When you love exercise and live for the gym, it can be very difficult to make sure that you give yourself sufficient time to recover between workouts, but if you don’t make this a priority, you could find that your performance and ability is ultimately affected as a result and you may find it harder to hit your gym goals over time.
Pushing yourself is important as an athlete or fitness enthusiast if you want to drive improvements, but it’s important to listen to your body and not overdo it or you could find yourself facing issues relating to overtraining syndrome (OTS).
Before OTS becomes problematic, you will likely experience overreaching issues, which include muscle soreness beyond what you would usually experience after training and this happens when you don’t give yourself enough time between sessions to fully recover.
You should find that by resting for a day or two you’re able to overcome overreaching relatively quickly.
However, if you ignore what your body is telling you, overreaching can then turn into overtraining, where you don’t listen to the signs and carry on with your training regardless, which can translate into poor exercise performance, weakness and even increase your risk of injury.
In this instance, it can take weeks and even months to fully recover, which will really have an impact on your training goals and ambitions, so it’s vital that you do put precautions in place to prevent overtraining from becoming an issue.
What are the warning signs of overtraining?
Because it’s natural to feel tired and fatigued after exercise, the signs and symptoms of overtraining can go unnoticed.
Signals to keep a lookout for include heavier leg muscles when doing lower-intensity activities, taking longer to recover from training, finding it harder and harder to train at levels you would previously have found manageable, general fatigue, difficulty sleeping, lack of energy and an inability to relax.
Being conscious about your mental health can also be a signal that you’ve been exercising too much, so make sure you’re checking in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. Anxiety, depression, stress and overall moodiness can all be signs that you’re pushing yourself too hard.
If you’re worried that you have been overtraining, stop and take a break - and don’t give yourself a hard time about it.
Rest is an absolute essential and you won’t be able to recover from overtraining without it. It may be necessary to stop what you’re doing entirely, although you might be able to get away with cutting back on daily and weekly activities.
To help you still feel as though you’re working towards your goals even if you’re unable to engage in physical activity, what about focusing on your nutrition or trying to give yourself a mental health boost?
Practising mindfulness can be really useful for athletes and you’re sure to find that focusing on other skills helps you achieve what you want when you are finally able to train once again.
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