‘Everything in moderation’ isn’t just for food; as great as a good workout may make you feel, as fit as regular exercise gets you, there are limits to what your body can recover from. When you surpass those limits of recovery, or don’t give your body the downtime it needs to heal, you accumulate physical and mental strain—strain that eventually catches up to even the most superhuman of athletes. Watch for these overtraining signs and not getting enough rest.
7 Overtraining Signs
- Reduced gains. If you’re one to fight through the pain, this might be the very first symptom you take note of. This symptom could actually be seen as a benefit, in a way; if overtraining results in reduced gains on top of all the other problems, then there’s absolutely zero reason to push yourself so hard. Doing so only wrecks your body and undermines your efforts.
- Extended muscle pain. Muscles aching for days, never quite recovering from the last workout before you put them through the wringer again? You might be overdoing it. Of course, if you’re training so frequently that you wouldn’t notice muscle pain lingering past it’s due date, then you’ll need to pay attention to intensity; does each workout make your muscle pain worse, adding to a layer of soreness that never quite fades away?
- Increased rate of injury. When we overtrain, our bodies end up riddled with microtears, hidden abrasions, and all sorts of other frailties. Then we hit the gym, push ourselves the the limit…and something gives. Even small injuries should be treated as a warning sign; start rolling your ankle, tripping into doorframes, and whacking your head, and it may be a sign your body’s not quite in the shape it should be.
- Sickness. Injury isn’t the only threat to our health–our body loses its ability to recover on a much smaller scale when we drain it’s resources and give it scant time to replenish them. Even if you’re not seeing any other symptoms on this list, if you’re getting colds and other illnesses more frequently than you’re accustomed to, consider taking your training regiment down a notch, making sure you’re replenishing what you’re spending with healthy meals, and sleeping plenty.
- Loss of focus. Trouble keeping up at work, losing motivation in the gym, difficulty reading through this very article in one sitting? The onset of poor focus can be a definite sign that your body’s being overworked. Consider carefully whether you’re paying attention as well as usual, and if you’re not, figure out why. Maybe it’s just a passing distractedness, or maybe it’s a warning.
- Trouble sleeping. It’s strange, but sometimes not getting enough rest can lead to difficulty resting. Perhaps your body is so keyed up that you can’t relax quite enough to sleep, or maybe muscle pain’s keeping you up into the early morning. Whatever the reason, difficulty sleeping should be treated as a sure symptom of overtraining.
- Mood swings. One of the most dangerous symptoms of overtraining, in part because of how insidious such a change can be. When you train too much and rest too little, your body and mind enter a state more suited to survival under harsh conditions—a state which doesn’t interact well with modern life. If you find yourself snapping at minor slights, paranoid, or otherwise ‘off’, you might need more rest time.