There are plenty of different sources advertising extreme diets or exercise routines, but one thing is certain: no one is the same and there is no guarantee it will work for everyone. Another sure thing is that too many people aren’t getting the amount of exercise their body needs to stay healthy and fit. However, on the other hand, too many people are exercising too much.
So how do you know when enough is enough? There really is no scientific way to answer this question because we all differ. But there are a few general signs that you should look out for, just in case you are overtraining:
1. You notice the inability to complete your normal routine.
If you increase the size of weights you are using or extend the length of your run, you probably think you’re doing something good for yourself. And sure, at the start of each, you may struggle to complete what your goals were or you may have to stop and recover first. These are expected results. However, if you are starting to regress in your exercise regimen, and not for lack of practice, then you need to consider if you’re pushing yourself too far.
2. Muscle definition and leanness have declined despite increased exercise.
Not many people may realize this, but there is a specific balance in your body between muscle and fat. When you work out, you burn fat, but if you haven’t always been so active, your body needs time to adjust. That is why you don’t generally go from being unable to run a lap around the track to running a 5k the next day. If you tried to do this, your body would tap into its muscle tissue and glucose/glycogen rather than burning fat. This means you’d be losing muscle, which is just the opposite goal of your efforts. If you notice this change in the way your body reacts to exercise, take it down a notch.
3. You are working to exhaustion every day.
Your body needs time to rest, even when your are telling yourself to keep going. Sometimes you need to listen to your body when it’s hurting; you don’t want to risk injury or illness.
4. You are generally a strength training/explosive athlete and you find yourself overexcited and energetic when not working out.
This refers to sprinters and lifters that exert a large amount of energy quickly when exercising. Too much of this can lead to the sympathetic nervous system’s inability to slow down because it thinks it is in a chronic state of stress and that can affect your sleep.
5. You are generally an endurance athlete and you feel excessively fatigued when not working out.
This refers to endurance and resistance trainers that overwork their parasympathetic nervous system, causing the body to increase cortisol levels and decrease testosterone because it believes it needs to ration their use.
6. Your joints, bones, or limbs ache.
There is a specific ailment that goes along with training, called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which usually goes away within a couple days. This is the body’s natural reaction to activity. However, you should be concerned with overtraining if it does not go away and you struggle to move naturally throughout the day.
7. Increased sickness.
Overtraining can affect your immune system and cause you to fall ill more frequently. Stress and lack of rest will keep you from getting better. If you notice this happening while you exercise, give yourself a rest.
8. You are hurting for hours or days immediately after a workout.
If you’ve been regularly working out and aren’t feeling the endorphin high after your routine, this could be a sign of overtraining. Sure, you may just be a bit sore from going hard, but if you are at your lowest, be aware this could be a sign of going too hard.