For the majority of the people in this world, getting motivated to exercise or even beginning to exercise is difficult. But there are a few of us who actually do the opposite of this… We exercise too much.
While exercising and being physically active every day is great, like everything else in life, too much of something is a bad thing. As far as our fitness goals go, 80% of our chance in attaining them will depend on what we put into our mouth.
That said, this article is somewhat personal to me. Overtraining is something I have been struggling with in the last couple of years. Once we have exercise in our blood, it is impossibly hard for us to stop. We feel guilty and moody if we skipped a workout. Even as a fitness professional, I technically know my body better than anyone else but it is a struggle to find a good distinction between working out too much and just right.
It wasn’t until I learned to listen to my body, to plan and regimen, and figure out what my own strengths and weakness are, that I solved the puzzle.
If you’re reading this and it resonates in you, or if you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, here are some signs that might indicate you’ve been working out too hard. Our body needs at least 1-2 rest days a week and if you’re constantly facing some of these signs, a few weeks or even a month off exercise can do you good. Don’t worry, taking some time off will not throw all your efforts out the window and will definitely won’t make you an overweight person. If anything, it will make you feel refreshed and energized, and most importantly bring you awesome results in the future.
1. You consistently fail to complete your workout.
Failing when progressing is great. You know, when you’re lifting heavier weights and you can only complete 4 reps. Or when you’re sprinting harder and can only complete a short amount of time. But if you’re getting slower and weaker, in other words, failing when you’re regressing, it probably means you’re working out too hard.
2. You have trouble sleeping or falling asleep.
Difficulty falling asleep simply means your sympathetic nervous system is still working even when you’re resting. While this can be a major sign of overtraining, it can also mean that your stress levels are high when you need them to be low. If you’re tossing and turning in bed or you’re waking up in the middle of the night, you’re overtraining.
3. You’re lifting, sprinting or doing HIIT exercises every single day.
Unless you are a professional athlete who trains several times a day and eating food and supplements that can enhance your performance, you are not Wolverine. For many of us, lifting, sprinting and doing high-intensity interval trainings every single day won’t leave our body with enough time to recover. In the end, our health will deteriorate along with our mood and feelings and that is something you don’t want to happen. Take a break or alternate high intensity and lifting days with easy stretching days. Your body will thank you.
4. You feel excessive pain in your limbs.
If you feel pain in your knees, wouldn’t it be obvious that you’re probably overusing or not using it correctly? If you’re running and you feel sore in your lower limbs, it might mean that you’ve run too hard or too far for too long. If you’re lifting and you feel pain in your limbs, there could be one of two possibilities — number one being a delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or number two, you’re lifting with poor form. While the former is a natural thing and will go away in a couple of days, lifting with poor form can over time lead to undesirable injuries. It is imperative for you to tune in to your body and listen to these important signs to avoid overtraining.
Think having good posture is unnecessary? Read this — The Importance of Having Good Posture
5. You feel tired and moody after a workout.
Exercise is suppose to make you feel good, due to the high levels of endorphins released and circulating in your body during and after the workout. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? But what if that feeling never comes? What if you feel like napping each time after exercise, or worse, you feel like death? If you feel like a Lochness monster after a workout and it isn’t making you feel good, it’s time to scale down a little bit.
6. You crave for more sugar than usual.
Our body tends to crave sugar when our levels of cortisol are high or when our glycogen (glucose in its storage form) is low. If you crave Tim Tams and Pop Tarts more often than usual, it’s a good sign that you’re working out to hard.
Learn more — How Sugar Affects Our Brain
7. You frequently fall sick.
While there are many reasons why you may fall ill, exercise shouldn’t be one of them. Exercise is known to be one of life’s natural immune boosters. One reason why I started exercising in my late teenage years was because I was constantly sick, and it worked. However, if you’re up to date with your flu shots and no one else in the house is sick, but you’re staying in bed because of a virus or a bug, you might want to take a look at your exercise frequency and intensity.
8. You feel like you’ve gained weight even though you’re exercising a lot.
Yes, exercise should make you lose weight and increase your lean muscle mass. But sometimes, working out too much can increase muscle wastage and fat storage. You might be burning calories, but you’re burning calories from glucose and glycogen and your precious muscle stores and you don’t want that. To achieve leanness, your body’s cortisol levels should be in balance. Lack of sleep and overtraining can tip this over, leading to high cortisol level and increase fat disposition. Have you been working out like a crazy person and still feel like you’ve gained weight? You’ve overtrained.
If you’ve experienced some of these signs yourself, take a step back and have a break. Don’t deny the signs, because at the end of the day, you’re exercising to improve health, not deteriorate it.
Life is too short to spend being tired and moody and definitely too short to spend all your time exercising.
That is why all the exercises I suggest in my blog are short and sweet, but effective. My goal is to strike a perfect balance and recovery is imperative in achieving this and most importantly, teach my clients how to do that.
Listen to your body. You only have one.
Featured photo credit: HJ Media Studios via flickr.com