How Much Is Too Much?

I think we can agree that doing no activity is worse than doing some but doing too much could be THE worst.  If we do just enough activity good things happen – our energy, mood and vitality increases, our immune system is strong and we lose fat and maintain or build muscle.  Do too much and it will all come tumbling down around us.  The basic concept of overtraining is an imbalance between work and recovery or it’s anytime your training is working against you and where adding more makes the problem worse. Overtraining is highly personal and goal-dependent.

5 signs you’re overtraining:

1 Decreased muscle mass despite increased exercise.

It’s more than just calories in, calories out.  Sometimes your hormones will get in the way.  Exercise is just another stress on your body and your body responds the same way to all stress – the fight and flight response and adrenaline and cortisol release.  Too much cortisol and you’re going to get fat laying itself down around your midsection no matter how much cardio you do.

2  More sick, more often.

You’re eating right, you’re sleeping well and you’ve decided to up the training but its lowered your immunity and you’re getting a little ill – nothing major, a little coughing, a bit of congestion, headache that sort of thing.  The extra workout stress is adding up and your body is showing the symptoms of not quite coping with the increased workload – it’s in a catabolic state, breaking down and not repairing adequately causing your immunity to be lowered.

3 You’re training HARD. Every day.

We’ve all got different thresholds for training but chances are if you’re training hard everyday your performance will suffer, as will your health and your results will be diminished.  You’re not giving your body a chance to recover and it’s during your recovery that you burn the fat and rebuild the muscle to get stronger.   Too much endurance or steady state cardio will also encourage more cortisol release (after all, it’s just another stress on the body) which in turn encourages that tummy fat to stick around.

4 Niggling injuries?

Are old injuries coming back or are you carrying a few niggling injuries?  If you’re not recovering enough between workouts, you’re going to be training in a less than perfect state.  This will compromise your technique and strength and increase the chance of injury.

5 Muscle soreness.  All the time.

Yes muscle soreness is normal for a day or two after a workout but if you’re still sore 72 hours after your workout your body’s recovery mechanism is compromised and you’re not going to be building any muscle anytime soon.  If you’re really, really, sore after endurance training, creaking and walking gingerly, maybe you’ve run too far, too hard or for too long.  Its time to take a break.

What to do about overtraining?

Well, there’s a few things that can help:overtraining

  • Take a break for a few days and let your body recover.  This doesn’t mean lie on the couch, you can still be active – go for a walk or swim, stretch, go to yoga or BodyBalance or ask me about some working-in or CHEK Zone exercises.  Gentle activity will help you to re-energise and encourage your rest and repair functions.
  • Meditation and mindfulness techniques can also help to refocus.
  • Get a massage
  • Drink lots of water and eat good quality fruit, vegetables, fats and protein to give your body the nourishment it needs to function optimally
  • Make sure you’re asleep before 10pm.  Your body is most effective at physical repair between the hours or 10pm and 2am.  Psychological repair occurs between 2am and 6am so you should really be asleep then too.

If this resonates with you, you can find out for sure if you’re in danger of overtraining with an adrenal fatigue test.  Your stress hormones will be out of control if you’ve been overtraining, compromising your performance and results. This is a simple saliva test, taken 4 times throughout a day to monitor your cortisol level fluctuations.  Once we have this information we can take steps to modify your exercise programme and improve your energy, vitality and results.

If you want more information about working-in or CHEK Zone exercises, let me know and we can go over some that you can do at home to help you re-energise.