Once you’re entrenched in a steady workout regimen, exercising almost becomes an addiction. Seeing first-hand results of your hard work only pushes you to grind harder, and longer.

With the introduction of extreme fitness programs HIIT and Crossfit are prime examples fitness fanatics are now training up to seven days a week. It’s a ton of wear and tear on the body; should training too much become a concern?

Excessive exercise, known as overtraining, is a common result for extra-eager, supremely dedicated gym rats. Overtraining is simply defined as training more than your body is capable of handling, or recovering from.

Overtraining may not seem harmful – how is too much exercise bad for the body? Severe effects of overtraining can result in weeks to months of recovery. If you’re at the gym as much as you’re at home, you may be doing yourself more harm than good and should reassess your fitness goals.

There are overtraining symptoms you can recognize to avoid damaging your muscles and well being, which we’ll highlight in the proceeding sections. But the best way to prevent overtraining is simple: listen to your body. If you can’t will your body through another set of crunches, it’s a good idea to heed your body’s warnings, and shut it down until you’ve properly recovered.

You Stop Seeing Results; You’re Actually Gaining Weight!

This won’t be intuitive to exercisers when they first read it how can training too much reverse its effects on the body, encouraging weight gain?

Working out isn’t as simple as energy balance. Burning more than you consume isn’t a given when you train, as hormones play a part in the exercise equation.

Overtraining causes the body to produce increased levels of cortisol, while hampering testosterone production (yes, that’s bad for women too). Insulin resistance and fat deposition rises as well, which all factor into a loss of muscle and a gain in weight.

Muscle Soreness.

Sore muscles aren’t unusual post-exercise. You should be feeling a few aches a day or two following a workout.

Feeling sore past the 72-hour mark, however, is one of the signs of overtraining. Extended soreness that spans for days means your muscles haven’t recovered from previous workouts. Trying to push through the pain will only have a negative impact on your muscle-building aspirations.

Avoid overtraining muscles by spending no more than 45-75 minutes in the gym, if you’re focusing solely on weight training. Anything longer, and you’ve worn out your welcome (and your muscles) at the gym.

Loss of Focus, Difficulty Concentrating.

This symptom of overtraining is usually seen in strength or power athletes who opt for high intensity interval training.

These gruelling workouts shift the body’s sympathetic nervous system into overdrive, leading to hyperexcitability and an inability to focus. The body remains excited hours after exertion, keeping the body restless and jumpy. Restlessness makes recovery even more difficult, as sleep patterns are affected; sleep is vital in overtraining recovery, and consistent gains in exercise.

You’re Sick More Often.

Feeling ill can come from a combination of sleep deprivation, mental stress, bad dieting, or a lack of activity. Add overtraining to that list, too.

Getting sick is your body’s way of telling your immune system that it’s tired of the overtraining you’re putting it through. When your body is in an over trained state, it means its also in a continual catabolic state, lowering immunities and increases the likelihood of illness.

These effects of overtraining can be combatted by adjusting your diet, nutritional, and supplement intake, and possibly adding more vitamins A and E to your diet. Oh, and training less, of course.

Lost Motivation.

The urge to skip a day at the gym is natural, and proves you’re still more human than machine. But if the gym has become your life, a sudden wave of disinterest could be another sign of overtraining.

Rather than going through the motions and risking injury by not giving a focused effort, this is the time to take a break from the gym. Take a full week off to recoup, recover, and reassess when you feel ready to make your triumphant comeback.

Recognizing symptoms of overtraining will help keep your body fresh and your mind motivated to continue with your workout schedule. If you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing one of the signs of overtraining, its best to defer to your body and listen to what its telling you.

For a proper exercise regimen that won’t put you at risk of overtraining muscles, SEMI provides personal training to oversee workouts. We’ll ensure you’re getting the correct balance of work and rest to achieve your desired results. Our physiotherapy department can assist in recovering from overtraining, too.