seeing results from your sweat sessions. Thankfully, you can easily bust through plateaus by taking a rest day, upping the intensity or time of your workout, switching up the type of activity you do or the equipment you use. (You can read more about plateaus and how to break 'emhere.)
Exercise is supposed to make you feel good, but too much of a good thing is still too much. Over-training -- especially when you do high intensity workouts -- can raise your body's cortisol levels, which can result in feelings ofstress and anxiety. Over time, raised cortisol levels can also result in fat storage, especially around the midsection.
It all comes back to hormones again. Increased cortisol levels result in poor sleep -- or even theinability to sleep at all. Take a day off, or dial back the intensity of your workout. Do yoga. Go for a walk. Do something chill.
If the sight of your favorite dish no longer evokes drooling a la Pavlov's dogs, then it could be a sign you’re overdoing it with your exercise. Because overtraining will put negative stress on your body (and mind), your body’s chemical balance will go out of whack. You will produce more of the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine, whichcan curb your appetite. At first, this may seem like a Godsend, but remember: your body needs food to lose fat and gain lean muscle mass, so if you ain’t eating, you ain’t gonna be seeing the success you want. In fact, you could gain or retain weight if your body is so over-stressed that it thinks it is being attacked: it will go into starvation mode and start conserving your body’s stores of energy and nutrient rich fat.
Prevent injury and give your workouts purpose beyond the gym. BodyRock Trainer Michael Levine weighs in with the best exercises for functional movement.
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