You have been training on a good exercise program regularly at your local gym for a couple of months now. At the beginning, you may have lost some
weight, gain some muscle tone, strength and feeling wonderful after every exercise session, but you do not experience those wonderful moments anymore. Your results are now dismal at best or worse, you are not getting the results that you wanted anymore.
You stayed on a healthy diet, supplemented with vitamins and minerals, but somehow you always feel tired and exhausted nowadays. Your enthusiasm for your workout sessions seemed to have waned. You even feel irritable and all stressed up. What is happening?
You know something? If you find yourself dreading your exercise sessions or dragging yourself through the day, you may be pushing yourself too hard. This is how overtraining affects your exercise program. Training plateau is your body’s way of crying out for rest. It is time to now take a rest and recharge your body. When it comes to getting a good physical shape, most people expect too much too soon. They would usually push themselves too hard at the beginning in order to get faster results. But what happens then? They feel tired, exhausted, easily irritated and so become depressed and lose the desire and enthusiasm for the activities they used to enjoy. Isn’t that such a waste?
Overtraining happens when the physical stress of training is not balanced by adequate rest and nutrition to allow the body recuperate and repair itself. Overtraining is defined as “untreated overreaching that result in chronic decreases in performance and impaired ability to train” by the The Unites States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the American College of Sports Medicine. In medical terms, the overtraining syndrome is classified as a neuro-endocrine disorder where the normal fine balance in the interaction between nervous and hormonal systems is disturbed and the body is so tired that it now has a decreased ability to repair itself during rest.
So if you are consistently push your limits without giving your body a chance to recover, your entire engine may just suffer a major break down. This is because most of us think that if a little exercise can do wonders for your body, more exercise must be even better. That is why we tend to put all the energy into every workout and push ourselves expecting to reach the set goals sooner. Some of us will even hit the gym almost everyday for hours at a time. This is wrong! More is not better in this game.
It is true that in order to make improvements, you will need to challenge yourself out of your comfort zone. That means that you may want to squat heavier or run more miles than you did the month before. Progression is the way you can make improvements towards your cherished goals. The only problem is that your body adapts to the same routine and stops responding. This is the dreaded plateau every athletic fear. Hence there should be a delicate balance between exercise and rest.
Exercising is great for your body, mind and soul, however if you start feeling tired, fatigued and irritated, then you may be creating a very unfavorable physical internal environment. Physiologically, repetitive training alters your hormone levels, weakens immunity and triggers emotional instability wreaking havoc on your mind and body.
Insomnia, elevated resting heart rate, lack of appetite, feeling unmotivated, low libido and a lack of progress are all symptoms of overtraining.
The first thing most people do which leads to overtraining is performing too many sets of different exercises in their workouts. From what I have observed in the gym, most people do between 20 -30 sets per workout.
Have you asked yourself is it necessary to do so many sets? Did you find out how many sets you must do to get the optimum results? What are you trying to accomplish by doing so many sets? Do the extra sets make your muscle stronger and bigger? Are they getting you leaner and more muscular? Are they helping you to recruit more motor units? Are you stretching the fascia and inducing hyperplasia?
If you are really training hard, it is very difficult for most people to perform so many sets and still be able to recover. So reduce you sets.
The next mistake is that people train too long and too often in the gym. Intensive workouts should never exceed an hour. When you begin training, your anabolic hormones are immediately elevated. After a while they will reach a peak and then start to decline.
They eventually return to normal baseline and if you keep training beyond that point, they will dip down to below normal levels. This is when cortisol, which is a stress hormone that eats muscle and stores body fat is produced more abundantly. This is bad news if you want to gain bigger muscles and lose body fat.
You also get over trained by training too often. You must know that training does not stress just the muscles but the entire body including your nervous system. If your nervous system has not recovered, you cannot train again. You can try, but you will not make any progress at all and will just dig yourself deeper into the overtraining phenomenon. If you are training five or six days per week, you are probably over training.
So, if you are not seeing results and is suffering from overtraining symptoms, give yourself a 2 to 4 week break from exercising and let your body recover fully before you hit the gym again. Don’t be surprised that when you are back, your muscles will be shocked into new growth and the fat starts melting away again.