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Overtraining – symptoms, causes, effects. How to avoid and fight overtraining?

Overtraining is a short or long lasting body condition characterized by weakness, lack of energy and vitality. Overtraining is caused by too hard workouts. At the same time, a decrease in mental form and worse brain function is observed.

It is true that regular sporting activity brings with it a whole range of unquestionable advantages, such as a great feeling of well-being, good health, high immunity, perfect condition, no problems with excess weight, but training too intensively in relation to the possibilities of our organism often results in overtraining and a decrease in psychophysical form. When training, we must always take into account the current condition of our body and try not to exceed our actual physical potential. Overtraining and the resulting symptoms can be very serious. How to avoid overtraining and what to do if it happens?

What is overtraining and who is most often affected by it?

 woman exhausted from training, next to exercise mat

Overtraining often affects people who are just beginning their adventure with training, who have neither theoretical nor practical preparation for regular trainings, who have no experience in a given sports discipline, and who embark on advanced training plans without the supervision of a trainer.

It is also not uncommon to encounter people who train too often, beyond their capacity, and who do not leave enough time for regeneration. Overtraining is also often faced by people who strive for an immediate change in their silhouette and count on immediate effects, be it in burning fat, building mass or shaping their silhouette.

Overtraining is, in short, a decrease in fitness, bad mood, physical and mental “pumping”, and deterioration of the whole organism resulting from too intensive workouts. Overtraining is sometimes confused with fatigue, but in fact has a different specificity.

Fatigue is a temporary state that occurs in connection with a single high effort of the body and resulting significant energy losses. It brings with it only a short-term decrease in form. Overtraining, on the other hand, is a state stretched in time. It is a result of many too strenuous workouts, it negatively influences the functioning of the whole system, it causes exhaustion of the muscles and negatively affects the nervous system and its work.

Overtraining does not pass as quickly as fatigue. When we are tired, it is enough to get a good night’s sleep to wake up completely regenerated and full of energy. On the other hand, when we are overtrained, the bad feeling lasts for a long time. For many days we may wake up deprived of vitality, we may still be plagued by weakness, apathy, bad mood, irritability, pain. Because of the chronic state of psychophysical deterioration, overtraining can be called chronic fatigue.

Causes of overtraining

 A man trains with weights at the gym

The main cause of overtraining is the repeated, intensified training activity, which is not adapted to our condition and which results in a significant, above-average physical effort that our body has to undertake.

However, there are more factors that can contribute to the effect of overtraining.

The main and additional factors that can lead to overtraining are

  • Poorly designed training plan, too high training intensity, training beyond your strength,
  • too frequent training, too much exercise in too short an interval, inadequate breaks between training sessions,
  • too long training sessions,
  • Too little sleep and rest, insufficient regeneration of the body,
  • untreated injuries,
  • overwork,
  • stress,
  • excess of strong emotions, living in a state of constant nervous tension,
  • general poor health,
  • use of stimulants and strong doping substances,
  • lack of adequate hydration,
  • improper diet (too few calories consumed in relation to the body’s energy needs, too much junk food, processed food, and not enough valuable natural products).

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Overtraining – symptoms

Exhaustion of the body and depletion of energy and vitality is the result of too frequent and intensive workouts. Instead of getting in shape, we have less and less strength, our muscles and joints are more and more loaded, the efficiency of the body is lower and lower, the work of the immune, hormonal and nervous systems is disturbed, and the process of regeneration of tissues and organs is less and less effective.

The most common symptoms of overtraining

  • Decreased muscle strength and endurance, muscle pains,
  • decreased mobility and efficiency of joints, joint pains,
  • problems with motor coordination,
  • weakness, quicker fatigue, increased tendency to get out of breath,
  • increased heart rate, increased breathing, increased temperature,
  • pains and stabbing sensations in the heart area,
  • headaches,
  • weakened immune system,
  • decreased training power (inability to finish a workout, inability to run a given distance, inability to perform as many series and repetitions of exercises as before, etc.),
  • lack of energy, constant feeling of fatigue and tiredness, physical and mental exhaustion,
  • frequent or persistent low mood or mood swings,
  • feeling upset, nervous, irritable,
  • problems concentrating,
  • memory problems,
  • reduced mental performance, slowed thinking,
  • sleep problems(trouble falling asleep, shallow sleep, waking up, insomnia),
  • hormonal disturbances (e.g., irregular menstrual periods),
  • lack of motivation,
  • unwillingness to train,
  • general discouragement about almost everything, apathy,
  • more easily occurring injuries and strains of muscles, tendons, joints,
  • more difficult regeneration of the body,
  • dehydration,
  • tremors in the limbs,
  • increased sweating,
  • weight loss,
  • lack of appetite,
  • decreased libido,
  • erectile problems,
  • decreased levels of muscle mass.

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How not to overtrain?

 A tired man at the gym

Overtraining of muscles and the whole body often occurs in people who try to gain overtraining often occurs in people who are trying to gain large amounts of muscle mass, sculpt their figure or lose weight. Overtraining most often affects runners and athletes practicing other speed sports, as well as people practicing strength sports.

Exercising too often and for too long, or performing too strenuous workouts that are not adjusted to your real capacity, your body gets weaker and weaker every day, and it alerts you with the above mentioned symptoms.

In the case of overtraining, our performance gradually decreases. Metabolic processes are abnormal, there are disorders in the work of muscles andIn case of overtraining, our performance gradually deteriorates. Overtraining also has a negative impact on the brain, generates distraction and discouragement, and impairs the ability to fully concentrate on the exercises performed. In this way it negatively influences the execution of training plans.

