Of course, every person is different. We all have a unique set of chemical reactions happening inside our bodies. More and more though, we have come to accept that less is more, as far as exercise goes. Especially when you understand the the majority of your body composition is determined by your diet to begin with.
Have you ever wondered how that spin instructor who teaches 15 classes a week is still, for lack of a better word, pudgy? I mean, all that cardio and they still have a muffin top. Recently a colleague of mine put on a very noticeable amount of weight. Teaching 19-23 classes a week, even though he would only demo certain classes, he was still overdoing it. Everyone noticed his weight gain, and how tired he was looking. Why? Because, not only can overtraining cause an array of health issues, the chemicals it can trigger will age you prematurely, and even suppress the immune system.
- Despite increased exercise you seem to be less lean.
Sometimes, working out too much can actually cause muscle wasting and fat deposition. You’re “burning calories,” probably more than ever before, but it’s predominantly glucose/glycogen and precious muscle tissue. Net effect: you’re getting less lean. Have you been working out like a mad-man (or woman) only to see your definition decrease? You’re probably overtraining.
- Your joints, bones or limbs hurt.
With regard to endurance training, if you creak, you wince at every step, and you dread staircases, it may be that you’ve run too far or too hard for too long. The danger here is that your daily endorphin high has over-ridden your natural pain receptors. You should probably listen to them more carefully. Of course, all these aches and pains could be a result of continued poor form while you are overtraining on top of it. Improper form can also result in overuse of non-essential muscles groups during a certain exercise, further resulting in your overtraining.
- You are getting sick more often.
Lots of things can compromise your immune system. However, what if you’re eating right, getting plenty of sun, and enjoying a regular eight hours of solid sleep each night, but you find yourself getting sick? A nagging cough here, a little sniffle or two there, some congestion and a headache. Your immune system may be suffering from the added stress of your overtraining. It’s an easy trap to fall into, simply because it’s often the natural progression for many accomplished athletes or trainees looking to increase their work or improve their performance: work harder, work longer. If you’ve recently increased your exercise output, keep track of those early morning sore throats and sneezes. Any increases may indicate a poor immune system brought on by overtraining.
- You feel worse, not better, after your workout.
That after workout endorphin rush is legendary. After a solid training session, you should feel on top of the world. The after gym glow can last hours, if not days, and is one of the reasons so many may train as much as they do. If that rush never comes though, and you're left feeling ill and worse than when you started, chances are you are overtraining.
Like I said, every person is different. Professional athletes can train hardcore for 4-5 hours a day and never risk overtraining. If you're not a professional athlete (or Wolverine) though, you may need an extra day off here and there.
As a trainer and fitness instructor, it's my job to fill classes and book clients often to pay my bills. That in no way means I would ever condone a "90 days no break" approach, and I'm the first person to tell a client to take a break.
This whole post came after a killer work out this evening. While I have been teaching the last three days, I haven't had time to lift outside of class. I had a great spin class this morning, and a full day or recovery and healthy meals. After returning to the gym to lift some weights for the first time since Wednesday, I was blown away at what a killer workout I had. How strong I was, how pumped I got, and how amazing I felt. I more often than not have better training sessions after a day or two off.
Bottom line is, listen to you body. Training like a beast is great, if your body can handle it. If you are getting stuck at a plateau, or not seeing the results you think you should, maybe it's time to reevaluate your training sessions. Take a break, mix it up, try something new. After all, the best way to change your body, is to try something new and push outside of your comfort zone. Even if that something new, is taking a day off.
Sources - http://www.marksdailyapple.com/overtraining/#axzz2Z4nyfx00 - http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/behar2.htm