Remaining in the state of overtraining for a prolonged period of time actually blocks the way to further improving sports results, shaping the figure and improving form, so it is worth avoiding it at all costs. How to prevent overtraining?

An effective way to constantly maintain high form and not to fall into a state of overtraining is to train according to our body’s predispositions and to observe our body and its reactions to given doses of exercise. For example, if the next day after over an hour of running training, strength training, session on an orbiter, etc., we wake up tired, we should not be afraid of overtraining. If, for example, the next day after more than an hour of running training, strength training, orbitrek session, etc., we wake up tired, discouraged, in a bad mood, and feel pain in our muscles and joints, it is a signal that we shouldthat it is worth taking a slight break, and then reduce the frequency and intensity of exercise.

Controlling the body’s reactions is the basis for optimising the exercise programme in such a way as to avoid overloading the body, excessive expenditure of energy, and the need to reduce the frequency and intensity of exercise.The control of your body’s reactions is the basis for optimising the exercise programme in such a way as to avoid overloading the body, excessive expenditure of energy, straining muscles and joints, creating injuries and disrupting the recovery process.

It is also worth implementing a few universal rules for those who train:

  • if you are a beginner in training, let’s get into physical activity gradually, starting with several-minute training sessions 2-3 times a week,
  • don’t overexert yourself, don’t lift too much weight, don’t run too fast or too far, don’t exaggerate the number of minutes spent cyclingDo not exaggerate the number of minutes spent on the exercise bike or in the pool, but gradually increase the intensity of your training,
  • if you observe the first symptoms of a decrease in your form, do not wait, but react immediately, giving your body a little rest and reducing the level of physical effort
  • do not train intensively at the same time for a number of days, optimise your training schedule to alternate days of hard training with days of light training and days without training
  • Ensure proper exercise technique,
  • eat a healthy, balanced and varied diet, choose the number of calories consumed per day for a given training plan and goal (eg. If you are training for mass, you should pay special attention to increasing the supply of proteins in your diet and increase the calorie content of your meals, while if you are training for a reduction in weight you should take care to increase the calorie content of your meals.(e.g. if you are training for mass you should pay special attention to increasing the protein supply in your diet and increasing the calorie content of your meals, whereas if you are training for fat reduction you should reduce the amount of sugars consumed and decrease your calorie intake by approx. 300-400),
  • take care of the right amount and quality of sleep, it is also worth planning relaxing activities in a selected form (they will allow you to clear your mind, relax, reduce fatigue)
  • oxygenate your body well (walks in fresh and clean air, e.g. in forests, meadows, mountains, etc., work great)
  • Keep your body well hydrated (drink about 2 l of water a day).
  • do not forget to warm up before and stretch after training,
  • When training often and in an intensive manner, it is worth taking care of additional treatments to stimulate the regeneration of the body (eg. It is also worth taking care of additional procedures to stimulate the body’s regeneration (e.g. massages, baths with oils, sauna), as well as dietary supplements improving this process (e.g. preparations containing amino acids BCAA or protein hydrolysates).

How to quickly fight overtraining and get back in shape?

 woman exercises with weights outdoors

Overtraining is a long-term condition that can last for several or even several weeks. While the first signs of overtraining are slight, subtle and basically difficult to diagnose, as body fatigue builds up, the discomfort becomes more severe. What should you do if you end up overtraining due to your own omissions and training mistakes?

Temporary resignation from training is an effective way to support the overtired body and a good way to stimulate regeneration processes. However, if you don’t want to give up training altogether, you should definitely reduce the frequency and intensity of your workouts, preferably by at least half (e.g. if you’ve been training 5 times a week so far, you should cut them down by half). For example, if you’ve been training 5 times a week, let’s train twice; if you’ve been doing 1.5-hour training sessions, let’s do 40-minute ones).

What’s more, in order to combat the annoying effects of overtraining it is worth reaching for extra doses of sleep. Try to get a full 8 hours of sleep at night, you can also take small naps during the day. In the case of overtraining, massages, lymphatic drainage and stretching exercises, the so-called stretching and light relaxation exercises are also a good solution.

A very good method that will help us recover from overtraining and regain homeostasis in the body is to establish regular rest periods during the day (e.g. setting aside a fixed time for long walks, reading or listening to relaxing music in the afternoon).

If overtraining has also led to joint strain and pain, it is a good idea to use exercises that strengthen joint structures. You may also find it useful to supplement your body with one of the anti-inflammatory, relaxing, painkilling, and regenerating joint preparations.

In the case of overtraining, it is worth taking care not only of the physical aspect of the body, but also of the psyche. This sphere has a significant impact on the work of the entire system, including the functioning of critical organs and systems. Reduce the level of stress by avoiding stressors and taking supplements of so called adaptogens or ready-made preparations with adaptogens. We should also avoid strong emotions and factors that put us in the state of nervousness, sadness, tension. The most important thing is to maintain inner calm.

A very important point in the process of recovering from overtraining is changing your diet. Highly processed products should disappear from our menu, and healthy food with a high content of valuable nutrients should take their place. It is worth enriching your daily menu with additional portions of products rich in vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids and wholesome protein. It is also worth reaching for dietary supplements that improve the body’s resistance or are aimed at regeneration of the body.

In the case of more serious injuries resulting from intensive training, the treatment of overtraining should also include a visit to a specialist.

Category: Training

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